Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"Desert racist wasteland": Overly broad but not without merit

On Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals pulled off the biggest upset of the 2013 NFL season by defeating the heavily favored Seattle Seahawks in Seattle.

A Democratic state representative, Joe Fitzgibbon (presumably a Seahawks fan), vented his frustration in an angry tweet -

Screen capture courtesy Huffington Post, which got it from one of Fitzgibbon's Republican colleagues
Fitzgibbon has since taken down the tweet and apologized, but that hasn't stopped many Arizonans, including a few from my side of the partisan divide, and a few more from the MSM, from taking great umbrage at Fitzgibbon's original characterization of Arizona.

I may be one of, say...five...people in Arizona to feel this way, but...

He wasn't that far off.

I have some quibbles with the broadness of the brush that he used to paint Arizona - there are some *great* people here and some absolutely wonderful places too.

However, most of the state *is* desert; parts of all four North American deserts cover portions of Arizona.

As for the "wasteland" part, outside of a few absolutely spectacular spots, there's a whole lot of nothing here.  I firmly believe you can find beauty anywhere, but in some parts of AZ, you have to squint a whole helluva lot bit to see it (example: drive west from Phoenix along I-10.  When the "highlight" of the trip is on the California side of the state border and is aptly nicknamed "Blight"...)

However, the "racist" part, while hardly universally true here, has more than a bit of truth to it.

Between the annual legislative event, passing a bill (or many bills) that demonizes immigrants (it's not just SB1070, folks), a sheriff that would rather conduct camera-friendly immigrant hunts than investigate sex crimes, a governor that has nothing but contempt for DREAMers, and all too many more examples, it's easy to understand why the rest of the country views Arizona as a bubbling cauldron of bigotry.

We also have more than our share of politicos who tend to "shoot from the lip".

Just this year...

...We've had one state legislator, State Rep. Brenda Barton, compare the nation's first African-American president to Adolph Hitler -

...A former state rep, John Fillmore, gave one of the most incoherent and off-topic (I think so, anyway - it was seriously incoherent) responses to a Facebook post that I've ever seen -

...A local branch of the GOP, the LD26 Republicans, auction off a semiautomatic assault rifle similar to the one used in the 2013 mass shooting of adult teachers and young students in Newtown, CT...just before the anniversary of the murders -

...Another legislator, State Representative Bob Thorpe, who expressed support for mandatory minimum prison sentences that disproportionately impact minorities by pointing out that such sentences result in more minorities imprisoned under them -


...Thorpe was a busy man this year - in April, he urged a group of gun-totin' anti-"green" initiative types to target Sandy Bahr of the Arizona chapter of the Sierra Club while shooting off their guns.

In other words, while Fitzgibbon's social media outburst may have been overly broad, it was nowhere near inappropriate enough to rank with the online splutterings of his counterparts here in Arizona.

Where were the offended folks when it was Arizona politicos spouting off?

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