Monday, May 17, 2010

On Immigrants: The Right Questions

The issues around the recent Arizona law and other concerns dealing with ethnic studies have brought out the best and worst from people. I claim that this is simply an issue that cannot be ignored, but has to be dealt with in a truly political way.

I think Alain Badiou, who has worked for immigrant rights in France, has written in his Ethics some important things that need to be considered in dealing with Arizona and the signs of anti-immigrant feelings. He notes that we are still living in the reality of nation-states and borders; that reality does not look like it is going to change anytime soon. Considering this reality, the questions we need to ask are whether or not the State is dealing in an egalitarian/civil manner.

There are 3 questions that need to be asked.
1. How do we concretely treat the people who are here?
2. How do we deal with those who would like to be here?
3. What is it about the situation in the original countries that makes them want to leave?

These 3 questions get at the heart of the matter. These questions, in this particular order, are a better way of formulating the problem than cries for "open borders" (which don't mean anything, honestly) or the blatant racist/nationalist opinions of various gasbags. This is a serious political issue that cannot be ignored...

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