Out of the Desert

You learn from experience, because you could get killed out there. Here in Hollywood you learn that when you’re off to the grocery store for granola and paper towels or whatever, well, you’d better give anything that looks like a rental car a wide berth. It’s probably a family of tourists from Iowa with the maps to the stars’ homes unfolded over everything, and the sullen kids in the backseat, and they’re likely to decide, quite suddenly, that they have to cut across three lanes and make a left against traffic in front of you if they’re going to get to the house where Michael Jackson died or where OJ Simpson might have murdered his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, or not. Maybe they’re just looking for Paris Hilton. Who knows? But everyone stands on their brakes and then sighs. It happens all the time.

And in the late spring through early autumn it’s the Zoners – those would be the folks that drive in from Arizona. If you see an Arizona license plate you hang back by ten or twenty car-lengths. These people are strange – desperate for something that’s not the shimmering empty summer desert than goes on for a thousand miles of nothing all around them. They head for the beach, or slowly cruise Hollywood Boulevard or the Sunset Strip, over and over and over, so long as it’s not some dusty suburb of dead-flat Phoenix or Tucson baking in the one-hundred-twenty-degree heat, day after day. Yeah, yeah – it’s a dry heat – but when you just cannot go outside, even at midnight, and have to just sit in the air-conditioned small room all day, it does something to you. You do have to get out of town – and it’s a day’s drive to LA and Hollywood and the beaches. They arrive here frustrated and looking for action, or for meaning – or for something. They too drive dangerously. It’s that pent-up existential anger thing.

And maybe that explains this:

Can Arizona’s controversial new immigration law – allowing the police to stop people and demand proof of citizenship – pass constitutional muster?

To many scholars, the answer is, simply, no.

“The law is clearly pre-empted by federal law under Supreme Court precedents,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, an expert in constitutional law and the dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law.

Since the 1800s, the federal government has been in charge of controlling immigration and enforcing those laws, Professor Chemerinsky noted. And that is why, he argued, Arizona’s effort to enforce its own laws is destined to fail.

But they did it anyway. It’s a matter of whether federal law should trump state action and that was decided long ago – we had that Civil War, as you may recall. But they are frustrated. And people are somewhat sympathetic – the LA Times ran this editorial:

Thank you, Arizona. Despite our strong condemnation of a new law that will likely promote racial profiling of Latinos in your state, we must acknowledge that you have accomplished what many others – including senators, committed activists and a willing president – have failed to achieve. You put immigration back on the national agenda.

That is as nice as we get to Zoners out here, but conservative commentator Rich Lowry says there is just no reason to call the law racist and totalitarian:

Arizonians needn’t, and shouldn’t, tolerate this. Critics accuse the state of unconstitutionally devising its own immigration policy. If it had unilaterally declared its border open to the poor, violence-plagued country to its south, this charge might have had force. Instead, Arizona seeks only to enforce the nominal immigration policy of the United States. Perhaps the federal government should try it sometime.

They were frustrated that the federal government hasn’t done its job, so since George Bush had been all path-to-citizenship and pro-amnesty and done next to nothing, and Obama hasn’t had the military mass on the border with tanks and drones and Special Forces dudes, and just shut it down, they decided to do something themselves, even if it’s mandating that the police now stop anyone who looks vaguely brown and demand their papers, just like the Nazis in every war movie ever made.

Sure, it’s nasty – and the boycotts of Arizona are coming soon, and massive protests are already underway, and roughly thirty percent of their population worried that they’ll be pulled over and are certainly feeling unwelcome, even if they are citizens (if they can prove it each time they’re stopped). But there’s Hot Air’s Allahpundit with the theory these folks are being very, very clever – “Arizona’s law was intended, more or less, as a bargaining chip that national Republicans can use to demand stricter border enforcement.” Ah, they were just being strategically provocative!

Or maybe it was the desert heat. Phoenix in the summer can fry your brain, and it’s only April.

Or maybe Zoners are really French.

Ian Moss, a JD candidate at George Washington University, floats that idea in this Huffington Post item. And it’s only partially tongue-in-cheek:

While the names of both their capitals do begin with the letter “P”, Arizona and France have revealed that they have much more in common – intolerant haters making law. Haters abound, and have never met a boarder they couldn’t cross, which is why kindred spirits are currently peddling intolerance and Haterism in France and Arizona.

