Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce, Corrupt Bigot, Elected Arizona Senate President

If you thought Senate Bill 1070 was bad, there's far worse on the way.

That's because Senate Republicans have picked a new president: 1070 "author," state Senator Russell Pearce, Arizona's Pope of Prejudice.

Pearce figures Governor Jan Brewer "owes" him for saving her career, bullying 1070 through the legislature, giving her a racist piece of legislation to sign, one scapegoating Hispanics, and diverting attention from the state's $2 billion budget shortfall.

And he's right. Brewer owes Pearce like some owe the rent. If she'd not had 1070 at her back, and a wave of xenophobia to ride, she might've never made it out of the GOP primary.

What will this Sand Land-version of P.W. Botha want in return?

For Brewer to sign a slew of Nuremberg-type laws aimed at Hispanics. Sure, he wants to deny birth certificates to American citizen children born in this country of illegal immigrant parents. This, in outright defiance of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

But for this champion of "states rights" -- code words for white supremacy -- that's only beginning.

In the past, he's tried passing bills through the legislature that would have prevented American citizens from marrying non-American citizens, and proposals to force landlords to check someone's immigration status before renting them an apartment.

Such legislation never made it far. But that was pre-Brewer, pre-1070. Now the state GOP has written Pearce a blank check. And I can promise you he will cash it.

A recent NPR story highlighted the connection between the private prison industry and Pearce. But his ties to nativist organizations such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and FAIR's top law dog Kris Kobach, now Kansas' Secretary of State, are far more profound.

Don't get me wrong. Pearce is sleazy. Anyone familiar with the story of how he got canned from his one-time job as head of the state's Motor Vehicle Division, knows that. (Read more on the scandal, here.)

But what drives Pearce is not the love of money. Rather, what drives him is an implacable hatred of Latinos. He is a bigot, first and foremost. See, Pearce was a nativist long before being a nativist was cool. Well, it's still not cool, but you know what I mean.

And nativism is a perverse, despicable ideology, one that has to be periodically stomped out of existence, a la Gangs of New York. 

Pearce is Arizona's Bill the Butcher, you see, only far more dangerous.

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