Human or Alien? You decide.
Published Thursday, 05-Aug-2010 in issue 1180
Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, home of the tumbleweeds, scorching weather, gay bars, beautiful deserts and the most redneck shit kicking cowboy in the country, a.k.a. Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Arpaio proudly states that he is “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and for good reason. However, until recently no one outside Arizona had ever heard of him. Among his infamous achievements has been the setting up of the largest tent city in the nation, as an extension of the county jail. Here, inmates can not only be punished and serve time, they can do so in the full force of the Arizona heat, an accommodation barely fit for a human being.
Before you feel inclined to say that inmates are there to be punished, not to enjoy the accommodation, just stop for a second and rethink what I just stated. Note that I stated for a human being. Also, keep in mind there are punishments and then there are barbaric conditions. Don’t forget, too, that tent city also houses juveniles and women, albeit in a separate area.
Arpaio boasts over 10,000 inmates in his jail system. Equally impressive is his old west propensity for creating chain gangs, including the world’s first ever female chain gang and juvenile chain gangs, all of which are used as free labor and to bury indigents at the county cemetery. Among Apaio’s many achievements is introducing a system where all inmates are fed just twice a day with the cheapest of meals, even cutting out salt and pepper, to assure the labor cost is further reduced against the delivery of the meal. He also makes all the male inmates wear pink from head to toe, including their bedding and sheets. He claims this calms them down…nothing to do with humiliation! In Arpaio’s Wild West, he doesn’t have volunteers, he has a posse! Please! Somebody get me a piece of buckwheat and a spittoon to finish this editorial.
With all these accolades under his heavy belt buckle, what more could he do? He sat and thought and thought and then, suddenly, it fell into his lap. He could round up and lasso all those Mexican people. He would set up check points and check the skin tone of every person in every car, every person working or walking down the street, regardless of what they have or have not done. He would arrest the ones he could deport and the ones he couldn’t, he would put them in their place and harass them out of the state.
So what turns a human being into an alien being? It seems as though a few miles and skin tone or color. All this time NASA has been wasting money trying to find aliens and/or intelligent life on other planets, only to find that they are already living among us! Think of the money that could have been saved!
On a more serious note, to think that this is a Hispanic or Mexican issue that is affecting Arizona is naïve and dangerous. The actions of the Arizona House, who passed this bill 35 to 21, Gov. Jan Brewer along with the state unions who only thought of their own needs, are reprehensible. Shame on all of you. On the other hand, The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police lobbied against it, claiming it would be too expensive for local law enforcement and would discourage cooperation from illegal’s.
The war in Arizona over immigration is raging and is dividing a state and country into two groups. So when did we lose humanity? When did we forget that almost every person walking around in any city in the nation originated from somewhere else? Even the name “illegal alien” is intended to ensure that they are viewed as inferior. What makes me most upset about this Sheriff and the elected officials backing this initiative is this: How can you look at an eight year old child, smiling and playing with his friends, and think he deserves to be deported? He is a human being and so are millions of others who call America home. In San Diego, we have a bright and vibrant Mexican and Latino community, GLBT and heterosexual. It makes you wonder where it will stop, with eighteen other states wanting to institute similar measures with regards to illegal aliens and in particular Mexican Americans.
The public outcry over this matter has reached many other surrounding cities and states. These are people who pay taxes, contribute to our economy and generally fulfill roles that few want. What is the problem? I understand a need to secure our borders, however this is not the way to go about this. This also directly affects our community, when out of nowhere your boyfriend or girlfriend goes to pick up a gallon of milk and never returns. If they are a GLBT family, what do you tell your child? That they will not see their mother or father anymore? What has happened to the home of the free and the brave?
How many families in this country started their journey to becoming an American at Ellis Island? Almost all. When they arrived, one of the first things they saw was The Statue of Liberty, originally called the “Liberty Enlightening the World.” At the base of this statue there are the words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
In all my years I still have never seen an alien! What I have seen are generations of people who came from someplace else with the promise of freedom, legally and illegally. Let us collectively banish this bigotry. Our world would be a much better place for it. Believe it or not, even your world Sheriff Arpaio! I urge all those who feel what is going on in Arizona wrong to do something about it.

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