Brace Yourself for 1990

Will Arizona overcome or be overcome?

It was all too much.
And if you think Pastor Stewart selected a fine time indeed to get sensitive, you must also know that he was not alone.

In the midst of this guilt gulag, Senator Leo Corbet proposed a legislative remedy that would have identified Columbus with an Italian heritage day. This only served to make Pat Quaranta sputter with indignation, "Columbus Day isn't an Italian holiday, it's American!"

On December 12 the board of directors for the Center for Law decided to take no action.

The next day Zaler returned from the California funeral to a full meeting of the King Committee, where he pushed for a lawsuit. The committee voted unanimously to have its own board reconsider asking the Center to initiate a suit. But the Center's board would not meet again for another month, and in the meantime, petitions were being signed.

Could someone else file a lawsuit in the interim?
Zaler called a couple of attorneys but it was only a halfhearted effort; his mind was preoccupied.

Pastor Stewart felt that the business leaders behind the local Super Bowl push might start the litigation. NFL officials will choose a city for the 1993 championship this coming spring, and they are unlikely to name Phoenix in March if voters have a November ballot that could kill the King holiday.

But so far, no one from the Super Bowl group has stepped forward.
Quaranta of the American-Italian Club would love to see the Center file the lawsuit, but he says Lanigan refuses to accept the Italians as clients. Quaranta finds this infuriating since it was Columbus Day that was abolished to make room for King. Quaranta feels the injured party.

Too busy organizing a Christmas benefit for more than 100 abused children to search out a private attorney to sue, the discouraged Quaranta honestly feels this suit belongs in the hands of the Center for Law in the Public Interest.

"If the entire holiday mess, Columbus and King, isn't in the public interest, what is?" wonders Quaranta.

Lanigan reasons that under the law, where a King holiday exists and a Columbus holiday does not, the American-Italian Club has nothing to lose if the suit fails. Therefore, says Lanigan, those people with something at risk, the King Committee, must make the call.

Throughout this colossal dithering, people continued to sign petitions.
Tomorrow, December 21, Quaranta and Sanders will file their petitions. Unless a lawsuit is risked Arizona will spend 1990 arguing over Martin Luther King Jr. It makes me bone weary.

Already people are shaking their heads. The questions are starting again: What sort of place is Arizona?

Arnie Zaler is adamant that if it comes to an election on the King holiday, people must not give in to exhaustion. Depression must not become an excuse for lethargy. He is right.

YOU CANNOT ESCAPE the prejudices of Arizona. It is the same everywhere.
One fall I left Phoenix grateful to be away from the agenda of the bigots who wanted to declare Arizona an "English- only" state as a reaction against immigrant Mexicans.

I was in France but leaving the next day for North Africa. I stopped at a bar next to my hotel. For some reason, the door to the saloon was closed and bolted. When I knocked, the owner peered out through a small, latched peephole. Inside, the dark room was nearly deserted. I put some coins into the jukebox and the bartender put a drink in front of me. The man made small talk until he discovered that I was departing for Morocco in the morning. This completely unsettled the Frenchman.

For the next five minutes, he railed on about what ungodly wretches Moroccans were. All Moroccans were thieves. They did not wash. Their very presence ruined Paris. He never allowed a Moroccan into his bar.

One week later I sat in the passenger seat of a car as a Moroccan drove through the Atlas range well outside the ancient walls of Fez. The man described various Berber tribes that inhabited the countryside. Although none of the nomads completely met with his approval, he said that at least the Berbers in the Rif Mountains along the Mediterranean were honorable. If you crossed them, they would cut your throat. At the end of his talk, he mentioned a particular tribe that he regarded with a sneer.

"If you want to sleep with a man's daughter, you can do that. If you want to sleep with a man's wife, you can do that."

He paused for a moment, searching for a description to fully illustrate his disgust.

"These people . . . they are worse than the French."

ARIZONA IS NOT this amusing, but neither is it so different from the rest of the world. If we must fight again for King, then we must fight.

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