Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wait, What?

Most have likely heard by now of the law in Arizona just signed that police are to question the right to be in Arizona if the "person of interest" is "reasonably suspicious" of being an illegal alien (i.e. from Mexico). I am listening to my nightly liberal rant, anodyne for the soul, on Keith Olberman's Countdown. Olberman was talking to Howard Feinman (sp?) regarding the new alien law in AZ. Feinman compared the new alien law and its requirement to "present one's papers" as proof of citizenship etc to "medieval Europe."

Huh? What medieval European area could he be referring to? There were citizenship papers? Sounds all very odd to me. Kind posters help me out, esp. on the place of Jews in certain kingdoms that might have needed some documentation.

4 comments:

Tom Elrod said...

Sounds mostly like Feinman's just using medieval Europe to mean "time when things were really bad," without actually thinking through his historical analogy.

Matthew Gabriele said...

I'm sure, as Tom said, Feinman simply meant "that terrible time, back then." That being said, Lateran IV required all Jews and Muslims to dress distinctly. I'm sure there are some later medieval Castillian laws that are even more draconian too...

Medieval History Geek said...

Yeah - pretty much a crock. Of course you did have documentation requirements for manumitted slaves. Was documentation required as proof of conversion in Muslim Spain? I seem to recall a discussion about that once upon a time - somewhere - but don't recall the specifics, outcome or even where it took place. The Muslims - at least the upper-class ones - were very concerned with genealogy so maybe I'm munging one concept into another. I doubt Feinman had any historical reality in mind.

Anonymous said...

Feinman obviously was referring to the many medieval European rulers who tried to keep Mexicans out of their territories.... [/end joke]

Seriously: yes, he is just using "medieval" as an all-purpose invective, and possibly doesn't even realize that there was a historical era which that label (vaguely and dimly) is supposed to refer to.
I'm reminded of the guy on a local PBS show who declared that Christopher Columbus used "nuclear [sic!] weapons" to wipe out the indigenous populations of North and South America. (And no, I'm not making this statement up. It was uttered by a guest on "Almanac" on the local PBS station here in Minnesota (channel 2) a few years ago).