In one of his latest "wasn't me" moves, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday blamed inflammatory statements about Mexicans in his 2008 book, Joe's Law, on the book's co-author, Len Sherman.
Sherman, however, takes credit for only one of the two statements that Arpaio attributed to him.
On Tuesday, the sheriff's accountability meter ran a serious deficit during his testimony at his racial-profiling trial when he was asked by lawyer Stanley Young about a couple of passages from the book.
"My parents, like all other immigrants exclusive to those from Mexico, held to certain hopes and truths," Arpaio's autobiographical account states.
Young asked Arpaio on the stand Tuesday whether a "fair reading" of that passage was that "immigrants from anywhere else other than Mexico had the same hopes and truths that your parents had, but people from Mexico did not?"
Under questioning, Arpaio had to admit that Mexican immigrants do hold to the same "hopes and truths." But Arpaio blamed that passage on co-author Sherman.
Arpaio also said Sherman wrote another passage quoted by Young. The passage asserts that second- and third-generation Mexican-Americans don't assimilate into "mainstream American."
Sherman, whom we reached last night, admits the latter example sounded like something he had come up with.
Sherman says one of his goals in co-writing Arpaio's first-person account was to reflect Arpaio's ideas the best he could. The statement about assimilation was drawn from something similar written by scholar Samuel P. Huntington, Sherman says.
Indeed, Huntington -- author of the 1996 bestseller Clash of Civilizations -- drew cries of racism after he published "Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identity" in 2004. In that book, Huntington wrote:
The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves--from Los Angeles to Miami--and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril.
Sherman does not, however, take credit for the "all other immigrants exclusive to those from Mexico" line. He says he's pretty sure Arpaio wrote that one.
"Anything that starts 'My parents'...would more likely be attributed to what [Arpaio] said," he says.
In any case, Arpaio certainly has stood by his book -- until Tuesday, when he had to defend its content before a judge.
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UPDATE: We just saw a blog post from Joe Dana at Channel 12 News (KPNX-TV), who writes about a promotional speech Arpaio made about his book in 2008 at a Scottsdale bookstore. Dana quotes from a video of the speech:
"One thing I don't do is lie. I was very careful writing this book. I wrote it like I was testifying in court."
Which, of course, actually is the opposite of what he testified to in court yesterday.