If a large segment of a society believes in hocus pocus, then the irrational inevitably affects reality.
Wars have been fought in the name of religion, i.e., the worship of supernatural beings that do not exist. People in some parts of the world still wear talismans to ward off "the evil eye."
Not too long ago, the United States of America invaded one middle-eastern country seeking revenge for an attack that emanated from an entirely different middle-eastern country. This, in search of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist.
Such phenomena, in part, explain the power of the birthers in Arizona politics. When cynical politicians such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio launch investigations into the political equivalent of the chupacabra, and otherwise sane politicos such as Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett feel the need to curry favor with delusional idiots, then fantasy has overtaken us, illogical thought trumps reason, white is black, up is down, and gravity no longer exists.
Of course, the law of gravity is still in effect, and some here in Sand Land know this, but, for the time being, a majority of Arizonans have given themselves over to the irrational. And because these people, sadly, can vote, they alter our reality in numerous, deleterious ways.
(For a dissection of how the nuts of Mesa's Red Mountain Tea Party tie-in to this topic, check this week's column.)
It is magical thinking, for instance, to accept the notion that if you rid the state of brown people all crime will go away. And yet, those who support Senate Bill 1070 often assert just that, though their assertion is contradicted by any truthful analysis of historical FBI crime data.
Bigotry is an irrational thought process, but most authorities shrugged off the danger of neo-Nazis running around in the Arizona desert, rounding up brown folk. This, and the fact that the public at large was not enraged by these neo-Nazis running around in the desert rounding up brown folk, reveals that for most in Arizona, this bizarre situation was deemed so ordinary as to be ignored.
The leader of that band of neo-Nazis, left to his own devices, eventually killed four innocents and then himself, bringing tragedy to an entire community. The majority's acceptance of this as ordinary led to these killings, as surely as its acceptance of a climate of hate led to the murders of Juan Varela and Brisenia Flores and her dad.
And if you don't know who Varela and Flores are, shame on you.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, for instance, is a victim of irrational thought, as personified in her deranged attacker Jared Loughner. Yet the ease with which he was able to acquire the ammunition he used on that fateful day is instructive. The irrational, nearly religious notion that all gun control laws are bad, led directly to the Tucson tragedy.
People outside the boundaries of Arizona know this state's a loony bin. In more civilized areas of the country, Arizona is rightly a laughingstock, a repository of birthers, gun nuts, anti-contraception kooks, and anti-immigration zealots.
The Arizona Republic's soporific scribbler Robert Robb doesn't get it. Our reputation as a "wacko state" is undeserved, he contends. He points to Phoenix's still having an economic pulse as proof that this "wacko state" stuff is poppycock.
Couple of points. First, prosperity and psychosis can coexist. Howard Hughes, anyone? And arguing that Phoenix is prosperous in this recession merely demonstrates the income level of the arguer.
Phoenix, a sliver of blue in a sea of Maricopa County red, is not representative of the state on the whole. Otherwise, why would we have a Democratic mayor?
Nope, as Bill Maher would say, Arizona is batsh*t crazy. That's why this year Maher (again) awarded us with with the Stupidest State in America trophy (above), which features a statuette of a guy with his head up his backside.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining too loudly. Though I want things to change, the current state of affairs guarantees grist for my mill. Were Sand Land to calm down and approach normalcy, the streets might no longer be paved with media gold.
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But that's not a worry at present. Instead, I feel obligated to post the various statements over the years from different Hawaiian officials, verifying the existence of President Barack Obama's birthplace and birth certificate.
I know, it's like spitting in the wind.
Nevertheless, I would encourage the rest of the world to keep heaping scorn upon us (as if we have a choice), because that much-deserved ridicule and reproach forces Sand Landers, and those who represent them, to recognize the world as it is, instead of the twisted visions so many Arizonans foster in their heads.
Being the butt of others' jokes is no fun, you see. At least for some, it does enforce compliance with the demands of sanity, as Secretary of State Bennett now knows.