There has been some stir up online about a bill currently being considered in the Arizona state legislature. Members of the American Muslim and Buddhist communities have pointed out the religious bigotry behind the bill, but there is even more behind lurking behind the words of this bill.
The 2010 “Arizona Foreign Decisions Act” has been reintroduced in 2011 as HB 2582. Among other (statutory) provisions:
* Declares the acceptance of Arizona into the Union was a “compact”.
* Declares “Congress has no authority to preempt state regulation of state courts.”
* Prohibits courts from implementing, referring or incorporating or using “a tenet of any body of religious sectarian law” and specifically includes sharia law, canon law, halacha and karma.
* Exempts from the above prohibitions decisions based on Anglo-American legal tradition, laws or case law from Great Britain prior enactment of the statute, or the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, “and the principles on which the United States was founded.”
* Prohibits use of any case law or statute from a non-U.S. jurisdiction or “foreign body”, including the United Nations.
* Declares decisions that make use of a body of religious sectarian law or foreign law declared void and usages declared to be grounds for impeachment.
* Declares these provisions apply to Federal courts sitting in diversity jurisdiction.
* Requires any state or Federal court that construes this statute must do so in a way to confine the power of Congress and the federal judiciary.
I'm going to be quite blunt. This is a secessionist piece of legislation driven by privileged WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) racists intent on driving people of color, religious minorities, and anyone else deemed a threat underground, or out of Arizona all together. The inclusion of canon law, no doubt, is a pointed shot at the predominantly Catholic Latino/Latina community, which has been a frequent target of all varieties of hatred under the sun in Arizona. Religious and racial oppression have often been linked in the United States (and many other nations), precisely because religious minorities are also, at least in part, racial minorities.
But this bill's stated contempt for not only national law, but also international law, adds another element - that of secession from the union - which I haven't seen highlighted in other discussions. The snow birds and others who have become accustomed to enjoying all those pristine golf courses and perfectly green lawns - courtesy of the disappearing Colorado River - want to drive out all the "impediments" currently blocking their paradise on earth.
The three poisons of Buddhism come to mind - greed, hatred, and ignorance. It's tough to see them coming out in such oppressive terms, but there they are none the less. Across the U.S., similar, if less wide-reaching laws are being considered in over a dozen states. While states are claiming near bankruptcy, and millions of people are struggling to find jobs, pay bills, get decent health care, and generally cover their basic needs, this is the kind of horseshit being peddled in response.
For those of you outside of the U.S., or whom aren't up on your history, there are a few interesting things to consider about Arizona.
1. It has only been an official state for 99 years, having become part of the Union on Valentines Day (lol!) in 1912.
2. The vast majority of white Arizonans arrived there only after statehood, which makes the claims of white supremacist groups and their sympathizers all the more ridiculous.
3. Arizona was part of a broad imperialist expansion of United States territory to the Pacific ocean that occurred in 1840's and 1850s.
4. Although much has been made in recent decades about undocumented Latino/Latina immigration across the Mexican/U.S., fairly large Latino/Latina communities have made parts of Arizona home for at least three centuries.
5. Navajo, Hopi, and other indigenous groups have called Arizona home for even longer than that.
Given that there isn't close to a majority of Arizona legislators currently publicly backing this bill, it probably won't become law. But I don't think it would be wise to dismiss this as the effort of some tiny fringe group. We might not have reached the stage of government ousting that has spread across the Middle East, but things are really flammable in the U.S. right now, and there's no telling what exactly could come next. All the more reason to keep training yourself in the tools of non-violence, and to help spread those tools to others, however you can.
*Photo is a graphic representation of the three poisons.