Feathered Bastard

John McCain's Daughter Meghan McCain Opposes SB 1070, as Her Dad Rolls Over for the Nativist Right

You've got to give it up for Meghan McCain, who came out against state Senator Russell Pearce's racial profiling law yesterday, particularly since her opinion on the legislation is far more nuanced and thoughtful than her dad's.

U.S. Senator John McCain, long an advocate of immigration reform, has been doing cartwheels for the nativist yahoos lately, thereby protecting his right flank as birther, wingnut ex-radio blowhard J.D. Hayworth hammers him hard as being soft on immigration.

I'd have a lot more respect for McCain if he'd continue to eschew the racial and ethnic McCarthyism that has gripped the Arizona GOP in the last couple of years. But he evidently feels that he has no choice but to embrace the nativists, and the new law that was signed last week by Governor Jan Brewer, though his heart is clearly not in it.

"The people of southern Arizona have had their human rights violated," he insisted recently on the Senate floor, defending the law, "by the constant and unending flow of drug smugglers and human trafficking across their property. Their homes are being broken into. Their rights are being violated -- their rights as American citizens to live in a safe and secure environment as most of the pundits that are criticizing this legislation enjoy."

McCain makes references to murdered Arizona rancher Rob Krentz, suggests that border violence is rampant on the U.S. side by conflating it with violence occurring in Mexico, and spreads the myth of immigrant criminality as easily as Russell Pearce does with his bogus crime stats.

Does he have any concerns over the rise of hate toward Hispanics in Sand Land? The death of a nine year-old girl and her dad in Arivaca, Arizona in a home invasion led, allegedly, by minutewoman Shawna Forde? Do their deaths count for anything in McCain's noggin when stacked up against Krentz's equally tragic demise? If so, McCain doesn't let on that this is the case.

McCain's daughter isn't fanning the flames of nativism with jingoistic pronouncements. Indeed, her statements sound awfully adult when compared to her pop's. Her analysis of the new state law is perceptive and, dare I say it, enlightened.

"Let me say upfront that I do not support the bill that was signed by Governor Jan Brewer," she types for The Daily Beast Web site. "I believe it gives the state police a license to discriminate, and also, in many ways, violates the civil rights of Arizona residents. Simply put, I think it is a bad law that is missing the bigger picture of what is really going on with illegal immigration."

She continues: "The concept that a law-enforcement official can stop an individual when `reasonable suspicion exists that a person is an alien, who is unlawfully present in the United States' is essentially a license to pull someone over for being Hispanic."

True, Meghan McCain isn't fighting for her political life, nor is she staring down J.D. Hayworth's ever-gaping, bile-spewing maw. So she has a luxury McCain once had, but seems to have no longer: Speaking her mind. Why, she's a regular chip off the old maverick.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons