I am getting scared for this country. By this country, I’m referring to the United States (I am not dumb enough to think the U.S. owns the right to the Internet or we are the only country – so let me clarify for all of you, what I mean), which has states proposing, and in some cases, passing bills into law that are unconstitutional. A lot of people are arguing about states’ rights, but the federal government has the right to overrule state rights for the mere fact that this system is set up to help protect the minority from the majority.
We’ve seen this before throughout history with rulings like Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education and enactments of bills into laws like the Education for All Handicapped Children Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. These rulings and laws were passed because minority Americans, on a state level, were prohibited from equal access to things like marriage and education. It seems like the states cannot or do not wish to protect minority Americans and, therefore, do not allow such laws to go into effect. Therefore, the Federal Government has to intervene.
Now, the states are passing laws that are discriminatory to Americans. These Americans fall into minority groups. The two most obvious bills I am speaking about were passed into laws in Arizona. The first law allows police officers, who have reasonable suspicion to suspect someone is an illegal immigrant, to detain any Latino or Hispanic person in Arizona and ask for multiple, valid forms of ID to prove citizenship. The second is the law banning the teaching of Ethnic Studies. Both of these laws are not only flat out discriminatory, but they are worded poorly.
For the first law, what does reasonable suspicion mean? A truck driver in Arizona was detained at a weigh-in station. The guy was born in California. He presented his driver’s license and other forms of identification, but was held by officials until his wife left her place of employment to go home and get his birth certificate. Only after they had his birth certificate stating he was born in California did they release him. This guy was singled out because of the color of his skin. Apparently, reasonable suspicion could mean you look Mexican therefore you are suspected of being an illegal immigrant. I’m having flash backs to my knowledge of apartheid. Those who weren’t white always had to carry identification. What a major step back for the state of Arizona, and, in turn, America.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe illegal immigration is an issue that needs to be handled. Our country is made up of immigrants. I am related to immigrants. I am, proudly, third generation Polish-American on my dad’s side. That means my dad’s grandparents were immigrants who came to this country. I am not against immigration because that’s rather hypocritical of me due to my European American heritage (I have not a lick of Native American in me), but I believe people need to become citizens and not enter illegally. However, questioning EVERY person who has tan skin is ridiculous. Many who will be questioned will be legal immigrants or worse yet, American citizens, BORN in America. Why should American citizens be questioned in such a way? What if they happen to see multiple police officers in one day? Should those officers be allowed to question the person again? What a repetitive waste of time this is going to be.
The Ethnic Studies Law raises further questions. What qualifies as Ethnic Studies? If you want to get technical, no studies about Europe, Asia, Africa, or South America should be allowed. The one true American Ethnicity is Native American. So, U.S. history should be changed to Native American History and only allow white folk to enter the picture when the Pilgrims came. Further, any studies that discuss what are seen as Caucasian values should be banned. Arizona has a huge population of Latinos and Native Americans. A concern I have is whether these primarily WHITE lawmakers decide that Native Americans are not like white people and therefore, their history should be banned. They have more right to U.S. history than those of us Europeans do. For now, the bill seems to target Latino ethnic studies programs, but to quote the Conservatives, “it’s a slippery slope.”
I also have a big problem with the state saying how our kids are educated. That’s a major reason we homeschool! Nobody has a right to tell parents what programs they can or cannot put their children in and this is just one more way the government has upped its control over the people. I thought “Republicans” (and I use that term loosely) were against bigger government/more government involvement? I guess they only like it when it benefits them!
The third thing I am concerned about is a bill in South Carolina. The bill calls for a State Day of Prayer because, according to a state Rep, South Carolina is all about prayer. I am not even going to begin to list how UNCONSTITUTIONAL this bill is, but I will say this:
1. There are atheists in every state. Atheists are not religious and therefore, this bill tramples on their first amendment rights. You do not have to agree with atheists to agree that declaring the state as being about prayer, or in the words of Rep. Limehouse himself, “We want to make sure everyone is very sure and comfortable the state of South Carolina is about prayer. We need it in schools, the Legislature and our everyday lives,” violates the rights of those who do not pray.
2. The United States was formed with the intent to separate church and state. Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying that this was the meaning of their writing of the first amendment. We are a nation founded on religious freedom or freedom from religion. The pilgrims came to escape religious persecution and there were so many denominations of religion by the time the Constitution was written that it became clear that the first amendment needed to be written to allow for freedom of religion. The point is, the government declared no religion was right AND it was not up to said government to get involved in religious matters for THIS VERY REASON!
3. What about those who are religious, but do not pray? What if they find their spirituality through other ways such as meditation? Isn’t it limiting to say that the state is a state of prayer when not everyone in the state prays?
I just hope this bill does not pass.
I hold true Jeffersonian Republican ideals, where government is not involved in the lives of Americans unless a specific group of Americans are being singled out or unless all people are not being given equal rights. That is what the Constitution’s signers wanted when they signed it, protecting Americans in the process.
Now, we are trying to trample these freedoms, protections and our forefathers’ legacies by trying to inject government into more aspects of our lives than any American deserves. What comes next? An Orwellian police state? That kind of control is what I fear from our government.