Last Wednesday I was thrilled to hear that US District judge Susan Bolton gutted many of the most controversial points of Arizona’s SB 1070, a law that has been accused of encouraging the practice of racial profiling, specially against Mexican-born immigrants who happen to live in the area.
Though many Tea Partiers and nativists have denounced the ruling (according to recent news reports, Judge Bolton has received racist death threats due to her decision), I could not agree more with her. The law – which forces law enforcers to check the status of any person they might suspect is in the country illegally, among other things – is just plain wrong. Also, the controversy has generated a lot of bigotry.
Last week, I went to Upper East Side’s Americas Society to cover a show by California-based Los Cenzontles, a band that plays traditional Mexican music (the review is coming out soon on allaboutjazz.com). During their show, bandleader Eugene Rodriguez told the audience that they had recently played in Arizona. He said that as their band performed, a truck repeatedly circled the block with a sign that said that they were ‘not welcome’ in the Grand Canyon state. His response was to write “Estado de Verguenza” (State of Shame) a corrido that openly criticizes Gov. Brewer and her ilk with Spanish-language lyrics that say “Arizona/state of shame/ you have a fame of racism and hatred.”
Mind you, this is a band whose members are either US-born citizens or legal aliens (Rodriguez is a third-generation Mexican-American). Rodriguez himself was born in California, and only came to learn his ancestors’ language when he was in college. If an American citizen gets this kind of treatment, could you imagine how bad things would get if the law got into full effect?
You might argue that most Americans support the Arizona law. But many here were against civil rights not too long ago – gays in America still cannot get married in a civil ceremony in most states thanks to voter-supported initiatives. And remember that in the deep south just half a century ago most voters were for segregation. So sometimes is not about the will of the people – it’s about what is right.
And if the majority of the population still wants to support this grotesque law, well… I just have to say that you are dead, dead wrong.