In the most disgusting, reprehensible, and irresponsible comments of his political career (and that's saying a lot), Arizona's senior U.S. Senator John McCain is blaming illegal immigrants for Arizona's recent plague of wildfires, saying it's the reason the country needs a "secure border."
As reported by CNN, the former presidential candidate made the following, outright racist statement during a Saturday press conference regarding the wildfire epidemic:
"There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally. They have set fires because they want to signal others. They have set fires to keep warm. And they have set fires in order to divert law enforcement agents and agencies from them. So the answer to that part of the problem is get a secure border."
He offered zero proof of his outrageous assertion. ABC is reporting that federal firefighting officials are saying there is "no evidence" to back up McCain's phony claim.
Thus, in one fell swoop, McCain has outdone nativist extremists such as state Senate President Russell Pearce, McCain's 2010 primary rival J.D. Hayworth, and just about every minuteman and Mexican-hater on the planet.
The statement is patently racist, as the "illegal immigrants" he's referencing are not Canadians overstaying their visas, but migrants coming into the country via the Mexican-American border, almost all of whom are Latino and happen to have brown skin.
If you don't buy what I'm saying, replace the "they" in McCain's statement with the words "the Jews" or "blacks," and see how far that gets you before you receive a much-deserved smack in the jaw.
(Yeah, I know "Latino" refers to ethnicity. But in the context of Arizona, nativism is de facto racism. Split hairs all you want.)
McCain's words are more hateful, more damaging than anything former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner ever did. The only similarity is that both men's actions are incredibly dumb, and with them, they've exposed themselves -- literally and metaphorically -- for what they really are: in Weiner's case, an idiot; in McCain's case, a bigot.
Allow me to be the first to call for McCain's resignation and his condemnation by his peers in the Senate. And if this hateful alter kocker will not resign, might I suggest that the citizens of Arizona begin recalling him as soon as we're done removing state Senator Pearce through the upcoming recall election in Legislative District 18.
This sort of scapegoating calls to mind the lies promulgated to whip up pogroms against the Jews during the Russian Empire. Should any racial or ethnic violence be inspired by McCain's comments, I can only hope there is some federal law about instigating violence against minorities than can be pursued.
CNN quotes Randy Parraz, leader of the Pearce recall effort and a former contender for the Democratic nomination to take on McCain in 2010, as saying that, "It's easier to fan the flames of intolerance, especially in Arizona."
Let the universal condemnation of McCain begin with Parraz's spot-on observation.
I don't care if McCain apologies or attempts to amend his comments. His vilification of the undocumented, and by extension, all Latinos, is beyond the pale.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Even assuming, for a moment, that he was somehow able to tie one of the fires now raging in Sand Land to some illegal immigrant somewhere, his blanket assertion is still racist and unacceptable.
And if you disagree, take a moment and consider whether or not you would be offended, when, if the next firebug arrested is a Caucasian, I were to state something to the effect that there is "substantial evidence" that whites are responsible for current conflagrations.
Cogitate on that for a sec, haters.
McCain's statement has no place in public life. Indeed, it would sound more apt at a rally of the Ku Klux Klan. Perhaps McCain has a fitted sheet in his closet. After hearing this latest bigoted bull trip from his lips, it would surprise me not one bit.