Back in ’72, after a trip to Big Sur, California, I stopped off in Yuma, Arizona, on the way back to Detroit with an Israeli officer IDF friend. She commented that it reminded her of some of the Territories.
When I asked what she meant, she replied, “These Indians and Mexicans are like the Palestinians, pretty poor and beat-down, with the Western Israelis as lords of the land, which they never let them forget.” An interesting and prescient observation.
In the post-civil war yrs of the 1860s and ‘70s, the Army of the Union soon abandoned the South, which enacted criminalizing Black Codes against the newly freed slaves, disenfranchising them from the political process, and created Jim Crow segregation and dehumanization laws that lasted for another 100 yrs.
In the American Southwest, Anglos did much the same in reference to the earlier inhabitants of Native American Indians and Mexicans.
I joined the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY, in 1959, it was just two yrs earlier that elements of that unit were sent to desegregate Little Rock High School (1957) in Arkansas. Staying in the South after my service, I was active in civil rights throughout TN, GA, AL, and MS. I ended up doing over a year on a Tennessee rock-quarry, chain-gang, 1964-65.
Arizona is still fighting that war. As the sheriff of Pima County, Clarence Dupnik, noted over the weekend, Arizona has “become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
The shootings and murders by Jared Lee Loughner, cocked and loaded by Sarah Palin and the hatemongers at Fox News are only the latest manifestation of a state that is a microcosm of the brutish corporatism that is strangling America.
Dixiecrats left the Democratic Party in the South due to its desegregation policies, corporatist Republicans lost no time—their “Southern Strategy”–stepping in and assuming the political mantle of white superiority.
Are corporations racist? Not necessarily. But they can only exist where the masses are divided. Racism is a time-worn tactic to keep the masses separated (as the propaganda ministry of Fox News continues to amply demonstrate).
Arizona was the home of the late Senator Barry Goldwater, an arch corporate conservative of the “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” mentality. (Is this extreme enough, Herr Goldwasser?)
William Rehnquist was the City Attorney for Phoenix he opposed accommodation laws that allowed minorities to be served in restaurants and to vote. This was long after even the South had accepted them. As a law clerk in the Supreme Court earlier, he had authored support for the segregation laws. In return for his reactionary conservatism, Nixon appointed him to the US Supreme Court, and later to Chief Justice.
Nevertheless, before one scapegoats Arizona as some kind of exceptionally reactionary state (it is), it would be well to bear in mind that as Arizona goes, so goes the United States. Arizona is a paradigm for the rest of the nation. You want to see where the US is headed? Take a good look at Arizona.
To wit: The open persecution of all non-Anglos; the bankrupting of the economy as the corporations gain tax breaks and write favorable laws for themselves; the elimination of the public education and healthcare systems; the destruction of the unions, gov’t and private; and the privatization and industrialization of prisons, prisoners, and immigration detainees.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a former Republican, is the state’s first Jewish Congresswoman, voted to repeal subsidies to big oil companies, supports solar energy and its federal funding, supports embryonic stem-cell research, voted to raise the minimum wage, and is a member of the House’s LGBT Equality Caucus.
Federal Judge John M. Roll, one of the six murdered, was also the target of organized hatred. He had allowed a lawsuit to go forward in 2009 filed by “illegal” immigrants against an Anglo rancher. “They threatened to kill his family….They really wanted him dead,” a law enforcement official told the Washington Post last May.
Just recently, Judge Roll had been assigned to hear the lawsuit challenging Arizona’s new racist law (HB-2281) banning Hispanic Ethnic Studies in the state’s school system.
Make no mistake. There are those who consider this simply to be the birth pangs—collateral damage—on the road to an American corporate Reich.