Until a few months ago, you and I didn’t know each other very well. I knew that you didn’t observe Daylight Savings Time and that you were one of the last states to approve the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday (don’t worry, New Hampshire, I haven’t forgotten you). You probably knew me as just some girl from Montana who never came to visit and always rooted against your teams in the Pac-10 Conference. I knew there were definitely good parts about you… I’ve had a few friends who attended ASU and lived in the area. Plus, my former roommate of 4 years is from Nogales, so I heard some things. Then a good friend moved from Portland to Phoenix this spring and I visited Scottsdale to see a few Spring Training games with Galen’s family. We were off to a pretty good start.
Until last week. Now, the only things I can think of when I hear your name are “racial profiling” and “birther crazies.”
Now, before I get started on the immigration front, let me first state this very important disclaimer: I have never lived in a state bordering Mexico, and thus, do not fully understand what it’s like. Where I come from, we have Canada to the north, and they’re more like a cool older brother who plays hockey and lives in the basement apartment, where he comes and goes as he pleases. We don’t hang out all the time, but we’re buddies and we vacation together. Sometimes Canada buys us beer even though we’re underage. It’s cool.
Mexico seems to be like a younger stepbrother who doesn’t live by anybody else’s rules. I know from experience that this can prove frustrating. I am trying to be compassionate.
But I really think there are better ways to deal with this. I just keep thinking… What if the illegal immigrants you were dealing with were from Canada? Or Croatia via Mexico? THEN what would you do? Because whatever your answer to that question is, I bet it’s a much better approach than this law. Anything that involves looking at the color of a person’s skin and then determining how you’re going to react based on that color is inherently racist.
Please be clear – I am not saying that illegal immigration isn’t a problem, because I don’t know that. I am neither experienced nor informed on the matter.
I also don’t want to lay full blame on you, Arizona. I understand that there is a bigger issue here (the need for immigration reform) that needs to be addressed on a national scale. The national government needs to give you a real, proactive solution instead of creating reactive programs that allow laws like yours to pass. If this was your way of rebelling to get attention, it may just have worked.
But the ends do not justify the means.
Then there’s this birth certificate business. I have a few opinions on the matter, but most of them are summed up in this video of Anderson Cooper taking one of your State Representatives to task:
To put it plainly, Arizona, reacting to false allegations by creating laws to PROVE they are false is the wrong answer. Your elected officials serve as fact checkers for their constituents. Thus, allowing laws such as this to pass is doing the people of Arizona a disservice. Your congressmen are abusing their positions by using their authority to help spread false information. All that is needed to put this issue to rest is for every representative or senator in every district to publicly state the truth. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Also, and I’m surprised you don’t already know this, crazy people who believe lies to be truth can never be convinced otherwise. The people who believe that Barack Obama was not born in the US will not rest until that false statement is proven true, which will never happen. They will never be convinced of the truth.
Don’t get me wrong – I understand that bad things sometimes happen in good states. My home state of Montana, for instance, which I love dearly, is known for providing a nice home in the woods for the Unabomber. Nobody ever mentions that Montana also elected the first woman to congress or served as the birthplace for the lead singer of the Decemberists.
And that’s one of the many reasons I will not be partaking in any sort of boycott. I understand you’re not all bad. I also don’t think an Arizona boycott would be felt by the people who really need to hear a strong message.
But I do want you to know that not all press is good press. And your rebellion has not gone unnoticed. It took us Montanans years to get over the Unabomber image – be prepared for a long redemption period yourself.
As for you and me, Arizona? I’m screening my calls at the moment. I’m not saying we’re through, but you’ve got some grovelling to do.