Haterism? That’s a new term. But it fits in both cases:

Intolerance, fear, and general ignorance must not be underestimated as central forces driving both the French government’s push to outlaw the wearing of burqas in public, and Arizona’s new state immigration law (SB 1070) requiring state law enforcement officers to investigate an individual’s immigration status if they reasonably suspect that the person is in the country illegally. When xenophobia and willful ignorance combine forces they produce Haterism.

And he covers the constitutional issue:

Speaking at the signing ceremony for Arizona’s new law, Governor Janice Brewer was right when she said, “decades of federal inaction and misguided policy” concerning immigration have created a “dangerous and unacceptable situation.” However, the “dangerous and unacceptable situation” that has been created is the one in which states like Arizona recklessly enact discriminatory legislation and attempt to usurp federal power. State law enforcement agencies along with other state organs will now be required by state law to enforce federal immigration laws.

You cannot do that. Attempts by states to usurp federal power lead nowhere that’s good, unless you really don’t want a United States – which is why the northern states were called The Union. They won, by the way.

But Moss is more interested in the odd details of Arizona SB 1070:

Among them, it creates a private right of action against the state and its organs for failure to fully comply with the law. It also indemnifies law enforcement officers against lawsuits arising out of their enforcement of the law, unless they’ve acted in bad faith – like if they engaged in racial profiling.

So 1) individual citizens can sue the police or the state itself if they think they’re not stopping and demanding papers often enough, and 2) if the police hassle the wrong people, like long-time citizens, the police cannot be sued any way at any time by anyone who feels wronged, as those who feel wronged have no rights in the matter.

That is odd:

Apparently unaware that the law she just signed will inherently create the conditions for abuses like racial profiling, the Governor said that she will “NOT” tolerate racial profiling in Arizona. To demonstrate her anti-racial profiling bona fides, Gov. Brewer has ordered the creation of a training course to instruct officers how to avoid racial profiling when enforcing the new law. Though, it really doesn’t matter if you believe yourself to have been the victim of abusive police practices related to the law’s enforcement. This is because the new law basically precludes you from seeking any real relief from state courts. Your best option is just don’t be Brown.

And there’s this:

Further, the law makes it a criminal misdemeanor (and in certain cases a felony) for a person to fail to carry their immigration documents while on any public or private land in the state. A bit of advice: If you happen to visit Arizona, make sure not to misplace your wallet or have your backpack stolen.

Moreover, it is now a misdemeanor for anyone in an automobile to pick up another person for the purpose of hiring them to do work in a different location. Presumably, this would apply to the following situation: You’re driving down the street a few blocks from home, see your teenage neighbor whom you sometimes pay to do work around your yard, you remember that your grass is currently out of control, you pull over to the side of the street and pick up the neighbor, you then drive her home to get her lawnmower so she can mow your yard. Oh, if the teenage neighbor gets in the car, she too has committed a misdemeanor under the new law.

It seems one ought to be careful when crafting new laws, and Moss notes this law specifically targets Hispanic immigrants – the legal ones – and citizens of Hispanic heritage:

In fact, Arizona’s entire Hispanic community, roughly two million people, will now be under suspicion. The hope appears to be that undocumented immigrants will be so afraid that they will flee from Arizona – likely to another state. This is pure intimidation and does nothing to repair our immigration system. As President Obama said, Arizona’s law “undermines basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”

But pure intimidation that does nothing to repair the immigration system is where – horror of horrors – the Zoners end up being all French:

The French government appears ready to move ahead with a law to ban the wearing of burqas and niqabs in public places. Restrictions on religious dress are already in place in France, but the burqa ban would certainly be the most far reaching. Just as the constitutionality of Arizona’s new law will be challenged, so will France’s ban on burqas.

Yep, from the New York Times:

France’s top legal advisory body, the Council of State, warned Tuesday that a ban on the full facial veil would most likely be unconstitutional and contravene the European Convention on Human Rights. “There appears to the Council of State to be no legally unchallengeable justification,” the report said in addressing a request by Prime Minister François Fillon, above, about how best to carry out a ban. President Nicolas Sarkozy has said the full facial veil has no place in French society.

Sarkozy won’t back down – he’s not that type (he’s short, like that Napoleon fellow) – and Moss explains:

French officials have offered several justifications for the burqa ban. Chief among them are, public security, liberating women from oppression, and preserving France’s identity as a secular society. In its review of the proposed law, the Council of State significantly undermined the public security justification by saying that, “Public safety cannot be a basis for a general ban on only the full veil, since no specific inconvenience is associated with it as such. A limited ban on the full veil would be fragile in terms of the principle of non-discrimination, and probably difficult to impose.”

