Greg Sargent seems surprised at the numbers from the new NBC/WSJ poll: 64% of Americans support the Arizona law, even though many believe it may lead to racial profiling.
To which I say, no shit!
I’m totally unsurprised that the majority of Americans dislike recent immigrants and support draconian measures for them. This is consistent with history and American attitudes towards non-white races. Most Americans will not be targets of the law, will never be asked to show their papers, and will rest happily on the products of illegal immigrant labor without having to worry about their provenance.
This is nothing new at all, of course. Here’s John Jay, the first Supreme Court Chief Justice, in Federalist No. 2:
Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people–a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government…
The purist Anglo-Saxon ideal continues in one strain of majoritarian American politics, the same anti-immigrant strain that has allowed everyone from Know Nothings to Prohibitionists to get a foot in the door. It’s the same strain that runs through the Arizona law, even with its proclamations to avoid racial profiling. There’s no doubt in the bill’s author’s mind that “driving while Mexican” will continue to be a great way to get arrested in Arizona.
Luckily for us, we have the Constitution, and a countervailing force that demands that we treat the rights of the minority as equal to the rights of the majority. We are still bound to the same belief that all men are created equal and that we have inalienable rights. One of those rights, according to the Bill of Rights and common goddamned sense, is the right to equal protection under the law.
When one has the right to stop and search anyone, it’s inevitable that personal bias comes out, even with stated policies against racial profiling (see: NYPD).
Tl;Dr – The American majority doesn’t care about or for immigrants and never has. That doesn’t make the Arizona law not wrong. Thank God for the Fourteenth Amendment.