Archives for category: Civics

The Los Angeles blogger Red Queen in LA writes here about the negative consequences of avoidance.

She writes:

““…I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo… .”

“But if not you then who?

“Because someone is. Someone has been weighing in to ranks swelling with violence, bursting with hatred. A large bunch of angry folks brandished fire and fury last Friday and unleashed the overt toppling of constitutional rights, collective self-esteem and statues.

“And that same attitude which disavows culpability for provoking violence also apparently assumes innocence toward any other collective action: marching, mobbing, voting.

“It’s not just Blacks Who Matter, it is also very much true that we all of us matter, in all our actions: we do.

“When you shriek words of hate, it matters. When you wield weapons of war, it matters. When you vote or fail to do so, it matters.

“And denying so seems to be the degenerate end of that long, inexorable drain on economic power and citizenly prerogative that has increasingly marked America’s 99%.

“We have morphed into a citizenry that will not vote, will not participate in community organizations, repudiates culpability for the mob we comprise.”

This is what the Koch brothers and the DeVos family wants. An acquiescent, uninvolved citizenry.

This is how democracy dies.

Shane Parmely is a middle school teacher in the San Diego public schools. She was driving home and was stopped at a checkpoint by the Border Patrol. The officer asked her if she was a citizen. She refused to answer. She said, “If this a border crossing?” He said no. He repeated the question. She refused to answer. She said that friends and students who were brown were stopped frequently, and she didn’t think it was right. She knew that as a white woman, all she had to do was say “yes,” and she would be waved through. She decided to take a stand. The officers (now there were two) said they were just doing their job. See the video here.

The video has gone viral. We are not accustomed to people standing up and questioning authority. It is easier to be a sheep.

“Citizens?” an agent asked her as she drove up to the checkpoint.

“Are we crossing a border?” Parmely responded.

“No. Are you United States citizens?” he repeated.

“Are we crossing a border?” Parmely repeated. “I’ve never been asked if I’m a citizen before when I’m traveling down the road.”

As the agent continued to repeat his question, Parmely told him that he could ask her the question, but she didn’t have to answer.

“You are required to answer an immigration question,” the agent said. “You are not required to answer any other questions.”

When Parmely refused to answer the question, the agent told her that she was being detained for an immigration inspection.

“So if I just come through and say, ‘Yes, I’m a citizen,’ I can just go ahead?” Parmely asked.

“If the agent is justified by the answer, then yes,” the agent responded.

“So if I have an accent, and I’m brown, can I just say, ‘Yes,’ and go ahead or do I have to prove it?” she asked. “I have a bunch of teacher friends who are sick of their kids being discriminated against.”

“Ok, I’m not discriminating against anybody,” the agent said.

Good civics lesson, Shane.

Since when are people stopped on an American highway and questioned about their citizenship?