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Racism in Arizona: More Intrigue, Plot Thickens

3 Jun

On May 1o, 2010 I posted Arizona’s Law of Hate, providing documentation that the Bill signed into law, the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act”, is actually a free license for racial profiling and the denial of civil rights to those with brown-colored skin.

The next day, I posted Update: Arizona’s Law of Hatred, an editorial in The Washington Post by Phil Gordon, the Mayor of Phoenix, denouncing the law as “hateful” thanks to “political opportunists such as state Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of the legislation, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.”  (Maricopa County encompasses the majority of the Phoenix Metropolitan area.)

As it turns out, Pearce was not the author of the law,  but merely its sponsor in the State Legislature. In the May 31, 2010 print edition of The Arizona Republic newspaper (or the Republic of Arizona as I like to call it), the author was Kris Kobach, an immigration attorney from Topeka, Kansas.

Kris Kobach, a member of FAIR

Kobach, however, is not your garden variety attorney who helps immigrants with US work permits or attaining citizenship. On the contrary, he is a member of FAIR — the Federation for American Immigration Reform — an organization recently listed as a nativist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A May 10, 2010 article by John Hanna of the Associated Press had this to say:

Before the law was passed … Kobach spent several years consulting with its main sponsor [Pearce]. And he has a $300-an-hour contract to teach deputies in Maricopa County [Arpaio], which includes Phoenix, to enforce immigration policies. [Bold is mine]

Bill Straus, Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Arizona office, said in February 9, 2010 press release, which I have as a Microsoft Word document:

We find it absolutely outrageous that Sheriff Arpaio has chosen an individual with an obvious bias, who works on behalf of an anti-immigrant group to conduct training on immigration law and ethnic profiling. This shows that he is not serious about dealing with the concerns that have been raised about his tactics and treatment of immigrants.

Well isn’t this a cozy little bunch. I have shown that all three compadres (excuse me, gentlemen) have links to white supremacist or neo-Nazi groups. This is not immigration reform, but unabashed hatred of any human being who is not White.

Pearce isn’t finished, not by a long shot with a willing and compliant legislature and governor — a Republican governor whom we inherited after Democrat Janet Napolitano was tapped by the Obama administration for Director of Homeland Security. Napolitano kept Pearce in check by vetoing and shredding all his bills that sullied her desk. Jan Brewer, however, is a staunch supporter.

The last paragraph of The Arizona Republic’s “report” is totally outrageous:

Next year, Pearce has said, he will propose a measure that would make Arizona the first state to stop the practice of giving citizenship to children who are born to in the United States to illegal immigrant parents.  Ending the practice of granting citizenship to “anchor babies,” as they are sometimes called, is one of FAIR’s legislative goals and is supported by Kobach.

Never mind that immigration law is a federal matter; Pearce, Arpaio, and Kobach openly disregard it. And why shouldn’t they? The reaction so far from President Obama is a shaking of his head and his usual speechifying.

Period.

Posted from Chandler, Arizona, June 3, 2010.

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Update: Arizona’s Law of Hatred

11 May

On August 24, 2010 Phil Gordon, the Democatic Mayor of the City of Phoenix since 2004, wrote a column in the Washington Post denouncing the anti-immigration law as “ugly” and “discriminatory”. Five days later, Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act into law.

Interesting to me is this quote from Gordon’s column:

“Our state is frustrated. We have become ground zero in the battle over illegal immigration because of years of lapsed federal border security. This week that frustration exploded, thanks to hateful political opportunists such as state Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of the legislation, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is already under investigation by the federal Justice Department for alleged violations of civil rights.

Pearce and Arpaio — two men who are to Arizona law enforcement what George Wallace was to Alabama government — care less about capturing human smugglers and drug cartel gunmen than they do about capturing headlines. And in a state with a far-right legislature that is increasingly out of step with an increasingly moderate population, they’re also out of step with the rules of basic civility.” [Bold is mine]

Posted from Chandler, Arizona, May 11, 2010

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Arizona’s Law of Hatred

10 May

Mami is a Mexican-American. Not just an American, but an American with a qualifier: Mexican. The Great Melting Pot has been showing cracks similar to those in the Liberty Bell for a long time, but now a sledgehammer is making some very serious dents in it.

A sledgehammer blow came on Thursday night, April 29, 2010 when Governor Jan Brewer signed an Act “Relating to unlawfully present aliens”. (The full text of the Act is here in .pdf format.) On the last page of the law it says, “This act may be cited as the ‘Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act’”.

Horse manure. Here is the kicker in the Act that gives Arizona lawmen the ability to violate a U.S. citizen’s civil rights:

“For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.”

The bolding is mine because these terms are wide open to interpretation both on the street and in a courtroom. Explain to me, for example, what “Beyond a reasonable doubt” means when a judge is instructing a jury. Few, if any, understand it, and that includes yours truly.

