Tag Archives: Arizona

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Day of Service, Not a Day Off

16 Jan

Happy MLK Jr. Day family (even to those few of you in New Hampshire and Arizona, who after all this time still grudgingly stay home from work)!

It seems as though I say it every year, but even in the face of virtually no rush hour traffic, the lack of mail delivery or the premiere parking in the company parking lot; today is not simply a day to stay home from work and catch-up on your TiVO and DVR recordings.

The observance of MLK Jr. Day is a day not only to reflect on the legacy of this memorable and outspoken civil rights leader, but it is also a day to give back to our country, our society, our communities.

You don’t know what to do or how to get started, you say?  Well, let this be an integral, each-one-teach-one moment.  Click Here to find a service project in your area to be a part of, or start a service event of your own. Oh, and remember: although we all ought to make a small sacrifice to serve our fellow man today, service is a 365 commitment.  Feel free to be a part of something great all year long!

This has been a Fanny Pack Public Service Announcement

Rush to Judgment

13 Jan

Question: What happens when the billboard of a conservative radio show host, liberally peppered with what appears to be bullet holes is spotted in the general vicinity of the site where one of the year’s most tragic shootings occurred?

Answer: The masses demand a pound of flesh and a blow-hard has the ammunition needed to bellyache further about how loony the left is.

With the shock and anger of Saturday’s fatal shooting in Arizona still fresh in the mind of the American people, Rush Limbaugh has become the latest rabble-rouser to be criticized for lacking judgment and having poor taste.  A Tucson billboard advertising his daily talk radio show, complete with fake shots and a reference to Limbaugh as a “straight shooter” has triggered (no pun intended) even more post-shooting debate and an outcry from the public for the advert to be taken down.

Now, in light of all that has happened in Arizona over the past week, I agree whole-heartedly that it would be a healing gesture and the mature thing to do if the conservative shock-jock would consider removing the over-the-top but otherwise attention-grabbing advertisement, but the reality is (and I am chewing off my tongue as I say this) Limbaugh didn’t do anything wrong here.  As much as I find Rush’s views to be deliberately biased, ill-conceived and repugnant, I can’t vilify him for the placement or message on this billboard, especially when it was in place several months before the shootings in Arizona took place. Period.

Whenever devastating events change the face of our society, you can guarantee that emotions will run high, and that opinions (logical or otherwise) will abound.  What we have to ensure however is that those emotions and opinions don’t eclipse the crux of the matter, lest we become as indifferently one-sided and uninformed as those with whom we have legitimate grievances and objections with.

 

 

Be Careful What You Wish For: Irony From Arizona

12 Jan

Vodpod videos no longer available.

When I first heard the story of Patricia Maisch, the 61-year old woman integral in helping to subdue Jared Lee Loughner before he could reload his gun and continue on the killing spree that left six people dead and 14 others wounded in Tucson last Saturday, I was overcome with emotion at learning that not only had this woman acted heroically in grabbing Loughner’s extra magazine clip, but that at 61 her quick thinking and selflessness had likely saved many more lives.

In the blink of an eye, Patricia Maisch had become an overnight sensation and every newspaper and news network was beating her door down for a quote or an exclusive on what had happened that bloody day, and how she felt about it.  But instead of her actions, it would be Maisch’s words to Shepard Smith that would prove incredibly ironic when she spoke with him by phone during the Fox News interview.

To his credit though, Shep kept it classy even in the face of the second fiercest rebuke heard ‘round the world (Sheriff Dupnik’s being the first).

 

Willful American Ignorance: Our Own Worst Enemy

9 Jan

Before We, The (reasonable) People can take up the banner to combat the gross and flippant attitude seen in this nation toward intelligence and common sense, we must first identify what exactly it is we are fighting:

ig·no·rance: [ig-ner-uhns] –noun showing lack of knowledge, awareness information, or education; the state of being ignorant…

…and while I would categorize the vast majority of this nation’s population as learned and bright, as a whole I’d have to say that we continue to prove to be only as intelligent as our most ignorant citizens.

