Monday, April 26, 2010

Where’s Woody Guthrie’s Guitar?


One of my best friends constantly extols the climatic virtues of the great state of Arizona. Conspiracy theorists have warned of an approaching fascism from underneath tinfoil hats for decades and the tea party movement has taken up that mantle, complete with outlandish costumes, a creepy affection for guns, and nonsensical rallying cries (e.g. "Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare," pictures of Obama as Hitler with a hammer & sickle underneath, et. al.). That longtime Republican (Non?)-Maverick John McCain is facing a tough primary challenge and the passage of two laws makes Arizona a veritable Tea Party Mecca.

At first the laws that are making the most news appear dissimilar. One is an amendment to Arizona State Senate Bill 1024 requiring that Presidential candidates submit an affidavit to the Arizona Secretary of State proving their citizenship and their age. If the office of the Secretary of State, has reason to doubt that information they can refuse to allow the candidate's name on the ballot. The other controversial law is a measure that allows local law enforcement to ask for proof of citizenship for those they suspect may be here illegally. Yet, at the heart of both of these bills I find very similar ideas specifically that both laws seem a bit, well, fascist.

The problem is, thanks to our friends in the tinfoil and tri-corner hats, when one even mentions fascism at all, eyes begin to roll and immediately the subject of conversation will change to sports, beer, or boobs. And I am talking about my female friends as well! Still as Seth Meyers asked on SNL, "Can we all agree that there is nothing more 'Nazi' than saying 'Show me your papers?'" The Tea Party claims to be all but literally "up in arms" to prevent the eroding of personal liberty and freedom. However, somehow those terms only seem to apply to money and not to actual freedom. Sure, white folks really don't have to worry. Any illegal immigrants from the former-soviet bloc will still probably be able to walk around Arizona freely shirking taxes and taking jobs away from documented citizens. However, if you happen to be of a more non-lily-white variety, you may have to present your identification if you happen to linger too long outside of a Home Depot or if you happen to be doing yardwork at your own house. I am not sure if this is the exact criteria they will use, or if they'll word it all fancy-like.

Sherriff Joe Arpaio can barely contain his power-boner and promises to immediately use it to fuck Mexicans. A warthog in a campaign hat, Sherriff Joe is the type of full-speed-ahead-damn-the-torpedoes lunatic that can genuinely amass an incredible amount of power, climbing the backs of the brown and the poor, and his sights are currently set on the Governor's mansion. He has a fistful of complaints, lawsuits, and alleged abuses to his name, but in his country sheriff costume with big, scary inmates wearing pink underwear and living in tents, a certain section of the Arizona population is very comforted knowing he is fighting the "good fight." With some clever lawyers, the investigations into his misdeeds are moving at a stoned snail's pace. In the meantime, Sherriff Joe could achieve his ultimate goal, be it the Governorship or perhaps he just wants to eventually own a person.

If liberty and freedom are important to these Tea Bagger folks, why are they so willing to allow the government to infringe upon the rights of the citizens that would most likely be profiled? It's easy to just dismiss them as racists, but I would wager that they are more like Orwell's loyal sheep, echoing the arguments of those who yell the loudest. "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." Selah.

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