Alabama is no longer a part of America. Not the America I was taught to value and love. I do not recognize the actions that are happening around me. I did not grow up knowing the fear that I visibly see on my friends’ faces as they worry about their children being dropped off at school. I am seriously considering carrying my US passport because I do not recognize my country. I am, as of September 29, 2011, living in a foreign land.
Since the law, commonly called HB 56, went into effect on September 29th municipalities have shut off water service to residents suspected of being undocumented. This is a tactic that totalitarian countries use before they begin the final push towards genocide. Yes, I used that word. There are eight stages towards genocide according to Genocide Watch and Alabama apparently is actively pursuing them.
Stage One: Classification. We have classified Alabamans into us and them. Citizens vs illegals. And the “illegals” are of a specific nationality even though the law is any immigrant who is in this country without documentation.
Stage Two: Symbolization. “names or other symbols are given to the classifications” Calling immigrants illegals, criminals, parasites, and rats are all signs of stage two. This is happening in Alabama.
Stage Three: Dehumanization. This is happening in Alabama. We call residents who are here without papers, illegals. We are hearing people and some politicians use the terms rats or parasites or blights on society. This is for the sole purpose to dehumanize the plights of these immigrants who according to Federal law have not committed a crime. It is harder to feel compassion towards a parasite losing its home or water but if we insist to humanize our neighbors regardless of nationality then we have a chance for compassion and interrupting this stage.
Stage Four: Organization. The state has ordered that our police force which is to protect and serve to be trained outside of their authorization under federal law to arrest and detain individuals that they determine are not here legally. In other countries where genocide is occurring these trained militias commit mass murder and that is NOT happening here in Alabama. But it is worrisome that police are not adequately trained and therefore are racial profiling in their arrests. The federal government is also actively engaged in this stage with its ICE raids and brandishing weapons with the sole purpose of terrorizing a community.
This past weekend a Latino minister and a minister colleague were stopped by police in Warrior, AL in northern Jefferson County on the road en route to fix his car that had a flat tire. He was asked for his papers to show he was here in this country legally. He showed the police officer his passport. The police officer “determined” the passport was counterfeit and asked for additional identification. He showed him a chaplaincy association card that stated he was a member of the clergy in good standing in that organization. His colleague, who had documentation was allowed to leave. But he was arrested on the charge of using a counterfeit passport.
When inquiries were made as to bond and charges, the charges changed to impersonating a clergyman. What happened to the counterfeit passport? It was a legitimate passport indicating that he had every right to be here in this country. He was released after the jail was flooded with phone calls inquiring why they were charging someone with impersonation of clergy, when in fact he was and is a minister. Impersonating clergy is a crime? In a state where if a group of people declare that they avail a person’s skills as their minister thereby making that person a minister; this becomes a bogus charge and reveals the racism that he has been subjected to by the police officer.
Stage Five: Polarization. We are seeing the beginnings of this extreme polarization. When Farmers complained to Sen. Beason about not being able to harvest their crops, his attitude was ‘so what.’ Conservative press is becoming more extreme in their propaganda targeting immigrants. The passage of HB 56 is also an example of this polarization.
Stage Six: Preparation. “Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity.” We are beginning to see this after the passage of this law. Municipalities are shutting water services to those they suspect are undocumented. Landlords are evicting families from homes. Schools are requesting proof of citizenship of new enrollees and, while the state school board has said this would not happen, teachers are asking previously enrolled students if they are undocumented. Students, this is a question that does not need to be answered. Respectfully decline.
Stage Seven: Extermination of people. Not happening.
Stage Eight: Denial of the genocide. The seeds of this are happening in the guises of “What part of illegal, don’t you understand.” This is the following the law even if it is morally corrupt and unjust. Martin Luther King, Jr. countered such statements with arresting Jews was the law in Germany during Nazi Germany but it does not mean it is the right and moral action to take.
Many of these stages are developing to fruition at a faster pace than others. We need to be active in dismantling these stages to prevent genocide from happening in our beloved country.
Now, I know many will read this and declare, Fred, you are exaggerating. This is not what is happening in Alabama. This would never happen in America. My reply would be it already has happened in America several times in our history.
It happened when our founding parents first settled this country and rounded up the native people of this land, massacred them en masse, and forced them onto reservations. It happened through out the deep south after the civil war through the 1970′s. Lynchings were a common occurrence, bombings of churches and synagogues happened regularly because they were of a different race or different religion. Several of these stages were implemented during World War Two when the US sent thousands of Japanese Americans to internment camps. And it is happening again this time against another people who only seek what we have; the dream for a better life.
We need to repeal this law. We need to expand our education for tolerance and diversity. We need to begin living our highest values as taught by all of our faith traditions of treating others as we would want to be treated.