Arizona, my state, the nation’s shame

Obviously I haven’t been in a blogging mood lately. I just got back from China last weekend, and wondered for the next two days why the jet lag coming back from Asia is so much worse than going there. And I came home to my bigoted, small-minded, ignorant state of Arizona and reading the newspaper I simply felt too numb to blog.

I am forcing myself now to write so this site doesn’t atrophy. But that doesn’t mean I’m not passionate about this subject. I am.

In case you haven’t heard, the state I moved to 20 years ago has, in a single week, voted to institutionalize racism, to legitimize the literally deranged “birther” movement, and to permit citizens to carry concealed guns without a permit.

As I was packing to move here way back when I was still a news reporter, I remember the controversy raging over our then-governor Evan Mecham, who refused to recognize Martin Luther King Day, resulting in a massive boycott and companies around the country canceling their conventions in Arizona. Money talks, of course, and Mecham was soon impeached and tossed out of office.

And here we are all over again.

No matter what they tell you, this law discriminates against Latinos, and the argument that if you have nothing to hide you shouldn’t worry simply won’t wash. If you are Latino, the odds are now far, far higher that you, and not your white counterpart, will be stopped and asked for your papers, Gestapo-style.

The law is not only racist, it is irrational. No one understands it, and yet 70 percent of the cretins citizens of my state are embracing the bill as necessary.

After signing the new law requiring police to check out people who may be illegal immigrants, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was asked how the cops are supposed to know when someone should be screened. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like.”

No kidding. But she has a lot of company in her ignorance. When I called University of Arizona law professor Marc Miller and told him I wasn’t sure what some of the law’s provisions mean, he replied, “Neither is anyone else on the planet.” We will find out what it means after it takes effect, not before.

The law says cops must inquire anytime “reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” Since most of the state’s illegal immigrants are Latinos, the natural impulse of police may be to interrogate every Latino with whom they cross paths.

All over the Interwebs and local talk radio we’re hearing how 70 percent of Arizonans are in favor of the bill, as are 51 percent of Americans overall. But since when do numbers like that mean a bill is right or constitutional? Ask the people who will have to enforce it what they think.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik knows his protests could get him taken to court, but he says he won’t enforce Arizona’s new law criminalizing illegal immigration anyway.

This week, Dupnik, the top law enforcement official in one of the state’s largest counties, called the state’s tough new law “racist,” “disgusting” and “unnecessary.” He said it would force police officers to use racial profiling, which is illegal in Arizona.

This is going to become a nightmare for our police, who can be sued if, in the eye of the citizens, they fail to enforce the law. And because it’s so hopelessly murky, the cops will, understandably, err on the side of caution by demanding proof of citizenship with anyone who might be suspicious, i.e., anyone with darker skin or a Hispanic name. And it will waste vast amounts of time, diverting the police from handling actual crimes.

I know – we need to do something about immigration. I know – an Arizona rancher was murdered last year, possibly by an illegal immigrant. I know – the drug war in Mexico is spilling over into Arizona’s borders and leading to crime over here. But none of those things makes this bill redeemable. If we want to really address the problem at its roots, we should first legalize the drugs and liquidate the incentive to commit drug-related crimes. That would be a helpful start, and then we can move on to how best to secure the border.

So no, I don’t have the perfect answer. But this bill means nothing but trouble, and everyone here in Arizona knows our governor signed it because her party has become so radicalized she would stand no chance of winning the next election without sucking up to the base. (Ironically, she has no chance of winning anyway, but that’s another story.)

Arizona, you brought this on yourself. Now every baseball and football team and conventioneer and tourist will have to stop and consider whether it’s worth it to come here. Let Arizona feel for itself what it hath wrought. Maybe, just maybe that pressure will force it to look in the mirror and do the right thing: scrap this bill for one that makes sense and will actually provide a solution without licensing racism.

