I was sitting outside of a coffee shop in Phoenix which sold what was advertised as ‘Fair Trade Coffee.’ That seemed like a reasonably decent product to me. Certainly nothing that could inspire ire in anyone. And the price was good. Not skyrocketing like the radio said about the prices of so many other things touched by liberal fingers. These prices were ground low and seemingly wingless.

“God damned liberals have gotten everything around here… Fuck’n coffee too?” said a woman in a green felt sun-visor walking hand in hand with a man in a beard.

The bearded man shook his head as if he could hear the breath leaving the last of his father’s generation.

People were gathering for the Reverend Sharpton’s speech opposing SB 1070. I imagined this couple wasn’t present for that.

Before I moved here, my image of Arizona was filled with cute adobe archways, artists colonies producing annoyingly pastel-only creations that spoke to the soft palate of local souls and a unique intermingling of Southwestern cultures that would surely include, if not a generally open-hearted community, at least some interesting foodlets.

I was wrong. Except about the annoyingly pastel-only creations. Those, thanks be God, are everywhere, alongside a general bigotry, a willful closed-mindedness and some of the shittiest food a major metropolitan area has ever boasted. Come on people. You’re bigger than Philly now. It’s time to come up with a sandwich… or might I suggest… a taco?

A quick list of the complete insanity that has recently ravaged my adopted home thanks largely to the known fascism of sheriff Joe Arpaio and that lesser known fascism of the unelected governor Jan Brewer (she took office when Janet Napolitano went to the White House to head up Homeland Security): There is the famous SB 1070 which requires police to demand papers of anyone they deem ‘reasonably suspicious’ of illegal immigrant status, and simultaneously makes it legal for citizens to sue their government if they think local authorities are not upholding immigration laws stringently enough; then we have the lovely right to carry a concealed weapon without a permit; and the new law BANNING ETHNIC STUDIES in public schools

But, lady and her bearded cohort, I concede, the “God damned liberals have gotten everything around here… Fuck’n coffee too.”

A quick retort: You are mad at what? At the fact that South American farmers are getting a fair price for delivering you a superior product? Retort abandoned. It seems unnecessary.

I have quite sincerely tried to see both sides of most issues for some time, and despite liberal tendencies, I’ve always been careful to attempt to understand conservative ideologies and respect differences of opinion.

But conservatives, you gotta work with me on this. You are looking way too stupid to try to understand.

Stupid things overheard in Phoenix this week:

“I’m just glad we don’t have no unions turning us into D-troit.”

Phoenix… you wish you were Detroit.

“I don’t know why we gotta spend taxes to build public transit just to move illegals around the city.”

Not worthy of response.

“If people can’t carry guns, you’re just gonna have more violence.”


“What don’t people understand about the word ‘illegal'”

This is exactly the question I would like to ask Joe Arpaio and Jan Brewer in regards to what strike this legally uneducated citizen as totally outside the confines of legal.

By the way, thank you Al Sharpton for coming out here and assembling such an awesome resistance to what is undoubtedly one of the least American laws imaginable.

And thank you everyone involved in turning what could have been nothing but a shameful moment for all Americans into one of the best organized campaigns against rampant idiocy we’ve seen since W. left office.

And seriously, Phoenix, if you’re going to keep calling yourself a city, embrace the taco.

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Ryan Day is a writer who lives in Madrid. He runs The Toast Cafe, and Roll, restaurants that double as cultural spaces. His articles on arts and culture in Madrid can be found at Vaya Madrid.

141 responses to “Arizona Nightmare”

  1. Matt says:

    I’ve been paying close attention to this since it became news. Partially because it simply disgusts me as a humanitatian, and partially because it might very well have ramifications here in California.

    Being as close to the border as we are, San Diego has to contend with the illigal immigration problem, and several of the politicians currently running for office are doing so on a platform of supporting SB 1070 and calling for CA to implement it’s own version. One of the candidates for Sheriff is even styling himself as the next Joe Arpaio.

    What really disgusts me about this is the unspoken racism built into it. Every time Brewer is questioned as to what conditions would constitute “reasonable suspicions of illegal immigrant status” she either weasels around the question or simply refuses to answer, but let’s face it: Arizona shares a border with Mexico, the AZ police probably not going to be on the lookout for fair-skinned Canadians who’ve snuck down through the northern states. And there was San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray’s wonderfully charming diatribe about how we can ID illegals “by their clothes, by their shoes, and even by their hair.” Evidently, in Bilbray’s world, all illiegals look like the poncho & sombrero-wearing, taco-munching Mexican cartoon stereotype logo seen on the masthead of Alberto’s restaurant chain.

    I’m of partially hispanic descent, and look it enough–especially when I pick up my summer tan–that people sometimes come up and start speaking Spanish to me. I’m exactly one of those people who’d be in trouble if caught by the police on Arizona streets without my wallet.

    • Ryan Day says:

      I imagine this is all doomed before it even gets going, so I’m not actually worried about the laws sticking, on the contrary I’m pretty inspired watching the well-organized and wide-reaching reaction.

      What is worrisome is this strange attitude of hating things just because they’re liberal. It’s like certain people have this giant fear of coming off as gay, remembering that they closely associate liberalism with homosexuality, so they just make sure and cover their bases by hating anything that could be perceived as ‘soft’. Of course their are plenty of people who go hating just because a thing is conservative as well, and that is equally dumb. The distinction itself is a problem. It’s simple, where we tend to be complex. I imagine most of my piece fell right into that trap, but it was a much needed venting of some of my AZ frustrations.

      Okay, immigration, there are some issues, lets talk em through… but coffee… seriously… your gonna get pissed off about coffee… ufff…

      Yeah, and recognizing that AZ has the whole 30% population of LEGAL hispanics, makes the whole thing A) even more blatantly racist when it comes to the clear implications for very regular profiling, and B) Totally politically dumb. They just activated the inactive side of the political base whose stagnation was allowing them to thrive.

      • Matt says:

        It’s a new version of an old trend, sadly: hating on something because it’d been labeled with a politically expedient term. “Commie” “Yank” “Hippie” “John Bull” etc. Though it does seem like the pendulum seems to swinging sharply towards either side these days. My personal, totally unscientific position is to blame the extreme political divisive “with us or against us” mentality of the Bush administration.

        And I can’t pretend I haven’t been a part of it.

        • Ryan Day says:

          I’m with you 100%. It has been a tough time not to play into divisiveness at some level or another, but there is nothing wrong with holding an opinion, and even a contrary one… Especially in the face of something so CLEARLY based in prejudice. I’ll apologize for the right all day if it makes the conversation go down smooth, but not when they’re pedaling racism.

    • Becky says:

      Evidently, in Bilbray’s world, all illiegals look like the poncho & sombrero-wearing, taco-munching Mexican cartoon stereotype logo seen on the masthead of Alberto’s restaurant chain.

      You don’t think that’s a bit dramatic?

      Is it possible that a person’s clothing could give them away for other reasons? And, while the racial implications cannot be ignored, neither can inarguable fact that a huge portions of illegal immigrants–certainly the majority in that area of the country–are, indeed, coming from Mexico.

      I mean, do you just pretend not to acknowledge that on the grounds that it might be offensive to Mexican-Americans? I think trying to do exactly that is what is making these people look asinine, more than anything. Look, people. You’re talking about Mexicans. The immigration issue in the American SW has primarily to do with people who come from Mexico. Is that so difficult or wrong or insensitive to say out loud? Is it not true?

      This one aspect of the debate baffles me a bit.

      • Ryan Day says:

        Listen, the law is pretty flat out, not only encouraging, but requiring racial profiling… They have said, specifically, that a persons physical appearance could be grounds for assuming they are illegal… in a state that used to BE Mexico… a state that has a 30% legal Mexican population. It is indefensible.

        • Matt says:

          Yes, exactly.

          Everyone like Arpaio and Brewer who support this bill try to tap dance around it, but “reasonable suspicion of illegal immigrant status” is politispeak for “looks Mexican.” Everyone knows it, but no one who supports it has the courage to actually say so.

          Further, if passed into law, the bill would actually REQUIRE–in spirit if not letter–Arizona police to detain anyone who looks Hispanic, and to arrest any individual who cannot prove on the spot that they are American citizens, even if that person has no criminal record or has commited no other infraction. The police would face criminal penalties if they don’t comply.

          This is racial profiling at it’s most blantant. And most disgusting.

          There’s another issue–one that may, hopefully, kill the bill–which Ryan didn’t mention directly: no state has the authority to deport anyone. That power is reserved for the federal government. So under this proposed law, AZ law enforcement would have to round up suspected illegals and then turn them over to Homeland Security–Customs/Border Patrol, in this case–for deportation. But HS has no mandate to unilaterally accept them, and if they don’t have the resources to handle the necessary investigations prior to deportation (or just don’t want to be bothered), they can and will simply release them.

          Which mean a lot of taxpayer money will have been wasted, and absolutely nothing accomplished. And worse, this would also deflect Cust/B.P. attention away from, you know, actually defending the border.

        • Becky says:

          There you go. Digging in again.

          I’m reasonably sure it is defensible, at least insofar as people are defending it. Your statement depends, too, on the assumption that racial profiling is inherently and always wrong, and I think there are a lot of people who would disagree with you on that.

          It’s another one of these truths that seems so obvious to you, but in fact, it’s not a truth; for better or worse, it’s an opinion stemming from an ideology.

          Whether or not it used to be Mexico is really neither here nor there, I don’t think.

        • Ryan Day says:

          Well, the fact that many of the people that live there (since it used to be Mexico) look Mexican, makes both here and there, which is the point.

          And yes, it is obvious to me that racial profiling is wrong. And, yes, I came to that conclusion afte consideration, not through divine insight.

          There you go again condescendingly assuming that a firm opinion must be an unconsidered one.

        • Matt says:

          Well, I was taught that making conclusions about someone based on appearance (race/religion/dress/hairstyle) was wrong….prejudice, in fact. And I really don’t see how racial profiling is anything other than an institutionalized form of prejudicial conditions.

          I live 40 miles from the Mexican border, and take day trips across it all the time–or used to, before the regulations got all draconian last year. The Mexicans I encountered on that side of the border looked pretty much just like the Mexican-Americans on this side. So all Mexican-Americans should be subjected to racial profiling simply because they share a common ancestry & culture with persons in another country?

