The White Rose
Rodolfo F. Acuña
Linda Greenhouse in the New York Times (April 26, 2010), wrote “I’m glad
I’ve already seen the Grand Canyon. Because I’m not going back to
Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the
appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last
week has turned it into.” Greenhouse was referring to a state law that
requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person
about whom they have “reasonable suspicion” that “the person is an alien
who is unlawfully present in the United States?”
It does not take a rocket scientist to deduce that the law profiles
Latinos—the hue of their skin makes them suspect. Those who know history
remember the repatriation drives of the Great Depression and numerous
historical events where Mexican Americans were discriminated against.
The gigantic pro-immigrant marches testify to this awareness.
Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Arizona) has called on the nation’s
business community to protest the law by withholding its convention
business. While I believe in boycotts and I respect them, I believe we
should take our actions to the next level.
Arizona is an easy target – it is a small state and small states are
always singled out while states like California are ignored. Example,
Latinos did not coalesce after the passage of Proposition 187 and other
draconian laws targeting Latinos and minorities. Indeed, even Latino
elected officials discouraged massive demonstrations fearing that they
would hurt the Democratic Party.
Similarly, Texas passed a law in 1975 depriving undocumented immigrant
children of a free public education. Fortunately, it was struck down in
1982 by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote. I have no illusions about the
present Supreme Court’s fairness. The court is composed by a core of
ideologues that use the pretext of judicial restraint to deconstruct
Without a doubt a moral case can be made for a boycott of Arizona.
However, time is not our ally. The summer season is already casting its
sunlight over the state – a time that much of the state goes into
hibernation. I remember getting a hotel room in Phoenix half of the
So what then should people do? We cannot dismiss this blatant attack on
the entire race. At the same time, our narrative must be honed. House,
Senate and gubernatorial candidates, from Arizona are running scared.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Senator John McCain have joined the racist.
Getting elected is more important than decency. They are not
unintelligent goons such as Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They are scared
and have decided to join the lynch mob.
Cardinal Roger Mahoney has compared the law to Nazism. This is not
hyperbole. Fear of losing something especially to dark people is
irrational, i.e., the anti-immigrant cabal makes millions of dollars
annually by stoking this fear. What hope is there that the Democrats
will do the right thing? Most elected officials care about one thing,
getting elected, i.e., healthcare.
Then what are we supposed to do? Roll over? No. We have to fight. We
have to get in the fascists’ faces. The demonstrations have to continue
but we cannot isolate Arizona. Bigotry is infectious and we should
descend on Arizona with cameras, tape recorders and “White Roses” in
hand, and then follow the Mexican American leadership in the state –
encouraging daily marches on racist business establishments.
The White Rose was the symbol of opposition to Adolph Hitler. Those
standing up to bigotry believed that it was the duty of a citizen to
stand up against an evil regime. As I said, people are afraid, and a
lynch mob is not subdued by placating it or isolating it.