The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Bush’s “Civil Rights Commissioner” suggests internment camps for Arab Americans

Aug 12, 2002

If there is a future terrorist attack on America and it comes from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights.

These words didn’t come from an official of a white supremacist organization. Nor were they uttered privately by some politician or government official and leaked to the press. Believe it or not, these words came, during a public hearing, from Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission – the very government body that’s supposed to protect the civil rights of minorities!

Kirsanow also said that he could foresee that “the public would demand” concentration camps for Arab Americans if Arab terrorists strike again. In other words, the Bush administration is already orchestrating the call for concentration camps. As if this much were not outrageous enough, another member of the Civil Rights Commission, Jennifer Braceras, added: “There’s no constitutional right not to be inconvenienced or even embarrassed.

Kirsanow and Braceras made these remarks in Detroit, the city with the highest concentration of Arabs in the U.S., in a meeting whose purpose was, supposedly, to hear the concerns of Arab people about the government’s abuse of their civil rights since Sept. 11. These circumstances aggravate the meaning of their words even more and give them the character of a provocation.

These bigots representing the Big Bigot, George W. himself, have no shame! It was not an “ethnic group” that attacked the World Trade Center – it was 19 individuals who were from Arab countries. It’s not an entire ethnic or racial group that commits a terrorist act. If it were so, the whole white population, or at least the whole Anglo-Saxon Protestant population, of the U.S. should be held under suspicion after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Finally, what makes these remarks really serious is that behind Kirsanow and Braceras is the U.S. government. When government officials talk about putting “Arab Americans” in concentration camps, they certainly don’t mean Arab Americans like John Sununu, who was Father Bush’s chief of staff ten years ago. They say things like this precisely because they want to create and whip up prejudice against the Arab population and turn it into a target. For it’s a lie that a great many ordinary Americans, by themselves, “would demand” that an Arab family be put in a concentration camp just because of their ethnicity or race.

What the U.S. government is doing here is basically not different than what it did during World War II against the Japanese Americans, or what the Nazi regime in Germany did against the Jews: to turn one part of the population against a small, defenseless minority so that the government, and behind them the big corporations, can more easily take rights away from the whole population, impose sacrifices on the population, especially workers, and send them to fight wars in the interests of the big corporations.