Monday, May 07, 2012

Who's Ready for Arizona?



As of late I haven’t been able to open my web-browser without reading a story about people in Arizona acting as nutty as my grandfather’s pecan tree.  Just yesterday, I read an article about AZ Gov. Jan Brewer signing a law to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds.  Because, you know, a great way to reduce abortions is to take away people’s access to contraception.  This news barely cracked the lunacy scale for this week, what with a straight-up neo-Nazi, who happened to be all BFF with the State Republican leadership, killing his entire family and then himself.

And, then it hit me.  I’m actually going to Arizona next month.  Who had this great idea again?  Oh, that’s right, we did.  Back in 2010, with white supremacist anti-immigrant legislation set to take effect in Arizona, the UUA General Assembly met in the civilized city of Minneapolis and debated whether to boycott Phoenix, which had been picked as the General Assembly site for 2012 by the GA Planning Committee.  The final decision was not to forfeit the hefty deposit the UUA had given Phoenix and to go to Phoenix with the understanding that it would be a “Justice GA” and not business as usual.

It seems we were not the only ones talking about pulling out of Arizona.  Check out this Forbes Magazine on-line article that might as well be titled, “Business as Usual Says No More Business as Usual in Arizona.”
“If business leaders in the state can’t find a way to rein in the elected officials, the militias prowling the border, and the out-of-control legislature, Arizona will continue its quick decline, transforming from the business-friendly, libertarian-leaning state of Barry Goldwater into a circus where no sensible entrepreneur would ever dream of locating their business.”
Or, consider this story from the Southern Poverty Law Center that tells us Arizona has a “reputation as the epicenter of anti-immigrant hate and as a site of disturbing extremist activity.”

News stories tell us that politics in Arizona ranges from ultra-conservative at best to domestic terrorist at worst.  Besides JT Ready killing his entire family, there is last year’s shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as well as stories like this one about a militant hate group conspiring to place landmines along the US-Mexico border.

News stories run from the embarrassing to the idiotic to the surreal.  Embarrassing would be Gov. Jan Brewer literally shaking her finger in the face of President Obama on an airport tarmac in Arizona last January, and then, while being interviewed about the uncomfortable exchange, telling reporters that she “felt a little threatened” by the President.  I’m sure she didn’t mean that in a racist way.

Idiotic would include Arizona’s newest wave of anti-abortion legislation that included a legal definition that pregnancy begins two weeks before conception.

And then there is the surreal.  That would be America’s most demented lawman, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, turning the bust of an alleged cockfighting ring into the set of an action movie, complete with paramilitary equipment and martial arts movie star Steven Seagal riding in on a tank while the cameras rolled.  Apparently, Seagal managed to kill a puppy during the raid.

This list is by no means comprehensive.  I could easily write a blog post ten times as long documenting Arizona’s right wing racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-woman legislation and activity in recent weeks and months.

Of course, I live in Missouri so I shouldn’t call the kettle black.  I work in Kansas so I shouldn’t throw stones at glass houses.  Can I make just one little suggestion to Unitarian Universalists out there?  Instead of going someplace where the politics are as crazy as a wolverine on psychedelics, maybe we can choose a place where our values are celebrated.  I hear Vermont is pleasant in June.