        • Becky says:

          Not my point.

          My point was that the consideration stems from an ideological place and in ideological motivation, so the conclusions drawn can’t be thought of as truths. At least not in the universal sense.

        • Becky says:

          Matt, if a victim of some crime indicates that his/or her attacker was a white man in a red shirt, is it profiling to go questioning white guys in red shirts?

          I mean, I see what you’re saying. Believe me. I do. I am not a person who is comfortable with racism, institutionalized or otherwise.

          But there can be no criminal investigation ever without some level of profiling.

          This isn’t a question of what it right so much as what is possible, in the broad sense.

          What makes one form or degree of profiling okay and another form not? It’s a philosophical question.

          But I also know that we hobble ourselves and our ability to reason when we allow knee-jerk sensitivities to all things racially tinged to shame ourselves and others into not thinking critically about these things.

        • From AZ’s report on racial profiling: “use by law enforcement personnel of an individual’s race or ethnicity as a factor in articulating reasonable suspicion to stop, question or arrest an individual, unless race or ethnicity is part of an identifying description of a specific suspect for a specific crime.”

          So no, I don’t think looking for white guys in red shirts is profiling if the victim specifically names one as perpetrator. Because that’s part of an identifying description.

          Then again, considering illegal immigration, being Mexican and in the US without papers would be a crime, so ethnicity would be part of an identifying description; the suspects have to be Mexican to be illegal immigrants.

          I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t spot someone from Mexico on sight. I live in Jersey City, right outside Manhattan, which is a rather ethnically diverse place, and I never even thought to attempt to identify ethnicity on sight because of that diversity. It’d be an exercise in futility. I’d love to see someone stand at Journal Square and start attempting to identify countries of origin of PATH riders based solely on their appearance (whether skin color or attire).

          I think nitpicking profiling is moot, though. I don’t know when my ancestors got to America, but I know they got to America at some point. I doubt they had papers when they did so.

          I do think crime can be investigated without profiling. If victims say they were assaulted by a white guy and the police send out an APB for white persons, that’s not profiling; that’s investigation based on evidence (eyewitness testimony of victim).

        • Becky says:

          Only working with your definition of profiling, which is essentially a legal item.

          I mean, working strictly with your same definition, as you point out, the Arizona law is not profiling either.

          But then again, it is. But if it is, so is questioning guys in red shirts.

          So you see the rub.

          You think the profiling issue is moot, but your ancestors coming here, potentially hundreds of years ago, to an entirely different country in an entirely different global political climate is not?

          This is one argument that I have always had trouble understanding.

          “We are all immigrants.” Or “your ancestors were immigrants.”

          Well, no. In fact, I am native by the very definition of the word. And indeed they were. But how, exactly, is the situation comparable?

          How is this a related in any way, except as an appeal to emotion, to the issue at hand?

        • Well, I got at that down below. The problem isn’t the profiling or the law; the problem is that immigration is illegal. The problem is that this isn’t actually a law so much as a crackdown on already-illegal activity. And I’m trying really, really hard not to violate Godwin’s law here. But I think it, or at least that to which it refers, may be appropriate.

          It’s comparable, I think, because it bears out there was a time when there was no such thing as immigration, at least in a legal sense, and really the only thought we ever gave to our borders was expanding them. We’re becoming more isolative, and I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing. Meanwhile, the people who immigrate to the US and who do so legally by passing all citizenship requirements, including the examination, are smarter than the people who want to keep them out for not being white enough, which is basically what it all comes down to. Amurcans are white, dammit. And Christian. And carry guns.

          “You’re too brown. You got papers to prove you can be here? My papers to prove I can be here? Brownie, I was born here.”

          Because think about it: the population of illegal immigrants may be predominantly Mexican in Arizona because the country and state, respectively, share a border (that’s true, right? I never was good at geography), but this law doesn’t crack down on anyone here illegally from, say, Czechoslovakia, or England, or Australia, or Poland, or Germany, or France.

        • Matt says:

          I went to lunch while you guys were carrying on, so I’m going to interrupt for a moment to reply to Becky’s last comment to me.

          I don’t think we’re coming at this from conflicting angles at all. I think this is the exact sort of moral, ethical and philosophical discussion that should have been held while this bill was being drafted, and wasn’t.

          Your profiling analogy is a bit flawed. If the police get a report of a suspect as a white man in a red shirt, yes, they will “profile” persons fitting that description, which has been given to them in connection with a specific–and alleged–crime. But once that individual(s) have been caught, all persons fitting that description don’t remain suspected of criminal activity in general, arrestable on-sight unless they can prove otherwise.

          Which is exactly how SB 1070 treats Hispanics & Latinos in Arizona. Guilty until proven otherwise.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          “I think this is the exact sort of moral, ethical and philosophical discussion that should have been held while this bill was being drafted, and wasn’t.

          Not to sidetrack but such discussions should be held before any bill gets passed. When I hear the phrase “government deadlock”, I smile inside because I know it just bought the American people time to think (if they’re so inclined) and speak (if, you know, American Idol isn’t on or something). Jamming laws through in the dead of night in the name of “doing something” seems to be the usual route, unfortunately.

        • Matt says:

          Will–well, in theory, this law SHOULD crack down on anyone from a European, Asian, African country etc. But it won’t, because yes, Arizona is one of the four states that shares a border with Mexico (California, New Mexico and Texas being the others), and the overwhelming majority of immigrants, legal and otherwise who enter the country across that border come from Mexico or the Latin American countries.

          And that’s the point Brewer and others keep dancing around. As you point out, racial profiling is illegal by law in Arizona. But those behind this bill refuse to present the specific contingencies by which someone should be suspected of being illegal, and deny racial profiling would be a factor…when everyone already knows most of them are of Hispanic/Latino descent.

          I don’t think just throwing open the borders is a good idea, especially with as much gang/drug warfare is going on in the border towns right now. But our immigration policies need a major overhaul, I think.

          …though I guess that could also calamitously backfire.

        • Ryan Day says:

          As a matter of fact, the law does crack down on people of European decent. Phoenix is one of the primary locations of refugees from Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia, and they are among some of the strongest opponents of the legislation.

          As to the white man in a red shirt business, that is somewhat ludicrous. No one would ever say that all white men in red shirts must show their papers anytime they are spotted on the street… Someone IS saying anyone that is ‘reasonably suspicious’ of foreign origin must… That, and again I apologize for speaking in absolutes, something that I normally avoid, is WRONG.

        • Becky says:

          Well, they wouldn’t ask him for his papers, no, unless the crime he was suspected of was illegal immigration.

          If whatever crime he was suspected of continued to be perpetrated by white men in red shirts in an ongoing way, I suspect he would continue to get stopped.

          And if they did stop him on suspicion of any kind, they would, most certainly, ask to see his ID.

        • Matt says:

          If whatever crime he was suspected of continued to be perpetrated by white men in red shirts in an ongoing way, most likely he’d just start wearing a different type of shirt.

          (Or, alternately, he’d found a political activist party campaigning for the right, not just of white men, but ALL men, to wear red shirts free of police harassment.)

          Mexican-Americans living in Arizona don’t have the option of changing their ethnicity, though there are plenty of Mexicans of heavy European descent who can pass for plain ol’ white folk pretty easily. Most of them will have to either comply, fight back, or leave; it’s likely the last will be the case, especially since New Mexico is taking point on being receptive to them. If even a medium-sized chunk of the immigrants, legal or otherwise, leave Arizona, the state economy is going to tank.

        • Becky says:

          Matt, changing his shirt is beside the point.

          The point is that if you have, as has been mentioned, a particular crime being perpetrated 99.9 percent of the time by one particular and identifiable group of people, regardless if that group is a racial group or a red-shirt wearing group, or whatever, are you just supposed to IGNORE that statistic as you go about trying to enforce the law?

          I mean, it sort of defies sense. A person, for example, with a visible gang tattoo will always engender more suspicion than anyone else who doesn’t. Is that justified? Or no?

      • Matt says:

        Well, I was going for teh funny, but honestly, no. Not really. Bilbray has something a history of charicaturizing (if that wasn’t a word before, it is now) demographics of people, especially Hispanic and Latino groups. And a very similar image to the one I described has turned up on the anti-immigration signs at Teabagger rallies he’s attended.

        And the cause of your confusion is really my point: Brewer et. al. refuse to specify exactly what provisions would/should give away someone’s illegal status. What ABOUT their clothes? What ABOUT their hair (I still don’t understand that one)?


        As far as I can tell (Ryan would know better) but I don’t believe the word Mexican has left the mouth of any of the people who are proponants of this nascent law–even though, as you say, 99.9% of the illegal activity we get across the borders in the SW comes from Mexico and Latin America; most illegal Canucks simply can’t be bothered to take the long way around.

        Although, as written, any Native American who wanders off the reservation (literally) without tribal I.D. would also be subject to this law.

        And then there’s the matter of Russell Pearce, one of SB 1070’s principle authors, has been connected with more than one white supremicist group.

        • Becky says:

          I don’t know if association fallacies are particularly helpful ever, but in this case, I think they skirt the issue entirely.

          Because of course, the question is not if any of the people who wrote the bill are racists. This is neither here nor there. It may give us clues about why they support the bill, but it doesn’t debase all argument for the bill.

          The issue, in my mind, is whether or not the bill is legal and/or justified, to what extent it is effective and whether or not it is abused, and what can/should/will we do instead of and/or in addition to it to fix our sorely broken immigration policy?

        • Matt says:

          You don’t think it would be important point to consider if, say, David Duke wrote/sponsored a bill restricting the immigration of Haitians/Dominicans into one of the Gulf states?

        • Ryan Day says:

          Becky- I’m not sure how familiar you are with AZ politics, but in this case who wrote it is of the essence. There has been a very focussed attack on the latino community in a community that is very latino.

          Not to mention, the law is designed to be abused, it is political theatre… It is playing on hatred and, yes, in some cases idiocy… It is a cynical law that is designed to accrue a very cynical type of support.

          I do not think all conservatives are idiots. I never have. But I do believe legislation like this, cynical legislation, is playing on the very things that you think I am in order to gain support.

          I am optimistic enough to believe that it will fail.

