Arizona’s Religious Bigotry Bill

The Arizona legislature has passed a bill and sent it to Gov. Jan Brewer legalizing religious bigotry.  Kansas has already enacted such legislation and Rep. Gordon Denlinger of Lancaster County has introduced a similar bill in Harrisburg.  Religious zealots are angry that they can no longer openly discriminate against people they don’t like without legal ramifications so they’re touting their right to religious freedom so they can legally discriminate against folks like me.  Unfortunately what they don’t understand is that their rights when when they begin to infringe upon mine.

This is a slippery slope and the new law would apply to many others, including those who passed the bill.  There’s nothing in it which is specific so when a majority of Arizonans are comprised of Native Americans, Hispanics and LGBT people these very angry white men could see themselves becoming the victims of their own law.  That would be karmic.

Who is to say, for example, that my or another’s atheistic beliefs motivate us to bomb or burn churches and other religious institutions?  That would be perfectly legal under this law.  Under this law people wanting to use peyote could do so without fear of arrest.  Of course the real reason for this legislation is so business owners won’t have to cater to gay and lesbian couples wanting to get married and buy wedding cakes, photographs, receptions and what not for their nuptials.  Why would they think I’d support a homophobic businessman anyway?

However once you enter into a public domain with your enterprise you are required to accept any legitimate customer who happens by.  As of today though many states still allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers.  This includes Pennsylvania.  I could be refused service in any restaurant in the Commonwealth.  Of course I don’t eat where I’m not welcome anyway (Chick Fil-A).

The Arizona law will be bad for business and bad for the state.  We’re planning a summer trip to the Grand Canyon while staying in Santa Fe this August.  I won’t go if this law is signed by Gov. Brewer.  Businesses openly discriminating will discover it is bad for business.  Hopefully Arizona’s economy will stutter and regress if the Governor signs this bill.  Three state Senators who voted for the legislation are now opposing it after discovering it will harm the state’s businesses.  Where was their due diligence before they voted?  I think their personal bigotry got in the way of their brains operating.  This seems to be the Arizona way.

Hands Off My Healthcare!

Two years ago then Sen. Arlen Specter held a health care town hall in Lebanon, PA.  You’ll recall it because it was heavily televised after an angry tea bagger confronted him in a very threatening manner.  Americans For Prosperity was financing a lot of organized action against “ObamaCare” and Sarah Palin’s make believe “death panels” in an attempt to derail health insurance reform.  I was there that day after covering a small protest here in Reading.  The group Conservatives For Patient’s Rights officially sponsored the tour with this bus:

Now these same people are trying to get their hands on MY health care.  They have convinced Republicans in Congress to destroy Medicare, my health provider.  It’s bad enough they want 59 million uninsured Americans to die because they cannot get into line for medical care but now they want to throw millions of elderly and disabled Americans into that group.  

They have instituted real death panels in states like Arizona which is now rationing health care and deciding who on the transplant list will live or die.  They have taken the extreme, fictitious labels they gave to President Obama’s plan and made them real.

Now they’re coming after both my Social Security disability and my Medicare.  If you’re poor, chronically out of work or in long term care they also want to end your Medicaid.  That program pays for long term nursing care and assisted living for millions of senior citizens.  Once one’s assets are wiped because of our broken health care system Medicaid pays for their care.  62% of all Medicaid is paid out for these services.  Where will our parents go when this is no longer available?  On that bus?  No, under it.  Conservatives will use their billions from the Koch brothers and their Orwellian sounding names to run all of us under their bus.

That senior citizen who confronted Sen. Specter won’t be able to get any medical care after RyanCare becomes what we used to call Medicare.  I remember this conversation I had with a couple outside that community college in Lebanon:

Notice how he had no idea what HR 676 said, how single payer systems would work here and how he then refused to renounce his right to Medicare after condemning government run health care. Then last year I went to a Tea Party tax day protest in Reading with these signs and a portable BBQ grill:

I asked the tea baggers to have the courage of their convictions and burn their Medicare cards. I didn’t need to use a single match that day.

