Last week marked the passage of State Congressman Russell Pearce’s SB 1070, a bill legalizing the arrest of a person in Arizona if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an illegal alien or a legal alien not in possession of registration documents. Despite the bill’s blatant mandate of the racial profiling of Hispanics, Pearce maintains that, in writing the bill, “we made sure people can’t racial profile.” Indeed, Section 6 of the bill specifies, “The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin.” However, while “race, color, or national origin” may not be “solely” used to stop and interrogate people, these criteria may be used in conjunction with any other indicator like an accent. So, if you’re planning on looking and sounding Mexican in Arizona, then you better have your papers in order.
With SB 1070’s passage, Pearce has become an overnight Republican heartthrob, flirting with “Scott Brown status.” Republicans are eager to buy into Pearce’s vision of America in the 2010 midterm elections by shelling out donations to far right candidates so that they too can make their state resemble Arizona and its fascist homogeneity. But buyers beware: before purchasing this brand of extremism, put the ill logic of Pearce’s polarizing ideology into context. Before shopping for midterm candidates who share Pearce’s vision of America, understand Pearce’s America.
Pearce’s America is a land in which men freely abuse women. A dissolution of marriage filed by Pearce’s wife, LuAnne, in 1980 reads, “Pearce… has from time to time hit and shoved the wife, the last time being on February 3 , when he grabbed the wife by the throat and threw her down.” Pearce’s America is a land in which minorities cannot freely assemble. In 2008, Pearce sponsored SB 1108, a measure to prohibit students of Arizona universities and colleges from forming groups based on the race of their membership. The bill states that groups like the Black Business Students Association “denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization.” Pearce’s America is one in which the media no longer labels “a White racist… as a despicable bigot.” Pearce circulated an e-mail with this message from National Alliance, a white separatist group, to his supporters in 2006.
More sickening than the inspiration behind this bill is the political response that it is generating; Republicans in midterm races are competing to sell voters on their Conservative credentials by outdoing each other in their support for this bill. Arizona Senator John McCain, for example, once a stalwart proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, has come out strongly in favor of SB 1070 in order to outdo radical right winger J.D. Hayworth in Arizona’s Senatorial contest. The result is a race to the bottom, where the reddest neck takes all. The political fallout is expanding beyond Arizona too; legislators in Texas and Oklahoma are seeking similar legislation and GOP leaders are rallying around the party’s rebranding.
Pearce is succeeding in his scheme to “take back America one state at a time.” Before Republicans sell us their new brand of radicalism in the midterms, however, voters should know the terms of purchase: All sales are final and buyers’ remorse is inevitable.