The Ox Bow Incident
Rodolfo F. Acuña
Reading the posts in the Huffingtonpost.com I was surprised at the poor grasp of history of many of the wannabe bloggers. One wrote, “In the last five minutes I've seen about half a dozen references to Nazi Germany, which tells me that those who keep using these references have no frame of reference about what happened in Nazi Germany, and have nothing constructive to add to the argument, whether their argument be pro or con.” It continued, “Is this bad law? To be sure. Does it warrant comparisons with Nazi Germany? Absolutely not.” The point was that genocide had not been committed—(yet).
As a historian, I recall the famous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller in 1946 about the inactivity of German intellectuals in the rise to power of the Nazis and their targeting chosen groups.
THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.
At what point in history should people have collectively spoken out?
Let's not be hypocritical. Arizonians are targeting Mexican-looking people. To the credit of a large number of people, there has been a moral outrage. SB 1070, signed into law this week, among other things, requires all law enforcement officers in Arizona to act on “reasonable” suspicion that an individual is in the country illegally—a law that the Sheriff of Pima County has sternly criticized.
Two days later, the legislature passed,
HB 2281 (bill attacking ethnic/raza studies) states that any course,
class, instruction, or material may not be primarily designed for
pupils of a particular ethnic group as determined by the State
Superintendent of Instruction. State aid will be withheld from any
school district or charter school that does not comply.
It was signed by the Arizona governor. This act sets the stage to attack the Tucson Public Schools highly successful La Raza Studies program and to outlaw books which the censors deem critical of the United States. This follows on the heels of the Texas Board of Education whitewashing of history.
Everyone should see The Ox Bow incident (1943), especially the following scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eezMiIuNNn8. When does a society become a lynch mob? Does this warrant the analogy to Nazi-like actions? I would say that Nazism took time to whip itself up and did not begin with the mass genocide of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals etc.
Between 1848-1928, god fearing Americans lynched at least 597 Mexicans. This does not count Mexicans killed by Texas Rangers and other so-called citizens.
I write about these injustices to prevent making the same—I hate to use the word—mistakes as the past. The Arizona law is beyond mean spirited. It is reflective of a dark mood that many American people are going through—these so called Minute Men want blood--they are no ready—nor do they want—to listen to reason.
THEN THEY CAME for me, and people DID speak up.