I recently posted about the eight stages of genocide and made comments of how I see Alabama methodically implementing these stages. I realize making such a statement can be seen to be outrageous but I have come to this conclusion through observing what is happening in our state. I did not make these comments lightly.
Since writing that post The Southern Poverty Law Center has confirmed a report that a school district in Northeast Alabama called their Latino students into the cafeteria and asked them if they knew their legal status in this country. Those that stated they were undocumented were culled out of the group and were arrested by ICE.
Here is what the law states regarding schools:
Section 28. (a)(1) Every public elementary and secondary school in this state, at the time of enrollment in kindergarten or any grade in such school, shall determine whether the student enrolling in public school was born outside the jurisdiction of the United States or is the child of an alien not lawfully present in the United States and qualifies for assignment to an English as Second Language class or other remedial program.
Here is what Genocide Watch writes to describe stage 6:
6. PREPARATION:Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property is expropriated. They are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved. At this stage, a Genocide Emergency must be declared. If the political will of the great powers, regional alliances, or the U.N. Security Council can be mobilized, armed international intervention should be prepared, or heavy assistance provided to the victim group to prepare for its self-defense. Otherwise, at least humanitarian assistance should be organized by the U.N. and private relief groups for the inevitable tide of refugees to come.
Which of these statements does the actions of the school district in Northeast Alabama resemble most? Now granted stage 6 has not been fully implemented in the state of Alabama but it seems to me that the actions of this school district did not follow the law as written but instead jumped to the next logical step of where this law is headed in spirit. The school district identified and separated out the students who were undocumented and had them arrested by ICE agents. This is indeed the spirit behind Genocide Watch’s Stage 6.
There was another event this time in Morgan County. Committee on Church Cooperation, a non-profit organization, whose mission is to help the poor has decided that immigrants are not part of its mission, especially if they are undocumented. The Decatur Daily reports this in their newspaper:
Gayle Monk, CCC executive director, said the organization has had to take extra steps to make sure undocumented immigrants do not obtain food, clothing and other assistance, much of which is donated to the agency by Morgan County churches.
“We thoroughly check everybody out,” Monk said. “We’ve even got wind that a lot of them have illegal Social Security cards. So I’ve tried to educate my staff on what to look for.”
As a condition of receiving assistance, Monk said, applicants must present government-issued photo identification showing residence in Morgan County. They also must provide a Social Security card for every member of the household, as well as documentation of income.
“The majority of the Hispanics, No. 1, can’t speak English when they come in here and, No. 2, have a Social Security card that is fake,” Monk said. …
Monk said the extra attention paid to documentation has been effective.
“It used to be about 10 percent (Hispanics) that we served,” Monk said. “Since cracking down, I haven’t seen anybody, especially in the last month. …
Monk said CCC has no connection to the controversy over undocumented immigrants because it receives no governmental funding.
“We operate strictly off of donations given to us out of the kindness of an individual’s heart,” Monk said.
In the ruling by Judge Sharon Blackburn she stated the churches did not have a basis on which to argue that HB 56 would impinge on their freedom to practice their faith. Yet, here is an example of an organization deciding to implement the law using the laws criteria to single out and deny services to people in need. This organization decided to interpret their religious mission not on spiritual principles but rather on state law. A response by CCC to criticism of their actions on facebook states:
“Our acting Board Chairman, Mr. Greg Ethridge, states clearly “CCC’s charter is to serve those in need in Morgan County. Our policy, since 1973, has been that each client served present their proof of residency in Morgan County and thier [sic] Social Security card. This policy is regardless of race, color, creed, religion or nationality.”
Social Security cards do not provide proof of residency within local municipalities, therefore there is no need to have them as part of this criteria of eligibility. In this instance it can only be used to discriminate between residents who are citizens and residents who are undocumented which implies that nationality is regarded as a criteria for service by this charitable religious organization. Comments in the story also suggests there is a bias against those who speak a different language.
Where does this story fit into the stages towards genocide? I suggest this falls into stage 1:
1. CLASSIFICATION:All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide. The main preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic or racial divisions, that actively promote tolerance and understanding, and that promote classifications that transcend the divisions. The Catholic church could have played this role in Rwanda, had it not been riven by the same ethnic cleavages as Rwandan society. Promotion of a common language in countries like Tanzania has also promoted transcendent national identity. This search for common ground is vital to early prevention of genocide.
There is the story in the Christian Scriptures where a Greek woman is asking Jesus for a miracle for her daughter. Jesus responds somewhat uncharacteristically that it is not right to take food from the children and cast it to the dogs. The woman bravely responds that even the dogs get a chance to eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table. Jesus gives the woman her miracle.
This is not a story that we should be offering the crumbs of our abundance to those who speak a different language. Nor is it a story that suggests different Christian and other religious charities should discriminate between those who are like us and those who are not in offering services. Rather it is a story that reveals that love transcends the boundaries of race and culture and what we offer to others who are different should be of the same quality and same intention as what we offer those who are similar to us. Where better to transcend these ethnic and racial categories and boundaries than within the services of a charitable organization whose mission is to help those in need.
There is still time to stop the progression of the effects of this law. We all must work together to prevent the dehumanization of even one child, one family, one community. If we do not or if we cannot, we are all dehumanized in the process.