The idea that enforcing the law is racist has become a pervasive pattern in liberal America. The most obvious example is the left’s bullying take on illegal immigration, in which they label anyone who wants to police the southern border a bigot. Now, obviously there’s nothing racist about opposing illegal immigration. For the love of God, it’s illegal immigration. You can have a ton of sympathy for the poor unfortunates who risk their lives to cross the American border–I fully understand and sympathize with people who simply want to escape the current drug cartel regime cesspool in favor of the beacon of hope that is America. But that doesn’t mean that the United States can afford to continue to usher across its borders people who don’t pay into the system yet do reap the benefits of our generous social services.
That sympathetic but pro-legal perspective makes you a racist, according to the left. Many Democrats, Time reported in 2006, say that “a hint of racism or nativism” really underlies the immigration debate. “I have no doubt that some of those involved in the debate have their position based on fear and perhaps racism because of what’s happening demographically in the country,” said Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO). Of course, Time agreed. It wasn’t a “political ploy”–instead, “there certainly is a case to be made that racial fears are informing some of the debate on immigration policy.”
The issue truly came to a head in 2010, when Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) signed into law Arizona’s senate Bill 1070, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. The bill merely allowed local law enforcement to act in accordance with federal immigration law, allowing officers to ask for identification during traffic stops if there was reasonable suspicion that the person was an illegal immigrant. The law explicitly barred racial pro- filing.
There could not have been a more race-neutral law than this. We have to show ID every time we buy a beer, every time we get on an airplane. When we’re stopped for a traffic ticket, we have to show ID. There is nothing racist about having to show identification, especially when such checks can help enforce the border.
Arizona had good reason to pass the law. There were nearly half a million illegal immigrants in the state in April 2010, when the bill became law. Violence along the Arizona border had become a massive issue for the state; much of it was driven by Mexican drug cartels, which also funneled agents across the border.
Yet Brewer was quickly raked over the coals and labeled a racist. Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles suggested that Arizonans were “reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques.” Protesters flooded Arizona, threatening Brewer personally and comparing her to Hitler; local congresspeople suggested that white supremacist groups were behind the law. Meanwhile, outside the state, the media pressured Major League Baseball to move the All-Star Game out of state; the Los Angeles City Council voted to divest from Arizona; the Phoenix Suns donned Los Suns jerseys in an attempt to make a statement. Al Sharpton, always in search of a camera without a face before it, dragged his bloated carcass down to Arizona to sneer, “The Civil War is over. Let’s not start it again with states’ rights.” Because, of course, asking people for ID was exactly the same as shackling them in the hold of a cargo ship and moving them to plantations in Alabama. As usual, Sharpton also called for civil disobedience.
President Obama himself led the charge against the law. He said, “You can try to make it really tough on people who look like they, quote, unquote look like illegal immigrants. . . . Now suddenly if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed, that’s something that could potentially happen.” Obama hosted Mexican president Felipe Calderon, who had done nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigrants crossing the American border; at that meeting, he told Calderon, “[T]he Arizona law has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion.” Minorities, he said, could be “harassed and arrested.” On the day Brewer signed the law, Obama held a press conference at which he said that the law would “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”
Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would be bringing a federal lawsuit against the state of Arizona . . . for enforcing federal law. So the Justice Department wouldn’t prosecute Black Panthers intimidating voters but would prosecute a state for obeying the law. Said Holder, SB 1070 “has the possibility of leading to racial profiling.” He then admitted he hadn’t actually read the law.
But he didn’t have to read the law. Liberals never do. The law is made in the United States. That means it’s racist. And that means it should be disobeyed, whenever and however possible.
Brewer tried to meet with Obama for months over SB 1070. He routinely ducked her. When they finally did meet, he was “patronizing,” according to Brewer’s book, Scorpions for Breakfast.
The next time they met, in January 2012, Scorpions for Breakfast had already come out. Somebody in Obama’s inner circle had read it. So Obama confronted Brewer about it on the tarmac of the airport in Arizona. There, he promptly lectured her; she responded by pointing her finger at him. She later said she felt “a little bit threatened.”
And, sure enough, the liberal bullies called her a racist for daring to point her finger. The NAACP told Politico that Brewer was playing on racist stereotypes. “What were you afraid he would do, steal your purse?” sneered Hilary O. Shelton of the NAACP. Al Sharpton used his show to promote the notion that Brewer was disrespecting Obama because he was black. Perhaps Brewer was a little bit afraid that the president of the United States might come after her personally, or her state. After all, he’d already done it over and over again.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).