Paul Ryan’s plan would overturn the Affordable Care Act with its protections against patient abuse, something we actually do call “patient’s rights” and replace the well run program with a voucher system where seniors and disabled people would have to purchase health coverage from private insurers. Just like as in “ObamaCare.” I thought that was a horrible, evil program? It is which is why I was against the system devised by Congress with no public option.

We would be forced out of Medicare as we know it and given vouchers worth about half what coverage would cost, if we could even, actually receive such insurance. How do you get health insurance when you’re disabled or a senior citizen with existing medical conditions. Not many people age 65 or over have no pre-existing conditions. Even if healthy we’d be subject to the abuses reigned upon us by the private insurers when something does happen. “Oh, I’m sorry but you had acne as a teen so you aren’t covered for this cancer.”

Now, that’s a death panel. Tea baggers want to destroy what works, what costs us 3% overhead to manage and replace it with a system with 25% overhead and no protections. They want to rid us completely of Medicaid as Idaho’s Governor decided this week to do. They want Governor’s such as Jan Brewer in Arizona eliminating all transplant coverage. If you need a new heart, lungs or kidney you’d better start having bake sales today so you can pay for it later.

The American system of medical care has been broken for years and every passing year makes things worse. At least the disabled and elderly have had a safety net. The poor had some access and those trapped in long term care receive skilled nursing care. That is all at risk thanks to Congressman Ryan and his cohorts in the GOP. Now it’s time to turn the town halls against them. Keep it civil folks but go and have your voice heard this time.

News & Notes April 19, 2011

I had a funeral to attend this morning so I’m a bit tardy getting to the blog.  I’m glad I’ve been working getting my boats in shape for the season since it appears I might need them for routine navigation.  Perhaps I really need to be building an ark.

There’s an old saying that everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything.  As more and more extreme and violent storms rage across the world and more people are killed isn’t it time we awakened and realized there IS something we can do to reverse global climate change?

Harrisburg shut down for two days over water main breaks.  The Capitol complex was left without water and staffers were sent home to work both yesterday and today.  This may be the best strategy possible to derail the extreme fringe agenda being enacted by Republicans.  Maybe someone simply thought the water mains were attacking them and used the Castle doctrine to destroy them?

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed two controversial bills yesterday, the Birther Bill and one allowing students to carry guns on campus.  I suppose the potential legal liability for taxpayers is finally getting the attention of some of these folks.  Arizona is already in court defending its law requiring everyone to carry “papers.”  

James O’Keefe, the Breitbart “reporter who selectively edits videos to slander and destroy people and organizations, is again, refusing to do interviews on video.  He denied a Media Matters interview at a Tea Party event he attended.  What are you afraid of James, the same fraudulent treatment you give others?

Standard and Poors downgraded American debt yesterday after being responsible for destroying the global economy by fraudulently grading junk mortgage securities as AAA.   One pundit noted this is like the tailor telling the public the emperor has no clothes after selling the imaginary suit to him.

Secret memos are telling the tale about how oil firms such as BP discussed exploiting Iraq’s oil wealth before the invasion.  U.S. and Great Britain denied vehemently they were invading Iraq for its oil and now these documents refute that assertion.  Smart people weren’t fooled however and these revelations simply provide evidence whereof.

Republicans spent the past thirty years wildly spending the country into huge debt.   In 1981 when Ronald Reagan was sworn into office American debt totaled about $2 trillion.  This was after 200+ years.  By 2009 when Barack Obama was inaugurated with a Bush budget projected at $1.3 trillion for a single year the total debt was at $12 trillion.  Most of that was the result of GW Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, two unfunded wars and the global recession caused by deregulation of financial markets.  All the causes of the massive deficit were the fault of Republicans and now these same principles are saying they will refuse to raise the debt ceiling to cover their irresponsible policies.  How do you extort a further tax cut for the rich then refuse to vote to pay for it? The Washington Post has a story today about the consequences of a federal default.

AlterNet has published a gas industry talking points memo for its employees seeking to get homeowners to sign leases.  The document tells them, basically, to hoodwink property owners by not revealing important information.  An example:  “Denial is a river in drilling country: “Some might ask how many wells will be in a square mile. Don’t answer that question. Most landowners will not realize that 10-20 wells can be placed in a square mile.”