Update: I should have put in a word or two about the freak who is behind this bill, one Russell Pearce. Just a bit of background:

In October 2006, Russell Pearce forwarded an email from National Alliance, a white separatist group, to a group of supporters. The email titled “Who Rules America” [6] criticized black and white intermixing and Jews in the media for promoting multiculturalism and racial equality, for depicting “any racially conscious White Person” as a bigot, and for presenting the Holocaust as fact. He quickly apologized. The article reports, “He does not agree with the sentiments in the article, but that the title and the first paragraphs about media bias appealed to him. He said the article had been forwarded to him by someone else and he would not have sent it if he had read it in its entirety.”[7] He stated in one of his apologies, “Ugly the words contained in it really are. They are not mine and I disavow them completely. Worse still, the website links to a group whose politics are the ugliest imaginable.”

In April 2008, Pearce sponsored a measure, Senate Bill 1108, that would prohibit students of Arizona universities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their membership. Pearce said he didn’t want students indoctrinated with seditious or anti-American teachings. The bill would ban groups that serve minority interests such as the Mexican American study program and the Black Business Students Association.

There are a lot of kooks here in Arizona. The Tea Party movement resonates with them, and they love our criminal sheriff Joe Arpaio because of his bulldog, tough-on-crime image, ignoring the fact that he is a corrupt extortionist who opens investigations into anyone who criticizes him. (How sweet to see the feds finally investigating Arpaio, who will hopefully end up in the cold cell in which he belongs). To the wingers, he’s a saint. They love the idea of raw masculine power without boundaries. They love the immigration bill, which dresses up their bigotry and rage and makes it seem respectable. What am I doing here?

The Discussion: 76 Comments

@SPZ: I cannot see any arrogance in my questions. I am giving you an opportunity to voice your opinion, I am listening, and I am not calling you any names or passing judgments in advance.

As for “the single most” – this is definitely a subjective assessment and I do not ask (or expect) you to accept it. Even if we agree on the facts, they importance we ascribe to them may vary.

As for your answers:

A & B. Sorry, but I did not ask for your theoretical answer. I asked whether you can state actual factors that influenced actual companies. Let me know.

C. Yes, including Microsoft and Walmart. And I am aware of the difference between correlation and causation. Can you answer the question?

D. Can you please state the business in which you claim MSFT is a monopoly, the amount of time for which it has been a monopoly in this business? (and in preparation for our next question, can you name other companies in the same business, their market cap, and current trends in that market)?

April 30, 2010 @ 5:27 pm | Comment

@DP

I have given my answers and certainly i am not obliged to answer it in a way which is satisfactory to you.

I did not ask for your theoretical answer.

I don’t see them as theoretical at all. period. Unless you are telling me that the privatization of British Rails and its consequences are theoretical, which is beyond anyone’s comprehension.

April 30, 2010 @ 5:36 pm | Comment

@DP

And talking about answers, when you claimed that i have “misconceptions” about your idea of “sound money”, you have not even spoken a word about what those “misconceptions” are?

April 30, 2010 @ 5:37 pm | Comment

@SPZ: I did not realize that “misconception” is an offensive word. You attributed various results to the gold standard which, upon closer study, can easily be attributed to other, specific factor. As I said, happy to clarify this with you on email if you are interested.

As for the rest of the discussion: didn’t expect you to give up so quickly, but at least you can contemplate these questions in your spare time. I am sure you will figure it out!

April 30, 2010 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

@DP
D. Can you please state the business in which you claim MSFT is a monopoly, the amount of time for which it has been a monopoly in this business? (and in preparation for our next question, can you name other companies in the same business, their market cap, and current trends in that market)

Read the whole case on United States v. Microsoft and then proceed to Microsoft v. Commission. Take your time to do your reading.

April 30, 2010 @ 5:46 pm | Comment

@DP
As for the rest of the discussion: didn’t expect you to give up so quickly, but at least you can contemplate these questions in your spare time. I am sure you will figure it out!

At the end of the day, what ever answers i give will not satisfy you. But hey, why don’t you enlighten my “misconception” of the gold standard first instead of the hassle of email?

April 30, 2010 @ 5:49 pm | Comment

@DP

AND why don’t you deal with my example of the privatization of the British Rails?