        • Becky says:

          Matt, not particularly. All that does is let you know that the person may have some racist motivations, but it doesn’t do anything to counter other arguments in favor of any such bill.

          It is an argument ad hominem in its purest form. It is an attempt to say “Because of who he is, his argument is false.”

          It’s just a fallacy. I mean, plainly. Literally. Like, not a matter of debate. At least not if you put any stake in logic.

        • Matt says:

          That’s how I felt about Prop 8. in 2008. I’m a little bit more cynical now.

        • Matt says:

          Sorry, but I have to respectfully disagree. Laws don’t spring from an intellectual vacuum–there’s an agenda behind them; sometimes benign, sometimes not. And it’s worth looking at that agenda, and the past behavior of the person/persons responsible for it.

        • Becky says:

          That’s fine. I didn’t write the rules of logic. I’m just the messenger here.

          So you know their agenda.

          So, then what? I mean, a racist agenda doesn’t change the fact that illegal immigrants are, in fact, illegal and–by definition, at least–criminals. Criminals, according to all our notions of justice, should be sought out.

          I mean, just for example, how does an assertion of his agenda counter that argument?

        • Matt says:

          It absolutely doesn’t counter it, which I’ve already said a few comments up. Immigration needs massive, systemic reform. No question about it.

          But applying the rules of logic, as you say, in questioning the specific racial agenda behind this law shows it to be an ultimately self-destructive (for Arizona) method of doing so.

        • Becky says:

          Okay. That is confusing.

          What is a destructive method of doing what?

        • Matt says:

          As Ryan mentions, legal immigrants constitute about 30% of Arizona’s working demographic; who knows how big that percentage would become if we counted all the illegals in the state. Many of those illegals hold legit, if menial, jobs, where they receive paychecks from which they have taxes deducted.

          If this law actually goes into effect in July, we are going to see an exodus of many of those people into neighboring states where they won’t be targeted simply because of their ethnic background; the governor of New Mexico has all but thrown open the gates and said “Come on in, amigos. If even, say, 10% of that tax-earning workforce leaves, Arizona’s economy is going to suffer greatly.

        • Becky says:

          Yeah, okay. I still don’t understand how they can possibly target illegals without the racial/ethnic thing coming into play, given that it is, if we are to be honest with ourselves, an inherently ethnicity-related issue, at least insofar as the “problem” is, in that area of the country, is comprised of an overwhelming majority of one particular ethnic group.

          My general feeling is that any attempt to search out or better identify illegals is going to come under fire for being racist because of that.

          I see no way around it, frankly.

  2. Becky says:

    I was going to only say, snarkily, that dismissing a whole group of people as stupid and idiotic out of hand because of your own inability to understand their motivations was too stupid to reply to, but the whole thing would have just been a huge ironic, cat-fighty mess, so I will go further and say that the problems with your position, what little of it is expressed here, are as follows:

    “Stupid” and/or “idiotic” is not helpful. It is not an argument. It is rhetorical detritus. Flotsam.

    Your refusal to address some of those comments seems to indicate that whatever you might say should go without saying–that your position holds some essential truth quality that should make it obvious and irreproachable.

    But obviously it doesn’t. Obviously there is another possible take on the situation. Obviously other people do not share your perspective. You just simply refuse to consider it. You dig in your heels instead and declare dummyhead on anyone who isn’t keyed in to the irreproachable truths of your personal ideology. I don’t understand how you can imply this is a thinking person’s reaction (as opposed to conservative “idiocy”) or how it is all of conservatism’s fault that you refuse to expand your headspace enough to understand the perspectives of some of them.

    Or maybe that was not the point of this. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be a serious political discussion. Maybe it’s all in good fun. If so, my apologies.

    I’m not crazy, personally, about some of the implications of Arizona’s immigration law. On the other hand, I like the idea of actually catching people who are breaking the law and dealing with it accordingly.

    But, part of me suspects that a lot of people in Arizona, including lawmakers, are not all that crazy about it either. Even still, they supported it.

    I think it’s a demand for attention to an issue that matters to people in that state and has consistently been shoved aside in both this presidency and the last. You know, if you’re lost in the wilderness of domestic politics, undetected by rescuers, why send up a piddling little flair if you’ve got a cache of pyrotechnics?


    • Ryan Day says:

      Ouch! Listen, I’m with you on the simplicity thing, as I addressed in the comment to Matt above, and this was largely, yes, a bit of venting, and yes, somewhat of a humorous piece…

      Also, I don’t think I do need to respond to what I do see as idiocy… i.e. guns reduce gun violence: that is a logical fallacy… not requiring a response… Calling people ‘illegal’ in the process of enacting an ‘illegal’ law… strikes me as an obvious contradiction, and funny… Considering your city better than another because of its stance to unions, is simplistic, and I would feel the same about someone from Detroit using it to make themselves feel better than Charleston, SC…

      Getting angry about a ‘fair trade’ is absurd in my eyes, and this has nothing to do with my political stance. It has to do with a rather simple interest, that I would hope supercedes political affiliations, in respecting workers rights.

      I am well aware that immigration and many of the other issues that I touched on are nuanced ones, but that does not prohibit me from reacting against what I see as simple minded policy and being frustrated by the often thoughtless and loud embracing of those policies in the community around me.

      By the way, I recognize that those terms are not helpful, and I generally refrain from using them. You should check out this law banning ethnic studies programs, and some of the political rhetoric surrounding it and find me some better adjectives.

      • Becky says:

        I didn’t mean it to be an “Ouch.”

        Just trying to be honest about my initial reaction. Trying to balance my emotional and logical faculties in production of an honest objection.

        It has to do with a rather simple interest, that I would hope supercedes political affiliations, in respecting workers rights.

        Well the problem there is that workers’ rights is an inherently, almost entirely, political issue.

        I would argue that the de facto equation of unions with workers’ rights is shaky at best. That connection is mostly theoretical, academic, and, arguably, entirely liberal.

        At any rate, it is possible to support or reject one without supporting or rejecting the other, so they cannot be the same thing. I say this as a member of a union. They’re like the mob. They come into my office and shake me down for protection money on a bi-monthly basis. I mean, I like workers’ rights. Have I no right to do my job in peace?

        I’m joking, at least in part, and this isn’t really about Unions, but nuances matter.

        Nuances play into the gun issue, too. I suspect, for example, the person you quoted would NOT object to the statement:

        “If there were no guns in the whole world, there would be no gun violence at all.”

        Because you’re right. It’s a logical necessity.

        I suspect his statement, however, takes into account the fact that there ARE guns.

        People are going to distill their positions in order to pronounce their stance. If you want to know the nuances you have to ask and engage. I suspect those positions are not as “simple-minded” and certainly not as lacking in complexity as you would prefer to think. Rather than engage, you enthusiastically accepted that those simple distillations represented the entirety of their values and beliefs because it is convenient for you to think of your ideological opponents as intellectually inferior or at least unthinking. But you have no idea if that’s true. Because you didn’t ask.

        • Ryan Day says:

          Sure, but where I was talking about workers rights, I was talking about fair trade coffee, not union labor… the labor issue came up later, and my objection was not with the specific politics of the opinion, but with the fact that it was used as a platform for superiority… which is kind of simple, which can be a synonym for stupid.

          Also, I do ask and engage. I have come to very different conclusions, i.e. more guns do not equal less violence… it’s the microcosm of the more nukes equals a safer world argument, which is also one that I choose to disagree with.

          Of course I am aware, well aware I like to think, that people of different political stances are intellectually capable of defending them… That does not mean that I have to find their stances to be intelligent. Intelligent people come to poor conclusions all the time, and maybe I just did, though I really do feel I’m in the right on this one.

          I have asked, and asked and asked… I live in Arizona. I do not like what I hear. I have every right to be disturbed by what I see, and to comment on it, and hell, even to think its stupid.

        • Becky says:

          Well, sure you do.

          I’m not questioning your right to say what you think. I’m just challenging the logic of what you’re saying.

          But I’m curious.

          Does being intelligent lead to correct (or MORE correct) political stances, or does a correct political stance lead to a declaration of intelligence?

          Both? Neither?

          I mean, what IS intelligence, in your opinion? Or, maybe I should ask this way: Can you name an intelligent conservative?

        • Ryan Day says:

          I don’t know what a ‘correct’ political stance would be. I know what those that appeal to me are, and I think that I arrived at those through the use of some knowledge. That is not to say that others can’t arrive at very different places through the use of their intelligence.

          However, when they arrive at conclusions that threaten the well-being of friends and neighbors (by the way, this does not just effect Mexicans as you insinuated, but all immigrants of the legal and illegal variety, not to mention non-immigrants who happen to appear ‘suspicious’), I will begin to question the logic with which you have arrived at certain conclusions.

          This is a bad law. It’s a stupid one for all sorts of ethical and economic reasons, it’s wrong.

        • Becky says:

          Bad stupid wrong.

          Well then. I guess that settles it.

        • Ryan Day says:

          So, taking a strong stance against something that you are viscerally opposed to, after having taken all of the various positions into account is somehow simple?

          These types of laws have been tried before. They have decimated tax bases in places where immigrants are a very strong part of the community (even where income tax is avoided, sales tax is big), they have had wretched effects on crime rates where people become afraid to call the police because the police are REQUIRED to report them to immigration, they destroy families (Arpaio has already sent cops to Mexican heavy schools to collect the parents of legal children and ship them home).

          It is totally unfair to treat me like an idiot for making an informed judgment.

          Go ahead and live in a poststructural bubble. I’m gonna go ahead and hate this particular outbreak of xenophobic legislation.

        • Becky says:

          I’m saying those are three pretty subjective words (isolated to highlight them) and you’re using them to make statements that (I assume) you hope people will accept as fact or truth.

          I’m suggesting that you don’t need them to make your point, and you might do so more effectively without them.

          I’m not treating you like anything. I have neither said nor implied that you’re an idiot and wouldn’t.

          And the whole essence of all my commentary with regard to what you’ve written here is that doing that–all this incendiary, emotive language and rhetoric–is ineffective, divisive, and not very convincing. In fact, it may actually be part of the problem, not help fix it.

          Postructuralist nothing. I appreciate your passion. I really do. But, okay, you’re pissed off. You and everybody else. So why should I (or anyone) listen to you? Because you’re convinced you’re right? Again, you and everybody else.

