Terror becomes Arizona policy

"All these people that come over, they come with disease. There's no control. No health checks or anything. They check fruits and vegetables. How come they don't check people? No one talks about that!

"They're all dirty."

If Arpaio's rationales sound more cracker than constitutional, his popularity for such brazen candor thrust him into the upcoming governor's race as a leading Republican candidate until his May 3 withdrawal from consideration. His popularity reflects, in fact, grassroots support not only for his tactics but for Senate Bill 1070 — support that ranges as high as 70 percent in some national polls.

Even without 1070, the sheriff's reign of terror apparently drove Mexicans out of Arizona. On May 3, CBS Evening News reported that of an estimated half-million undocumented residents in Arizona, more than 100,000 had moved to other states.

Initially, 1070 even caught the eye of President Barack Obama, who labeled it a misguided effort to address border issues that the federal government had ducked. But his promise to move immigration to the top of his agenda faded three days later. The president was soon telling journalists that with all of the political capital expended on health care, now was not the time to tackle such an incendiary issue.

Resorting to Orwellian syntax, the president abused decency in declaring that immigration could not be addressed before midterm elections "just for the sake of politics."

America's first black president's dodging racial profiling goes well beyond irony.

But immigration politics in Arizona and throughout America are a sardonic riddle.

Janet Napolitano made her bones representing Anita Hill in the Congressional hearings into the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court Justice. More than most, she grasped the issues of dignity and constitutional safeguards. Yet she was Arizona attorney general, the state's top law enforcement officer, when the DPS ran roughshod over minorities. And later she would embrace Arpaio, defend the brutalization of his prisoners, and push the federal government to train the sheriff in the roundups of Mexicans (see "Nope," November 27, 2008).

With the profiles in courage demonstrated by Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama, it makes sense that Kobach, the real author of Senate Bill 1070, is a Christian missionary.

Under these circumstances, where does one find hope?

Personally, I find the words of C.S. Lewis to be more than a straw.

During World War II, he famously broadcast a series of talks that were published in Mere Christianity.

Perhaps Kobach has forgotten these thoughts from Lewis. And it would seem that Obama and Napolitano never read them at all:

"I said in a previous chapter that chastity was the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. But I am not sure I was right," wrote Lewis. "I believe there is even one more unpopular. It is laid down in the Christian rule, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'

"Because in Christian morals 'thy neighbor' includes 'thy enemy,' and so we come up against this terrible duty of forgiving our enemies.

"Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, as we had during the war. And then to mention the subject at all is to be greeted with howls of anger. It is not that people think this too high and difficult a virtue: it is that they think it is hateful and contemptible."

Hispanics are not our enemy.

We just treat them that way.

It is not the Mexican who needs to be forgiven.

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