By Wendell P. Simpson
The state that brought you the majesty of the Grand Canyon and the mystery of the Barringer meteor crater, as well as the incendiary reaction of Barry Goldwater and the infamy of the ‘no’ vote on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday now presents America’s version of Kristallnacht, the pogrom that targeted Jews in Nazi Germany.
Welcome to Arizona’s SB 1070, the first legislation in the United States since Jim Crow to actually codify racism into law. The bill, signed by Arizona governor Jan Brewer, authorizes police to stop, detain and question ‘suspected’ illegal immigrants on the basis of ‘probable cause.’
What constitutes ‘probable cause’, you ask? Well, we persons of color know the drill as living in the U.S. while not-white.
Congratulations, Arizona, for being the stupidest, most intractable state in the Union. What is it with those people out there in the middle of the Mohave? All that desert heat beaming down upon their heads got them hallucinating, seeing some kind of glistening Ku Klux oasis ?
I’m suggesting they just go ‘head and change the state motto to “Zeig Heil, mein Fuhrer.”
Have people’s brains out there turned to refried beans? Apparently, Arizonans didn’t learn a damned thing from the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday debacle that cost their state millions of dollars in trade and tourism.
Arizona’s tourism industry, already racked by the economic downturn, is falling into an abyss as a result of SB 1070. Cancellations are hitting the state’s hotel and convention business, while companies all over the country have begun the process of dissolving ties with Arizona. Municipalities such as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco have already passed ordinances to divest themselves of any business interests with entities that originate in Arizona.
Los Angeles City Council has identified $7.2 million worth of contracts with Arizona-based businesses.
“I want to sever that,” an angry L.A. City Councilman Ed Reyes told the Huffington Post on last Wednesday.
Post blogger Jim Wallis called the bill “a social and racial sin.” said Wallis, “This is not about Arizona, but about what kind of country we want to be.”
President Obama slammed the law as “poorly conceived”, chiding Republican resistance to anything bipartisan by adding that a comprehensive immigration reform law would “prevent bad laws like Arizona’s.”
Of course, Sarah Palin, representing the side of the argument that speaks from the ass end up, called the bill a “reasonable wake up call” and criticized the President for “perpetuating the myth that racial profiling is a part of the law.”
It baffles me that a state in a nation founded by uninvited aliens can somehow find it’s way past empathy, past the national promise that it would embrace the tired, the hungry, the poor, the persecuted, and past the notion that those who come here from anywhere in the world with a vision and a willingness to work hard can find succor, a safe haven, respect, and a platform from which to launch their America Dreams.
I guess, with the exception of a few baseball players—and anti-Castro Cubans—those brown people whose ancestors originally owned California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in the first place, are exempted from that sublime expectation.
And I’m not the only one struggling with the contradiction.
“This bill validates all of the irrational fears by people who are not willing to acknowledge the economic and cultural benefits of immigration to our country,” said American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) President Bernie Wolfsdorf, whose group is leading the boycott by changing the venue for its 2010 conference from Pheonix to another state..
Today’s conservatives, whose very name says, “We’re stuck in some inglorious, irrational and anachronistic emotional epoch—and we like it here” just don’t seem to realize that nobody else in America is trying, to paraphrase one of my brilliant colleagues, to “party like its 1959.” In fact, in his later years, even ol’ Goldwater himself turned against this kind of silly reactionary and unconstitutional hogwash..
And besides, at the end of the day, the nuclear impact of the coming economic implosion will force Arizona to relent, anyway, just as it did after the King holiday incident—so, essentially, Arizona residents will end up enduring the embarrassment and the short term fiscal losses to absolutely no avail. You have to ask yourself what those folks who govern the state are really thinking about.
It just seems to me that Arizona’s grandest canyon is the one between its legislators’ ears.