At the risk of profound understatement, it’s been a difficult 2011 in the state of Arizona. Jared Loughner’s shooting spree that grievously injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killed six, including 9-year old Christina Green, was a national horror. The killings also focused global attention on Arizona’s toxic political culture. Gun-toting nativists, white supremacist state senators, anti-immigrant laws like the infamous SB 1070, and Governor Jan Brewer’s tall tales about “headless bodies” on the Arizona/Mexico border turned the state into a national punchline. After Loughner’s rampage, the punchline became a cautionary tale, and everyone from Governor Brewer to Barack Obama called on the political fire-breathers to give it a rest.
Unfortunately, Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce didn’t get the memo. Pearce, a man chummy with those who consider swastikas to be fashion accessories, returned this year with new legislation that would peel the paint off the Statue of Liberty. Pearce has proposed SB 1611, which among other things would force schools to report students who cannot produce documents verifying their US citizenship or legal residence. School adminstrators that refuse would be subject to prosecution. It’s a law that would compel teachers and principals to become de facto INS agents. It’s also a law that would be a brazen challenge to the US Constitution, which protects the right of every child to attend a public school.
Gabriel Chin, a University of Arizona Law professor said, “This is all aiming for Supreme Court test cases by doing something that is over the constitutional line. It’s really alarming and astonishing that they would deliberately violate the Constitution in this way.” Last Friday, there were walkouts at eight Phoenix area high schools, as students joined together to march on the state house and protest Pearce’s bill.
As the primordial ooze of Arizona’s politics comes to a boil yet again, the question must be posed anew to Major League Commissioner Bud Selig: Will the 2011 All-Star Game go ahead as planned in the state of Arizona? Will Selig ignore the latest from Russell Pearce, along with the thousands of petitioners, protesters and players, and reward a state with aspirations of apartheid with the Midsummer Classic?
By last year, Selig offered his position in a statement as bizarre as it was obtuse. Pressured for an answer, he said, “Apparently all the people around and in minority communities think we’re doing OK. That’s the issue, and that’s the answer. I told the clubs today: ‘Be proud of what we’ve done.’ They are. We should. And that’s our answer. We control our own fate, and we’ve done very well.” No one is quite sure what this means, but the answer was still clear. Yes, as of last summer, he would be ignoring all concerns and the game would be played as planned in Arizona.