Thursday, May 6, 2010


People have been invoking Hitler so often these days that it is difficult to take any of it seriously. Someone drawing a Hitler mustaches on portraits of Obama protesting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) ... what's that all about? So if you are against something and if Hitler did anything like it regardless of the reason or scope ... you can compare that person to Hitler? Really? Hitler pulled Germany out of a recession, modernized their highways and advanced women's rights (some woman obviously). So if Obama does any of these things ... are we going to compare him to Hitler? Mind-boggling really! We can blow this nonsense off pretty easily, but it does desensitize us a bit. When I heard about the new Arizona law, SB1070, the first thing I thought of was all those WW II films I've seen where the SS officer commands "Show me your papers." Comparing the Arizona Senate and Republican Governor to Hitler would be really handy right now, but since all those crazies have been doing it to Obama for the past couple of years, it really isn't going to have the same affect.

We really need a new boogie man. Stalin would do for this situation. If only he had a funny mustache. Actually, the USSR is good comparison to the new Arizona "show me your papers" law. Many of us are old enough to remember the Soviet Union and know people who visited before the wall came down. I know and have read a number of people who have described the terror of people asked for their papers while backpacking in Russia, while doing the touristy things in Moscow, while visiting Red Square. Remember when we used to say, so glad I don't live in that type of country. Why haven't I seen any images of Governor Jan Brewer compared to Hitler or called a communist? umm, wait a minute. Quick google and youtube search ... man, they are out there. Gotta love the net!

SB1070, as July 28th, 2010, makes it a misdemeanor to be in Arizona without legal documents. Any officer of the law can ask for your papers if they have reasonable suspicion of your legal status. A valid driver's license is good example of such papers. So if you are on vacation and driving around with a rent-a-car with some friends heading out to the Grand Canyon and you have a headlight burned out, you can be pulled over by the police and asked for your papers. Not just the driver but everyone in the car including the kids. If they don't have the papers, they and you (as the driver) can be put in jail until you produce the appropriate papers. You as the driver would be under suspicion of transporting aliens. What is reasonable suspicion? That is subjective. I am a white guy and I don't tan well so I am probably safe. Not so sure about my friends. The state would pay for the jail time, I believe, but not for the frustration, all lost time at work or anything else that you may incur.

As a white person, non-Arizonan, who lives near the Canadian border (not Mexico), you could say that this doesn't have an effect on my life and I don't really know what is going on down there. This is a valid point. The only fear we have here of Canadians is if too many of them come down, they may cause a lot of car accidents from turning left from the right lane. Also, we could have a french fry problem ... "no, I did not order gravy and bean curd on my fries!" But I work for a New York City office and I have a lot of brown friends and co-workers. Laws don't get passed in vacuums and have a tendency to creep. If it happens in Arizona, it could happen elsewhere. Precedents get set. If you complain only about injustice when it happens to you directly, you will find that you are alone when you are trodden upon. So yes, there are a lot of situations in life where you are asked to present an ID, like the doctor's office or the DMV, but you are not thrown in jail if you don't have them there and everyone has to present the document, not those under "suspicion." "Reasonable suspicion" is a euphemism for a lot of distasteful things that I don't have the time or space to address here. A few years ago, I was pulled over in Brookline Mass so some bogus reason that I cannot even remember. Cops in Brookline pull over cars of people who don't seem like they can afford to live in Brookline. So I understand what "reasonable suspicion" means from personal experience. Rich people, particularly, rich white won't get bothered.

Here is some data that might put some of this in perspective. A quarter of all Major League Baseball players are foreign born. Of those that are foreign born, an over-whelming majority are from Latin countries. Half of them are on National Teams that have to visit Arizona several times a year and half of them are on teams that have Spring training in the Cactus League. Already problems have arisen where some players are saying that they will not play in Arizona. A lot of players like to bring their families along on road trips. Their contracts will not allow them to refuse to play but they can stop bringing their families with them. The 2011 All Star game is scheduled in Arizona, the players union has already petitioned Commissioner Selig to have it moved. I stand by them just like I stand by the Cubs fans who petitioned outside of Wrigley last week when the Diamondbacks were in town. If they don't listen to reason, they will listen the empty twang of a purse string. I was planning on a trip to Arizona to see the Cubs for Spring training next March, but perhaps, I will go to Florida to see the Sox.

The crime stats that I keep seeing, from right wingers, are very suspicious. They are saying that Arizonans are not safe. I don't really trust politically charged crime stats ... like I wouldn't trust the crime stats that came out of the Jim Crow South either. Politically, this whole thing doesn't make sense to me. They might get some short-term political gain out of this, but long term one has to really scratch your head. One tenth of all American ten year olds, right now, are of Hispanic origins along with one quarter of all two year olds (numbers that are pale in comparison to the German American influx of the 19th century). Probably not a good idea to alienate this crowd. I wouldn't expect this law to last very long nor to help the situation (economics, crime or politics) whatsoever. Just a very bad idea.

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