Should UNM replace its seal?

The University of New Mexico is under fire to change its seal. The current seal depicts two Spanish conquistadors. This is part of a wider movement asking for universities to remove controversial symbols. This includes calls to rename Calhoun College at Yale, remove Wilson imagery at Princeton, or change the Harvard Law School Crest. This movement is not exclusive to the US. Similar calls are being made to remove perceived symbols of colonialism in South Africa and elsewhere. Nor are these calls exclusive to the political left. Conservatives at my alma mater want to get rid of a Che Guevara mural.

I for one am against these calls.

I am against these calls on the basis that I do not feel college campuses should be safe spaces. Students should be exposed to ideas they may found troubling in college. Students need not embrace these ideas. I am not making the case that we should re-institute slavery or attack the nearest Indian reservation. Students are free to, and I hope, reject these ideas but they should be exposed to them if only so they know their weaknesses.

More importantly though I feel that it whitewashes history. I am against these calls for the same reason I dislike seeing whites celebrate Native American Day. Removing symbols of colonialism or observing an indigenous people’s day are good symbols that efforts are underway to correct historical injustices. However in practice they are a way for people to pat themselves on the back for being socially progressive and little else.

There are many things that could be done to improve the welfare of Indians, but few have the drive to carry them out. Why should they? Instead of changing bad public policy they can get rid of a seal or statue and think they’ve done their part. If they’re particularly lazy they can change their facebook display image to include a rainbow or French flag. Symbols of colonialism should be kept and used to remind people that historical injustices continue to be propagated.

In the specific case of the UNM seal I am concerned that it is too easy for attacks against Spanish conquistadors to be turned into general attacks against the Columbian exchange. The enslavement and massacre of Indians was awful. However it is difficult, especially since I am a mestizo, to believe that the interaction between the two worlds was ultimately for the worse. To the contrary the exchange made the world richer.

Pizza is a prime example of this. Pizza could not exist prior to the Columbian exchange. Europeans lacked tomatoes and native Americans lacked wheat. The first pizza was made in Italy, but even then what most of us think of pizza has its roots in New York City. Pizza is a mestizo, half European half American. If UNM does change its seal it should consider having a native and conquistador sharing a slice.

New Mexico’s Police Breaking Badly

by Fred Foldvary

The AMC television channel recently concluded the drama “Breaking Bad.” The series was about a high-school chemistry teacher who has terminal cancer and “breaks bad” by making methamphetamine to get money for his treatments and for his family. The episodes take place in New Mexico, and some of the scenes occur in the desert.

Now the state government of New Mexico is breaking into real-life evil. Its police are stopping drivers and forcing them to submit to intrusive body searches and medical tests for drugs, including X-rays and colonoscopies. The hospitals then bill the victims for the involuntary procedures.

The State of New Mexico is establishing the principle that the state may force people to undergo medical procedures that they then must pay for. The worst aspect of governmental medical provision is that the health of individuals becomes a governmental matter, and therefore the state takes control over medical decisions. The federal and state governments may, in the future, force people to adopt preventive measures and periodic tests. The government will not only force citizens to have medical insurance, but also force people to submit to procedures such as anti-smoking treatments and colonoscopies.

One of the victims of medical coercion is suing the City of Deming in a U.S. District Court for being forced to submit to X-rays, enemas, and a colonoscopy. The police and doctors did not find any drugs in his body. As justification, the police claim that the driver was clenching his buttocks after being stopped for a traffic violation and ordered out of his car.

After that lawsuit was registered, it was reported that another man was probed for drugs in a New Mexico hospital after his car was stopped by police for failure to signal. The news media are now reporting that other drivers in New Mexico are being searched after getting stopped for alleged traffic violations. The police suspect the drivers of drug violations due to their appearance or due to dog sniffing, often with untrained dogs, and obtain warrants for the intrusive drug tests and body searches. In the case of the driver suing the state, the warrant was not even valid for the county and the time in which the colonoscopy took place.

The police in other states have been doing similar things. In Tennessee, the police took a man cited for an expired car licence to a hospital for drug tests, after a sniffing by a drug dog. A woman in Texas was strip-searched and double-probed by the police and by doctors.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Unfortunately it is easy for the police to evade the Fourth Amendment because they can claim that their searches and seizures are reasonable. and some judges will routinely issue warrants if a dog, even if untrained, growls or points at the victim, or perhaps if the victim seems nervous.

Long ago, and still in some countries, highways were dangerous because robbers would halt a carriage or train and steal from the riders. Now, in the USA, the highwaymen are the police who are not content to merely issue citations, but use traffic violations as an excuse to enforce the drug laws. Driving in New Mexico is now dangerous because of the police predators.

Ecology is the relationship of living beings to one another and the environment. Evolution seems to generate predator-prey ecologies. Now that large predators such as lions and wolves have been eradicated from human habitat, ecology has generated human predators such as hijackers. Government is supposed to protect the public from such predators, but the drug laws have turned the police into yet another set of predators.

The German philosopher Nietzsche wrote that the “will to power” is the strongest human motivator. Individuals who seek the thrill of exerting power now become traffic officers, because they can stop any driver and have power over and into his body. This police predation is legalized rape.