Arizona has made the cover of the Summer 2010 issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report magazine, but for all the wrong reasons, as you might expect.
The issue is devoted to the resurgent "patriot" movement, a conspiratorial grab-bag of nutjobs, Obama-loathers, extremist gun rights proponents, and tax resisters.
The SPLC defines the movement as "people who generally believe that the federal government is an evil entity that is engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose martial law, herd those who resist into concentration camps, and force the United States into a socialistic `New World Order.'"
The magazine offers 35 profiles of some of the more prominent names in patriot circles. Among these are fewer Arizonans than one would suspect. Still, their mug shots are included in the cover art: Minuteman and former Chris Simcox supporter Al Garza; ex-Graham County, Arizona sheriff and gun nut Richard Mack; Obama-hater and AR-15 toter Chris Broughton; and ex-Phoenix cop Jack McLamb, who now seems to reside in Idaho.
Broughton's an intriguing fellow for a lot of reasons. He's one of the few African-Americans in a movement dominated by whites. He's been associated with Tempe pastor Steven Anderson, famous for praying for President Obama's death. And Broughton earned his 15 minutes of fame in a stunt where he showed up with a loaded assault rifle outside a VFW event in Phoenix at which Obama was speaking.
On the other hand, I did spy Broughton protesting the pro-SB 1070 Phoenix Rising rally this past Saturday with a banner featuring Star Wars stormtroopers that read, "Welcome to Arizona...Papers Please!" Broughton also harangued nativists with his bullhorn, asking for their IDs in a Hogan's Heroes-style German accent. Fun-ny.
He and other local Libertarians present did a solid job of protesting the crowd, so I have to give them their props. Almost no one else braved the 107 degree heat to counter the message of hate emanating from Wesley Bolin Plaza. The local civil rights community was noticeably absent, and the Libertarians took up the slack.
So while I part company with Broughton and his buds on most everything else, I can at least recognize when they're on the correct side of an issue, as they are on Arizona's new immigration law.