Saturday, May 15, 2010

Squatting in Arizona

Human migration?
Is it proper a community restricts access to its resources?

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

These words are not part of the International Declaration of Human Rights, or the U.S. Constitution, but are from a sonnet contributed in 1883 by 34-year old Emma Lazarus toward building New York's Statue of Liberty. The poem offers "world-wide welcome" for the homeless. So are communities in the USA now obligated to accept all comers?

I don't think so.

Miss Emma had no authority to open the land to everyone. At that time, many indigenous communities and nations within the Americas were being forcibly subdued, destroyed or purged. Large-scale ethnic cleansing was taking place; settlers were wanted to repopulate native territories. Asian and "colored" prospective settlers were discouraged.

Another dimension is continuing community investment since colonization. Community members invest in roads, bridges and other infrastructure through taxes. Some provide time & sweat, some are killed for defense. When sacrifice is disregarded, people become discouraged from participation and community-building. Big government for big corporate interests has sucked the vitality of local communities. Americans are taxed to support wars in the Middle East and Asia; they are taxed to bailout giant corporations, while their own communities are dismantled, services cut, resources extracted. Expect some people to fight - protecting the little they have.