I’ve spent the past two days since the news of the horrific mass shooting in Tucson, AZ that claimed six lives and left 14 irrevocably broken, seriously pondering what exactly happens to human beings that make them immune, calloused and uncivil to other human beings; so much so that they’d resort to senseless violence as a resolution.  And unfortunately, while these sorts of violent acts are observed every day in our national headlines, this particular tragedy has shaken many Americans to the core because the violence committed this past weekend has had a far less random and more seemingly political (and many would argue, deliberate) correlation.

Of the 20 innocent victims shot yesterday by what the media categorize as a 22-year old mentally unstable gunman named Jared Lee Loughner at a Tucson constituency meet-and-greet, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, from Arizona’s 8th district, believed to have been Loughner’s target, was shot in the head at point blank range.  After shooting Giffords first, Loughner was said to have then shot indiscriminately into the small gathering. The murdered victims included a federal judge, a Giffords aide, and tragically, a nine-year-old child.

Receiving heavy media coverage since yesterday afternoon, the shooting in Tucson has been transmitted into virtually every American home and has opened the floor for discussions about the rise in threats against politicians over the past year.  Inevitably, conversations have also focused on the rancorous political environment this country has found itself in recently and the sorts of virulent and frankly ignorant words and actions that have clearly left America in a state of alienated political disrepair.

Interestingly enough, as significant as this tragedy has been in opening up dialogue regarding the safety of our political representatives, it has also spurred individuals on both the left and right to begin assessing blame as to the sort of political atmosphere that may have been the catalyst for Loughner’s shooting spree.  What I’ve noticed however, is that be they internet articles or network news interviews, blame from conservative leaning comments seem to be levied at President Obama’s health care policies while liberal assessments have been that Sarah Palin’s insistence in taking “back” America led to this appalling act.

Now, while I believe it is terribly reckless and inflammatory to point the finger at any one individual and find them guilty of this shooting (unless the finger is directed at Jared Lee Loughner; and even then, he deserves his day in court), I will say that the American people, constituent and public servant alike, need to take a deep introspective look at the tone of their own politics, the messages they are conveying and accepting and what it is they believe to be true about this country.

For me, regardless of the 1st Amendment or what politicians say their intentions are, they play a very irresponsible and dangerous game when using provocative language like “armed and dangerous” or “don’t retreat, reload” when rousing constituents to help effect change against their political opponents.  If we are to keep this nation from succumbing to an all-out breach in civility, we have to hold our policymakers accountable when they seek to masquerade this sort of incendiary language as freedom of speech, and hold ourselves accountable in accepting these subversive messages from them.

It is certainly one thing for legislators to be in such passionate disagreement with the state of current political affairs that they campaign, fundraise and execute strong rhetoric to promote their position, but far too often these messages are tailored not to the rational-thinking middle of the road constituency, but to the fringe, where tactics like manipulation of facts and race-baiting can easily ignite ideas of anarchy and rage against the machine.  And in much the same way that one would be held liable for any injuries suffered to individuals after shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater, a politician cannot simply dismiss the consequences of “targeting” a political adversary in crosshairs, especially when that adversary ends up shot.

But this is where willful American ignorance comes into play.  For those not aware, the above example was in reference to a Sarah Palin Political Action Committee Posting last year where a U.S. map of districts held by 20 House Democrats (Gabby Giffords being one) was displayed, and on the map were a series of crosshairs and the names of each Representative that Mrs. Palin wanted the Tea Party faithful to help her “take a stand” against.  Soon after the shooting, a Palin aide issued a statement saying that the images of crosshairs were never meant to evoke violence. And while I am sure that it never crossed Sarah Palin’s mind that someone would look at her campaign poster as a “hit list”, the problem with her and others like her is that in heated scenarios like this, they don’t think.  Before assessing the potential damage of their words or actions, they spew these half-cocked notions of political upheaval and volatile statements, yet are so arrogant blissfully and ignorant that they fail to see the harm and negligence in doing so.

I just pray that even if it is revealed that hot-button politics or seething rhetoric did not provoke this tragedy, that politicians, pundits and voters will take greater care before they silently accept violent imagery and undertones at town hall meetings, tote rifles to rallies or speak of eliminating political opponents from here on out.

I think there is still a long road ahead of us before America as a whole adopts the message of circumventing the ignorance for the sake of the greater good, but at least now, I think, many will realize that it is a message worth exploring.