          So you know, do you just join the limitless din of name calling and foot stomping or do you put together something more compelling? I advocate the latter, personally. That’s just my preference.

        • Ryan Day says:

          I agree completely that words like stupid and idiot are not useful… I think that if you take another look, though, you will find them couched in a very brief piece that starts with coffee, ends with taco and is pretty light in its treatment of the situation.

          That said, I am in general agreement that the tone of the debate is a nasty one, and rhetoric like this is generally to be avoided.

          Perhaps if you lived in AZ and confronted the type of rhetoric that I do every time I walk into a bar (and mind you that most of the phrases that I included as overheard were cleaned up to limit the dosage of homophobic and racist epithets) you would become a little jaded as to the intentions of legislation like this yourself. Maybe not.

          So, you can write a piece that suits your preferences. I feel pretty justified in venting about what I see as very prejudiced legislation (want to know more about the construction of the law and the group behind it watch 9500 Liberty which is about the same cynical lobbying groups efforts in Liberty Pennsylvania)

        • Ryan Day says:

          By the way, Becky, I do appreciate your comments.

        • Becky says:

          Well, I’m in Minnesota, and although the Twin Cities metro and my little bubble within it is pretty diverse and generally pretty liberal, you don’t have to go far to find plenty of the same stuff you’re talking about.

          In fact, we have among the largest–if not the largest–Hmong and Somali immigrant populations in the country. There’s a whole section of Minneapolis that is referred to as “Little Mogadishu.”

          Resentment towards Somali immigrants, especially, runs very high here, even though they are legal–and I believe even invited–political asylees and refugees. At least part of this has to do with the fact that despite public assistance, many of the younger folks, young men, end up involved in crime. On the one hand, I think, people do and want to have sympathy for the conditions that have led these people here. That sentiment tends to come out in any serious discussion, even with many of the most abrasive detractors. On the other hand, they see what they construe as people taking advantage, basically, of American/Minnesotan good will and victimizing people who have helped to facilitate their refuge.

          Anyway, my point in all that is that you don’t have to be from Arizona to understand the issues–racial, economic, social and otherwise–behind the immigration debate that underlie what is currently going on in Arizona or to see the ugliness and frustration and hate it can cause. I just think that indulging the ugliness and frustration and hate is…well, getting sucked into the game. Who want to be a pawn in that kind of gambit?

          And, as I’ve said before, you of course are free to write and vent however you like. And I, in turn, appreciate that you have written this. I just think that when you give into the venting chorus, you run the risk of undermining your own cause. I think that’s true of anyone.

  3. Don Mitchell says:

    “A quick retort: You are mad at what? At the fact that South American farmers are getting a fair price for delivering you a superior product? Retort abandoned. It seems unnecessary.”

    Probably best to abandon it not because it was unnecessary, but because either or both of the couple might be carrying.

    I’m wondering about Arizona’s counter-threat, the one where they’re talking about cutting off LA’s power. Political theater? I wonder — I mean, I hope it is.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Good point, Don. I mean, people who walk around carrying guns are just nuts! Totally incapable of reasoned discourse. They just creep me out….


  4. Don Mitchell says:

    Nah, I meant carrying active drug-resistant TB. If they spit at Ryan, what then?

    • Ryan Day says:

      I hadn’t heard about the counter threat.

      I will look out for drug-resistant TB, however. And spitters in general.

      Honestly, I think the whole thing is political theatre…

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Rhodesian drill. It’s the only logical response to attempted biological warfare. It used to be standard advice from the Surgeon General until those goddamned liberals infiltrated the office – “Two to the chest and one to the head makes the lunger fall down dead.”

      • Ryan Day says:

        You’ve lost me there. I will back up at the risk of having missed your irony and say that I don’t think that people who like or even carry guns are necessarily crackpots. It just seems to me a good idea to have at least some restrictions on who can carry them concealed… Even the firing ranges, many of whom give classes necessary to get a registration are pissed about this, partly due to lost revenue, but also due to the fact that the folks who carry no longer have to have gone through classes to be sure they know how to use the thing.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Ryan, I apologize. I was just teasing Don given that I am armed more often than not and he knows that. I didn’t mean to imply that I took this to be your point – I most certainly did not!

          As far as concealed carry goes, though, both Alaska and Vermont have been working on the “purchase and pocket” rule for some time now and there is no evidence that this has led to any type of increased violence. I actually instruct and certify folks for CCW (usually gratis) and, while I think it is a seriously good idea (like, say, the way getting your pilot’s license before renting a plane is a good idea), I’m okay with the idea that, if you are legally able to own one, you should be able to carry as you see fit without further interference.

          Oh and, for the record, I was also being a wiseass about summary execution of tuberculosis patients….

        • Matt says:

          I don’t know, man. Now I kinda wonder about what might happen if we dropped you in Africa with a high-powered rifle and a few thousand rounds of ammunition.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Major factors include:

          – Whether I was dropped while wearing a ‘chute. Ammo is kinda heavy and dirt is not as bouncy as one would hope. It could be a short story.
          – Whether or not I had an expense account. Scotch is spendy on the dark continent and can come with issues if acquired in the Muslim countries.
          – Which part of Africa. Of course, seeing as how it’s a choice of deserty-with-scorpions or jungly-with-poisonous-snakes, I’m thinking it would be a slightly longer story than the no-‘chute one but not by much.

          How about, as a proof of concept, you just send me unarmed to the Sabi Sand Reserve for a week with a few limitless credit cards? If I survive, we can discuss armaments.

  5. Don Mitchell says:

    Speaking of spitting, name a commercial running on mainstream TV that features an old woman spitting in disgust or anger.

    Probably you can’t, but here’s one:


    My boy cut it*. I’m proud of him.

    Sorry, Ryan. Total hijack.

    *was the editor, in post-production speak

    • Ryan Day says:

      Unfortunately, I can’t see the video from here in Spain… but no worries on the hijack. I just wish I could get in on the joke.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        It’s a World Cup commercial, Bono narrating. There’s a point where Bono says, “It’s not about fear and loathing,” and that’s where he cut in the old woman spitting.

        It runs on ESPN (and maybe elsewhere). For all I know, it might even be on the FIFA site.

  6. You know, the thing is, it’s not the SB1070 that’s the real problem, I don’t think. I mean, it gets the immediate attention, and deservedly so, but I think the ban on ethnic studies is potentially more devastating if only because it cuts at the education. The education which–if done well–serves to help understand better. Study more. Gain more knowledge.

    Because education is the only response when it seems a given comment isn’t worthy of response.

    The problem, of course, is the ideological conflicts, and the fact that most are too shot through with pathos to encourage meaningful discussion, and also that for some debates there can be little meaningful discussion. My favorite “debate” is the creationism versus evolution. Probably because I’m a scientist. I’ve completed twenty years of science education from a primary level through one of higher-education; what I know is not something that can be articulated easily in a twenty minute conversation besides, “I’m sorry, you have no evidence for your invisible man in the sky, here’s all the evidence for evolutionary theory.” And let’s be honest; that wouldn’t take twenty minutes.

    I think the other problem is that the law didn’t make immigration illegal; it merely cracked down on illegal immigration, something which should probably not be illegal in the first place especially considering the origins of the US. The idea of restricting immigration or of completely closing our borders is frequently popularized/proselytized by old white guys who seem to have forgotten their ancestors had to cross those same borders at some point themselves.

    It’s almost like: “Well we got here and we’re okay so nobody else can come in because they might steal the resources we have now found, so nyeah!”

    Limbaugh’s a pretty strident and loud voice against immigration, isn’t he? Didn’t he hire a few illegal immigrants as housekeepers at some point or something? Or was he solely the painkillers thing? Or was he the anti-gay activist who hired the houseboy from rentalboiz.com?

    I get all my hypocritical conservative scandals mixed up.

    • Becky says:

      There’s that argument again.

      Is it “neener neener neener, we got here, now we’re locking the door!”

      Or is it matter of our national situation changing? I mean, politically, economically, socially, the US (and the world) isn’t exactly the same place it was 100, 200 years ago. I can’t even begin to list the ways in which sectors of business and government have changed our ability to think about immigration the same way we did two centuries ago.

      And, I mean, arguably, free-for-all immigration didn’t work out so well in the first place anyway.

      That whole ugly tenement situation was nasty.

      • Ryan Day says:

        And still is nasty, only we’ve moved our tenements offshore. Check out the dormitory style living at a Chinese Walmart factory. Didn’t we outlaw the whole employee store idea in the 30’s?

        Anyway, you’re right that the situation is different, in that before people escaped to the US to get the foot of their own government off of their neck, and now they come here to be free of our corporate foot on their neck.

        And, Andrew, I’m with you all the way that the ethnic studies ban is far more dangerous.

  7. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    “The idea of restricting immigration or of completely closing our borders is frequently popularized/proselytized by old white guys who seem to have forgotten their ancestors had to cross those same borders at some point themselves.”

    Will, this bears closer scrutiny and may be a good inspiration for militarizing the borders. Yeah, Anglo ancestors crossed borders (and oceans), essentially as an invading force. They did not learn the native language. They brought their own customs. They established a beachhead and seized a continent. Things did not end well for the locals. Seeing similar patterns of increasing population and non-assimilation into pre-existing culture, perhaps folks don’t wish to be the next tribe on the chopping block.

    I don’t really have much cause to discuss this particular topic but it seems it should start with a simple question: Does any nation have the right to establish, define and secure its physical boundaries? Every nation does and most are a lot more serious about it. I mean, if you are caught illegally in Mexico, you are a felon and serve a year for the first offense and something egregious like ten for a subsequent one. And you’d better hope you didn’t leave a shotgun shell in your pocket from pheasant hunting in Texas because now you’re looking at hard time for gun trafficking. And that’s if you’re not coming in from Guatemala, in which case you may just end up vanished (I know some folks who have horror stories of coming up north). Here, we worry about your medical care and civil rights and either do little or send you back home to try again. All in all, not overly brutal if you ask me.

    • Matt says:

      Things did not end well for the locals. Seeing similar patterns of increasing population and non-assimilation into pre-existing culture, perhaps folks don’t wish to be the next tribe on the chopping block.

