BY RICHARD L. FRICKER
This isn’t the kind of heat you read about in Southern novels, when wise and seasoned men sit on the porch telling stories about the war, women, bootleggers and some crazy son’bitch in the next county. No, this is real heat, 100-plus degrees for countless days, heat that has its own personality, that keeps you inside as if cornered by a predator.
The internal clock slows, might even say regresses. Ambition caught the last train north. There’s nothing to do but stay inside, remember and think. Neither action takes much energy, nor is guaranteed to keep you sane from the heat haunting at the windows.
Remembering and thinking often get tangled up in each other, unless one has the clarity of Buddha, the patience of Job and the determination of Elmer Fudd. It’s best to let the mind do what it does best and just go along for the ride, reservations not required.
When it comes to thinking, or the lack thereof, one need look no further than Oklahoma City state Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Apple. Sen. Shortey is the bright bulb who wants an Oklahoma immigration law he calls Arizona Plus. Ariz. + basically makes it illegal to even know or converse with an actual Mexican. It’s not known if speaking Spanish would qualify Anglos for arrest, but things seem to be moving in that direction.
Sen. Shortey claims to have a broad base of support for his race-based legislation. What is amusing, if it weren’t so pathetic, is his reasoning.
The senator is Native American and spent a portion of his early years living on a reservation in South Dakota. He’s on record saying undocumented aliens are “not welcome” in Oklahoma.
In March, as noted in The Observer, “Shortey told a group of reporters with the Institute for Justice and Journalism that he knows what it feels like to have one’s land stolen, and he doesn’t want it to happen again through an influx of undocumented immigrants.”
The Senator apparently has no qualms living on lands taken in seven Indian Territory land giveaways between 1889 and 1893. Apparently his Native American ethos stayed in South Dakota and his Anglo ethos kicks in when there is political hay to be harvested.
If Sen. Shortey knew the history of his adopted state, or the “Mexicans” he eagerly would have arrested and deported to please the racist and xenophobic mobs masquerading as patriots, he would understand how uninformed, to the point of buffoonery, his proposal appears to educated and sane people. But, alas, doubtful Sen. Shortey knows or cares to know how large a public fool he is making of himself.
It is interesting Sen. Shortey fails to identify with illegal Mexicans rather than the mainly white evangelical legislative Taliban with whom he has chosen to travel. Sen. Shortey has more in common with the Mexican laborer than the likes of Rep. Randy Terrill, author of anti-immigrant HB 1804, or fellow senator Anthony Sykes, Terrill’s fellow traveler and hand-holder when there is an immigrant to be disdained or otherwise taken advantage of for the amusement of the Tea Bag and otherwise righteous population.
As a Native American Sen. Shortey should know that parts of Oklahoma were once part of Mexico. When Texas broke away from Mexico in 1836 it took part of what would become Oklahoma.
Other parts of Oklahoma belonged to various native tribes that were consumed by the White man’s Manifest Destiny. Other parts that remained with Mexico were taken by the U.S. as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ending the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.
The war had been the contrivance of President James A. Polk. Polk wanted the northern portions of Mexico, about one-third of the country, to fulfill the destiny of the United States. In order to get what destiny required we invaded Mexico, occupied their major cities and signed a treaty that ultimately was not worth the paper it was written on, much like we had been doing with our own native tribes for at least a generation.
If the senator wants to have sympathy with a people who have had their lands taken by force then the native tribes of the plains and the Mexicans of northern Mexico should be his natural allies. It could be a good question: with such natural allies why would he join the efforts of the white clan against those with whom he shares so much?
Looking at the racial portion of the question we find even more reason to question Sen. Shortey’s motives. According to a 2009 report by the Mexican National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN) 80% of the Mexican population is Mestizo.
Mestizo is a mix of European and Amerindian, indigenous Indians just like Shortey claims to be, with light mixes from other parts of the globe. Interestingly, the study says that genetically the mix of European and Indian genes are about equal. Armed with this information it would be easy to conclude that the folks the senator wants ridden from the land are closer to the senator’s helix than those he claims to be protecting.
It might be worthwhile to toss into the mix a report from the senator’s own legislative body from 2006 which says in essence that Terrill’s HB 1804 and Shortey’s Ariz+ are completely unnecessary. The report says, but in a lot more words, that the claims of illegals draining the economy, health care, taking jobs is as accurate as George W. Bush’s claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction, a myth on a good day.
So, Sen. Shortey says illegals are not welcome, his own senate reports that most state agencies don’t care, and there is no drain.
Sen. Shortey says he knows what it’s like to have land stolen from his people. So, he wants to punish the only people in the region who have actually had land taken at gun point, Mexicans.
Mexicans are a blend of Native North American and European, who have been shoved out of their land by a bunch of white guys with guns. Shortey says he KNOWS what it’s like?
It would be more reasonable to opine that Sen. Shortey only plays the Native American card when it’s useful. He really wants an upfront seat at the White Clan banquet, hammering a bunch of workers who can’t fight back is not a problem.
Oklahoma’s Sen. Shortey is not unlike the hundreds of other legislators around the country who have found the road to political success paved with bigotry and hypocrisy. The problem is they don’t care.
Whether touting the tri-corn of a Tea Bag clown or the shark suit of a neo-con they are willing to pillar the republic, their friends, their race, religion or any of the other instruments a society uses to make itself whole in order to have power and privilege. Dante had a place for such people.
Sen. Shortey needs to read more, history especially. He should read about what the Romans did to the Visigoths, about and what happens when you slap the downtrodden until they have nothing to lose, and then read Emiliano Zapata’s statement, “Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas.”
– Richard L. Fricker lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Martian Llama Racing Explained, is available at http://www.richardfricker.com.