Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WaPo: Arpaio Sweeps "Blatantly Unconstitutional"

Yeah. Like we've all been saying for about a hundred years.

John Dickerson, in his New Times Valley Fever blog, pretty much nailed my feelings about this Washington Post editorial when he wrote,

"The Post editorial succinctly unpacked the pattern of Maricopa deputies’ racial profiling — and the price it costs documented citizens who get arrested and harassed in the process. The Post's editorial board was able to identify and nail this issue from 2,300 miles away. What a shame more local reporters and editors can’t see it as clearly from so close."
The editorial itself concludes thus:
"The sheriff loves describing himself as a tough guy and delights in humiliating prisoners by, among other things, making them wear pink underwear and swelter in open-air camps. He has gotten away with it -- even won reelection -- thanks to his colorful public persona and an electorate rattled by the demographic changes caused by immigration, legal and illegal. He denies allegations of racial profiling even as his deputies practice something that looks awfully like it. It's high time for federal authorities, or courts, to step in to halt what has become a travesty of justice in Arizona."
Our Phoenix mayor and our Arizona governor have called repeatedly for a halt to Arpaio's festival of abuses directed at our Latino residents, citizens and visitors alike. Unfortunately, nothing much has happened, I suspect because so far, the tide of public sentiment has rolled in the direction that white supremacist propagandists intend. This is not so surprising. After all, as we and others have often noted, the constellation of organizations assembled by John Tanton for this purpose has all but monopolized the attention of big mouths like Lou Dobbs. Mouths like his have a farther reach than mouths like ours.

But surely there's more to it? Of course. A certain cohort of US employers profits on the backs of undocumented workers, in the process cheating their competitors--employers who obey the law (and understand the concept of common morality)--and inserting yet another stick in the wheel of the so-called "free market." Here's the source of US immigration policy. It's pertty much that simple, if you ask me.

Those employers are here, just as they are elsewhere. They are among that sublimely influential stratum of citizens whose views find their way into the councils of local newspaper editors, state legislators, and the like. This is the lobbying class. When it is bolstered, as now, with the voices of many citizens poisoned with far-Right propaganda because it takes their attention away from complexities like NAFTA, CAFTA, and "free trade," it slows certain things down a lot.

This can and will change when the tide shifts and works in the favor of the rest of Arizonans, we who stand for justice, understanding that "law" isn't necessarily the same thing. When the critical mass of regular citizens wakes up to the hideous brutality being dished out to Latino residents and gets that it's just a matter of time until that same brutality is dished out in other directions, things will change.

When the critical mass of regular citizens understands that "worker abuse" is abuse of ALL workers, including those who live in your home, and that only pro-organized labor policies can hope to address widespread workplace injustices affecting ALL workers, then these things can and will change.

When the great mass of Arizonans understands the connection between global "free trade," the loss of Arizona jobs, the degradation of Arizonans' wages, AND the presence and abuse of undocumented workers, then things will change.

This is all of a piece. It means we ALL need a new deal. It won't happen for us, for immigrants, or for all Arizona workers until and unless Arizonans wake up and demand it. That day will come when we realize that our first allegiance is to each other, not to the lobbyist class.