 

 

Let’s Talk Immigration: The Illegals, The Immigrants, The Citizens

25 May

 Funny story…

I was talking to one of my sister-friends today, and she shared with me that I probably wouldn’t see her again until June because she was going down to Arizona to spend Memorial Day with her family.  Immediately I laughed and told her that unless she planned to take her birth certificate, license, passport, medical records and other identifying documentation, then I might not see her again. Period.  To this we both had a hearty chuckle, but once she and I got off the line, I realized something.  That exchange wasn’t very funny at all.

Although I suggested in jest that my friend be at the ready to prove her citizenship while in the “Grand Canyon State”, (even though she is not Hispanic and would hardly induce any suspicion into her supposed immigration status by Arizona po-po should she roll a stop sign), I couldn’t help but think about all the citizens of Arizona (this country) who are of Latin-descent who, thanks to Arizona SB 1070 have to now contemplate whether they are going to bring their “papers” with them just in case they find themselves lawfully stopped, detained or arrested on their way to work, school, or Pilates class (read: while trying to attain the American Dream, just like the rest of us).

Don’t get me wrong, I think immigration legislation is important.  National borders are established to protect the land and inhabitants within, and the implications from the perspective of increased taxes, crime or even population surges can be quite calamitous if those borders are willingly allowed to be compromised.  That’s not to say that I believe that this nation’s current immigration laws are acceptable in their current state. 

I do believe that the images on shows like National Geographic’s “Border Wars” do highlight instances where people are simply seeking refuge and a better life than the squalor they’ve fled in Mexico, and should be afforded the right to pursue happiness here. I also believe however, that in much the same way that immigrants from all over the world have come to the United States to claim a better way of life for themselves legally, Mexican immigrants should be held to this same standard.  My issue though, especially with this Senate Bill (and only slightly amended House Bill) is that it places a stigma on an entire group of people. 

When Mexican President Felipe Calderon was given an audience at a joint session of Congress last week, he was openly critical of the Arizona law.  Although I felt some kind of way about this guest’s rebuking manner and wished that I could’ve reminded President Calderon that he ought to tread lightly; seeing as how his abode is of the glassy variety, I can admit that this is a matter in which we find agreement.  No matter what side of the volatile immigration debate you stand on, the fact (in my mind) remains that Arizona’s somewhat impetuous law breeds an unreasonable fear of and bias toward Latinos.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard people with a seemingly legitimate initial concern about illegal immigrants completely turn their conversation into a rant against Mexicans.  Or, while waiting in line at a store, having seen people openly disgusted and rolling their eyes at a Hispanic family speaking together in Spanish while waiting at the check-out register.  I worry that SB 1070 is emboldening a very discriminatory attitude toward Latinos as a whole; not just the ones who jumped the border fence or were smuggled in by strategically contorting themselves within the dashboard of a car (true story), but also those who are in the country legally or even born here.

I mean, look at this latest foolery with Dora the Explorer.  No longer is she the ambiguous little character who teaches our children Spanish with a notable American accent and perfect English.  Oh no! Thanks to someone’s attempt at humor (with a side of racism, I’m sure), poor Dora is now the face of the apprehended and extradited illegal immigrant, and I’m now left explaining to my kids why Boots’ best friend has an eye-jammy, a leaky faucet and a mug shot.

Trust me when I tell you; I don’t pretend to know the answers to solve this nation’s immigration debate or how best to reform the broken laws we currently have in place.  What I do know however, is that too few of the billions of people who currently live in the United States are  indigenous to this land.  At some point in our histories, we were all immigrants.  What changed that made settling here acceptable for some, but relocating, migrating and seeking sanctuary here not tolerable for others?

Arizona Immigration Law Simplified

7 May

You can thank Roger Ebert for this uncomplicated view on how Arizona’s newly passed immigration law will address the populace.  This just about sums it up, yes?  It’s interesting to note however, that immigrants, refugees, political defectors and those who seek asylum in this country aren’t only people of color.

 Clearly though, as seen above, legislators have likened the new-aged settler (don’t be confused, an immigrant is nothing more than a settler/colonist; just ask the Native Americans) to an amalgamation of tinted, non-toxic, wax forms.  As such, they couldn’t very well encourage a melting pot, now could they?

 *Sigh*

If this keeps up and certain lawmakers have their way, before too long there will only be a select few left to sing America, the Beautiful Homogenous.

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