Thursday, April 29, 2010

Arizona's (un)Commons

By now, everyone has heard about the law passed in Arizona last week that requires local police to stop people they reasonably suspect are undocumented to determine their immigration status.

For people concerned about social equity and finding commons-based solutions to the world’s problems, this law should be a major cause for alarm. The Commons must be more than the things we share; it has to be about more than alternatives to the rampant privatization of lands, resources and ideas. The Commons should also be about the trust and relationships that make up the fabric of our communities.

So much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric has been “greenwashed” to couch itself in the language of protecting the environment and the Commons that I wonder where many ‘commoners’ fall. I’d propose that the difference is that the threats to the Commons for us are the powerful interests that seek to shrink, privatize and disinvest; whereas restrictionists and xenophobes see the threats as regular people they view as unworthy of enjoying the Commons.

Sadly, the anti-immigrant line that won in Arizona seems to have some national following. A poll released this week showed that 60% of voters nationwide favor the Arizona law, even though nearly the same percentage (58%) have concerns that the law’s provisions would violate civil rights.

Maybe it’s a matter of competing Commons. The Commons of basic rights and liberties that we all (should in principle) share can be compromised for the sake of the Commons of public safety, schools, hospitals and public lands, IF the scapegoat is fabricated the right way.

1 comment:

Mazarine said...

Dear Sean and Kim,

Thanks for blogging about this draconian, Jim-Crow era law.

As a resident of Texas, I am dismayed that this idea seems to be gaining traction here as well.

You can be certain I will be fighting it tooth and nail, and painting "I'm a Mexican, Arrest Me" on the back of my car, and encouraging all of my friends to do likewise.

This law is a violation of human rights.