Blogs > Cliopatria > Light Tea, Heavy on the Milk

Apr 29, 2010 11:17 pm


Light Tea, Heavy on the Milk



Last week, in a poorly reported encounter for which we don't have some critical details, an Arizona truck driver was arrested at a weigh station after telling authorities (apparently state authorities, although he ended up in federal custody and none of the impressively lazy news stories I've found make the point clear) that he didn't have his birth certificate available in his truck. The driver, who provided reporters with only his first name, says that he gave the arresting officers his commercial driver's license -- and gave them his Social Security number -- but was still taken to a federal detention facility until his wife could provide the Fresno County birth certificate that proves he was born in the United States.

While the details of this single encounter are hazy, this set of government behaviors defines the nature of immigration enforcement, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has a well-known habit of deporting United States citizens. (President Obama is outraged by the Arizona law, but someone might mention to the president that ICE works for him and does the same things every single day. But whatever -- theater is theater.)

In every regard, the immigration enforcement law signed by the governor of Arizona this month creates a list of government practices that have long been decried on the political right as well as on the left. It makes citizens subject to the demand to produce federal papers for armed agents of the state, allows for warrantless arrests on thin suspicion, and makes local police into agents of the central government. And some on the right are making exactly this case: William Norman Grigg, a former staff editor at the John Birch Society, wrote a few days ago that the new law would have the effect of"turning Arizona into an authentic police state."

Meanwhile, the Arizona Tea Party...

...strongly supports the law, announcing proudly that it's among those"leading the fight for defending our borders." So they're for limited government, and they're for being forced to show your birth certificate and Social Security card to the federalized local police. Got it.

The evidence is piling up for a view of the Tea Party as a historically familiar advocate of white man's liberty, heirs to a revolution that fought abolitionism and British tyranny at the same time. Add their apparently unwavering support for the violence of empire, and I'm increasingly inclined to regard the Tea Party as the Paxton Boys plus time. I'm reluctant to reach that conclusion, but it's hard to avoid. We need a political movement that has the discipline and the desire to fight against the rapid growth and increasing concentration of political and economic power, but this isn't it. I would love to be proven wrong. Note that this conclusion still doesn't fit the prevailing media narrative, which raises fears about anti-government violence growing from the Tea Party movement. The proper fear -- anyway, the proper thing to notice in the world of reality -- is that the Tea Party is fiercely supportive of government violence.

Still, another recent political development looks more promising. In a recent discussion here, commenters expressed concern over promises from the Oath Keepers, a group of police and military officials, to withhold their obedience if ordered to violate the constitutional rights of citizens.

But the most inspiring response to the new law in Arizona is precisely that some local law enforcement officials are refusing to enforce it (and suing to overturn it). I can't tell yet if any Oath Keepers are among that group of Arizona cops, but I know this: the disobedience of the state's agents is the most reliable check on state brutality. Government isn't a magic box; it's a group of human beings who need to get other human beings to enact their declarations.

If you're horrified by the Oath Keepers, one question: are you horrified this week by the announcement from the Pima County sheriff that he won't enforce Arizona's immigration enforcement law?

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David Silbey - 5/6/2010

Finally, to the extent that I am imposing my preconceptions on people -- who doesn't?

I'm suggesting that given your own self-knowledge, you might think about being kinder to others doing the same thing.


Chris Bray - 5/6/2010

Looking at your comment a second time. You're talking about the preconceptions that I've imposed on other people. Let's look at the language of the post you're commenting on:

"...in a poorly reported encounter for which we don't have some critical details...While the details of this single encounter are hazy...The evidence is piling up...I'm increasingly inclined to regard... I'm reluctant to reach that conclusion...another recent political development looks more promising... I can't tell yet..."

I've hung qualifiers all over this post to say that this is what appears to be true to me, based on the available evidence at the time I posted, and you've discovered that the post is my attempt to impose my preconceptions on people. I've said very clearly what I know, what I'm guessing, what I'm hoping, and so on. I wrote, "I can't tell yet." Your comment doesn't reflect that.

