Friday, August 13, 2010
Civil Disobedience in Phoenix
After all, I am relatively new to the observation of Phoenix politics, new to residing in the Phoenix metropolitan area (in fact, I’m still up north for the summer), and I hardly qualify as an observer entitled to second guessing.
I am not; however, new to civil disobedience. (among other forms thereof)
And besides, ignorance has never kept me from expounding excessively in the past. I shall try to keep my remarks temperate.
In life, as in comedy, timing is everything.
Ask Andy Roddick, who became the #1-ranked tennis player in the world in 2003. (great life, but came into his own winning his first Grand Slam during the start of the reign of the most dominant tennis player ever—Roger Federer—Roddick immediately lost his ranking, and has not won another Grand Slam. It has haunted him.)
Ask George W. Bush, who without help could not lead a troop of boy scouts out of the woods back to the safety of the suburbs. (he lost the 2000 Presidential election to Al Gore, but won it because he happened to be running when a Supreme Court justice wanted to retire to Arizona under a Republican President, and another Justice had bitterly complained of a “high-tech lynching” supported by Senator Gore at the Justice’s confirmation hearings in his nomination submitted by Bush’s father, and those Justices joined three other conservative Republican Justices in abandoning career-long states’ rights recognition to overturn Florida’s Presidential election and give the victory to Bush; Bush 43 also happened to be President when Al Qaeda attacked the United States, leading to a sharp upsurge in popularity, which he needed to survive his Vice-President’s concocting stories about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction so that the United States could justify a needless, senseless, and expensive war against Iraq.)
On July 28, 2010, the Hon. Susan R. Bolton of the United States District Court in Phoenix, Arizona enjoined the most regressive and divisive piece of legislation since the decade leading up to the Civil War, a century and a half ago: SB 1070. July 29, 2010, the date SB 1070 had been scheduled to take effect, should have been cause for celebration, but instead it saw civil disobedience and protesting in Phoenix like the city has not seen before.
This anomaly in the reaction to victory can be felt in watching two dynamite videos by Arizona activist Dennis Gilman. In the first video, shot on the day of the federal court hearing on the injunction request, July 22, 2010, the protest feels righteous, pure. To most people at the time, SB 1070 still seems like an open question, and the justifiable response, even in the words of an innocent child is “We will not comply.” Hispanic activist Carlos Garcia’s words ring true, the look in his eyes resolute as he heads off into no man’s land—custody courtesy of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The scene construction, editing, and music of the video all give it a dynamic and synergistic effect.
In contrast, the second video, shot on July 29, 2010 the day after Judge Bolton issued her decision, provokes a much different feeling. Not that it is not a similarly great video. It is, but for different reasons.
The protests seem contrived, staged. They lack the real urgency and feeling of the July 22, 2010 protest. The biggest reason for holding them feels like it is to get on television. That is not a totally bad thing, especially since it has been the tactic of the fascist MCSO led by head nazi himself Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Such tactics need to be countered, but it is critical in my humble opinion not to give up the moral high ground. The protests of July 29, 2010 risked doing that.
And don’t tell me SB 1070 is still in effect. That’s just damn silly, almost on a par with those who say that there was nothing in SB 1070 that called for racial profiling. The entire guts of SB 1070 were ripped from the bill, and what is left has no life of its own, or significance, whatsoever.
It has not been formally struck down yet, only enjoined until a full hearing on the merits, but if you’re one of those who holds out hope that at least as much of SB 1070 that Bolton enjoined won’t be struck down, do yourself a favor—don’t bet the ranch on it. In fact, if there is anybody foolish enough out there to bet that it won’t be struck down, and there are likely enough already-drank-the-Kool-Aid right-wingers in Arizona alone to start a hedge-fund bet, I am willing to take the opposite side up to and including any amount not to exceed 653 gazillion, gatrillion, gabillion dollars. Times 2.
Not that there isn’t any remaining justification for civil disobedience. And in fairness, the protests were focused in that direction. They just seem ill-timed.
My favorite parts of the second video were the sign on the door the Fourth Avenue Jail—“Help Sheriff Arpaio Fight Illegal Immigration” and “Become a Deputy Sheriff, Laterals Welcome”, and the 4’8” female member of the MCSO riot squad who the MCSO placed on the front line of the phalanx.
First, what the hell does fighting illegal immigration have to do with being a county sheriff, or a deputy sheriff? Aren’t they supposed to keep us safe? Who is doing that while they fight the invasion from the South? Even the police chief of the conservative city of Mesa (George Cascon) knows the answer to this one. Answer—NOBODY IS.
Second, not only are laterals welcome, but evidently potential riot team members of any height, weight, sex, or physical infirmity are encouraged to apply to not only fight illegal immigration, but control unarmed protestors who get too close to garage doors.
I felt sorry for this lady (she looked like a female on the video). It was a question of symbolism. She probably can do her job just fine.
However, the real protest is not against SB 1070 anymore.
The real protest is against Joe Arpaio (except the feds are planning a long vacation for him anyway), and the idea that there is room for future Arpaio’s like Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, or state legislator Russell Pearce.
Speaking of that great legal drafter Pearce, the real protest is against racist-connected Russell Pearce.
The real protest is against ignoramus Governor Jan Brewer.
The real protest is against 287g and Secure Communities; they have to end.
The real protest is against the Republican party’s recalcitrance to participate in immigration reform so that they can exploit racial issues for a short-term gains in votes. (to their long-term detriment, this is one side benefit)
The real protest is against activist conservative judges chipping away for forty years at the Fourth Amendment in the righteous name of law and order. As a result, profiling is legal. As a result, racial profiling is legal. As a result, pretext arrests are legal.
The police state is on the way, Hispanic cleansing or no. What are you willing to do to stop it?
Civil disobedience has its place; it can be effective. For a while though, it might not be a bad idea to focus more on educating the public, and voting.