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

Thursday, September 2, 2010

“My hand to Mexicans, and my fist to crackers.”

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The Phoenix New Times hardly needs my plug, but I am going to give them one anyway.

What I know about real journalism can be quickly summed up from a small number of movies and the occasional television show.  On the other hand, I practiced criminal law for twenty years, and I like to think I tend to be ahead of the curve when it comes to many of the legal-related topics that professional journalists often journalize about.

Every once in a while, I read a piece concerning some aspect of the law written by a “normie” (human being who did not either practice law or attend law school) that impresses the hell out of me. 

Michael Lacy’sGet Out!: Arizona and America Join Joe Arpaio in Rushing to Inquire: Are Your Papers in Order?”, published on July 29, 2010, a heartbeat prior to US District Judge Susan R. Bolton’s decision to enjoin the guts of SB 1070, is one such piece.  If you have not read it, you should.  If you have, it is worth another look. 

Beyond the entertaining, precise, and informative writing style, I appreciate the author’s allusions, whether intentional or otherwise, to concepts that I firmly believe made the passage of SB 1070 possible.  As I have recently begun to develop, the circumstances that lie at the core of the anti-immigrant groundswell in Arizona go beyond anti-Mexican feelings.  They go beyond mere racism.  A solution to those circumstances requires the renunciation of the growing radical right wing in America.

And by “radical right wing”, I do not mean the white supremacists, Nazis, or lunatic tea baggers.  I mean your average conservative Republicans, virtually all of whom fully support “throw the baby out with the bathwater” measures like SB 1070. 

You think the problem is with Hispanics or Mexicans?  Sorry.  Think Africans and Chinese of 19th century, Irish and Italians of early 20th, Jews of various centuries, Japanese-Asians of WWII vintage, and a long list of others.  Racists are equal-opportunity haters

But what drives racism more than greed and selfishness fueled by fear?  You cannot exterminate those things, but you can attempt to control them.  Until the racist changes what is in his heart (and don’t hold your breath), his head will devise all sorts of ways to act out his selfishness and rage.  The only governor on that conduct is the law. 

The racist will exploit his victims from an economic standpoint, castigate them socially, and then proceed to piously regulate their moral conduct

It is no coincidence that businesses and business people have not been prosecuted for hiring aliens without proper documentation.  Likewise it was no coincidence when the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, essentially the first law in the United States to make drugs illegal, came about largely because of fear that Negroes under the influence of cocaine were raping white women, and murdering whites, because of revulsion over “degenerate” Mexicans smoking marijuana, and because of fear of “Chinamen” seducing white women with drugs.  It is also no coincidence that the Governor of Arizona believes that the majority of illegal immigrants are coming to the United States not to work, but to engage in the illegal drug trade, and to commit other crimes.

It doesn’t take a genius to conclude the antidote to these poisonous people and their fantasy-based beliefs lies in curbing corporatism, in tax reform that does not merely take the form of gifts to the wealthy, and in strengthened limits on governmental power like the 4th and 1st Amendments to the United States Constitution.  That way the fascists and morality police that comprise a good percentage of what passes for conservative Republicans cannot destroy the country. 

This country was founded upon the protection of the rights of the minority, not as a way to advance the tyranny of the Anglo-Saxon majority.  How do you think the white man protected himself from that English, Anglo-Saxon tyranny?  Why, he took to his weapons and revolted, but when that part was done, then what did he do?  He passed the 1st and 4th Amendments to prevent his own new government from doing to him what his old, English government had done to him. 

SB 1070, and its supporters, are insulting.  Only a fool could have believed SB 1070 was legal, and only a fool could have convinced himself it was right.  The law is an affront to the 4th Amendment, a law which has taken a beating at the hands of conservative Republicans for 42 years. 

Or do you believe that rounding up Hispanics for arrest and government processing based upon their appearance and color of their skin promotes a free and law-abiding America?

Because if you do, you are a first-class idiot.  Plain and simple. 

Yet do not despair.  With enough ass kissing and networking with your fellow crackpots, you may well grow up to be the next Governor of Arizona, or Sheriff of its most populous county, or one of its esteemed state legislators. 

Forgive me for not, in the words of Mr. Lacy, tolerating the “midway that we’ve been invited into, where barkers with badges play whack-a-Mexican for the delight of gap-toothed voters.”  Pass on the left; politicians pandering to the right in this election year are causing traffic back-ups. 

As Lacy also says, having a “D” behind your name does not absolve you.  The would-be next Democratic Governor of Arizona, Terry Goddard, urged President Obama not to sue Arizona over SB 1070.  This is a leader?  Can you imagine the chaos in Arizona today had Obama listened? 

If you review the human story of the victimized, legal immigrant in Lacy’s piece, take a moment to realize the import of what Lacy is saying.  Pretext stops based on Gulag tactics have been standard law enforcement procedure in Arizona for decades.  Racial profiling in that way is completely legal in the United States. 

The Gulag tactics—stops based upon appearance, upon profile without any connection to articulable indications of illegal conduct—are not legal.  But in this “free” country of ours, they are an epidemic among law enforcement

So if you’re Mexican, or if you are white, or something else, you cannot transform a heart, but you can help stop whack-a-Mexican.  We have the government we deserve.  It’s long past time to impress upon your elected officials that we deserve better

As I busily prepare to relocate to the caldron, I am asked, “Why would anyone voluntarily choose to reside in such a climate?

But if you believe the phenomenon is confined to Arizona, you’re wrong.  It’s everywhere.  Arizona just happens to be the platinum package. 

It also gives me a chance to pass along the only thing I ever learned in the study of political science—“all politics is local.”

Lacy again says it best, “Because the fight is in Arizona; I would not be anywhere else.


  1. Thank you Marty for your strong and assertive commentary. Much appreciated! I live in Arizona, and what is going on here is pure hatred mixed in with insanity. I appreciate you, and others like you that have begun to see beyond the carefully filtered propaganda. Best to you. Rose Sanchez, Guadalupe, Arizona

  2. Glad to do it Rose. One of my favorite quotes, from a writer rather than a historical figure, nevertheless always comes to mind: "With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably."

    Whether they realize it or not, everyone has a stake, regardless of residence or color.

    I’m taking a prolonged, first look myself very shortly.

    Take care, and best to you also.