August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Sanctioning of Hate on the Arizona Border

The sanctioning of hate on the Arizona border

By Brenda Norrell
Photo: Crosses, at San Xavier on Tohono O'odham land, to remember migrants who died in Arizona's Sonoran Desert. Photo Brenda Norrell.

TUCSON -- Native Americans living along the US/Mexico border spoke out this week against the militarization of their homelands, racial profiling and the lack of support for humanitarian water to save lives along the border.

After releasing their statements, tirades of hatred, threats and intimidation were sent by way of e-mails and comments. The racist taunts were similar to those of the Civil Rights Era.

With the arrival of the KKK, Minutemen and other hate groups in southern Arizona, these racist attacks have intensified.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio has made his good old boy appeal to the closet Klansmen of America. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, not without her “George Bush moments,” has been emboldened by the action of the Arizona State Legislature and provided a platform of racism and hate with the passage of SB 1070 and other legislation.

Now, there is another platform to fuel border racism and sanitize hate. It is the news media.

In southern Arizona, many newspapers allow unmoderated comments to be posted on their news stories. This results in slander and baseless accusations of crimes, including drug running, to be posted with the articles.

No where else does the mainstream print media allow slander, accusations of felonies without facts, or outright lies to be published. The result is defamation of character and information that can even put lives at risk posted by hate groups and individuals.

Meanwhile, in television news, hate groups are sanctioned by the media. Would TV crews sit down for a cup of coffee, or friendly roundtable, with a group from the KKK?

The result of this climate of hate is that all people of color along the border are targeted with racial profiling, excessive force and violations of law carried out by Border Patrol agents and local police. Humanitarians and activists, regardless of the color of their skin, are also targeted by police and Border Patrol agents.

The politicians and lobbyists are smiling all the way to the bank.

The politicians and lobbyists feed the national news media the stories and fuel the fear. They profiteer from the billions of dollars in contracts for the pieces of border wall built here and there, for spy towers that don’t work and the drones which endanger the lives of residents on the ground. They spin their public relations for multi-million dollar contracts for security thugs.

They fuel the racism at the border to provide more contracts for private prisons, including CCA and GEO, and the transportation of detained migrants for companies like Wackenhut. Imprisoning people of color has become big business for Arizona.

With the collapse of the media, these profiteers have found it easy to manipulate the news and distort the truth.

They found it easy to jump start America's war on brown people.

Read this week’s statements from Native Americans:
Ofelia Rivas, O’odham, to National Guard: We do not want you on our land
Mike Wilson, Tohono O’odham who puts out water for migrants, responds to threat of poisoned water
Jose Matus, Yaqui ceremonial leader and director of the Indigenous Alliance without Borders, voices support for new border watch patrols to document abuse by Border Patrol agents and police

Also see: Southern Poverty Law Center's map of hate groups in America: