Tuesday, April 27, 2010


By Ivan G. Goldman

Now that Arizona cops will be stopping people with brown skin and asking to see their papers, there’s consternation among state authorities who must follow the will of the voters. Just how will they fulfill these grave new responsibilities in their brave new white world?

Well, there’s no reason to re-invent the wheel. All they have to do is study how similar governments in the past executed their own citizen-defining policies. For this, there’s no better standard than the German Reich of 1933-45, which also had to identify and deal with a portion of the population whose position was no longer tenable.

There are differences, of course. The Arizona law makes the very existence of some people illegal. In Germany being Jewish wasn’t illegal, just penalized. But there are enough similarities between Nazi Germany and 21st century Arizona to learn from past mistakes and successes.

Also of use to Arizona will be the Nuremberg Laws that defined who could hold certain jobs or study at certain schools and all manner of other matters that will soon come up.

In order to exact the penalties required by law, the German government found it useful to require all Jews to wear yellow stars. This necessitated sending the Gestapo and other thugs out into the neighborhoods asking questions so that all those who ought to be wearing yellow stars were properly identified first. It worked fine. There were always neighbors around happy to cooperate with the process. Clearly there are plenty of civic-minded Arizonans willing to provide similar services to police.

Jews that wore stars could be rounded up because they wore stars. Jews that didn’t wear stars could be rounded up for not wearing stars. After arriving in the camps they received tattoos on their arms to help guards ascertain just who was who.

At first the Reich thought it might be a little touchy if they were to round up Jewish World War I veterans along with the other Jews, so they were given a pass. But eventually the population got used to Jews being rounded up and no longer made such distinctions, so the government, unimpeded, rounded up veterans too. Anne Frank's father Otto Frank was one of these veterans. Similarly in Arizona when the cops stop brown veterans and ask them for their papers it might weigh on the consciences of some white Arizonans, but like the good Germans, they'll get used to it in time.

Yellow stars and tattoos would be particularly useful in Arizona when it comes time to break up those families in which some brown people are citizens and some aren’t. When the state sends people back over the border, if they’ve received the appropriate tattoos it will make the identifying process oh so much easier should any of them try to return.

I hope I’ve eased the minds of Arizonans who feared they may have to solve all these questions on their own.

Exit Blue, a political satire by Ivan G. Goldman (Black Heron Press; 2010), is now available. See http://blackheron.mav.net/Exit%20Blue.html for more information.


tnlib said...

Revealing piece. One of the sad things is that Kennedy and two-step McCain sponsored an immigration reform bill in 2005 but it never moved out of committee. Now it's Obama's fault that we don't have one.

Question: I know there's a fat chance in hell of this but I used to know an Ivan Goldberg in Colorado. A possibility?


Ivan G. Goldman said...

Absolutely lived in Colo., Leslie NoLastName.

tnlib said...

I cannot believe I wrote Goldberg. Me and Sarah Palin!

Well, I hesitate to tell you this, but I was the crazy librarian. Please don't throw darts. I can't remember if my last name was McShane or Parsley at the time (divorce).

If you are who I think you are, I have thought of you from time to time over the years. Today I saw an "ivan" on someone's blog. He didn't fit, so I googled you and found a bio (ALA) and your blog - which is quite good, btw, and I would like to put you on my roll whether we used to know each other or not.