The same is true for my other posts on this topic, and I'll go back through them and show you if you feel the need. I've said in comments several times that I wasn't clear about the nature of the Tea Party, and thought they would turn out to be a right-wing authoritarian group rather than the libertarian group they're pretending to be. You're inventing my certitude, and then decrying your invention.

Finally, to the extent that I am imposing my preconceptions on people -- who doesn't? You're the cold eye of a camera, free of an accumulative mind? As I said to another commenter very recently, we all arrive with preconceptions. I'm confident that I've made mine clear, and that I've shown what I know and what I believe.


Chris Bray - 5/6/2010

I took them at their word: read their pledge, accepted that they meant it. They didn't. The only preconception in there is that I was willing to believe the plain language of their declared sentiments.


David Silbey - 5/6/2010

But neither are they the dangerous and potentially anti-government radicals that news coverage has made them

I suspect that no one should impose their preconceptions on other people, yes.


Chris Bray - 5/5/2010

Dropped a word: "But neither are they the dangerous and potentially VIOLENT anti-government radicals that news coverage has made them."


Chris Bray - 5/5/2010

This Oath Keepers site...

http://www.resistnet.com/group/oathkeepersofamerica

...has comments like this:

Comment by Chaplain John S. Woods on May 2, 2010 at 11:10pm
God bless the Governor of Arizona! She has more courage than most and not afraid to defend what is right. I pray we have more like her elected in November!

Jesus Is Victory!
Comment by Maryanne Dattoli on May 2, 2010 at 12:56am
Calling all patriots. Come one, Come all. Sign the petition to support Arizona's illegal immigration stand. Thank you & God bless

GO to web site for jan brewer and support her on immigration

www.janbrewer.com/

Not racist! Not prejudiced! Just no longer silent!

----

An earlier comment warned that La Raza was mobilizing the SEIU to prevent the governor of Arizona from signing the immigration enforcement law. Other comments discuss the usurpation of the presidency by a Kenyan who has never produced his birth certificate.

It's official: they're idiots.

I had hopes that the Tea Party and the Oath Keepers would form a real counterweight to the metastasizing concentration of power around a clientelist political center. They're not that. At all.

But neither are they the dangerous and potentially anti-government radicals that news coverage has made them. They're just ordinary Republicans: statist, authoritarian, spewing a rhetoric of limited government that they don't actually believe at all. It's pathetic and depressing.


David Silbey - 5/4/2010

I agree that it will be pretty telling if they cheerfully enforce every provision of this law without protest, and I've already acknowledged in the original post that the Arizona Tea Party revealed its true colors with its support for this law. I've looked for an Arizona-specific Oath Keepers site, and haven't found it; I've also looked for names of Arizona Oath Keepers, and haven't come up with anything. The Oath Keeper and former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack has a website, and the last I looked, he hasn't said anything about this law.

Absence of evidence isn't evidence, and I'm looking for/waiting for an answer.


As to your last sentence: sure. At the same time, that you don't know what their position is on a law that seems directly in their purview suggests that (like those who see the tea party as violent) you're allowing your own perceptions of what you _think_ they are to fill in the gaps of what you actually _know_ about them.

As to what they think of the Arizona law, I'll give you some choice quotes from the Oath Keepers forum. I can't give direct links, as one has to be a member to read the forum.

In response to an article about an Arizona police officer who filed suit against the new law, one response included the following:

As stated below, the law is not inherently a bad one. I'm just not in favor of adding more laws to fix problems that already have laws addressing them. Joe Arpaio is already enforcing the federal law why can't we find others out there like him, Richard Mack and the other County Sheriffs who are stepping up to the plate and accepting the roll that their position establishes?

The Tucson officer who is suing over the new law is obviously more interested in things other than adhering to either law (state; "I won't do it" and federal; "it's not my job"). He appears to be, at the very least, in dereliction of duty. As such, he should face some sort of review board and be treated accordingly up to and including being fired with cause.