The Wall Street Journal highlights high income earners who aren’t paying any taxes.  Since you just finished ponying up your fair share here’s a bit of outrage for you as if you needed one more example.

DEP issued guidelines today asking gas drillers to stop dumping fracking fluid into sewage treatment plants.  These municipal systems aren’t designed or equipped to process toxic chemicals and radiation from water being released into rivers and streams.  The DEP action is not an order and companies aren’t legally required to abide by its recommendations.  Basically, it has no teeth.  Gov. Corbett pledged just yesterday to protect Pennsylvania’s water then today his DEP did this?  Don’t drink the water in Pennsylvania.

Speaker John Boner has hired a private individual at a cost of 500,000 tax dollars to defend DOMA.  What a wonderful use of your tax dollars since the lawyers in a similar case couldn’t muster a defense of Proposition 8 in California.

News & Notes January 7, 2011

I’m still concentrating on getting the year correct on these things, how embarrassing to write ‘2010’ rather than ‘2011!’

The Rev. Jesse Jackson has been announced as the featured speaker for the second annual Pennsylvania Progressive Summit.  The event will be held in Pittsburgh January 22 & 23 at the Sheraton Square Hotel.  You can find more information at their website:  There are over 100 workshops scheduled including one on blogging (I’ll be on that panel again).

Arizona has adopted actual death panels for Medicaid recipients and, so far, two transplant victims have died because Gov. Jan Brewer decided their lives are not valuable enough to save.  A number of transplant procedures are no disallowed in Arizona.  Maybe if they only had their papers???

Our own Rep. Daryl Metcalf made a splash on the national scene this week headlining a protest in Washington against “anchor babies.”  he mistakenly claimed that hundreds of thousands of foreign women come to the U.S. to have babies so they can become citizens.  The real number is about a hundred.  Of course Daryl is never one to let facts get in the way of his bigotry.

President Obama named fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley as his new Chief of Staff.  He replaces Rahm Emmanuel who left to run for Chicago Mayor trying to succeed Daley’s brother.  It all sounds so incestuous doesn’t it?  Obama had a unique opportunity to repair torn relations with progressives with this selection and he totally dropped the ball (again).  Rather this nomination simply adds fuel to the right wing argument he is just a product of a corrupt Chicago political machine.  

I finally got my new desktop computer today.  Its been a long three months without it.  You’ll recall the house got hit by lightning September 22nd and my venerable Dimension 4700 got fried through the ethernet cable.  It took Erie Insurance this long to settle the claim.  Th enew machine isn’t quite what I wanted but I couldn’t convince the local computer store to build the machine I had spec’d out.  I wound up buying a new Dell i7870 machine.  I now have it partially set up.  It still need speakers and the second monitor set up.  Building my bookmarks and setting passwords will take some time along with replacing all the software.  Its so nice not to have to use that darned touchpad again.  I normally only use my laptop at meetings, events or when traveling so its now relegated back to that status.  

Does anyone know a good solution to organizing documents in Windows 7?  I really miss being able to make folders and subfolders so I can find everything easily.  This new version, as I found with the new laptop, doesn’t do that at all.

News & Notes July 29, 2010

I’ve had a very busy week and a very bad headache (as a result of the busy week) for two days.  There’s much to catch up on and comment about along with some news about several state campaigns.

First up was Sunday’s release on WikiLeaks of 92,000 Pentagon reports concerning Afghanistan.  Though I didn’t see anything I hadn’t known or knew before they did provide details and examples.  I’ve been questioning these issues for several years and have been asking first, what was the mission and, secondly, is it attainable?  I think these leaks illustrate the war and our missions are not attainable.  Why are we there?

A judge declared much of the Arizona immigration law unconstitutional yesterday.  Isn’t it funny how conservatives rally around the constitution when its about the Second Amendment then ignore the rest of the document when it doesn’t suit them?  All this anguish about immigration is hypocritical because Barack Obama is doing more about the issue than George W. Bush.  Deportations are up significantly, border control has been enhanced and a bill for comprehensive immigration reform is on the table.  Crime in Arizona is actually down though undocumented people tend to obey the law more than citizens and pay taxes into Social Security and Medicare without receiving any benefits.  The outcry is much ado about nothing.

