Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Arizona


Dear Arizona,

Get well soon!

Love,

The Rest of the Country



I know this is our store blog and we're supposed to talk about books and things related to books. But I just wanted to take a sec and talk about the reactions to the lunacy running rampant in Arizona.

The picture above is of one of my favorite bands of all time, Hall and Oates. Little did I know that, in addition to being in possession of the world's most serious mustache and making the best music video of all time, the smooth duo are real American patriots. Yesterday, they cancelled their concert in Arizona, proving that participation in American Idol does not preclude political responsibility. If I were in charge of these things, I would declare June 7th Hall and Oates Day. Hats off to you, John and Darryl. You're making Mama proud.

On a more serious note, reading Roger Ebert's reaction to the mural incident marked the first time a blog post has ever moved me to tears. In his beautiful essay, he imagines what it must be like for the children depicted in the painting whose skin was lightened after people yelled racial slurs while driving by their school AT THE BEHEST OF AN ELECTED OFFICIAL. Ebert then reflects on the way his understanding of different people grew and changed throughout the years. If I were in charge of these things, I would give Ebert a humanitarian award for awesomeness.

Ebert sums up my understanding of the situation at the end of his essay: "They simply hate. Why would they do that?"

2 comments:

Kym said...

That was awesome, Genie!! Thanks for sharing it. Roger Ebert rocks.

Evan said...

As someone who grew up in Arizona and lived there on-and-off until about 10 months ago, I have to say that the situation there now is really the boiling over of long-simmering issues, sparked largely by the tanking of the economy (which hit AZ very very hard). Essentially, for as long as Arizona has had an economy, it has relied on immigrant labor. The cheap housing/food/etc. came directly off the backs of people who couldn't ask for a half-decent wage but who took what they could get because it was more than they could get at home. Most immigrants pay taxes. They do their best to fit in and set up good lives for their children. But despite immigrant labor making up such a huge part of the workforce, the Arizona legislator has never been brave enough to make the proper systems for it or to prosecute companies that don't pay their workers a decent wage (why prosecute wealthy companies, who are knowingly abusing their people, when you can prosecute "illegal" people with no voice?).

The housing bubble, which has been Arizona's bread and butter for the past two decades, burst. And now a lot of white Americans are out of work. And rather than saying, "Perhaps we shouldn't have built our entire economy on an untenable structure," they turn to fear, and politicians live off of fear whenever they can. It's the immigrants, of course, who took all the jobs. So that makes it okay to hate immigrants. And most immigrants are brown. And the President's black, and the economy is bad, and obviously the president runs the economy (you know, despite the fact that he has very little actual influence on it).

It's fear. It's stupidity. It's a manifestation of the politics that plays off of people's insecurities.

I don't know how I feel about the boycotting of Arizona. Most people there are not assholes. Most people do just want to live and work and be happy together. And I know from experience that the voting of the state very rarely reflects the feelings of the majority of the state.

That being said, I wouldn't mind seeing Steve Blair get chained to that mural in the heat of the summer sun.