If cooler heads don't prevail soon we are likely to see some serious audience participation in the desert in the not too distant future. And we know that can't be a good thing.

In case you can't tell, my frustration level is reaching an all time high and options seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate.


Another response included:
I really wish these morons (and I include the AZ cop) would read the LAW. This law exactly parallels the Federal statute. AZ did nothing more than codify Federal law into the state statutes. This allows the state’s law enforcement agencies to enforce it, considering the fact the Feds won’t. This goes back to “Lead, Follow, or get the Hell out of the way.” The Feds are definitely not leading, nor will they follow. That only leaves one option. This law was written by a Constitutional attorney, and I am sure it will stand up to any challenge. Remeber, AZ is three for three in Federal Court on their enforcement of immigration laws.

I am all in favor of other states enacting their own laws written like the AZ law.


To be fair, there were several responses that displayed more ambiguity, including:

I have mixed emotions about the AZ law. I am very concerned about the fact that, once any government has been given any power, they will NEVER be willing to give it up. For example, the "Patriot" (?) Act. Maybe some weren't concerned when Bush 43 signed it because he was (apparently) on their side. Now who has the trigger in their hand? Even McCain is ready to add insult to injury by making it legal to hold citizens indefinitely, on the word of the President? If that don't make the short hairs stand up on your neck, what will?

Arizona did not need to make a law; they felt that they needed to make a statement. Sheriff Joe in Maricopa County (not even a border county) has been enforcing the "Federal Law" for three years plus. The ACLU has been trying to take him down for what seems like a hundred years and have failed at every turn. It is simple, no new laws are necessary, enforcing current law will suffice. If we elect constitutionally sound candidates for Sheriff in EVERY county, we can reign in the skullduggery (bet you don't see that word used much nowadays) that is plaguing our nation. Obviously No New Taxes didn't work. How about we have a new mantra; NO NEW LAWS!!!!!!


In a discussion about Dupnik (the Sheriff in AZ refusing to enforce the law) there was some discussion about whether it was constitutional, but people largely did not agree, including this comment:

Read the law as it was passed and then amended this past Friday(Do not take everything you hear from the talking heads at face value, Look at how OK is treated in the media. The LEO's must have cause (other than immigration status) then during the questioning for the cause should the immigration status of the person come in question (i.e. unable to provide a state id, passport, etc for ID purpose); You know what as a law abiding citzen driving a car, cashing a check, etc., etc you should have at least one of these(do not know of much you can do in life without having an ID), then the new law comes into play. So before someone plays the it is unconstitutional line, research the facts and get it straight. Not simply buy what the lefties in wonderland on the Potomac and the left leaning media put out in their talking points. I may not agree with what you say but I will defend your right to say it even to my death; I do ask that you take the time to get educated and speak the facts out of respect for my defense of your right to disagree with me.


Chris Bray - 5/3/2010

I agree that it will be pretty telling if they cheerfully enforce every provision of this law without protest, and I've already acknowledged in the original post that the Arizona Tea Party revealed its true colors with its support for this law. I've looked for an Arizona-specific Oath Keepers site, and haven't found it; I've also looked for names of Arizona Oath Keepers, and haven't come up with anything. The Oath Keeper and former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack has a website, and the last I looked, he hasn't said anything about this law.

Absence of evidence isn't evidence, and I'm looking for/waiting for an answer.


David Silbey - 5/3/2010

If you read the manifesto, the only one which reasonably applies to the question of federalism is #5. The rest of it refers to the rights of "the American People" which clearly don't adhere to alien immigrants, legal or otherwise.

Since the Arizona law requires American citizens to prove that they're American citizens and gives the Arizona police the power to stop them and demand identification, I would say that #2 certainly applies.

