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Sandip Roy Headshot

Arizona Goddam

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Where is Nina Simone when you need her? Arizona needs her.

First there was Sheriff Joe Arpaio, shackling the undocumented and marching them to camps down the baking streets of Phoenix.

Then came SB 1070, which requires the police to stop anyone who "looks" like they might be illegal and demand papers.

Then came word that ethnic studies programs were being targeted for being divisive. HB 2281 banned classes for particular ethnic groups or any courses that promoted ethnic solidarity instead of treating people as individuals.

If that wasn't enough, teachers with heavy accents were singled out. The Department of Education wants to reassign teachers whose accents are too heavy. The goal, apparently, is to make sure there are no teachers with "faulty English" in Arizona. Let's hope former President George W. Bush never goes looking for a teaching job in that state.

And now Sen. Russell Pearce, the man behind SB 1070, is revealing his true aim -- the 14th Amendment. A story in Time says, buoyed by poll numbers for his illegal immigration crackdown, Pearce wants to deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona of parents here illegally.

Pearce says democracy supports him -- 58% of Americans polled by Rasmussen think that children of illegal immigrants should not receive citizenship.

Friends say, is the Grand Canyon state going off the deep end?

When four young black girls were killed in the Baptist church bombing in 1963, the story goes Nina Simone locked herself in her room and said she wanted to build her own gun.

In her book, I Got Thunder, Lashonda Barnett, who interviewed Simone, says her then husband dissuaded Simone, telling her "Music is your weapon." Four hours later, she emerged with "Mississippi Goddamn."

No church has been bombed in Arizona. And Gov. Jan Brewer assures the public that SB 1070 will be implemented without racial profiling. How? Don't worry, everyone is getting training. Hopefully. That will make former Arizona Governor Raul Castro, a Mexican American, relieved. He was picked up by the police when he was a superior court judge and asked for his papers. He didn't have them on him, and they almost took him into custody. What he was doing was that most suspicious of activities, the "illegal dead giveaway" -- painting a fence. (Oh, Tom Sawyer, where are you now?)

Constitutional experts say that if Arizona really goes after "anchor babies," the courts will quickly strike it down.

But that's not the point. The point is, Arizona will have moved the needle so far to the extreme on the issue of immigration, SB 1070 will start looking fair and balanced. Activists and politicians will think they have scored a victory because they beat back the attack on the 14th Amendment, while SB 1070 remains in place.

Already in post-SB 1070 days, you hear less about all those other agreements already existing between sheriffs' departments and ICE, where sheriff deputies can act as ICE agents. At least they are just checking once they pick up someone for some crime. We think they aren't just demanding papers because you look illegal.

It's just like how John Ashcroft suddenly became a portrayed as a brave hospital-bed defender of our civil liberties, once Antonio Gonzalez came on as Attorney General on the scene.

As Arizona turns up the heat, pushing the rhetoric to even more ludicrous heights, SB 1070 will start sounding more mainstream.

Can't you see it
Can't you feel it
It's all in the air

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer

Arizona Goddam.