A Word to Joe Arpaio Foes on the Huffington Post's Cynicism
The latest video from HumanLeague002 and Puente.
There is one sure way to prove the cynical, prissy pundits, the professional tut-tutters right in regards to Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Do nothing.
"Do nothing" is essentially the message to the streets from Huffington Post's Dawn Teo, a former PR rep who now lives in Arizona and writes for the HP. The title for her latest blog post, an analysis of the letter from the Department of Justice to Sheriff Arpaio informing our corrupt top cop that the DOJ is "commencing an investigation" of the MCSO, says it all: "Sheriff Joe Arpaio Will Not Be Prosecuted for Racial Profiling or Discrimination."
So for the 4,000 to 5,000 who marched in Phoenix recently with Zack de la Rocha leading the way, and the thousands in Arizona working day in and day out for justice, you're wasting your time, Teo and others want you to know. Your efforts are futile, even if they have so far brought on a Justice Department inquiry and a promise of hearings from House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.
Teo points to the too polite tone of the DOJ missive, a tone I remarked upon the day the letter was released. She also quotes passages in the letter such as this one:
"Provided that the MCSO cooperates fully with our investigation, if we conclude that there are not systemic violations of constitutional or other federal rights, we will notify you that we are closing the investigation. If, on the other hand, we conclude there are such violations, we will inform you of the findings and attempt to work with the MCSO to remedy any such violations."
Granted, that is a particularly treacly passage, and Teo may be correct in surmising that nothing will come of the letter, at least nothing in the way of actual indictments.
I also agree that now is not the time for jubilation or self-congratulation in the anti-Joe camp, despite some of the great speeches in the latest Dennis Gilman/Puente video above from Congressman Conyers, Congressman Jerry Nadler, and Salvador Reza, who looks like he's trying to channel the late Johnny Cash in that black outfit of his.
Indeed, as Reza told me over a bowl of menudo the other day concerning the DOJ investigation, "It's a first step, that's all." Reza and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network are already planning another march for May. They know they have to keep the pressure on the Obama administration, and even on their pals on the House Judiciary Committee.
See, what Teo and like-minded cynics such as the Arizona Republic's E.J, Montini do not acknowledge is that the anti-Arpaio, pro-immigrant movement has scored major victories both in getting a letter like the DOJ's written, and having the House Judiciary Committee encourage the inquiry, while focusing the committee's attention on Arpaio, if only for the moment.
Does that mean the activists have entered the promised land? Far from it. Even if Arpaio were magically removed from office tomorrow, led away in chains and pink underwear, a green bologna sammy crammed down his gob, this would not end the abuses of the 287(g) program, cure racism in Maricopa County, or stop families from being decimated by U.S. immigration policy.
Ever ready to throw water on a fire headed in Arpaio's direction, Republic reporters JJ Hensley and Dennis Wagner argued in Tuesday's paper that history is on the side of Arpaio, and that a civil remedy will more likely be the outcome of the DOJ investigation. Surely this is a great comfort to Joe, and goes down well with that cup of cocoa with the little marshmallows in it that Ava fixes him before he goes nitey-nite.
It is as Reza told me over that menudo, "They don't think we can win." In that "they," he included not just his regular right-wing foes, but the preening do-nothings, the left-wing nativists, who might give lip service to immigration reform, but secretly seek to scuttle it at every turn.
These defeatists and latter-day Quislings are not the people who put 4,000 to 5,000 bodies in the street, or are willing to be arrested for their beliefs, or who reach out to politicians, pressing them to press their friends in high places to act. In fact, if you'd heeded such naysayers back in the day, the Berlin Wall would never have fallen, the 1964 Civil Rights Act would never have passed, and Nelson Mandela would never have made it off Robben Island to become the father of his country.
Why, if you'd paid heed to these professional voyeurs, Barack Obama would never have been nominated, much less elected. "America will never vote for a black liberal from Illinois," they used to say. Sorta sounds like, "Arpaio will never be indicted. Nothing will come of this. Resistance is futile. Abandon all hope. Work will set you free."
But let me explain the really insidious part of the laziness and apathy these nudniks advocate. In the case of the woman whose arm was broken last week by the MCSO, Maria del Carmen Garcia-Martinez, one of her guards told her that to refuse their commands was futile, but refuse them she did.
What if a witness to her agony had never contacted Garcia-Martinez's lawyer to tell her that her client had been beaten up by MCSO thugs? And what if Garcia-Martinez's lawyer Ana Sanchez had not dogged ICE, demanding that her client receive medical treatment? Do you think Garcia-Martinez would have been released on her own recognizance? Or would she instead be in the federal pen in Florence?
Inaction is attractive to the voyeur class because such is their metier. By contrast, activists, organizers and fighters are meant to push, and push hard, until they achieve what scribblers view as impossible. But the activists already know this. Otherwise they would've quit long ago.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.