Let me quote Chris Bray here:

"[The Arizona law] makes citizens subject to the demand to produce federal papers for armed agents of the state, allows for warrantless arrests on thin suspicion, and makes local police into agents of the central government. "


Jonathan Dresner - 5/3/2010

If you read the manifesto, the only one which reasonably applies to the question of federalism is #5. The rest of it refers to the rights of "the American People" which clearly don't adhere to alien immigrants, legal or otherwise.


David Silbey - 5/3/2010

"Act against the state of Arizona" how? Their commitment is to not aggress against the population

Uh, you're the one telling me that they won't enforce unconstitutional laws, including warrantless searches (#2 in their list), so I'd like to know how the Oath Keepers feel about the Arizona immigration law and if they will honor their own beliefs and refuse to enforce it?


Chris Bray - 5/3/2010

"courts," not "court's."

Saw it as I hit "submit." Drives me crazy.


Chris Bray - 5/3/2010

"Act against the state of Arizona" how? Their commitment is to not aggress against the population -- you think there's a serious chance that they'll storm the statehouse if the court's void a piece of legislation?


David Silbey - 5/3/2010

Easy

Ah, good. Then you can tell me whether they would act against the state of Arizona in the case of the new immigration law being declared unconstitutional?


William Hopwood - 5/2/2010

"In every regard, the immigration enforcement law signed by the governor of Arizona ...makes citizens subject to the demand to produce federal papers for armed agents of the state, allows for warrantless arrests on thin suspicion and makes local police into agents of the central government."

Well, so what? With apologies to the tea party, this is a "tempest in a teapot."

Where is the unconstitutionality? For over 50 years it has been well-settled Federal law that resident aliens carry their green cards with them at all times. Why would it suddenly become "unreasonable" and thus unconstitutional under the 4th Amendment when in the due process of an investigation or an arrest or any other appropriate reason involving law enforcement at any level to be asked a question as to citizenship and asked to produce evidence of it or of lawful residency? Just about every commercial or government form one ever fills out for any reason at any level asks for info on citizenship and a lot more personal info besides.

The controversial crux of the Arizona law is in the first few paragraphs, i.e:
(a) no agency of the state or its subdivisions shall adopt any policy which limits or prevents enforcement of federal immigration laws and
(b) that in any contact by a law enforcement official where REASONABLE suspicion exists that a person is an alien unlawfully present, a REASONABLE attempt shall be made to determine the immigration status of said person under U.S. code, and
(c) if the officer has PROBABLE CAUSE to believe the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the U.S. he may make an arrest without a warrant, and
(d) officials of the state shall not be restricted or prohibited from communication with federal agencies relative to the immigration status of any individual.

Sounds pretty reasonable to me, particularly in view of the violence and siege conditions along the Arizona border.

However, Florida has a more politically-correct way of handling the illegal immigration problem but at greater personal difficulty for everybody. On January 1st this year that State made every applicant for a new drivers license or those having existing licenses coming up for renewal, to appear in person with a certified birth certificate, their original Social Security Card, and at least two documents showing residency. That way, within six years from now (license is good for 6 years) presumably everyone having a drivers license in Florida will presumably have proof of citizenship or lawful alien residency. To check for illegal aliens, all the cops will have to do is make a traffic stop. With no restrictions on talking to ICE, that should take care of the bulk of the population. So far this little scheme has sailed right under the radar of the civil libertarians, who haven't raised a peep..

.



Jonathan Dresner - 5/2/2010

What strikes me about that list, just on a quick reading, is how many of those "unlawful orders" are currently routine or potentially necessary in emergency situations that have nothing to do with intrusions on rights and liberty. The other thing that strikes me is the tendentious reading of the second amendment which would prevent Oath Keepers from enforcing many existing laws or any future law which in any way represents (by their reckoning) an increase of control or monitoring on gun ownership.

There's an immense amount of subjective slippage in there, depending on how they interpret "the American people" in individual circumstances.


Chris Bray - 5/2/2010

"By doing that, you ignore the most important question: what, exactly, are they going to disobey?"