Wasn’t the British Rails a monopoly that was in your own words “established by government, (2) mandated by government, or (3) otherwise protected from competition by government?”

Open the privatization party! Let the “free”market reign. A mere transition of public to private monopolies that was masqueraded as “change”. Woo Hoo. All thanks to Maggie Thatcher. How about saying something about this?

April 30, 2010 @ 5:54 pm | Comment

@DP
“It is a matter of fact that the larger the government is, the larger the corporations are,”

And I am aware of the difference between correlation and causation.

A quick reversal of position and back-pedaling. Sort out your contradictions first, you must be a very confused person.

April 30, 2010 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

@SPZ: Not correct. I am happy to learn new things and was looking forward to hear what you have to say. In any case, we can continue this privately (I am serious). I can already see Ricahrd’s face when he wakes up and sees what a mess we left him . . .

April 30, 2010 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

@DP
I did not realize that “misconception” is an offensive word.

I didn’t say it is “offensive” (you use the word yourself). It does,imply, that one knows better than others. Which i will label as “arrogant” and “snobbish”.

April 30, 2010 @ 6:12 pm | Comment

“But to say that Obama is a “centrist”? Are you serious?” — Dror Poleg

Dror, you’re one living, breathing example of the truism that in the USA the centre of political gravity is far to the right of anywhere else in the world.

Obama’s politics (and those of the Democrat Party generally) are to the right of the centre-right parties of western Europe, and indeed anywhere. David Cameron, the leader of the British Conservative Party, and almost certainly the country’s next prime minister, is far more of a “dangerous radical” in his social and economic policies than Obama will ever be.

And the same could be said of Angela Merkel of Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

Gedt real, please.

April 30, 2010 @ 6:30 pm | Comment

Sojourner – sorry, but the centre is defined as the middle of the specific country in which a policy is executed. If we transfer the Democrats to Europe, we can discuss where their policies stand in relation to those of other parties there. In the US, as it happens, there are only two parties and a few independents and a policy that is only endorsed by members of a single party is, by definition, not centrist., regardless of why you think other people oppose it (ideology, obstructionism, etc).

April 30, 2010 @ 6:47 pm | Comment

@DP

a policy that is only endorsed by members of a single party is, by definition, not centrist

Another absurd reasoning. So if a majority Conservative government passes a tax reduction for the middle class in the House of Commons but none of the Labour and Liberal Democrats voted for it, then the tax reduction ceases to be “centrist”? Whether something is centrist or not is determined solely by the voting patterns of the parties in parliament, then i guess alot of political science textbooks would have to change the definition of “centrist” each time the voting pattern changes in Parliament.

April 30, 2010 @ 7:28 pm | Comment

The centre of this or that political landscape is determined by where where its boundaries lie. In the American case, we have two political parties. One of these parties enacted a law that that was supported solely by members of one party, and not even all of them. Note only did not single Republican vote for the bill, but 34 Democrats voted against it.

If you would like to call that “centrism”, I can’t stop you…

April 30, 2010 @ 7:44 pm | Comment

Clifford, thanks for your comment way up north, which got caught in the spam filter. Let me know when you plan to go to China to set up a business – do you need a partner? 🙂

Dror, your arguments are really weak, and that isn’t name calling. You keep going back to HCR as the sole example of Obama’s “socialism,” ignoring the facts that it is business-friendly and a copy of Republican-approved legislation. You ignore the fact that it is less socialistic than Medicare. Like the Teabaggers, you seem to be taking a conspiracy-theory approach, seeing all kinds of demons that aren’t there.

The Nazi analogy is not mine – it is all over the US media. Don’t believe me? Take a look! Now, that may not make the comparison true, and I don’t equate the Arizona government with Nazis. But the “show me your papers” does echo the Gestapo script and comparisons there are legitimate.

As usual, Lisa applied logic, common sense, humanity and knowledge to put the whole thing in perspective. The reason the GOP refuses to cooperate and get a federal immigration law passed is that it would be bad for business. And then they have the chutzpah to put all the blame on the president. Very slick. And yes, legalizing drugs would eradicate most (all?) of the crime from Mexican drug runners overnight.

