"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."—Dick the butcher

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vote out Arizona Republicans

One of my friends and readers, a longtime Arizona resident, maintains that until things return to what they were like at least 10 years ago, there will be more boycotts and protests.

There should be.  And he’s right.  I believe he’s pretty skinny on the number though.  There absolutely should be boycotts and protests unless and until things return to were what they were like at least 42 years ago.

Otherwise, Arizona will revert to what it was in the first half of 2010—an old, bitter, racist voice in the cacophony of statehood.  A good number of states, as they would have on SB 1070, will follow. 

Yes, that’s right, 1968.

Before the Republican Party devised the “Southern Strategy”, designed to appeal to the white racist voter in the South.  Before the “war on crime”.  Before the “war on drugs”.  Before the “war on terror”.

Before Nixon, before Reagan, before Bush 41, and before Cheney 1.0/Bush 43.

And very importantly, before United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren retired, before Chief Justice Warren Burger took office, before Justice Lewis Powell, before Justice (later Chief Justice) William Rehnquist, before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, before Justice Antonin Scalia, before Justice Anthony Kennedy, before Justice Clarence Thomas, before Chief Justice John Roberts, and before Justice Samuel Alitoactivist, conservative judges all who made and make new law everyday that conforms to their ordered, repressive vision of what American society should look like.

As a result of those phenomena and persons above-named, we as a people are left with an essentially meaningless 4th Amendment prohibition against government search and seizure, legalized racial profiling, the near-destruction of the writ of habeas corpus, and the walkover of corporate over individual interests, including in the area of freedom of speech.

We can either do something about those 42-year infringements upon freedom, or we can do nothing, and all of us turn into Arizona, where fat, old cops like Joe Arpaio and Russell Pearce administer the law without any regard to it, prosecute their political opposition with the help of vote-seeking prosecutors, and sit around administering attempted racial purges while drafting new laws like SB 1070 with white supremacists.

Why 1968?  It was a watershed in the direction of the post-WW II American criminal justice system.  Our United States Constitution, and our system, is based upon what has been referred to as a “due process model”.  It is built upon the presumption of innocence, and stresses accuracy.  Many a criminal-case closing argument has quoted the oft-cited maxim that “in our system, it is far preferable that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man go to jail.”

Yet about 1968 most of the country went into the “crime control model” of criminal justice.  That model rests on the unwritten but nevertheless real presumption of guilt, and emphasizes administrative efficiency rather than justice.  Many, if not most, modern American jurists sitting in a criminal court are loathe to tolerate assertive and effective advocacy on behalf of a charged defendant; they prefer counsel to “host” the conviction like Bob Barker recording an episode of “The Price is Right.”

Presidential candidate Richard Nixon (you knew he had to be a part of this, did you not?) that year published his position paper on criminal justice called “Toward Freedom from Fear”.  At the same time the Republican party was actively working its racist Southern Strategy, Nixon proposed a “war on crime”.  He didn’t invent the term, but he was the first to put an “ends justifies the means” program of crime eradication into action.

Thus the 70’s, 80’s, and the 90’s saw a swing to the right in criminal law enforcement the likes of which had not been seen since Salem, Massachusetts in the late seventeenth century.

The “war on crime” became so politically popular that wars on drugs and on terror followed, each with their own contribution to the elimination of freedoms in the name of order and security.

Arizona was the perfect breeding ground for the hatching of the mosquitoes that are the new criminal laws and procedures advocated by the right in the 21st century.

Do you look brown?  In the country legally?  “Show me your papers.”  “No papers, you’re going to have to wait in the local hotel (jail) while we check you out.”  “BTW, if you’re not here legally, you’re charged with the crime of not carrying papers in the State of Arizona.”

“What’s the problem officer?”  (says a brown person, a black person, or the driver of a van, or the driver of a vehicle with out-of-state plates, or the driver of a rental vehicle)  [Insert one of following here]  “You were speeding, you were weaving within your lane, you crossed the fog line, you made a U-turn back there, etc.”  (says a cop)  “Where have you been?”  “Where are you going?”  “Will you give me permission to search the vehicle?”  “You are being detained for a more extensive search (still without a warrant) because I have a reasonable suspicion you have… [violated the law in some way]”  (the progression of cop’s statements)  “You are being charged with conspiracy to smuggle yourself into the United States”  (one potential final cop statement out of the many possibilities of this profiled, fishing expedition)

Government search and seizure on less than probable cause, profiling, racial profiling—these had been standard operating procedure in Arizona, and in the rest of the country, on an ever-growing basis through the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

They laid the groundwork for the really whacky anti-immigrant lawmaking that began in Arizona with the passage of Proposition 200, which required individuals to produce proof of citizenship before they could register to vote or apply for public benefits in Arizona.  Parts of the law were of dubious constitutionality, and it is still winding its way through the court system.

Then-Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, an elected Democrat now the Director of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, vetoed a 2007 SB 1070-type bill in April of 2008, staving off for a time the constitutional crisis and taxpayer fleecing that is and was surely to result from the signing of SB 1070 in April of 2010 by the right wing’s robotic past-her-prime cheerleader—Jan Brewer.

Nevertheless, reactionary forces did manage to get a law called HB 2779 enacted in Arizona.  It went into effect on January 1, 2008, and imposes penalties, including a loss of state licenses, on employers who knowingly or intentionally hire undocumented workers in the state.