Easy.


David Silbey - 5/1/2010

Oh, and I'll make a prediction that none of the local law officers resisting the law are Oath Keepers.


David Silbey - 5/1/2010

Just to clarify that you're answering my question (which is not whether you'd stay out of Arizona): you're comfortable with military officers making that decision and refusing to obey the President?

You haven't answered the above.

the substance of the order matters more than the fact of the order.

Of course it does; that's been one of my main points all along. You've presented the Oath Keepers as an unqualified good, simply because of their pledge to disobey unconstitutional orders. Anytime someone has suggested that what they define as unconstitutional might be important to consider, you've either waved it away or ignored it. By doing that, you ignore the most important question: what, exactly, are they going to disobey?

No obedience, no Jim Crow, no role for the 82nd Airborne

Sure, I understood that the first time you mentioned it. As it was then, that point remains irrelevant to my question.


Chris Bray - 4/30/2010

...is producing angry debate in some particularly surprising places.


Jonathan Dresner - 4/30/2010

"the substance of the order matters more than the fact of the order."

c.f. Nuremberg


Jonathan Dresner - 4/30/2010

And there have been cases like that: military officers who resigned their commissions rather than participate in the Guantanamo kangaroo courts, military and civilian judges who refused to admit evidence based on torture, the person who leaked the Abu Ghraib pictures.

Not enough, I grant you, by any stretch of the imagination. But it's not, as you say, an entirely political problem: the institutions which are involved have a high degree of sucessful self-replication, both through selection and acculturation indoctrination, which makes them independently resistant to certain kinds of change even granting the existence of political and social pressures.


Chris Bray - 4/30/2010

To clarify, my "I guess I wouldn't" up there refers to your question about the 82nd Airborne, not to my question about Birmingham firefighters. I'm in a hurry....


Chris Bray - 4/30/2010

"...if the 82nd Airborne refused Eisenhower's order to desegregate Little Rock High School, would you have supported them?"

If Birmingham firefighters had refused direct orders to use fire hoses against black protestors, would you have supported them?

I guess I wouldn't, but not because they were disobeying orders -- the substance of the order matters more than the fact of the order. I'm saying that the question about the obedience of the 82nd Airborne evaporates if state and local police disobey their own orders.

The memoirs of civil rights organizers -- Daisy Bates, Robert F. Williams -- are full of moments in which they either see police officers actively supporting violent white supremacist mobs, or police officers carefully looking away at just the right moment. No obedience, no Jim Crow, no role for the 82nd Airborne. To ask about the 82nd Airborne is to start the narrative in the third act.


David Silbey - 4/30/2010

Yes. I'd stay out of Arizona, and the people who want to live under that sort of government can make that choice. Many other people would also stay away, and the state would pay a cost for political idiocy.

Just to clarify that you're answering my question (which is not whether you'd stay out of Arizona): you're comfortable with military officers making that decision and refusing to obey the President?

My answer was that you've drawn your example narrowly enough to omit most of the history of the thing you want to discuss. Post-Civil War White supremacy was built on a century of obedience; police violence and formal racial hostility built segregation and repression. No obedience, no Jim Crow.

So, taking all of that as read into the record, I'll ask you again: if the 82nd Airborne refused Eisenhower's order to desegregate Little Rock High School, would you have supported them?


Chris Bray - 4/30/2010

Exactly, and thanks for this comment. This debate has gone on for years in Los Angeles, where I live, over the LAPD's Special Order 40. These concerns about logistics and trust led to the creation of a rule that forbids LAPD officers to enforce immigration laws. This report (PDF file) provides some good background.


Chris Bray - 4/30/2010

Adding: Gunnar Myrdal found that southern judges and prosecutors would cheerfully admit that African-Americans were constantly imprisoned on made-up charges, and that the criminal justice system functioned as an enforcer of social and economic white supremacy.


