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Here's to the State of Arizona: A Song in Protest of S.B. 1070

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A song in protest of Arizona's S.B. 1070, based on the song "Here's to the State of Mississippi" by Phil Ochs.

Here's to the state of Arizona,
For underneath her borders, the devil draws fine lines,
If you search her arid deserts, nameless bodies you will find.
Whoa fat cats of the corporations hide a thousand crimes,
The calendar is lyin' when it says it's present time.
Whoa here's to the rights you've torn out the heart of,
Arizona find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's to the people of Arizona
Of our Constitution, you just don't understand
Your law now labeled "apartheid" is not welcome in our land,
Oh the sweating of whose souls helps to put big bucks in your hands
For you smile and shrug your shoulders while stealing the rights of men,
Oh, here's to the rights you've torn out the heart of
Arizona find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's to the schools of Arizona
Are you teaching your students, of Latinos not to care?
Your rudiments of racism are now seen everywhere
For Mexicans your "classroom" is a factory of despair
Where you're teaching "injusto*" as a synonym for "fair"
Oh, here's to the rights you've torn out the heart of
Arizona find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's to the cops of Arizona
Where "reasonable suspicion" has unlocked "police state" door
Where your warrant-less arrests will soon be Arizona lore
While you like taking prisoners in your sordid little wars
Hired henchmen for the "Show-Me-Your-Papers" state, and not much more
Oh, here's to the rights you've torn out the heart of
Arizona find yourself another country to be part of!

And, here's to the justice of Arizona
Your "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act"**
The Supremacy Clause*** of the Constitution it has hacked
Usurping federal government rights it did enact
Where the brown man stands accused, the deck is always stacked
Whoa, here's to the rights you've torn out the heart of
Arizona find yourself another country to be part of!

And here's to Guv'nor Brewer of Arizona
From your pen a racist law some are calling "Living While Brown"
Now Arizona Boycotts are spreading from town to town
We're hoping you wake up when you see your revenues go down
But if not, you'll be the Governor with the ravings of a clown
Oh, here's to the rights you've torn out the heart of
Arizona find yourself another country to be part of!

Here's to the immigrants of Arizona
Presidents and Senators now recognize your plight
Since your state decided to institute "Constitution-lite"
Singling out racial and ethnic groups is not a pretty sight
So, we stand with you united in a "Si, Se Puede"**** fight
Oh, here's to the rights you've torn out the heart of
Arizona find yourself another country to be part of!

Native Americans of United States:
Where this land, once owned by you, now occupied by us
Dear nation of immigrants -- it's due process or bust!
Not fear and hatred which leaves us all choking on its dust
And our new motto's "In equality we trust!"
Oh, here's to the rights you've torn out the heart of
Arizona find yourself another country to be part of!


Key:
* = Unjust, in Spanish
** = The name of S.B. 1070
*** = Supremacy Clause - gives the federal government authority over the states.
**** = 'Yes, it is possible,' or 'yes, it can be done,' in Spanish. The term is the motto of the United Farm Workers, whose co-founders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta came up with the slogan.

It might interest readers to know that Arizona has a history of racial intolerance. As an example, Arizona, and Senator John McCain, fought against the Dr. King holiday. For years Arizona refused to observe it.

Phil Ochs was a talented American protest singer, whose song chronicling the plight of the black man in the south, "Here's to the State of Mississippi," is from his There But For Fortune album.

From 1954 to 1964, whites in Mississippi also committed some of the most ghastly, high-profile acts of racial violence, including the murders of Emmett Till, Mack Charles Parker, Herbert Lee, Louis Allen, Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. In the summer of 1964, Mississippi racism seemed so galling and when protesters outside the Republican National Convention held up signs such as "Be with Barry When They Burn the Crosses" and "Goldwater for Governor of Mississippi." That year, Phil Ochs, one of the most prolific voices of the American folk revival, summed up both the outrage over Mississippi injustice and America's liberal consensus in his searing ballad "Here's to the State of Mississippi." By 1971, Phil Ochs had stopped singing "Here's to the State of Mississippi." He rewrote the song and titled it "Here's to the State of Richard Nixon." Sadly, Ochs' struggles with bipolar disorder and alcoholism led him to take his own life at the age of 35. Thankfully, his spirit lives on in his songs and encourages us to take action on the things which matter in our world.

Leslie Sheridan is a peace and justice activist, poet, and consultant who lives and works in Clearlake, CA. She has been writing a free, online, international peace and justice newsletter called The Carpe Diem Voice, since prior to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. A compilation of news articles, combined with humor and inspiration, it's a way to get informed, stay engaged and in action on the things which matter in our world, while not getting depressed. To subscribe, one may send an email to CarpeDiemVoice@aol.com with "P&J" and the country/state in which you live, in the subject line.

The poem's author grants rights to copy and print as long as the poem is left intact,
with author credit and copyright, as well as credit to the great American protest singer, Phil Ochs and his wonderful song on which this song/poem is based. To be sure you have the original copy, please email the author at the above email.

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