Monday, April 26, 2010

Would the Shaqtus Be Protected Under Arizona Immigration Law?

Last month, I had the pleasure of Spring Break-ing in the state that is now the focus of a raging national debate on immigration reform. I speak, of course, of Arizona.

Ah, Arizona! Home of the saguaro cactus, not to be confused with the Shaqtus and the diamondbacks, which I soon discovered on my first and last hike, wasn't just a cool sounding name for a baseball team. Also, strangely, home of people who don't believe in daylight savings.

What else can I add to my book report? Let's see, Arizona is also the home state of John McCain, which he lost--kind of embarrassingly--in the presidential election to President Obama. And even though we're hearing a lot of griping nowadays about illegal browns, it should be noted that Arizona was, first and always, a place where a whole lot of original browns called home--and long before there were any other colors on the spectrum. (Shouts out to the Tohono O'odham.)

On my trip, I was mostly in Tucson, where people are, along with most of the Southern part of the state, as appalled by this racist, authoritarian bit of legislation as we in Liberalelitistan. What's more, not only are average citizens in Tucson upset by the laws, but by the sound of it, so are the people who would be in charge of enforcing it, too.

From my icicle-laden perch, far above this desert fray, these immigration measures, which will no doubt employ rampant racial profiling in an attempt to "identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants" (NYTimes), seem like another sad ploy by the far right to pick a fight with the current administration. I can't make sense of it any other way. The right continues to pass this kind of instigating legislation as a way of framing a flawed, slightly deranged debate. It's weird in this day of political correctness how much the folks on the far right are banking on the power of suggestion, like the Arizona state senator who got skewered by Anderson Cooper (yeah, I know) about the legitimacy of Obama's birth certificate, an on-air interview which quickly devolved into a "How do we know any facts ever about anything?" conversation. Very productive.

But to implement a law like this, which the Republicans had to have known they wouldn't get away with, strikes me as the most aggressive attempt at framing a debate along these lines: "See, we passed this very respectable immigration law that has nothing to do with the national agenda [Mik: "Bullshit!"], and look at how fiercely this immigrant loving, fascist administration comes to bring their foot down on our little state rights. (Hint: it's probably because he's an immigrant himself.)"

Aside from the actual terms of the law, to me the most troubling aspect of the bill seems to be the way it seeks to attack aspects of Obama's background and character. As soon as Obama says the obligatory, "No Way" to the immigration law, it somehow means something more (more what?) than if it had come from the non-Kenyan mouths of President Clinton or Carter. In other words, the terms which the Arizona Republicans who backed this law want to set for the debate are not based on reason or even strategic common sense (won't they alienate Latino voters in the state?). The only level it seems to make sense on is the scarier level, the level where the racially paranoid imp in all of us spins baroque conspiracy theories, the level where xenophobic militias are stockpiling weapons, the level where you hit the Door Close Door Close DOOR CLOSE button in the elevator and try to forget what you saw.

And that is troubling.

I hope it's not that. I hope it's just another sad case of the Republicans wanting to see Democrats fail more than they want the country to succeed, and doing so by any means necessary. Be they illogical, or racially divisive, or otherwise. But I'll end this monumental piece of blog with an analogy, because, well, fuck off, I like analogies:

Imagine, if you will, two dudes playing chess. But the house they're in is on fire. And, instead of chairs, they realize they're sitting on fire extinguishers. The dude who happens to be winning is like, "Shit," and grabs his fire extinguisher to start addressing the fire. Meanwhile the dude who's losing, makes an illegal move behind the other dude's back, and is like, "Aha! Check!" Just as a flaming beam crashes through the board.


chris michel said...

You know what this is? Evidence of the racism botflies in our nation’s back. We’ve had the botflies in there for a long while now, they’ve been covered with a bunch of duct-tape. We hoped that would solve everything. But it didn’t work. Now we’re pulling off the tape, and we need to pull the flies out. It’ll be real gross and ugly, but it’s how healing begins.

[warning: really creepy video demonstrating the metaphor]

Mik A. said...

That was gross, Chris Michel. But I like the way you think.

Chris said...

Um John McCain did not lose Arizona. He won by nearly 10 points. Otherwise, yeah, I pretty much concur.

Mik A. said...

Fuck off, Brunt.

Adam Feng Chen said...

Hey Mikael. This is Feng. I found out your blog link through your facebook account (which showed your blog link). It's pretty awkward for me to comment here, but I didn't wanted my gratitude to be in vain.

Thanks for everything. I hope you enjoy reading our essay. We put a lot of time into it and we actually cared deeply about the event (at least I did).

By the way, nice blog. Enjoy your summer, man.

Mik A. said...

Hey, Feng. Thanks for the comment! Not awkward at all. I'm glad you enjoyed working on the last paper and presentation. I really enjoyed working with you this semester. Let's keep in touch and best of luck with everything.