Because Mami’s skin color is brown, she is a prime candidate for what boils down to search and seizure of her person. I don’t have to worry about it, though, because my skin color is a sickly, pasty white. This could change sometime in the future, however, if I refuse to salute the neo-Nazi flag.

J.T. Ready, on the left, with Russell Pearce, author of the Immigration Law.

This is where the hatred part comes in. State Representative Russell Pearce, who authored the new law, is a friend of J.T. Ready, who in turn is one of Arizona’s leading neo-Nazis. According to an article on Crooks and Liars.com, “At a June [2010] anti-illegal demonstration at the state Capitol, Ready and Pearce worked the crowd arm-in-arm.”

J.T. Ready, second from the right in the suit, at a neo-Nazi rally in Omaha, Nebraska in 2007.

A report in the Phoenix New Times on September 9, 2007, had this to say about Ready:

“For anyone who’s doubted J.T.’s National Socialist bona fides, especially after he outed himself on NewSaxon.com, the neo-Nazi MySpace, his participation in this rally is about as blatant as it gets.”

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona.

Add another hate-monger to the group: Sheriff Joe Arpaio is noted for his unannounced “sweeps” of suspected undocumented immigrants in suspected businesses and drop houses. So unannounced that local police departments are not informed and have no idea what illegal activity by the Sheriff’s Department is going on in their own jurisdictions.

U.S.A. founder Rusty Childress with Sheriff Joe, inside the MCSO’s taped-off command post on March 21, 2008.

Does Arpaio have ties to neo-Nazi groups? Yes. Arpaio is friends with Rusty Childress, founder of USA, “United for a Sovereign America”. When pressed by the New Phoenix Times in an exhaustive report on May 14, 2009, Arpaio  said, “Childress is a good guy”.

I have barely touched the tip of a filthy iceberg.  As I was researching this post one link would lead to another link, immersing me in some very dark and sick corners of the Internet. If you have been following dates of photos and articles, the hatred of our elected officials for those of Latino heritage has been around much longer than the law that purports to be about supporting law enforcement and making our neighborhoods safe.  What we have, in effect, is a go to jail free card for anyone with brown skin without any Federal interference.

Criticism of the state of Arizona is more than justified, but don’t be fooled. The state of Texas is considering a similar law, and White Supremacist groups thrive in every state of America. For a country that did not recognize black-skinned people as equal humans until 1964,  it appears that we are regressing rather than progressing.

Posted from Chandler, Arizona, May 1o, 2o1o

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Age Discrimination – Financial Insanity

18 Aug

Earlier this week The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that a shortfall in the numbers of graduates with science and technology qualifications was creating a skills shortage and forcing employers to look overseas for suitable candidates. At the same time a growing number of older people are complaining that they have suffered the effects of age discrimination. It doesn’t take a genius to see the first problem could be solved by the employment of people suffering from the second.

Age discrimination is still rife, and unregulated against. However, a new law is set to be introduced in October, which may at least begin to tackle the problem. Although, older workers are those most commonly discriminated against, under 25s can also be affected, and it is not unusual for a recent school leaver or graduate to be told that whilst they may have relevant qualifications they lack experience and are therefore not worthy of employment. Older people who have both qualifications and experience are often turned down for different reasons. The more qualified and experienced a worker is, the more they can reasonably expect to be paid, business owners want to keep costs down, so prefer to employ someone less costly. I believe that this is partly the reason for the skills shortage the CBI have highlighted.

There may be fewer people studying science and technology subjects, but, there are still plenty of people with relevant skills who would be happy to make up any shortfall while a new generation can be trained. However, these people have years of experience, are often highly professional and respected, and are therefore worthy of a salary to match their experience and professional standing. It is cheaper to import people. If you are watching a profit margin, the choice is pretty simple, but it is a short-sighted one.

Cheaper overseas workers may fill a temporary gap, but this can’t be a long term solution. At a time when we are being told that we must work for longer, the idea that anyone over 45 is going to become steadily less and less employable is worrying. As a population we are living longer, we have children (who need supporting) later, it does not make economic sense to throw a whole generation on the scrap heap when they are still valuable and productive. These people will need to have some kind of financial support, many won’t have been working long enough to have built up a pension that is capable of providing for them adequately. So, they will turn to the benefits system, this will in turn lead to a rise in taxes which will cost business owners more.

Anti-age discrimination legislation is not going to change perceptions, or bring about any kind of improvement overnight but, hopefully it will have a positive effect over time, in the same way that laws to prohibit race and gender discrimination did not really achieve much in the short term, but did create a long term sea change in attitudes. This long overdue measure is both necessary and hugely important to us all. We will all get older, and like it or not, we are going to have to work for longer than our parents and grand-parents did. Unless we want to spend several decades of our lives living in relative poverty, we need to be confident that the judgements about our suitability to do our job are based on ability not the date on our birth certificate.

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