      I think this may very well be the subconscious/subtextual issue at the heart of much of the immigration debate. The colonial fear of being colonized in turn. But it doesn’t seem like anyone (in office, at least) has the cajones to say so.

      • Andrew Nonadetti says:

        No one is so afraid of being robbed as a thief. Lack of testicular fortitude seems to be a major contributor to if not outright cause of many problems in politics.

        • My dad has always said locks are for honest people.

          “Does any nation have the right to establish, define and secure its physical boundaries?”

          I once read an article that referred to an interview with an old chief who was, I think, Cree. The interviewer asked him what the Cree had called America before European settlers had arrived and, like, nine-times-decimated (given that to decimate means “to reduce by a tenth”) the original native population.

          Without hesitation, the chief replied “Ours.”

          And I think that sucks, but on the other hand, I hesitate to confess: I don’t believe in sentiment/forced preservation. Evolution and science aren’t about ethics; they’re cold and ruthless and lack anything in the way of mercy, forgiveness, and pity. And if the United States can’t survive an influx of everyone who wants to cross its established borders, maybe it shouldn’t. (This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in ethics and compassion and empathy, but those are for the soft disciplines, like psychology and philosophy. There is a place for them, certainly. And a big place, because a universe without human compassion is not one I’d want to experience.)

          I’m thinking here of 9/11, though I can’t fully articulate why. What I can say I am thinking is that we spent a lot of years and time and money and resources in an arms race with Russia, built myriad nuclear weapons and bombs smart only in that they contained video cameras so we could more precisely see our targets, and established an array of defense missiles in space in the event of a nuclear showdown, and when it came right down to it, we were crippled by 18 guys with box cutters and an incompetent administration.

          We can close the borders. Militarize them. Defend them.

          But I don’t know what we’re trying to protect.

          Just because illegal immigrants are treated worse elsewhere doesn’t mean we should follow suit. I’m not saying you’re saying that’s the case, mind, just thought it should be said.

        • Matt says:

          I’m not even sure if true isolationism, in the sense that the medieval Japanese practiced it, is even possible in this day and age. Communications technology has facilitated the spread of culture and ideas on an instant, world-wide level, and even completely militarizing our borders wouldn’t prevent the cross-cultural spread of information. Even if the U.S. clamped down on internet use like China or Iran, the shut-out wouldn’t be total. There are legions of computer saavy-individulas who would turn hacker the moment this happened. Information gets in and out of Iran, China, N.Korea etc., despite government attempts otherwise.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          “Evolution and science aren’t about ethics; they’re cold and ruthless and lack anything in the way of mercy, forgiveness, and pity.”

          Ahhh – this I recognize! And yet we as a nation embrace – or at least profess to embrace – such things. Perhaps, if the U.S. wishes to survive as an entity, it should be less sensitive. I’m playing devil’s advocate here since I’m on somewhat limited time. I suppose that’s unfair. But, still….

          As for 9/11, we were crippled in part by political correctness and a moving away from “cold and ruthless”. What do you do when you see a violent crime (according to popular advice)? You call the police! And you certainly don’t attempt to stop it without “proper training” because, well, criminals do this for a living so they’ll just take away any weapon you have and use it against you. No, it’s much better to go along and try to “make yourself human” to them so they’ll just get what they want and let you live. Don’t be a hero, right? You might get sued!

          That’s why a bunch of guys with box cutters took over planes. Because for generations now, we have been told that all violence is bad, that we need to understand the criminal’s plight and have an Oprah moment until “the authorities” can do things professionally. That you shouldn’t “lower yourself to their level” by charging them, by throwing whatever isn’t bolted down, by risking death and injury to turn the fucker’s head into loosely-gelled paste before you bleed out. And so… people hesitate. And sometimes it costs them their lives.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Matt, sorry, just saw your reply. While my self-professed goal is to eventually be a tech-less Luddite (mostly because I’m sick to death of logging bugs), I agree and thank a God I don’t know I entirely believe in that we are at that point.

        • Matt says:


          Re: hijakers on planes. I’ve been kind of thinking about this a bit lately, mostly because it sort of dovetails onto the TNB piece I’ve been working on this week. I wonder if it wasn’t to some degree, an example of the “bystander effect” where people just stand by in an emergency situation, assuming someone else will handle the problem.

          We’ve been conditioned as a society to mind our own business, unless it’s the sex life of whomever the starlet-of-the-moment happens to be. I wonder how many people, sitting on those planes as the hijackers were taking over, thought to themselves “I don’t need to do anything; the sky marshalls and flight crew will handle it. It’s not my responsibility.”

          Guess we’ll never know.

        • Er. I think the ones who had the chance to intervene acted as best they could, which is why one of the planes went down in rural Pennsylvania rather than completing its destination to the Pentagon.

          Emergency situations can be like a dance floor. Somebody has to start them, but they grow pretty quick.

        • Matt says:

          That’s really the exception that kind of proves my point: the passengers of one plane out of four actually took it upon themselves to act—they didn’t wait for someone to save them.

          There were what–17? 18?–hijackers split between four airplanes. Even if those planes were only filled to half-capacity, the hijackers still would have been severely outnumbered, little box cutters or not.

          I’m pretty good with a knife, all things considered. But me, or even four of me, against 150 passengers attacking en masse? No chance.

        • Becky says:

          I don’t believe in sentiment/forced preservation. Evolution and science aren’t about ethics; they’re cold and ruthless and lack anything in the way of mercy, forgiveness, and pity.

          Oh man, am I going to remember this.

          This is SO going to come back and bite you in the ass.

          *chuckles fiendishly*

        • Why do you think I hesitated to say it?

          Especially around you.

        • Becky says:


          Ahhh….good times.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          @Will & Becky: I need to find a way to make money off of you two.

          @Matt: I am very much looking forward to that piece and I completely agree. I think it’s been hammered into the American psyche – leave it to the professionals. Back in my way-back days, I opened a newspaper one morning commute to see the face of my friend’s younger brother. He was just eighteen, was working late to support his immigrant parents and was accosted on the way home after closing up the shoe shop he worked at. There were all sorts of witness testimony about the exchange of words, my friend’s begging for his life, trying to explain that he only had a dollar and wasn’t holding out. All these details… from people who were awake and close enough to hear it all yet who didn’t say one goddamned word, just watched. Who didn’t even shout “Leave him alone!” Who didn’t come down a few flights of stairs to intervene. But they called the cops after he was stabbed through the heart and could talk to the press the next day about the murder.

    • Ryan Day says:

      I’ve never been convinced by the ‘its worse there’ argument. We aren’t comparing our civil rights laws to Saudi Arabia, or our immigration laws to North Korea, or to Mexico. We are dealing with ourselves, and we are in a unique situation.

      As to invading hordes, I don’t see any comparison between Spanish war ships coming from the world’s most dominant empire and enslaving vast numbers of indigenous, and migrant workers, who by the way do typically learn the language inside of a generation, coming to start families and participate in a society that has made the very public promise of accommodation.

      • Andrew Nonadetti says:

        Ryan, there is no public promise of accommodation and I think that bit of semantics is part of the problem. There is a promise of assimiliation, the whole melting pot thing. And that means joining the society, not having special treatment. When anyone starts their life here by deliberately violating our laws, they are not participating in a society, they are thumbing their nose at it. They need to wait in line with the Irish and the Ugandans and the Tajiks and the Pakistanis. If there is a greater need for their services, quotas will be adjusted to allow more in. Because, once the invasion stopped, that’s how things were set up to be handled – allow in certain groups with certain skills to benefit the nation as a whole.

        And it certainly doesn’t help the perception when protest signs are written mostly in Spanish and Mexican flags are being raised at schools and other public buildings. It adds to the perception that the real statement is “our loyalty lies with another nation, with a different set of values and we identify more with that culture than yours”. It is divisive and confrontational so it should be unsurprising when it inspires confrontation.

        • Ryan Day says:

          I’m with you there actually. Assimilation has always been the way here. I got a bit carried away, and I was a little weary of it before I even posted it. But, even with that caveat, Latinos have tended to be a fast assimilating group, and the crux of this law, again, is that it is effecting 30% of the population who IS LEGAL! Often people who go back many generations, or are even native to the land as the land was once Mexico and still serves as home to many uninterrupted inhabitants.

          There was, I’m told by a friend, lots of discussion at the protest about the appropriateness of Spanish language and Mexican flags, which were strongly discouraged by the organizers. I recognize that that is confrontational, but so is the animosity they are facing.

          Also, many of the conditions they are escaping are created with no little help from us, so while I do see a corollary to earlier waves of immigration, I see a more direct role of our foreign policy in creating the problem than ever existed before (NAFTA, our drug lust) which does to some extent, come with a responsibility… for me anyway.

  8. Great story, man. I agree with you and Matt. Arizona has internationally humiliated itself with bigoted laws. I’ve been considering a move there for years – because of the weather and the landscape – but this has really turned me off. Hell, if I could find any Arizona products in South Korea that I could boycott, I would.

    The stupid thing is that I could move there. I could do it illegally, too, and I wouldn’t get stopped in the street. Why? I’m whiter than snow. I speak fluent English.

    But my girlfriend – who is American – would probably have to carry her passport and birth certificate and whatnot because she – who is, I’ll say once again, 100% American – is not white.

    Anyway, I’m just repeating what people above have said. Arizona’s immigration law is fucking pathetic. A sad product of fear and hate.

    (Oh, and you have a little typo – in the sixth paragraph, it should say “except” and not “accept”)

    • Ryan Day says:

      I got stopped in AZ with my girlfriend a couple of times recently, once for doing 3 miles over the limit. As soon as they saw her Spanish passport the air went out of them, and they sent us on our way. She’s Dominican. I’ve never been stopped on my own.

      It is a beautiful landscape, and the weather is great. But, I’ve found myself pretty frequently confronted with some seriously bigoted shit. Worst of all, people throw it out there as if you should accept it. In my experience people have pretty often been surprised and unrepentant when you don’t go along with whatever homophobic or racist junk they toss at you. None of this is to say that I haven’t also met some awesome people out there.

      Thanks for the heads up on the typo.

      • I only spent about 48 hours in Arizona. It was gorgeous. I met some really amazing people there, although most of them were passing through from California. Met a couple of old people who your story reminded me of. They were sitting in front of me on a bus. Very friendly, but pretty un-PC.

