November 14, 2011


On the Rise in Alabama (NY Times, 11/13/11)

[I]f there is any place where bigotry does not go unrecognized, it is Alabama.

"It is a fear of folks who are not like us," said Judge U. W. Clemon, a former state senator and Alabama's first black federal judge, now retired. "Although the Hispanic population of the state is less than 5 percent, the leaders of the state were hell-bent on removing as much of that 4 percent as possible. And I think they've been fairly successful in scaring them out of the state of Alabama."

There are, of course, significant distinctions between the civil rights movement and the fight for immigrant rights. African-Americans have endured 400 years of oppression, and toppled laws created to deny their equality and to brutalize them. Unauthorized immigrants are a group who arrived by choice, mostly. They are living outside the law, and want in.

Yet to those, like Judge Clemon, a civil rights foot soldier who fought Bull Connor and George Wallace, the common thread between then and now -- the threat of racial profiling and the abuse of a cheap, exploited work force -- is obvious, as is the racism driving the law.

A sponsor of the legislation, State Senator Scott Beason, chairman of the Rules Committee, was secretly taped by the F.B.I. talking about black residents of Greene County. "They're aborigines," he said. He is the lawmaker who urged fellow Republicans to "empty the clip" to stop illegal immigrants.

And then Republicans wonder why minorities vote against them.

Posted by at November 14, 2011 5:27 AM

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