Bankers received $1.6 billion in bonuses which were supposed to be illegal under federal law due to bailout funds going to their institutions.  That’s a lot of cash going to the very people who helped crash the economy.  Any bank getting taxpayer money had to limit the bonuses they paid and this rule was flouted and ignored to the tune of $1,600,000,000.  Where’s the Tea Party outrage over that?

Pennsylvania is one of 19 states in the finals for the Race to the Top education program.  Obama’s openness to school vouchers is disturbing and undercuts our traditional program of public education.  I am against any use of tax payer funds for private or religious schools.  Let them raise their own money.  Our schools are having a difficult time as it is, diverting their funds is not the answer.  Of course this is yet one more example of Barack Obama being a conservative.  There are actually quite a few, the federal bailouts to health insurers via the new law being the best.

Shining the Light of The New Colossus Into Arizona

by Walter Brasch

           Two things are assured this coming week. One is that Arizona will do its best to put into practice its controversial anti-immigration bill. The other is that a federal district court will rule whether that law is constitutional.

           The Arizona law requires all law enforcement officials who stop anyone for any reason to determine if that person may be a legal resident. If the person can’t produce documentation, the police are required to detain the individual and to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

           The Arizona law is mostly based upon the fear by Arizonans that the state is being overrun by Hispanic illegals, and that the federal government isn’t curbing the problem. However, the Obama administration has increased both personnel and funding for immigration enforcement. Critics have also complained about President Obama’s recommendation for a one-time general amnesty for undocumented workers and their families who have no criminal records. That same proposal by George W. Bush, which included other immigration reform, was never enacted into law because of the opposition by the extreme right wing.

           Most law enforcement officers, including most Arizona police don’t like this law. It takes away time and resources; it also creates a barrier between police and undocumented workers, who often cooperate with the police in their investigations because they know the police will not notify ICE. There is no doubt that police will have a serious problem locating undocumented workers who could be witnesses. More important, police community relations will deteriorate under the new law.

           Contrary to the panic and fear demonstrated by certain citizens, contrary to the politician rants to get media attention, and contrary to the media which have under-reported the good that minority cultures bring to the nation but have exaggerated criminal activity, most undocumented workers are neither lazy nor are criminals. Most don’t use the welfare system or hospital ERs because they are afraid of being caught and deported.

           The federal lawsuit avoids the Constitutional issues of civil rights and due process violations. It asks the federal district court in Phoenix to rule that the Constitution reserves all immigration issues and enforcement solely to the federal government. No matter what the ruling, it is likely there will be an appeal, which will eventually reach the Supreme Court.

           Perhaps it’s time to reflect not upon the words not of myriad bloggers, pundits, and politicians, who have flooded the airwaves with their own opinions, mostly unsupported by facts, but upon the words of one American poet from more than a century ago.

           At the base of the Statue of Liberty, carved into bronze, is a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. It was written in support of a fund-raising drive to get enough money to build the pedestal. The sonnet is titled, “The New Colossus”:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

           Emma Lazarus was a relatively wealthy Portuguese Jew, whose family had emigrated to America and lived in New York City for generations. But in 1882, the year before she wrote her sonnet, she began working with masses of Russian Jews who had come to America to escape poverty and persecution. She helped teach them English and job skills. But in America, the Jews were discriminated against-often by the children of immigrants from other cultures who now worried that America was being overrun by immigrants.

           Perhaps Arizonans and the nation, most of whom are the descendants of immigrants, need to again hear the words that the descendant of immigrants once wrote-the words that America was a place of refuge for the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Arizona’s Overreach

This is a guest column by Lorenzo Canizares:

By Lorenzo Canizares

Last Month the Texas town of Farmers Branch, a suburb of Dallas, had a city ordinance which is very similar in scope to Arizona’s SB 1070; receive a permanent injunction from Judge Jane Boyle in Dallas, with Judge Boyle declaring “the authority to regulate immigration is exclusively a federal matter.”