Eric, thanks for the link to your post; it’s good to see I am not alone. About going after the employers – well, it’s nice to dream, isn’t it? Can you imagine our GOP state legislators and GOP governor ever doing such a thing? (And the Dems wouldn’t be so quick to do it, either. They all know where their bread is buttered.)

Back to Dror for a second: Your weakest argument, smashed to bits by spz, is that the HCR is bad because the GOP wouldn’t cast a single vote for it. That is over the top. They won’t cast a vote for anything Obama backs or approve his judges or give an inch. They finally had to cave, after a long filibuster and refusal to cooperate, on the financial reform bill because public outrage was so intense – they were virtually siding with the banksters. So the lack of Republican votes on HCR was a statement about the monolithic, hyper-partisanship of today’s GOP, not of Obama’s lack of reaching out and compromising. They worked for months compromising, whittling the bill down to a fraction of the original House version, and even then not a single Republican voted for it. And you then attribute it to lack of bipartisanship from Obama? Give me a break.

April 30, 2010 @ 8:40 pm | Comment

@DP

Note only did not single Republican vote for the bill, but 34 Democrats voted against it. If you would like to call that “centrism”, I can’t stop you.

If what is “centrist” is SOLELY determined by voting patterns in the legislature then if one lone Republican vote for the bill, will you call that centrist? If more than 30 Republicans vote it, will it be centrist? If 50 Republicans voted for a bill, will it make it a more centrist bill than one where 20 Republicans vote for it? AND if the Republicans were to recapture the House of Rep by winning 350 out of 435 seats next election and they pass a bill with 350 against 135 (all democrats), does that NECESSARILY mean that the bill is not “centrist”?

Such manner of determining of what is “centrist”, as demonstrated above, is essentially bullshit.

April 30, 2010 @ 8:52 pm | Comment

I mean 300, not 350, my math… hahaha.

April 30, 2010 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

@”To be fair a lot of these ranchers are the ones hiring illegal Mexicans in the first place. And the drug war is in large part fueled by demand in other nations on the continent.”

whats your point? ANY individual entering this country ILLEGALY is BREAKING the law. All LEGAL immigrants are welcome – those who make a choice NOT to follow legal procedure are ripping off every single person wanting to enter America legally. This is out of control. So what you are saying is because ranchers hire illegals that makes illegals less responsible for breaking the law? wait a minute- why not treat Mexican illegals coming into America the same way Mexico treats illegals entering their country.
Problem solved – and “humanely” To be fair – as YOU say.

April 30, 2010 @ 9:08 pm | Comment

Nahiku, you’re new here. Whatever merp-o-san says must be presumed to be nonsense.

Back to the bottom line: those crossing the border illegally present a problem. This bill does little to address that while creating a host of new problems.

April 30, 2010 @ 9:21 pm | Comment

@Richard: I see you have nothing of substance to say about Arizona… so you’re trying to turn this to a discussion about Healthcare. I wrote in my first post above, people are bringing to the debate about Arizona a lot of irrelevant baggage (like grudges about the HCR process and general Obama fandom). Now I see that things are even worse, the whole discussion about Arizona is actually part of the healthcare and general Obama discussion as far as you’re concerned, so there’s truly no hope of a sensible discussion the actual issues.

@SPZ (and Richard): “Centrist” is an elusive term. However, in this case, it is clearly a very partisan, polarizing bill. Again, I ask you to explain how come 34 Democrats voted against it. Is that because they “won’t cast a vote for anything Obama backs or approves”?

I guess that in your world, Centrist means whatever Obama says we should do. Anyone who opposes it – Republican or Democrat – must be a fringe-dwelling weirdo, racist, or both. Apologies for trying to reason with you; I forgot we’re talking theology here.

April 30, 2010 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

I see you have nothing of substance to say about Arizona… so you’re trying to turn this to a discussion about Healthcare.

False. You have harped onHCR, insisting, falsely, that it is proof of Obama being a socialist. And never once, even now, have you addressed the argument that it is Romney’s plan and is anything but socialist.