        But of course, there are bad people everywhere. Those people tend to speak the loudest, so they’re always giving their place a bad rep.

        Anyway, if the politics of Arizona ever changes, I’d love to move there.

    • Becky says:

      You know, I have to say, all the speculation about how police and officials are going to abuse this law…just combing the streets stopping anyone with black hair…practically abandoning all their other responsibilities to go one by one down the street stopping people with dark eyes…

      I’m tempted to test it. I mean at this point, we’re just putting all our stock in what is basically nothing more than our greatest fear.

      My husband is Native Hawaiian, but people, most often, mistake him for a Mexican. I mean, WTF would a Hawaiian be doing in MN, anyway? I can’t say I blame them.

      Maybe I’ll see if he wants to go down there and go trolling for immigration cops. See what happens. Report back.

      I want to say that given the nationwide attention this is receiving, police will be forced to handle it very carefully and not stop people unless they genuinely have good reason to suspect they’re illegal. I think, racist tendencies or not, taking advantage of the law would be shooting themselves in the foot, and I find it unlikely that no one among them has realized that.

      So, for a moment, let’s consider this, unlikely or impossible as you think it may be: What if this goes into effect, and in the first year, 90% of the people they do stop actually do turn out to be illegal?

      • Ryan Day says:

        Unfortunately, the track record is already there for the Phoenix cops. Rounding up immigrants, legal and otherwise (sorting it out at the station), is sort of their MO. They already profile, now they just can’t be sued for it. On the contrary, they can be sued if they don’t do it enough.

        And if 90% of the people they stop turn out to be illegal, then 10% will have been unnecessarily harassed. Not to mention, the economic and social effects of weakening the tax base, breaking up families, and making it very unlikely for illegals, or family of illegals to call the police under any circumstances…

        I’m not really into experimenting with peoples lives like that.

        Again, I would point out that you may not be too familiar with the record of Arpaio if you don’t think he will take advantage of the law. He has already been implicated in harassing latino journalists and their families if they oppose his policies, seeking serious legal actions against council members who oppose him, rounding up large groups of immigrants (again legal and otherwise, sorting it out later), and holding them in fenced off areas of the desert in August (in pink uniforms to return to the strange homophobic undertones).

        The man is pretty much known for abuse of power.

        Still though, you’re right, inciting is not helpful. If I had been writing a serious political piece rather than a somewhat comic one criticizing the lack of a culinary statement and the strange attitude towards fair trade coffee, I would like to think I would have chosen different words.

        • Becky says:

          Well, I think hoping for a 100% legitimacy rate in stopping people on suspicion of anything is a bit of a tall order.

          Even I, white girl in white suburbia at the time, have been stopped and searched for weapons because a car similar to mine was implicated in a drive-by shooting. So, you know. I think it’s all fine and good to acknowledge the ideal, but at some point demanding it is just sort of unreasonable, no matter which law we’re talking about.

          And those other things…those aren’t issues with this particular law, necessarily. Breaking up families, tax base, etc. are going to be inherent in any immigration policy that advocates the deportation or prosecution of those who are in the country illegally. I mean, maybe you advocate total amnesty, which is fine, but at this point, it just kind of sounds like you’re saying the policy is fine, but they shouldn’t enforce it.

          Which, though related, isn’t really the question I was trying to pose. Any particular politician aside, my question was what if this law does not, in fact, result in any particular persecution of American citizens or legal residents regardless of whether or not you think that’s likely or not. What if, for all intents and purposes, it “works?”

        • So what’s a good benchmark for suspicion of being in the country illegally? Brown enough skin? Blonde enough hair? A thick enough accent? What might arouse a cop’s suspicion to pull over a German without a visa? Would said German have to be wearing lederhosen or eating schnitzel? Would the cop demand to see a passport if, while waiting in line in Dunkin’ Donuts, the amiable German behind the counter wished him a Guten tag?

          Will the cops question everyone involved in every celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo?

          That car situation is different, for the same reason as before; a victim or witness named a car similar to yours in a crime. Your race had nothing to do with the stop/search in that situation, and they were going on a legitimate lead in a criminal investigation.

        • Becky says:

          Again, will, if illegal immigration can only be perpetrated by people from another country and if 99% of the illegal immigration in that area is coming from a country comprised of people from a particular ethnic background, how is race NOT going to factor in?

          I’m sure if Arizona had a big problem with illegal German immigrants, the lederhosen and funky, phlegmy accent would, most certainly, factor in. But as it stands, their problem is with people coming from MEXICO. I don’t understand why we don’t acknowledge this. People who look like Mexicans because they ARE Mexicans are committing a particular crime. This is not a question mark.

          Is “Mexican,” like, a dirty word or something?

          This being the case, it is true, as you said, that appearing Mexican is a potential indicator of being a Mexican national and therefore someone who has broken the law. I agree that it’s sketchy territory from a racial perspective, but as I’ve said elsewhere. There is no way to enforce immigration law in Arizona that will not target one race over all others.

          Let me put it to you this way: The law isn’t, itself, racist. The geography of where the law is happening is what allows race to enter into it.

          That said, I would hope and assume, indeed, as I have said elsewhere, that the police would neither have the desire nor the time to go combing the streets shaking down every tan, black-haired person on the street (which would, I might add, involve alot of shaking each other down). As you have mentioned, there are an awful lot of tan, black-haired people in Arizona. I think the notion that they would attempt such a thing is a little preposterous.

          I would assume that they have better ways of telling the difference between someone who just came through the hinterlands last week from someone who has been a citizen for years. I bet I could tell. I bet YOU could tell.

          For starters, I would probably consider where they are and what they are doing.

        • Becky says:

          And no, especially, on questioning people who are celebrating Cinco de Mayo.

          Celebrating Cinco de Mayo, potentially even more than being white, is a really good indicator that you’re American, since Mexicans, on the whole, don’t celebrate it, with the exception of one little tiny area.

  9. Erika Rae says:

    Seriously? A green felt sun visor?

    (Note: I have narrowed my commentary on this one to something that is 100% defensible. Go ahead. Try and pick that one apart.)

  10. You can’t help but find a bit of irony in a dispersed people once native to this land being the “threat.”

    • Ryan Day says:

      I’m with you there, man. I think it’s pretty absurd to think of migrant workers, who A) typically go home and B) if they stay tend to assimilate pretty damned well, as a threat. Especially considering that this is often their ancestral land.

      Irish and Italians have come up a few times in this little debate, and I would sure as hell like to think that I would not have been on the ‘ship em back’ side of that discussion, or else I wouldn’t be here…

      I also find it strange that anyone who considers themselves a libertarian can support firm borders, yet that irony is another one I’ve found to be pretty rampant. How can it be illegal to be a person on one side or another of a line?

      The ugly reality is that the firmness of our borders is demanded by the aggression of our foreign policy which creates wealth here by insisting upon poverty elsewhere. The border issue is just a locking of the plantation doors from the field workers around the globe. That sort of oppression tends to backfire.

      • Andrew Nonadetti says:

        I find your “Irish and Italian” comment amusing. It would have been one hell of a long swim from Palermo (; and, when Italians were found “WithOut Papers”, they were sumarily chucked onto a ship and sent back, if not put in prison. Even though some of them were my recent ancestors, I support that. The law is the law. If you find it unjust, by all means break it until you can change it but don’t be surprised if you get caught, punished and/or mistreated. I return again to “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”.

        As for the Irish, this is funniest to me personally. My maternal grandmother was an illegal alien. She was blacklisted by the Brits after engaging in some “anti-government activities” but was able to get herself into Canada. She eventually made her way across the border into upstate NY. They didn’t find her until the early 40s and were prepared to deport her until she made the case that all three of her sons were serving overseas, risking life and limb for the U.S. in both theaters. They considered that a fair trade and granted her citizenship.

        Borders are defined by laws. If you’re not going to enforce a law, why bother having it? I’m about committing and being consistent. If we’re going to have open borders, let’s save some money and disband a few federal agencies. If not, then enforce the law with gusto and let people know you’re serious. If we need more immigrants, tell the guy at the velvet rope to put their name on the list and let them use the front door. If you crash the party, you’re going to get bounced.

        • Ryan Day says:

          Well, I didn’t say there was no debate about the Irish or the Italians, on the contrary I was referring specifically to what a contentious issue this has always been. I said I would like to have found myself on a certain side of that debate. Not sure why that is amusing… My ancestors were of the Irish stow away variety, and I would not have supported them having been shipped back or imprisoned.

          Borders are defined by laws, and wars, and political powers which shift for all sorts of reasons. Once they shifted far to the South leaving a pretty hefty Mexican population in what was now US territory. Those people don’t deserve to be harassed.

          I’m alright with bouncing the crashers for the moment, though I do think there should be a little more compassion for fact that our homespun materialism creates economic havoc in other parts of the world, but I am not okay with laws that surveil and profile citizens… That’s what’s going on.

      • Becky says:

        Well, libertarianism isn’t anarchism, no matter how much it strikes people with an affinity for government intervention as such. I don’t know of many libertarians who take a free for all approach to immigration and I’m not sure why they would.

        It can be illegal, as Anon points out, if there is a law forbidding it.

        • Ryan Day says:

          You are right. And yet again, I’m not talking about the enforcement of immigration laws, but the profiling of citizens. This is something that is, to my understanding, very difficult to reconcile with libertarian ideals, and in fact strikes me a lot more along the lines of an ‘affinity for government intervention’.

          Being an illegal immigrant is against the law. Being Mexican is not.

          Personally, I am not for restricting borders. Period. But, I understand that to be unrealistic, and am in no way making claims against those who want to enforce the law. I am making claims against those who violate the law while claiming to enforce it.

          Racial profiling is prohibited, just like borders are enforced, by law. You wanna change it, go for it. Until then respect it.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          It’s so early and I’m so poorly-rested that I can’t tell if we’re agreeing or not 😀 but I completely concur about even application of law.

          More much later after much more caffeine and solid fuel. Thank you for this piece, if I havent said it already.

        • Becky says:

          That is what at the heart of this, though.

          First of all, as Will pointed out, the AZ law is arguably not at odds with anti-profiling laws as they are written.