As we all should know, immigration is not a new problem for our nation. Former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan said this about immigration conflicts after writing a 5-4 decision in 1982 against Texas attempt to establish its own immigration laws, Brennan said “Sheer incapability or lax enforcement of the laws barring entry into this country, coupled with the failure to establish an effective bar to the employment of undocumented aliens, has resulted in the creation of a substantial “shadow population” of illegal migrants – numbering in the millions – within our borders. This situation raises the specter of a permanent caste of undocumented resident aliens, encouraged by some to remain here as a source of cheap labor, but nevertheless denied the benefits that our society makes available to citizens and lawful residents. The existence of such an underclass presents most difficult problems for a Nation that prides itself on adherence to principles of equality under law.”

The Washington Spectator newsletter states that it cost the city of Farmers Branch $ 3.5 million in taxpayer dollars to defend the ordinance drafted by Kris Kobach, who is running for secretary of state in Kansas, but who also helped draft the Arizona law, and who has also been instructing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to refine arrest procedures to conform with the new Arizona law. Let’s not forget that Sheriff Arpaio needs plenty of instruction, after all, he is facing a Justice Department investigation for civil rights abuse. Kobach is working together with Republican State Senator Russell Pearce, the lead sponsor of the law. Pearce sent out a mass e-mail that included an attachment from a neo-nazi group (which he claimed was inadvertently mailed, but provides an insight into his reading material). Pearce keeps ties with neo-nazi J.T. Ready who in an anti-immigration rally in June 2006 publicly praised Pearce as a “Statesman.”

There is no doubt that this new “attempt” to usurp federal power is a direct result of “Congress and the White House shoving immigration to the back burner” as stated by columnist Clarence Page. Page also points out that this impasse began to occur after the failure of President George W. Bush and Arizona Republican Senator John McCain failed mightily to pass a reasonable “Pathway to Citizenship” approach that its right-wing opponents falsely but effectively labeled “amnesty.” But, we can’t also fail to point out that this law is an attempt to give some in the Republican Party an issue to rally around come November. The fact that this issue is repugnant is of no concern to many of these Republican leaders. They have mastered the art of spinning repugnant issues. I will be remiss if I give the impression that the entire Republican Party is behind this repugnant law. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush amongst others quickly expressed its opposition to SB1070. But, the Bush family is in the outs with certain components of the new Republican Party. And when “independent” Republican thinkers like South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham do not toe the line, hard-liners as those from “Americans for Legal Immigration” neutralize them by threatening to spread rumors about his private life. As Frank Rich confides “Graham has been backing away from supporting the immigration bill ever since.”

To the honest observer it should be clear that the struggle in Arizona is not about a legitimate concern to straighten out our immigration laws, but rather an attempt to set the base to legitimize abuse against brown-skinned people, and propagate a white supremacy agenda that will serve as a rallying point to coalesce disaffected whites. Do not forget that Arizona has also tried to pass a law requiring presidential candidates to make available their birth certificate. SB1070 legalizes racial profiling by justifying questioning under the guise of reasonable suspicion. This will make any brown-skinned American citizen be a victim of probable cause. New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, a Cuban-American, has called for a boycott of the 2011 Major League All-Star baseball game to protest the legitimization of racial profiling. After all, a sizable number of major-league players are of Hispanic/Latino extraction. God knows what could happen to them if they want to get a pizza late at night in a lawfully bigoted Arizona.


Arizona and the Alien-Nation of America

by Walter Brasch

           My father, a federal employee with a top secret clearance, carried a copy of his birth certificate when he went into Baja California from our home in San Diego. Many times, when he tried to reenter the U.S., he was stopped by the Border Patrol. He had thick black hair and naturally dark skin, and the Patrol thought he was a Mexican brazenly trying to sneak back into the country by claiming to be married to the black-haired, blue-eyed, light-skinned woman he claimed was his wife.

