Alabama's racism


An editorial from Press Associates Union News Service

Given its ugly history, it's no surprise that Alabama approved racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic law HB56. The law, passed by the GOP legislature and pushed through by the GOP governor, cries out for a nationwide counterattack.

This law actually makes the notorious Arizona anti-Hispanic statute, SB1070, look "moderate" by comparison. Not only does Alabama criminalize anyone who looks different, it criminalizes anyone who helps people who look different.

Like the Arizona law, HB56 lets law enforcement stop anyone on sight, or, exercising their authority during investigation of another possible offense - such as, say, traffic stop -- demand immediate proof of legal residency.

If such proof is not provided, the person is arrested, detained and deported.

But then Alabama goes far beyond Arizona:

* If a person needs a lift and he or she looks "different" i.e. Hispanic, and you stop and offer a lift, you're breaking the law. You're aiding the alleged "criminal," so you're a criminal yourself. Same thing if you even offer a drink of water.

* If you sign a business contract and the other signer is "illegal," you've broken the law. You're a criminal, too.

* If you rent out an apartment and the renter is undocumented, you've broken the law. You're a criminal, too.

* If you're a six-year-old kid in school and you look "different," the principal is strongly encouraged to ask you if you're legal, and if your parents are. "Think of the fear" that puts into a child, says Service Employees Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina.

* "Different" kids are also barred from higher education.

The law only took effect, partially, in September. What are the results, so far?

Some families with Hispanic names, regardless of their status, are signing over custody of their children to non-Hispanic families, just in case. Parents are pulling their children out of school. Workers have quit their jobs. Families are literally packing up and fleeing the state in the dead of night.

The union movement, workers' rights groups, civil rights groups, and Hispanic organizations, among others, have banded together in a national campaign to get Alabama to repeal HB56. Even some business groups have signed on. After all, they've lost employees, customers, or both.

But the provisions of the Alabama law, its wide sweep and its criminalization of not just Hispanics but of anyone who even lifts a finger to help them reminded a colleague of ours at the Peoples World of some gruesome history.

To be precise, he cited Nazi Germany before the War, when Jews were fired, barred from occupations, herded into ghettos, demonized, criminalized, beaten, persecuted, and physically singled out: By an identifiable symbol, the six-pointed star with the word "Juden" (Jew) for their religion, which they had to wear pinned to their clothes.

And we know what happened after that first racism in Nazi Germany and Nazi-overrun Europe. It's enough to make you shudder, then raise hell against Alabama.

Because in Alabama, our colleague says, "All that's missing is the star."

Photo: Protestors march outside the Alabama Capitol during a demonstration against Alabama's immigration law, in Montgomery, Nov. 15.  (Dave Martin/AP)


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  • It seems to me that the political trend of the time invited residents of Alabama to push for that Law that is Anti-Immigration, Anti-Hispanic or what have you.
    This tendency comes actually from fear of the Unknown in Alabama. The people here are so nice and loving Christians who are now being exposed to other cultures all over the big cities in Alabama. I hope and pray that people will change their views with time. We are improving ourselves little by little.
    I believe that if a Hispanic comes to live in Alabama and talks Spanish, this action may offend other's. We must respect the fact that the official language for buniness in Alabaman is English. God bless America!!!

    Posted by Noel E. Gutierrez, 08/03/2012 4:35pm (4 years ago)

  • Well, "Bama is reaping what she has sown.

    Ask the Governor and Moderate Business Groups who are trying to attract foreign investments to the State.

    The News Stories of foreign executives from Mercedez Benz-(Germany) and Honda (Japan) being detained do not bode well for this state.

    Boycott this state.........period. At least Arizona repented and got rid of it's law. And for that matter got rid of it's sponsor, Russell Pierce who was voted out in a recall election.

    As a football fan........I'm rooting for LSU in the BCS game. Louisiana doesn't have the repugnant vile law on it's books.

    Posted by Squincher757, 01/06/2012 6:27pm (4 years ago)

  • There are not enough expletives to describe how repugnant this law in Alabama really is. As with the law in Arizona, this state is ursurping it's authority. It is reserving to itself a power specifically reserved to the Federal Government. This article is right. It does smack of Nazi racism, and it needs to be stopped.

    I'll say it here and now - first of all, I am Hispanic (Adopted Cuban) and I will help these people any time and any where they are, even in Alabama, if I happen to be there. And if the Alabama authorities want to take issue with this I say, BRING IT ON!!!

    The last thing any of us want to do is let these "Quello Rojos" instill fear in us; that's what they want to do. I'm sorry you don't fight this kind of person with non-violence; you fight them with a fist!!!

    Posted by Ed Cook, 11/30/2011 7:00am (4 years ago)

  • Of course people are leaving. They are afraid. Isn't it sad that we have allowed, not just physical borders, but the power and influence of those 'public servants', to cause us to THINK that we need these types of laws?

    The real truth is that 99% of everything that gets done, not just in this country, but around the world, is motivated by power and greed.

    Posted by David Auburn, 11/25/2011 4:42pm (4 years ago)

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