Chicago-Sun Times - August 12, 2005
Bigots forget own immigrant roots
BY ANDREW GREELEY
Immigrants with dark skin play the same role in contemporary American life as Jews did in Germany in the 1930s and blacks did in this country in the same decade when, if they were uppity, they were lynched. The three pariah groups are different, of course, and the extent of harm imposed on them are different -- and the Holocaust is absolutely unique in its horror and its evil -- but the same underlying dynamisms are at work. Their enemies deprived them of their full humanity. They are not really human beings, they are vermin, the society is better off without them. They don't have the rights that other, fully human people have.
You can be viciously cruel to people only when you have dehumanized them. It's all right to push Jews into gas chambers, because they are not like the rest of us. It's all right to lynch a black person because he is not completely human, it's all right to hunt down immigrants and get rid of them, because they are really not Americans and do not have the human rights of other Americans. Once you have deprived the other of their full humanity then anything goes.
All right, we do not set up gas chambers of illegal immigrants. We arrest them in the middle of the night, we break up their families, sometimes permanently, we punish them arbitrarily without any regard for due processes. Moreover, when the feds do these things, there is little outcry from the American people because government agents are enforcing the law, are they not? Almost three quarters of Americans would like to gather up all the illegal immigrants and send them back where they came from.
Ibrahim Parlak, the Kurdish restaurant owner in western Michigan, had the audacity to be granted jail release after 11 months on the strength of a powerful habeas corpus writ from a federal judge in Detroit. Those who held him in jail for 11 months (on the grounds that he might flee the country, which is exactly what they wanted him to do) had to get even. So they are deporting his brother and have persuaded the State of Michigan to consider revoking the liquor license at the restaurant (allegedly one of the best in that part of the state). Ibrahim had it coming. He dared to challenge the feds in court, in the pages of the New York Times magazine and on Nightline. He had to be punished.
This is a violation of human rights and a disgrace to the United States government. The feds are easing this country ever closer to a police state. Thus far it is only the dark-skinned foreigners that they have turned into vermin deprived of all humanity. Are the rest of us safe? Only those who doubt the corruption of power, especially police power, can believe that they are safe. The government can take away the humanity of anyone it wants, as it has done with immigrants, prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo and suspects shipped off to other countries for torture. It attacks Ibrahim's family and business. Could you be next? Think very carefully about it before you say no.
The public supports such measures as does the Congress of the United States, which has passed laws to permit the persecution of immigrants. They're illegals, are they not? They have no legal rights, therefore, and no human rights either. Americans are so proud that their ancestors were not illegals. The only reason is that anti-immigrant laws are rather recent in our country's history. Contemporary immigrants come for the same reason as did our ancestors -- to find work and to build a new life…..