An Idle Word: A column
by BILL CUNNINGHAM
With Brad Rollins’ reconstruction of the Mercury, I decided it was a good time to get back to the weaponry of “An Idle Mind,” particularly when minds to the west of us should be changing gears to idle, instead of stripping gears and leaving skid marks on serious discourse of national issues.
Arizona is one of my favorite states even with the searing heat (and the maddening disclaimer by locals, “”Yes, but it’s a dry heat.” So is my oven). It has the best mystery bookstore in the nation —the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale — I saw a torrid concert by Merle Haggard there once and Sedona is, well Sedona, needing no bumper stickers to stay weird.
How then to account for the temporary bouts of insanity that hit the state every few years. First it was not recognizing Martin Luther King’s birthday. Now we have the Draconian law of stopping suspicious citizens (i.e. Hispanics) and demanding proof of citizenship.
I realize illegal immigration is a serious national issue and requires serious national discussion. Stopping anyone with brown skin is not the answer no matter what the Governor, (who looks suspiciously like an alien herself and not one from a foreign country either) claims.
Maybe I’m just prejudiced myself coming from San Antonio, often referred to as the northernmost city in Mexico.
The Mexican influence happens to be one of the Alamo City’s great claims to attracting tourism. Congressman Henry B. Gonzales (God, I’d love to hear what he would orate about the Arizona law) was the first politician I was aware of and a Cunningham family icon and I couldn’t imagine life without Hispanics, Mexican-Americans or just plain Mexicans as they were referred to when I was a child.
In this, I share the sentiments of my late friend and great mystery novelist James Crumey, born in Three Rivers, educated at A&I in Kingsville and a professor at UT-El Paso before becoming a writer. Crumley later decamped to the writers’ colony in Missoula, Montana and ran a Kinky Friedmanesque campaign for Mayor with the campaign promise, “Less Snow, More Mexicans.”
That not only wouldn’t be laughed at it in Arizona but would probably result in a lynching.
What’s most ironic about this is the Hispanics came under attack just as they were becoming a major force in the Republican Party after generations of delivering solid Democratic majorities.
Part of this was the result of former Governor and President George Bush, who realized the strong religious and family values of Hispanics that made them attractive to the Republican Party. Bush won re-election as Texas Governor with nearly half of the Hispanic vote.
But while his party was embracing some of his more divisive issues, the big issue that he was right about got lost in the shuffle.
It was as former House majority Whip Dick Armey, no flaming liberal himself, once told Texas Monthly, “It was if the Republican Party identified the fasted growing demographic in the country trending Republican and asked themselves, ‘What can we do to offend them the most.’
John McCain was another supporter of the path to citizenship program proposed for Mexican nationals (I’m, referring to the John McCain who I supported for President in 2000 not the present U.S. Senator who bears the same name).
The answer will come down to economics. Conventions are already cancelling (Phoenix-Scottsdale is one of the major convention cities in the U.S.) and economic pressures not justice will force reconsideration of this latest outbreak of lunacy, just as it did with the MLK birthday lunacy.
And at least Arizonians can console themselves with being right about rejecting daylight saving time.Email | Print