          You have a conundrum. You can’t have both a law that is basically ethnic in nature (technically national, but because of Arizona’s geographic location, ethnic as well) and be able to enforce it without the people who are investigated for or suspected of violating it being overwhelmingly of one ethnic group.

          I mean, there is no way, frankly, to enforce immigration in the American SW that could not, conceivably and even legitimately, though arguably unavoidably, be decried for being racist.

          So, what then? Something has to give. Either you change the law or you don’t enforce it.

        • Ryan Day says:

          Andrew-Ha! I’m not sure anymore myself. I’m in Spain, and wrote half my responses last night after coming back from the bar, so… take that for what it’s worth. I should probably write something about how awesome it is to be in Spain right now rather than brood about the place I’m not.

          Anyway, Thanks for the conversation, which has certainly been productive from my end anyway.

        • Exactly: change the law. It’s a dumb, xenophobic throwback with echoes from a time when American meant white male landowner and everyone else was 3/5.

        • Becky says:

          I think that’s a rather grand oversimplification, not to mention potentially just flat out wrong, especially since when “everyone else was 3/5,” and even after, immigrants were literally streaming over the borders, having to do little more than sign their names (or find someone to write it for them) to become US citizens.

          Wide-open borders are more of a throwback than the current system. And, as mentioned before, when such borders did exist, they were an economic and humanitarian disaster for the immigrants not any white land owner.

          Whose side are you on, exactly?

        • Becky says:

          Though here’s something interesting.

          Though the process for becoming an American citizen is considerably more involved now than it used to be, per capita, we are currently accepting more immigrants than ever before.

          The immigration policies you perceive as draconian “throwbacks” indeed did not exist in the 19th century, and may be, in a sense, more liberal than they have ever been before, insofar as they actually, in the end, let in MORE people relative to the population of the country.

          And, I’m certainly not an expert, but if I’m reading this right, it looks like the last president to raise the legal number of immigrants per anno in a significant way was…wait for it…

          George H.W. Bush.

          By 40%. In 1990.

        • Becky says:

          Come on.

          Old, rich, white, Republican guy FTW!

          High five!!!



          I think it’s time to cut myself off anyway. Obviously I’m getting punchy.

        • Ryan Day says:

          I would imagine the math on what you’re proposing is impossible. Especially in proportion to the population… There is no way in hell more people are entering the country now than during the 18th and 19th century per capita… I’ll admit in advance that my incredulousness is purely speculative and that I am recently arrived from a quite lovely bar frolic. So, put me to the test and watch me fail…

        • Becky says:

          No no. You’re right.

          It was a misremembering of a combination of sentences from wikipedia, in part:

          “Since the liberalization of immigration policy in 1965, the number of first- generation immigrants living in the United States has quadrupled, from 9.6 million in 1970 to about 38 million in 2007.

          A record 1,046,539 persons were naturalized as U.S. citizens in 2008.”

          I feel like there was something else, but now I can’t find it. Maybe imagined.

          Anyway, here’s the more pertinent info:

          “Current immigration rates are moderate, even though America admitted more legal immigrants from 1991 to 2000 (between 10-11 million) than in any previous decade. In the most recent decade, the 10 million legal immigrants that settled in the U.S. represent an annual growth of about one-third of 1% (as the U.S. population grew from 249 million to 281 million). By comparison, the highest previous decade was 1901-1910 when 8.8 million people arrived increasing the total U.S. population by 1 percent per year as the U.S. population grew from 76 to 92 million during that decade. Specifically, “nearly 15% of Americans were foreign-born in 1910, while in 1999, only about 10% were foreign-born.”

          1999 is quite a while ago though. I suspect that number is no longer pertinent. perhaps more telling: Our population is made up of 2% less first-generation immigrants relative to the population than it was at its highest ever:

          “In 1890, that ratio was 14.8 percent. By 1970 immigrants accounted for 4.7 percent of the US population, rising to 6.2 percent in 1980 and to an estimated 12.5 percent today.”

          So. Stuck my foot in my mouth there. But this only changes so much. A decade ago, we were letting in two-thirds of a percent of the total population fewer people than we did during the industrial revolution, but the country is comprised of 8% more immigrants than 40 years ago and has doubled in the last 30 years. Spin the stats as you prefer.

          In any event, though, Will is wrong. Our current policies are not “throwbacks” to antebellum policies or numbers and neither are they draconian and wildly restrictive. In fact, it would appear that our overall results are more like industrial revolution highs than our low, which came, unsurprisingly, during the great depression.

          That said, it’s wikipedia. Take it with a grain of salt.

        • Ryan Day says:

          I believe that immigration is more liberal on the national level… which is probably as much a result of lowered domestic birth rates as anything else, but also has to do, I imagine, with an increasingly mobile global population who does more intermarrying, travel for work, acceptance of refugees (often from wars we took part in: Vietnam, Balkans…), any number of things. Of course, that is legal immigration, and the illegal numbers are what’s got people all up in a roar. I’m not sure if there are reliable stats on illegal numbers. I’ve seen pretty wildly varied reports. It’s a lot though, one way or the other. And, while national policy may be more liberal, the AZ state policy is another matter entirely, especially as it is usually framed as a reaction to just that liberalism at the federal level. Makes sense. It’s an important local issue, and one that local authorities have every right and responsibility to address. I just don’t think this is the spirits in which they should address it. Banning ethnic studies in Tuscon, where 56% of the population is of Latino origin, for instance, is, to my mind, unsavory.

        • Becky says:

          Well, yeah. Okay. But the ethnic studies issue is only connected to immigration by way of a general disapproval of potentially racist sentiment in the area.

          And, of course, AZ immigration policy proper is no different than anywhere else in the country.

          This new law doesn’t make anything illegal, as I understand it.

          The ethnic studies issue…I haven’t commented on it because I haven’t fully formulated my thoughts on it, but off the top of my head, I think there is a case to be made–and it has been made, and effected in other areas of federal policy, so there is precedent as well–that “ethnic” anything that is allowable for one race or ethnic group but not another is itself inherently racist.

          That’s where a lot of this, I’d suspect, is coming from.

          For example, I work in a University setting, and our Regents policy, which operates under the restrictions of federal anti-discrimination laws, no longer allows scholarship preference for any race or ethnic group specifically. Not white, not black, not “people of color.” In scholarships where it already existed, it has been grandfathered in, of course, but they’re not approving any new scholarship funds that state such a preference.

          So, arguably, despite the argument that all basic American history is a white people’s history, (which is somewhat obtuse when it fails to acknowledge the increased awareness of minority contributions and the reflection of that in American history curricula), if you can’t have a class or system of coursework called “European-American Studies,” or “Caucasian Studies,” you can’t have any of the others, either. I’m not suggesting that Arizona officials aren’t taking advantage of the theoretical precedent in the hopes of benefiting their own agenda, but the precedent is there. That is to say, this is a unique manifestation, to be sure, but the sentiment underlying is not limited to Arizona at all, and in fact may have its genesis in, ironically, federal anti-discrimination law.

        • Becky says:

          And of course, if 56% of the Tuscon population is Latino, there is the argument that white people are a minority.

        • Becky says:

          Okay, last time replying to myself.

          At the end of the day, attitudes toward race are changing in America. On the whole, it’s related to “post-racial” theory and sentiment. It’s getting to be that the “race card” is holding less and less sway and producing it is increasingly likely to produce groans of impatience and tedium rather than nods of sympathy.

          There is an argument to be made…and it is made…that race-based policy and attitudes toward racial discrimination–at least in the way that we have thought about them for the last 50 years or so–are on their way to becoming somewhat antiquated.

        • Ryan Day says:

          True, but we weren’t talking about minority studies, we were talking about ethnic studies, which could be parallel, but certainly isn’t necessarily so.

          Not to mention, ethnic studies while potentially defined as racial, I would argue is not. It’s cultural and historical. Mexican is not a race, it’s a nationality… Of course the distinction is tricky… Specific to the region it makes a lot of sense to teach people about their particular historical context. You’d be surprised how many young Mexican-Americans I’ve met out here that don’t know why they speak Spanish, or that Spanish comes from Spain. That strikes me as a shame. Hard to form good opinions without being informed.

          I agree that it would be better to increase the breadth of what we just call ‘history’ or ‘cultural studies’, and I agree that that expansion is taking place, and I agree that our attitudes towards all of these categories are becoming antiquated, in large part due to programs like the one that was banned.

          But, the stated reasoning behind the ban was that Ethnic studies programs were creating a generation of immigrants bread to ‘hate America’… that’s xenophobic, cynical and alarmist. I think we’re back to political theatre.

        • Becky says:

          Well, I don’t know about “bred to hate America,” but I do think that there was this sort of self-shaming, penitent attitude that came out of reaction to the 60s, particularly in 70s academia, that attempted to make up for the sins of the white, male, European past and lack of discussion of them by over-emphasizing them and glorifying/romanticizing, to an extent, any culture that was not white or European. The pendulum of American political zeitgeist does love a good hard swing.

          There was a point at which, for example, it was heresy to talk about human sacrifice in ancient meso-america, regardless of the truth of it or how important it was to understanding those cultures.

          It was simply not PC to “play up,” such a nasty thing while meso-americans were enduring contemporary political/economic/social hardship.

          I mean, that was political theatre as well. Or whatever it was, it didn’t accurately represent reality.

          And, honestly, I think as far as Mexican-Americans being ignorant of their cultural history, you have to be willing to put the shoe on the other foot as well. There are perfectly white young European-Americans who can’t even point to Europe on a map, and probably think all Americans came from England, if they know any came from England at all.

          This is a failing of American education across the board, in my opinion, not just an issue of discrimination.

  11. Ryan Day says:

    Or you do police work and find people who are committing crimes that often accompany illegal immigration, tax evasion for instance, which is not related to seeing someone on the street who looks Mexican and asking them for their papers.

    Attack employers who pay people illegally low wages, stop the demand. There are alternatives, and I am fairly confident that someone as smart as you obviously are is aware of that.

    I’m going to find some sunshine. Thanks (I mean it) for a thoughtful conversation. I’ll be back after I’ve had my fill of rioja and manchego… ah the life of an immigrant… hehe

    • Ryan Day says:

      Oh, Becky, one last thing. I want to say again that I totally agree that denigrating language and saucy tone is not useful to the debate, and I will be more vigilant in the future.

