Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Rand Paul’s Discrimination Under the Law

I’ve been following Rand Paul’s views on civil rights over the past couple days, interested by the division that Paul seems to make between the idea of racism and the intervention of government. He’s against racial discrimination, but should the government protect citizens from it?

In Paul’s opinion, he makes clear that he does not think the government should step into the realm of private business. He’s a libertarian. And his reluctance to endorse the Civil Rights Act of 1964 supports basic principles of libertarianism: small–if nonexistent–government, individual rights above all, and belief in the free market. When Rachel Maddow put his libertarian thinking to real-life scenarios like private restaurants refusing to serve black customers, Paul refused to answer directly. Though he espouses that he doesn’t support discrimination of any kind, he would not vote to protect these customers. In Paul’s view, the private business owner can discriminate as he or she wishes.

Moreover, Bob Cesca connects Paul’s troubling stand with the Tea Party’s racial issues in The Huffington Post:

However, he obviously supports allowing businesses to engage in racial discrimination with impunity. Evidently, if the government says it’s against the law to run a whites-only business, this is a bridge too far for Rand Paul.

Even more troubling, Paul gave this convoluted and misguided suggestion that goes against ADA access policies. Essentially, his viewpoint for people with disabilities is this: If you can give an employee in a wheelchair a first-floor office rather than spend thousands on installing an elevator for the person to access a second-floor office, than this solution should meet societal standards.

Separate but equal was shut down long ago. However, separate but equal is fine by Rand Paul. Is this viewpoint what we want in a voting member of Congress?

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Filed under: politics, racism, republican, , , , , , , , , , ,

Want to Teach in Arizona? Better Lose the Accent

Joshua Lott for The Wall Street Journal

Okay, trying not to rant about this one. Deep breaths. The craziness in Arizona is isolated, I tell myself, and will be overturned.

The Wall Street Journal reports that teachers with “heavy” or “ungrammatical” accents must learn proper English–or be fired. Arizona’s racist new law discriminates against public school teachers. Outraged yet? Don’t worry: Those with accents will not be fired immediately. They have the option of enrolling in classes to “improve” (i.e. lose their native) accents.

Makes me wonder if this only applies to bilingual Spanish-English speakers, or if the law discriminates equally against those with Southern or Brooklyn accents.

Not only do these teachers need to lose their accents to keep their jobs, they must also face the irony that they were part of a movement to hire more bilingual teachers in the 1990’s, when No Child Left Behind laws required the recruitment of these teachers to secure federal funding.

Irony, and ridiculousness. I am a U.S. citizen. Makes me want to walk the streets of Phoenix or Tucson without my driver’s license. Will I fear police detainment? Legalized harassment?

Still hard for me to believe that the state of Arizona has enacted such shameful, hateful, extremely odious legislation.

Filed under: immigration, racism, , , , , ,

Yes, Harvard Law School Students Can Be Racist, Too

A third-year student in Harvard Law School made racist remarks at a dinner earlier this week, then tried to clarify his wrong-headed remarks in an email. The recipients of this email forwarded it to their friends, who sent it to their friends, who shared the law student’s muddled thoughts with even more folks. The power of the Internet.

Among his remarkable comments is this one, justifying racism through a science experiment:

I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair.

One bad seed, as the cliche goes, does not mean we need to throw out the apple. But what’s most distressing to me is that this law student–pedigreed, entitled, and holding discriminatory views–is poised to join the highest echelons of power. How will his racist views affect his real-world actions?

Arguments against the uneducated nature of ignorance don’t apply here. Elite, East Coast, overeducated folks can be racist, too.

Filed under: boston, harvard, law, racism, , , ,

Alabama Gubernatorial Candidate: “We Speak English”

When I first saw this political ad, I thought it was a joke.

Tim James is running for governor of Alabama. His platform? Only offer government services in English.

As James says, “This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it.”

It pains me to embed his shameful video on my blog, but it’s important to share the ignorance and thinly-veiled prejudice still occurring at top levels of government today.

Filed under: language, politics, racism, , , , , , , ,

The Odiousness of Arizona’s Immigration Bill

Jim Wallis provides a searing indictment of Arizona’s shameful immigration bill in today’s Huffington Post. The repressive, discriminatory bill has passed both houses of the Arizona legislature and awaits the governor’s signature (she is likely to sign the bill).

Why is this law so discriminatory?

Senate Bill 1070 enables and protects police in racial profiling. The law empowers police with the ability to stop anyone whom the officer believes there is “reasonable suspicion” he or she might be an undocumented immigrant. As Wallis notes:

Those without identification papers, even if they are legal, are subject to arrest; so don’t forget your wallet on your way to work if you are Hispanic in Arizona. You can also be arrested if you are stopped and are simply with people who are undocumented — even if they are your family.

Alfredo Gutierrez, former state senator and founder and editor of La Frontera Times.com, a daily digital newspaper that advocates for undocumented immigrants and immigration reform, stated the issue more pointedly: this is a bill that goes after brown people.

During an episode of On Point yesterday, Gutierrez challenged Rep. John Kavanaugh, the prime sponsor of the Arizona bill. Kavanaugh defended the bill’s tenets, arguing that the issue of illegal immigration was one of geography–not racial profiling. The Republican lawmaker’s reasoning is that illegal immigration is strictly a problem of proximity to Mexico. Don’t worry, Kavanaugh seems to imply: people of all races will be pulled over in Arizona, whether white, black, or brown.

The simple, unfortunate truth is that this new law will legalize racial profiling. As Wallis states in his passionate article:

Arizona’s SB 1070 must be named as a social and racial sin, and should be denounced as such by people of faith and conscience across the nation. This is not just about Arizona, but about all of us, and about what kind of country we want to be. It’s time to stand up to this new strategy of “deportation by attrition,” which I heard for the first time today in Arizona. It is a policy of deliberate political cruelty, and it should be remembered that “attrition” is a term of war.

Filed under: immigration, , , , , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
August 2019
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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