You are putting a lot of words in people’s mouths. I never said to vote against the president is to be non-centrist or to be bad. Not even close. But I am saying the GOP is cynical in their automatic filibustering and voting against everything Obama advocates, even if they were for those things originally. But we can end the topic of HCR right now and turn to Arizona, now that your specious claims about HCR have been successfully debunked by virtually every participant here.

Today’s NYT sums it up nicely:

The statute requires police officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant. Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law but says she doesn’t know what an illegal immigrant looks like, leaving that to others who think they do.

The Justice Department knows what kinds of abuse that invites. It is already investigating the sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, who raids Hispanic neighborhoods in and around Phoenix. His deputies demand people’s papers based on the shirts and boots they wear.

Federal law requires noncitizens to carry documents but does not empower police officers to stop anyone they choose and demand to see papers. Arizona’s attempt to get around that by defining the act of standing on its soil without papers as a criminal act is repellent.

I live here, you don’t. I know how our sheriff already abuses his power to terrorize Latinos. This licenses the terror.

April 30, 2010 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

Richard, you are clearly impervious to any logical argument at (and on) this point. Interestingly, if you look at previous comments on your blog, you criticized the HCR bill yourself, months before it was passed. You then assumed it would change by the time it gets passed. It did not. And now you fully endorse it.

As for Arizona, again, the point was not to say that the law is good or bad, but simply that it should be debated based on its merits (or lack of) and not through a prism of race or partisanship. As I noted above, at this point in time, there seem to be plenty of legitimate reasons to pass a bill of this kind, as unsavory as it might be (chiefly the Fed’s reluctance to control the borders, or even to build a proper fence). In addition, similar rules are a matter of standard procedure in most democracies, so to claim this is some kind of earth-shattering right-wing maneuver is silly.

April 30, 2010 @ 11:58 pm | Comment

@DP
“Centrist” is an elusive term.

I am glad that you own up.

Again, I ask you to explain how come 34 Democrats voted against it.

There were Democrats who also voted against the Civil Rights Act in 1964. So? Its very normal in the US for party members to vote otherwise where party discipline is weak.

May 1, 2010 @ 12:04 am | Comment

@DP
similar rules are a matter of standard procedure in most democracies,

One could also argue that universal health care is a matter of state responsibility in most developed countries too and the US is the only exception. Cherrypicking examples from other places when it only suits one’s purposes is not something worth celebrating.

May 1, 2010 @ 12:09 am | Comment

@DP

I guess that in your world, Centrist means whatever Obama says we should do

I openly throw down the gauntlet and challenge you quote me in inverted commas where i have said or imply this. It’s a blatant lie and i openly declare you a liar if you can’t quote me where i said or imply this.

Blatant lies are far more dishonorable than any dubious theology.

May 1, 2010 @ 12:24 am | Comment

Dror, HCR just passed a few weeks ago. And you’re already condemning it as a failure? And you call me impervious to reason? I was critical of the law and I am critical of the law. Very imperfect, but I believe it’s an important step in the right direction. I have never, ever varied from this stance, and it’s up to you to prove otherwise. You can’t.

for Arizona, again, the point was not to say that the law is good or bad, but simply that it should be debated based on its merits (or lack of) and not through a prism of race or partisanship.

It has to be discussed through “the prism of race” because that is the only filter law enforcers can use to enforce the law. The law has no merits. It is a product of inbred paleocon kooks who also passed a birther bill, another reason for Arizona to be the nation’s laughingstock. This was totally “a right-wing maneuver,” from start to finish. If you were here, you’d know why Governor Brewer had to sign it despite knowing it’s a disaster in the making. She has to prove hersefl to her base, which is obsessed with litmus tests showing you are at least as far-right as Sarah Palin and other assorted right-wing kooks. A birther bill. Think about that. And you want us to think of them as serious, responsible legislators? Puh-leaze.

I am closing this thread – there’s another thread on the immigration law directly above where you can continue the conversation.

May 1, 2010 @ 12:26 am | Comment

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