Excerpt from Border Hysteria and the War against Difference

by Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Here’s an even tougher question: Can the mirror of critical culture be restored in the USA? I hope so—We hope so—with all Our hearts. But it would require the coordinated efforts of hundreds of progressive communities working toward this goal: to transform a culture of fear and isolationism to one of humanism and international cooperation. Can this be done without the participation of artists and intellectuals?

For the moment it is critical for US-based artists and intellectuals to speak up with valor and clarity. Our job has always been to side with the underdog, to question the discourse of power, and to contest the imposition of oppressive practices in the name of national governance. Today the master discourse embraces and promotes ultra-nationalism, isolationism, xenophobia, and censorship. This goes against our core beliefs: to make sure that borders and institutions remain open; and to cross those borders we are not supposed to cross. We, the artists and intellectuals—not politicians or soldiers—are the ones who must defend freedom and democracy. Clearly our notions of “freedom and democracy” differ dramatically from those articulated by our public officials. In fact, they are in stark opposition to the notions of those in power. And we must be prepared to promote and defend our beliefs. Our futures depend on it.

(Full text at http://www2.ucsc.edu/raza/pipeline/border.pdf)