           If my father were still alive, and chose to drive into Arizona or to walk on the streets of any of its cities or towns, he probably would be stopped and asked to provide identification. Naturally, he wouldn’t be carrying a U.S-issued visa or Mexican-issued passport, since he was an American citizen. He probably wouldn’t even be carrying his birth certificate, since he would have assumed he was traveling within the United States, and there was no need to carry it. He would probably have a Social Security card and his California-issued ID card-he didn’t have a driver’s license because he was blind in his left eye-but both of those could easily have been forged.

           After a few minutes, he would probably be released by the local police officer, perhaps after providing his federal identification. But, maybe a few hours later, he’d be stopped again, perhaps by a sheriff’s deputy, constable, or even a mall’s part-time security guard.

           Everyone under SB1070, signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, April 22, can be stopped and searched by any officer for any reason, and required to produce documentation that they are in the United States legally. The law also allows any citizen to file suit against any law enforcement agency if the citizen believes the state law isn’t being followed. Pushed by a fearful citizenry and a politically opportunistic Republican party, the bill takes effect in August.

           Forget the constitutional concepts of “due process” and “probable cause.” Under this new law, persons are presumed guilty until they produce identification that they are innocent. And, disregard the Constitutional mandate that immigration is the responsibility of the federal, not the state, government. What Arizona saw was that about a half-million persons, mostly Hispanic, were in their state illegally. They saw that the federal government wasn’t effective at sealing the southern border, even after 9/11. They saw that President Bush had tried to reform immigration policies, only to have to back down when he faced a divided Republican party. They saw that President Obama has tried to assure the safety of Americans, but that a squabbling Congress rendered any reform inert. And they also realized that for many years, adequate funds were not put into the budget of the Border Patrol.

           They also saw a significant increase in crime, including drug trafficking, kidnapping, and murder by illegal immigrants. They saw thousands of immigrants living in squalor, dozens in the same room, forced to work at starvation wages to pay back the gangs that brought them north. Anglo and Hispanic residents had become afraid of living in their own houses because of the gangs.

           They also saw myriad problems caused by illegal immigrants who came north and gave birth to what are known as “anchor babies,” so the children would become U.S. citizens and the parents, still in the country illegally, could not be deported. They saw that undocumented workers were somehow “stealing” their taxes by getting food stamps, welfare, and aid to families with dependent children.

           Although there is increased crime because of the presence of persons from Mexico and Central America who are in the country illegally, most undocumented workers are law-abiding residents. They don’t go to the ER and get “free” medical help or try to scam the system by claiming welfare payments, since most believe that just registering for medical help or welfare could lead to them being identified as illegal residents and deported. But they do want their children to be in school, to get an education, perhaps to become American citizens.

           The Hispanic immigrants, with their gangs, are no different from those of any other culture, which developed gangs and societies that were originally designed to help and protect them from exploitation, but did so using fear and criminal activity. The Irish came to America in the mid-1800s, but they also developed Tammany Hall and the Molly Maguires. The Chinese had to deal with the Tong gangs. The Italians brought with them the Mafia. The Russians and eastern Europeans in the latter part of the 20th century are dealing with the Bratva, the “brotherhood,” sometimes known as the Russian Mafia. But, like most Hispanics, most Irish, Chinese, Italians, eastern Europeans, and every other cultural minority, were and still are law-abiding citizens who only want to live in peace. Americans have a long history of hatred for newly-arrived immigrants, who later become assimilated, and continue the hatred against the next culture to try to assimilate into American society.

           There is also another part of American history that is overlooked by the masses. When the Native Americans first greeted Columbus, they met a man who spoke his native Ligurian, as well as Portuguese and Spanish. It would be more than a century until the first English-speaking settlers arrived. (Ironically, the top name for baby girls born last year was Isabella.) The French owned a large part of what is now the Midwest, often called Middle America. Mexicans and Native Americans civilized much of the Southwest, including Arizona, long before Anglos moved west in what they believed was their “manifest destiny” that would lead to what centuries later would be called “ethnic cleansing” if it occurred anywhere but in the United States.