      I was trying to be funny, and expressing frustration that has accumulated over the past few months (not to mention quitting smoking… in Spain… ouch), and I did let a spirit of divisiveness run away with me a bit.

      Nonetheless, I stand behind the opinions I expressed, if I could have done so somewhat more respectfully.

      • Becky says:

        Now is probably a good time to admit that I myself am a reformed/recovering ranter and raver, which is why I feel compelled to tell everyone else to stop it.

        I’m like a recovering alcoholic who goes around telling everyone else they have a drinking problem.

        That said, in my defense, I do speak from a position of some experience. A LOT of experience. That attitude never seemed to work out for me.

  12. Ryan,

    I lived in Phoenix for three years (2003-06) and, while reading this, laughed, and grew depressed, and laughed again, and then almost punched the bathroom wall, but, taking your lead, abandoned that. I love how you seamlessly tie in your eavesdropping to the sick-ass political maneuvering going on in that city. Pink-panty Tent City uniforms. Seriously? Seriously. Seriously. This is well done– a necessary cry.

    • Ryan Day says:

      Thank you, man… From someone who knows. Arpaio gotta go!!! Pink prisons and tent cities do not speak of civilization. If we people want to pretend to be better than… well… our own past… we really have to do better. It is a beautiful landscape, though… and since no one has said it yet, I’ll go ahead… It’s a dry heat…

  13. Lenore Zion says:

    it’s time to come up with a sandwich. hahahahhaha. but seriously, i couldn’t live in a city without at least one good sandwich. sandwiches are more important to me than my happiness. and a taco, while a nice starting point, does not meet criteria.

    • Ryan Day says:

      Thank you dearly, Lenore, for being the first person to actually get the point of these scribbles… A city needs a cuisine dammit…

  14. Marni Grossman says:

    What baffles me most is that people seem to willfully forget that we are, in fact, a country of immigrants. Actually, I’m not sure that’s the thing that baffles me most. I’m almost certain it’s the blatant racism.

    • Ryan Day says:

      And thank you, Marni, for not obfuscating the obviousness of a racist bit of legislation. I’m baffled too… As much to the existence of such a law as I am to people standing up to defend it from within a country designed to prevent this kind of… I don’t know how to spell malarky… is it like that? If not I’ll just go ahead and call it bullshit.

  15. Carl D'Agostino says:

    In Miami they don’t need racial profiling. 85% foreign born or English as second language or never heard of English. No one except me and nine other people know who Mickey Mantle was. This is a problem for a white guy like me. Go to bank to cash any type of check. Give driver’s license. “Need to see your green card, sir.” “I don’t have a green card .” “Read the sign, sir. To cash check must present green card.” “Why do I need a green card?” “Everyone needs a green card, sir.” “I’ve never had a green card.” “Then you are going to get into trouble real soon.” “If you don’t cash this goddamn check lady I’m going to blow this place up.” “If you don’t calm down I’ll buzz police and immigration and homeland security. ” “For Christ sakes, I was born in Staten Island , New York on June 18, 1949.” “Thousands of people are from the islands,sir. That is why you must have a green card to cash a check.”

    In Miami, they use “probable cause.” “Why are you arresting me? I’m just walking here in the mall.” “Right. Then why were you looking into the window case of the jewelry store over there?” “Why did you pull me over? “You sneezed. License and green card, sir.”

  16. Simon Smithson says:

    I’m just waiting for some kind of amnesty… and then I’ll be across that border on a visa waiver so fast you guys won’t know what hit you. So long, visa waiver! HA ha ha ha! You can’t keep me out forever, Old Glory! I said I’d be back, and I meant it!


    This is news worldwide, Ryan – especially with a debate on immigration raging over here, too. I have the privilege of being friends with the LA council member who declared the first economic sanction on Arizona – rightly or wrongly, it’s an honour to count a friend as someone with that kind of courage in their convictions.

    I guess the discussion has become an article in itself – in terms of actually dealing with the issue of illegal immigration, are there not other, less divisive options? If the economy of illegal immigration is one of supply and demand, where are the crackdowns on the supply of employment?

    • Ryan Day says:

      Absolutely. And this has been my point all along. I’m not name calling on the basis of opinions about immigration, rather on the incredibly antagonistic, and in my eyes, illegal tactics that have been chosen to enforce the law. There are better ways, i.e make immigration less attractive by A) not screwing up their economy via our own foreign and trade policy and B) making it more difficult to employ people at illegally low wages.

      I’m glad it is global news. It’s been pretty big over here in Spain too. Everyone finally knows where Arizona is… haha… Maybe the notoriety will at least kick the whole sandwich hunt into high gear.

  17. Gregory Messina says:

    I really enjoyed this Ryan. I particularly got a kick out of the miscellaneous comments overheard.
    What I often find disturbing about conservatives is as much as we can think they’re ridiculous or just unreasonable…they think the same thing about us.

    • Ryan Day says:

      I agree. I’ve actually been thinking quite a lot about that since I posted this, and even considering writing another post that just considers the issue of conservative/liberal divisions. I mean, Becky made some really good points (and a few that I’m not on board with), about the uselessness of nasty tones in these types of debates. To me progressive/liberal ideas have always just seemed so natural… even right there in the words themselves… Of course I embrace liberal society and forward motion, as opposed to the stuff that seems to come along with the word conservative… stagnation, universal values? Obviously, I am aware that that is an oversimplification, but you get where I’m heading.

      And, yeah, they are over there saying the same things about us… There seems to be some strangely hard wired division in our culture that keeps this two-headed beast grinding away at itself.

      Still, I hope in the end it came across, that while I am angry about this particular streak of laws, and do find them to have jumped way over the line of simple ideological difference working itself out within legal confines, I was also just sort of taking the piss out of a town that’s kept me hot, solitary and craving some serious food for the last year.

  18. You’re shitting me. I can’t get a decent taco in Phoenix? In Bakersfield where I’m from there’s a taco stand on every corner. I’m not lying!

    Viva the honest, hardworking illegals who see man’s freedom as something bigger than many Americans whose descendants came to the New World and stole land. Or whose families bribed government officials back in the day.

    I will march with those seeking a better life anyday. And have.

    • Ryan Day says:

      There Tacos about, but they lack inspiration. There’s not A taco in Phoenix if you know what I mean… I’m from Chicago, a city also well-steeped in Mexican community, and the tacos there are for me more of a local staple food than hot dogs, deep dish or Italian beef, so maybe I’m asking too much of Phoenix, but honestly, this close to Mexico there’s not excuse for passionless taquerias.

      As to the standing with those who are willing to cross borders in search of something better… Well, couldn’t have said it better.

      I just hope that the ‘better’ one of them seeks has something to do with an awesome taqueria preferably within walking distance of my place.

  19. Yes, that doesn’t make sense, except that conservatives may have driven the best cooks into only whipping up a good mole and some killer tacos for their families…

    Here’s me reading one of my activist poems specific to the Great Central Valley that touches on immigration issues. I’m performing with my kids:


    This is a great post. Arizona pisses me off.

    Catch the criminals. Show compassion to the hard workers from around the globe escaping strife…

  20. Paul Clayton says:

    This post bothered me. I’m not going to spend hours typing back and forth with the poster. I just want to go on record as saying I’m sympathetic to the Arizonans who are tired of being overrun by illegals, with all the attendant drug dealing and crime, etc. I’m with the 70% of Arizonans who want their laws obeyed, who believe in controlled, legal immigration, law and order. If that makes me a bigot in your eyes, so what. You seem a little smug to me, your ‘overheard’ quotes a little too selective. Have a nice day, as we say in California.

    • Ryan Day says:

      That’s fair. I definitely have a perspective. I don’t think you’re a bigot for having a certain attitude to immigration, only that a law that encourages profiling is a bigoted law. You’re right that I was selective with my quotes, but this isn’t journalism. I think the quotes are actually pretty representative of some of the sentiments I’ve felt out here though, and those sentiments do generally (Again this is based on my subjective experience) come tied to comments that strike me as racist. I have not heard a lot of culturally respectful opposition to immigration, which isn’t to say it doesn’t exist.

      I’ve already admitted a hundred times that my language was a little reactionary in an effort to be humorous (and a fair dose of frustration), so I won’t retread that ground. Thanks for reading, and for your comments. Awareness of other opinions will help me avoid future smugness (but not future outrage at bad legislation that targets legal citizens of this country for regular harassment).

  21. Joe Daly says:

    Great debate!

    First, this needs to be put on one of those ironic, faux-vintage t-shirts that pop up everywhere now:

    “Phoenix… you wish you were Detroit.” Hilarious!

    And yeah, having some experience on the legal/law enforcement side of things, it seems that the country has yet to identify a process where criminal activity can be deterred and punished without offending wide swaths of the culture.

    The United States seems to be constantly moving to impose objective standards on all aspects of the legal system, as if a universal standard could ever be achieved for a country built on diversity. I think that there is a very large space for subjectivity in the system, and that space is occupied by juries and judges, who operate on the standard of reasonableness.

    I personally think that Arizona’s new law is the wrong codification of a problem that needs a progressive solution. And by “progressive,” I mean one that looks ahead toward long term implementation, rather than the new law, which is pretty much just a steel toed boot kicking away at a serious cultural issue. I would be thoroughly depressed if I really thought that Arizona’s law reflects the most thoughtful, effective solution that our elected officials could conceive.

    • Ryan Day says:

      Yes indeed, plenty of room for wiggle in our system, but not at the expense of the very basic liberties we claim to prize…

      I don’t think universal standards should be the goal, but universal protections seem reasonable… I think I’m just repeating you, now, so I’ll sign off.

      But, yes, I would love to see that T-shirt.

  22. sheree says:

    Never mind. I found the right post and the comments are intact. Whew, I was like wtf, did someone spike my grilled cheese at lunch.

  23. Mary says:

    “The ugly reality is that the firmness of our borders is demanded by the aggression of our foreign policy which creates wealth here by insisting upon poverty elsewhere. The border issue is just a locking of the plantation doors from the field workers around the globe. That sort of oppression tends to backfire.”
    Much better t-shirt. I couldn’t agree more.

  24. heels says:


    […]Ryan Day | Arizona Nightmare | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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