It for all intents and purposes has never been used.  Why, you ask?  That’s easy.  Right-wingers are often business owners, and the last thing they want is to be held responsible for hiring the undocumented.  Republican law-enforcement and prosecutorial forces in Arizona have made this law a farce, passed merely to give the illusion of “cracking down on illegal immigration.”

An instructive bit of history in Arizona politics is that the same state legislature that passed SB 1070 also proposed a bill to force President Obama to prove he is not an illegal immigrant.  The inmates are truly running the asylum.  Placated by the adoption of SB 1070, the crazies eventually abandoned the birther law.

His 287(g) status revoked, keystone cop poster boy Sheriff Joe Arpaio teamed with Republican prosecutor Andrew Thomas (he of pro-SB 1070 litigation assessment—“the law is on our side”—evidently he meant Murphy’s law rather than actual law) to invent the laughable conspiracy theory that impoverished, uneducated, undocumented smuggled Mexican workers were co-conspirators in their own smuggling.  That way they can be charged with smuggling under the human coyote law that was enacted to prosecute the professional smuggler of human beings.  Whoever admitted Thomas to Harvard should be fired; a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Arizona’s tourism is down, it’s economy is struggling, the crazies on the right have begun a political battle that residents’ children’s children will pay through the nose for years to come.

If you take “Peace” and add an “R”, as in Republican, who do you get?—Pearce.  See what adding “Republican” can do?  Arizona, don’t you think it’s time the other side had a chance?  Vote.

And remember (just like the road sign), “Slower traffic keep right”.

(This piece was written by Marty S. Blair and his friend, another longtime Arizona resident, Joseph Fuller.)


  1. Remove Sandra Day O'Connor from your list and I might agree.

  2. Thanks for this great article hope you are reading us on www. truemexican.org

  3. As I like to say, turn left at the next election.
    Thank you Marty, a good roundup of all that is screwed up with the late great state of Arizona.

  4. I totally agree, hold the Republicans accountable for what they done not only in the past six months but in the las couple of decades. Seems like istead of making this state better part of the 21st century, they have taken us back to 1940's...

  5. Thanks Marty and Joseph. As one of the members of a family which has been in Arizona less than 20 years, I am grateful for your condensed version of Arizona political history since the 1960's. I am grateful to have more of the background information.

    I, too, abhor racism and racial profiling and, as an African-American, have felt pain, anguish and fear similar to what my Brown-skinned Brothers and Sisters are feeling right now. I don't believe this, or the "ending cultural education in schools" issue are Hispanic or Hispanic-American issues only. As you stated more or less in your article, these are HUMAN issues; and when part of humanity (based on hatred of skin color, language, nation of origin, etc.)is discriminated against, I believe we humans should stand up and make our voices heard.

    This reminds me so much of that poem about the Nazis going after Jews and no one doing anything....until finally the "nazis" are coming for YOU! If some of us are not respected and free, then none of us are respected and free. I WILL apply my vote (and devote my time, my civil disobedience, and whatever else I can offer) against those who wish to "purify" Arizona and America.

    For folks in a stolen country, some of us Americans can be really uppity!!! And, to those who continually try to send one race or another "back to where (they) came from," I would like to suggest that you take your own advice: go back to where YOU came from and take your hatred with you!


  6. The constitution means nothing anymore. We've got bigger problems than these racist cowboys.

  7. @Anonymous-#1, I debated with myself as to whether O’Connor belonged on that list, and we can talk about why I put her there, but I do concede that you have a point. She was not the same type of activist, conservative jurist as the others.

    However, some of her positions, and most notably the way she openly campaigned for Bush 43 in Bush v Gore so she could retire to Arizona under a Republican President (who then appointed Roberts and Alito, the country and the Supreme Court would both look markedly different had Gore been acknowledged as the winner of the election), moved me to include her on the list.

  8. @Eduarda, Thanks for the compliment. I had not been aware of www.truemexican.org, but I have checked it out, and it can count me a as a reader.

  9. @Amy, I like your saying. If the country as a whole had been doing that for the past 42 years, I dare say the mess we are in now would not look as bad as it does. Instead, the country seems to have been turning right courtesy of people who can watch fox new and believe they are actually getting news.

  10. @David, Well said. As Bob Seger once sang, “Too many people lookin back.” I prefer to live if I can in the here and now, not the 40’s.

  11. @Delores, thank you for picking up on the gist of my point, even though it is implied rather than explicitly stated. In the end, these issues are not racial issues at all, though on the surface they appear to be. They are issues common to all, they are ones of basic human dignity, and if you wait to speak up until it is you that are racially profiled, or discriminated against, or the victim of racial cleansing, then it is most likely too late.

    In order for you to have those things for yourself you must be able to protect those things for others. If you want freedom of speech, the right to assemble, etc., the Nazi’s must be able to march in Skokie.

    Your allusion to Niemoller’s statement about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power could not be more apt.

    And the hypocrisy of a country of immigrants that was essentially stolen from other peoples never ceases to amaze.

  12. @Anonymous-#2, One of the points of the article was that when the constitution does not mean anything anymore, it is the prelude to the bigger problems. The racist cowboys may not be the biggest problem in America today, but they are definitely a large contributing cause to those bigger problems. We have a corrupt and lawless political culture in America today. It is disgusting, and the racist cowboys, along with the other crazies on the far right are, IMHO, largely responsible.