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Home / Articles / Views / Danish Plan /  Polis plays the Nazi card
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Thursday, May 20,2010

Polis plays the Nazi card

By Paul Danish

Following the passage of Arizona’s new immigration law last month, Boulder Congressman Jared Polis unburdened himself of the following thoughts to the POLITICO website:

“It is absolutely reminiscent of second-class status of Jews in Germany prior to World War II when they had to have their papers with them at all times and were subject to routine inspections at the suspicion of being Jewish.

“I fear that Arizona is headed for a police state, and it really underscores the need for immigration reform at the federal level to fix our system.

“I think it’s a very fair comparison, and I hope that we’re not headed on the same trajectory that Nazi Germany was. But this was a very recent experience for Jewish Americans and Jews worldwide, and it’s something that when we see similarities we start ringing alarm bells.

“Many Jews have been uneasy with President Obama’s policy on Israel… but when they see scary policies, endorsed by mainstream Republicans, signed into law by mainstream Republicans, like this Arizona law, it means the only choice for Jewish voters is the Democratic Party.”’ Well, that’s the first genuinely stupid thing he’s said.

For openers, it trivializes the Holocaust, but save that discussion for another day.

It is true that Jews in pre-war Nazi Germany had to carry identification papers that showed they were Jewish at all times, and that those papers were subject to inspection on demand.

But it is also true that Nazi Germany required everyone in the county — Herrenvolk and Untermenchen alike — to obtain identification papers — as did pre-Nazi Germany back to Bismarck, as does post-Nazi Germany to this day, and as do most countries in the EU. Carrying identity documents in itself does not make a country a police state — although it seems to be a necessity for both totalitarian states and welfare states — its what’s on them and who checks them and how they use the information that matters. National IDs do gnaw at personal freedom and privacy, but when it comes to first steps down the road to serfdom, sobriety check points, urine tests and no-knock drug raids — things Congress has mindlessly voted for decade after decade without a peep of objection from its alleged civil liberties watchdogs — are much worse.

The real oppression in the Third Reich, by the way, did not begin with the issuance of identity papers. It began with the censuses of 1933 and 1939, which, like the American census of 2010, required you to divulge your race and ethnicity. The census data was used to create the databases and registries that identified Jews, Gypsies and assorted other non-Aryans. The identity papers were the final tip of the iceberg and, when it came to determining whose door was going to be kicked in at midnight, the least important part.

The Nazis issued all sorts of identity documents that had to be produced on demand; it was a means of intimidation and control. One the most common was the “Arbeitbuch” or “Labor Book,” without which you couldn’t get a job. More about that in a moment.

For the record, the State of Arizona does not require its citizens to obtain and carry identity documents (unless they want to drive a car, of course).

Its newly passed law does require non-American citizens to carry identity documents showing that they’re in the country legally and produce them if a police officer or other official asks to see them — as has existing federal law since the Roosevelt administration.

The Arizona law was deliberately patterned after the language in the federal statute in this respect. If Polis is hearing the sound of jackboots on the streets of Phoenix and Tucson, it’s an echo from Washington, D.C.

However, it is the last paragraph of Polis’ statement — the one suggesting that mainstream Republican support of the Arizona law “means the only choice for Jewish voters is the Democratic Party” — that took real chutzpah.

If Arizona “is headed for a police state” because it adopted a law that requires non-citizens to carry identity papers, what are we to make of a proposal for immigration reform that was presented last week by Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer, Harry Reid, Robert Menendez, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Durbin? Among other things, it proposes turning the Social Security Card into a high-tech national identity card with embedded biometric information which every American would be issued — and which they would be required to present to an employer if they wanted a job. (Like Polis and myself, Schumer and Feinstein are Jewish. Schumer is the principal drafter of the proposal.)

The card is intended to prevent illegal aliens from getting work in the United States.

So Jews, not to mention everyone else, are supposed to vote Democratic because Arizona cops can ask people they suspect of being in the country illegally to show their papers, yet at the same time be completely sanguine over the fact that several Democratic members of the United States Senate are proposing legislation that will issue every American citizen a latterday, high-tech Arbeitbuch that he or she will have to present in order to get a job.

In other words, the Democratic Party’s idea of “immigration reform” is to require all American citizens to have documents. This gives a whole new dimension of meaning to the concept of blaming America first.

Now then, if being required to carry documents and present them to the authorities when they suspect you of a crime is a step down the slippery slope to fascism when it is required of noncitizens, then isn’t it a much larger step toward fascism when it is required of American citizens?

And if that it is case — and it selfevidently is — then why is it that Congressman Polis is condemning Arizona and not condemning Sen. Schumer and his merry band of blue state brown shirts?

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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