           The day Gov. Brewer signed the bill, massive protests began. They saw this new law, essentially racial profiling since fair-skinned blondes were unlikely to be stopped, as violating everyone’s Constitutional rights, and as a desperate attempt to control a problem that became magnified by media-savvy politicians and the compliant news media.

           At a rally in Phoenix, Mayor Phil Gordon spoke against the law, which was roundly condemned by numerous Hispanic celebrities, including Grammy-winning Colombian singer Shakira. “I came here to offer support and defend human rights,” said Shakira, who said she opposed the law “because it is a violation of human and civil rights and goes against human dignity.”

           President Obama said the law undermined “basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.” Most law enforcement officers don’t want to expend their resources to enforce what they believe is an illegal and unwieldy law. Chief Robert Davis of San Jose, Calif., president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, points out, “immigration enforcement by local police would likely negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities.” The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police said the law “will negatively affect the ability of law enforcement agencies across the state to fulfill their many responsibilities in a timely manner,” and argued that although the police chiefs recognized that immigration was a problem in Arizona, “it is an issue most appropriately addressed at the federal level.” Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County (Tucson is the closest major city to the border), not only said he wouldn’t enforce the law, which demands compliance of every police official, but filed suit in federal court against the state. The law, said Sheriff Dupnik, is “disgusting,” “unnecessary,” and “racist.” It is that same law that, if fully enforced, will likely cause significant overcrowding in jails, and force local government and the state to spend millions to house persons whose only “crime” is to live in the United States.

           More than two dozen major national organizations have already said they will not hold conventions in Arizona, hoping that an economic boycott will force the state to reconsider the law that was written, voted upon, and passed in the juices of hate and fear. Two decades earlier, economic boycotts led Arizona to declare Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state holiday only after the NFL had pulled the Super Bowl from Arizona in 1993 because the state refused to follow the rest of the country in recognizing Dr. King. Major League Baseball is deciding whether to pull next year’s all-star game from Phoenix. About one-fourth of all major league players are Hispanic; several teams conduct about two months of Spring training in Arizona; about a dozen teams in the Arizona Rookie League each have at least five Hispanics players, all with legal status to work in the U.S. On Cinco de Mayo, every member of the Phoenix Suns wore jerseys identifying them as team members of “Los Suns,” their support of the state’s Hispanic population.

           University of Arizona President Robert Shelton told students and employees at his university that the families of several out-of-state honors students who accepted admission to UA, “have told us that they are changing their plans and will be sending their children to universities in other states.” He also said that UA students and employees, all of them citizens or who have legal visas, fear they “may now be subject to unwarranted detainment by police” although they “are from families that have been residents of Arizona for generations.”

           Even the national Republican party may have been blindsided by the swift passage of the law and the national outrage. Under President Bush, the Republicans had tried to increase the number of Hispanic voters in the party, and is now faced with the reality that there could be a massive retaliation. Phoenix, along with Tampa and Salt Lake City, were the remaining three cities for consideration for the 2012 Republican National Convention. Suddenly, it seems as if a $100 million economic advantage for Arizona would turn into a political liability.

           Overlooked by a lot of Arizonans is that corporations and small businesses are all too willing to violate federal law by hiring undocumented workers, pay them significantly less than they pay American citizens, give them no benefits, pay no Social Security or unemployment taxes, and allow them to live in poverty. Even when there is a relatively rare raid on their premises, usually the owner or corporation pays almost no penalty, or one that is a miniscule part of its profits.

           American citizens who wrongly complain about immigrants taking their jobs are also a part of the problem, since they don’t seem to have a problem with outsourcing or low factory pay, as long as it allows them to buy cheaper goods.

           My father, who survived the Depression, the Communist witch hunts, and was a part of the fight for civil rights, was subjected to bigotry and racism, as was my mother, but was spared the viciousness of a White population in a neighboring state that passed a law in 2010 that could only be seen as not much different from laws and “police practices” in the Deep South in the 1950s. The South learned; Arizona hasn’t.

[Dr. Brasch’s current book is Sex and the Single Beer Can (3rd ed.), a humorous and sarcastic look at the media and American culture. The book is available at, and other stores. Rosemary Brasch assisted on this column.]