Chris Bray - 4/30/2010

"If the Arizona law was declared unconstitutional, and Arizona refused to comply, would you be comfortable with Oath Keepers in the military declaring a hands-off policy toward the state whatever the Supreme Court said?"

Yes. I'd stay out of Arizona, and the people who want to live under that sort of government can make that choice. Many other people would also stay away, and the state would pay a cost for political idiocy.

So instead we're going to get the federal government -- proud owner-operator of the Border Patrol -- absurdly going to court and arguing against practices that are a daily event all along the border. You can't do that kind of thing -- uh, in a state uniform.

"(In the other thread, I don't believe you ever answered my question about the 82nd Airborne: if they had refused Eisenhower's orders to go to Little Rock and enforce desegregation would that have been a good thing?)"

My answer was that you've drawn your example narrowly enough to omit most of the history of the thing you want to discuss. Post-Civil War White supremacy was built on a century of obedience; police violence and formal racial hostility built segregation and repression. No obedience, no Jim Crow.


Chris Bray - 4/30/2010

Exactly what I'm talking about. Still sort of fresh off the election of someone who promised substantial change from the prior administration, we're escalating into our second decade of war, treating telecom immunity as a closed debate, and using military commissions to try people who haven't violated the laws of war. And so on. Extraordinary rendition? Still going.

It looks to me like the federal government is managed by a closed system -- it runs the way it's running, and is at the very least highly resistant to change from the outside. Voters were disgusted by the insanity of Republican rule, so they threw the Republicans out and adopted Democratic rule. And now they're disgusted by Democratic rule, so...

I would love to be wrong, but I can't see any solution at all in politics. The solution starts with a guy on a tarmac saying, "No, I won't put this person on an airplane to be tortured overseas."


O R - 4/30/2010

My understanding of the opposition to measures like the Arizona law among local law enforcement has always been that it's more pragmatic than anything else. (Hasn't there been a similar issue in California in the past, or am I imagining things?) The law explicitly prevents them from carrying out the standard sort of triage where they welcome cooperation from the greater community (in the process not enforcing immigration law as diligently as they might) in the interest of apprehending violent offenders. This law now not only increases their workload a whole lot, it also makes them legally liable if they don't deport everybody they can lay their hands on. (I imagine there might also be a substantial fear of self-appointed Minutemen making citizens' arrests.) Certainly, everything points to the new law being a logistical nightmare for the people charged with enforcing it.

Although, obviously, if the local opposition is a genuine stand on principle, that's just as good.


Jonathan Dresner - 4/30/2010

"There are not enough jails, not enough policemen, not enough courts to enforce a law not supported by the people." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

I was just teaching the end of the Cold War in my World History courses last week, and, though I don't think my students noticed, I actually had a bit of a hard time getting through it. The turning point in East Germany was the decision by the Berlin Wall border guards not to follow their standing orders about the prevention of crossings through the use of force; the turning point in the Soviet Union was the decision by the military not to fire on crowds of their own people (echoing the fall of the Tsar eighty years earlier!); the non-turning point in China was the decision by the PLA to destroy a peaceful protest movement by killing thousands of students and workers who wanted a more open and fair socialist system. I always get a little sentimental talking about that, about the way in which common humanity (which seems in short supply, historically) brought down systems of abusive power.


David Silbey - 4/30/2010

if ordered to violate the constitutional rights of citizens.

My concern in that thread was rather that military and police officers would refuse to enforce the constitutional rights of citizens, not the other way around.

If you're horrified by the Oath Keepers, one question: are you horrified this week by the announcement from the Pima County sheriff that he won't enforce Arizona's immigration enforcement law?

Yes.

If the Arizona law was declared unconstitutional, and Arizona refused to comply, would you be comfortable with Oath Keepers in the military declaring a hands-off policy toward the state whatever the Supreme Court said?

(In the other thread, I don't believe you ever answered my question about the 82nd Airborne: if they had refused Eisenhower's orders to go to Little Rock and enforce desegregation would that have been a good thing?)

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