Feathered Bastard

The New York Times Calls a Napolitano-Less Arizona a "State of Fear"

It loves the Napster a little too much...

The New York Times has one thing correct. Once Janet Napolitano has boarded her flight for D.C., Hispanics in Arizona are right to be fearful of a ramped-up, czarist Russian-style pogrom, with little concern for their civil rights, be they citizens or non-citizens. In an unsigned editorial titled "State of Fear," the Gray Lady points out that Governor Napolitano's veto and the threat of her veto has prevented some really insane anti-immigrant proposals from becoming law.

Problem is, she also signed some of that nativist legislation, too, like the employer sanctions law, even though as conservative an institution as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce lobbied hard against it. Also, as I pointed out in my preceding blog item, Napolitano has looked the other way as her ally Sheriff Joe Arpaio has abused his 287(g) authority, racially profiling those with brown skin, and instilling fear in the Hispanic community. So, this saintly image the New York Times has of Nappy as the little Dutch gal with her finger in the dike, is grossly misplaced. (The Times also lionized Janet in a previous opinion column as, "A Cool Head on Immigration.")

"Ms. Napolitano has been criticized for not taking a tougher stance against Sheriff Arpaio, although she did cut off some of his state financing," rationalizes the Times in today's edition. "There isn't much anyone in Arizona can do to stop the sheriff, since he is an elected official who has just won a fifth term."

Excuse me, but there is something that can be done. Our elected leaders can speak out against the brutal rape of the U.S. Constitution in this state. Transplant us to a different time, and this Knickerbocker logic would be like saying there's nothing that could be done about governors George Wallace of Alabama or Lester Maddox of Georgia. After all, they were elected officials, right? Remember please that Birmingham, Alabama's infamous public safety commissioner during the civil rights era, Eugene "Bull" Connor, was elected, as well. In hindsight, should African-Americans have never defied the man?   

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon at least has had the intestinal fortitude to stand up against Sheriff Arpaio. Ex-Mayor of Guadalupe Rebecca Jimenez had the same chutzpahl. But instead of emulating their courage, Napolitano colluded with Arpaio, gave him aid and comfort, made sure that he got the very 287(g) agreement that he now regularly abrogates.

"We suggest [Napolitano] start by reining in the 287(g) program, which deputizes local police as federal immigration posses and is so frighteningly prone to abuse," states the Times piece. "That is probably the best hope of stopping Arizona's own Sheriff Arpaio."

Nice sentiment, but Napolitano helped broker that 287(g) agreement between Arpaio and the feds. It is highly unlikely she will jerk it from him, or firmly lay down the law. As San Diego Union Tribune columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr., pointed out recently, Napolitano failed to protect the brown-skinned citizens and residents of Chandler, Arizona in 1997 when she had the chance as U.S. Attorney under President Bill Clinton. She's also aided Arpaio politically in the past, and was awarded the geriatric lawman's nod in her first run for Guv.

What makes the Times think that Janet will somehow miraculously transform into a shining knight ready to do battle with our wicked sheriff? Though I appreciate the Times' concern for this state and those in it, I am distressed that its editorial board actually thinks that Napolitano will somehow be our savior while ensconced in the Obama administration. In reality, the best thing for this state would be for Napolitano's appointment to be blocked by the U.S. Senate. Then she can remain here in Sand Land, and at the very least ameliorate with her veto the situation that she has helped to create.