They did however find that public security would be implicated under certain circumstances like airport security or the issuance of a photo identification.

But Moss adds this:

While gender equality is a cause that all nations should zealously pursue, the burqa ban may very well produce the opposite effect. Instead of liberating those women compelled to wear the burqa, the ban may instead effectively confine them to their homes. Without full civic participation, efforts to foster an environment that empowers women to freely make their own choices will fail.

Well, in Arizona all Hispanics may now feel it’s best to stay home – or join the bored white kids and drive to Los Angeles. There is a parallel.

Of course in France the idea is to get al religion out of governmental matters. Perhaps they listened to Thomas Jefferson when he was in Paris long ago, and took him seriously, even if we no longer do. But Moss sees a problem:

Understandably, France prides itself on having a secular state. This is truly admirable. But, the Council of State also rejected secularism as a justification for the burqa ban, stating that secularism relates only to the relationship between the government’s role in providing public services and religion. It is worth noting that secularism can cut both ways. It could also be interpreted to prohibit the government from interfering with religious practices through the imposition of laws that curtail religious freedoms in the same manner as the proposed burqa ban.

And what Moss calls Haterism rolls on:

Soon, a similar ban on burqas will likely be enacted in Belgium. The Belgian law will impose a fine of up to 25 euros or seven days in jail for wearing a burqa in public. Additionally, late last year, Switzerland passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting the construction of minarets. The Swiss case is arguably the most egregious example of codifying intolerance. At the time the law went into effect, there were only four minarets in the entire country. The message was clear though, “we really don’t want you here.”

Arizona, in effect, is saying the same thing to their Hispanic citizens:

The unfortunate result of Arizona’s new law and similar manifestations of intolerance in France, Belgium, and Switzerland will be further alienation and stigmatization of immigrant communities.

As for Haterism itself, Moss refers to this June 2009 item from Culture Wharf:

Haters. It’s the next big thing the world needs to address. Haters stop millions of would be success stories from happening, and hold back hundreds of thousands of already successful people from attaining even greater heights of success. Haters (probably) cost the economy billions of (theoretical) dollars in lost productivity every year. Obama’s biggest obstacle? Not the economy, not unemployment, not terrorism… you guessed it. Haters. Haterism is a disease that costs society dearly.

People often ask me, how does the Culture Wharf know about all the important socio-cultural flashpoints before they hit the mainstream pages of Newsweek? It’s easy. Watch the black people. Hip-hop for years has been dominated by the trope of “rising above the haters,” a major reason for the ostentatious displays of wealth so favored by the rap community. The reason the theme has been so extensively explored in this genre should be obvious, whenever any drug dealer and/or rapper climbed out of the poverty of his surroundings there was jealousy, anger, hate.

It’s all about displaying hate for another individual’s success as a result of one’s own shortcomings, and there just a lot of that going around:

Haterism is quickly approaching the point where it becomes so obviously dysfunctional that society will have no choice but to wake up and address it. Obama’s presidency is going to put haterism front and center. In fact it already has. When Rush Limbaugh said he hopes Obama fails, classic haterism, and you’d better believe there’s more where that came from. Obama will face this kind of hate in everything he does in this presidency, and while it will come from many different sources each of them will be speaking from the same place of weakness and fear. Weakness and fear are where haterism has its roots.

Haterism is part of a larger family of psychological processes known as projection… Haterism isn’t exactly projection, but it works pretty much the same way. In haterism the unacceptable quality is the motivation, drive, or success of another person. The hater has unconsciously rejected these qualities in himself in order to explain his situation to himself.

In our black communities the hater blames society, white people, public schools, big corporations and any third party they can think of, thus projecting their own limitations outward (not that there aren’t plenty of problems facing black communities, but the distinction here is in taking responsibility). Here’s where haterism really begins: once you’ve psychologically projected these limitations outward, anyone who transcends them is violating your sense of what is possible. These success stories challenge your reality, and very few people respond to that challenge with an open mind. The knee jerk reaction to any violation of your reality is to reject it.

And now it’s the entitled white males – and their women – who feel that. You know – the Republican Party – and the folks in Arizona. It’s all about projecting your own limitations outward, instead of driving to LA and alarming the locals.

Or maybe it is just the heat. Evan McMorris-Santoro and Jillian Rayfield offer this item on just how strange things have become in Arizona:

June 29, 2009: From the annals of desperate measures, the state considers a plan to sell the House and Senate buildings to raise some quick cash. Under the proposed plan, the House and Senate would lease the buildings over a number of years before buying them back again. Though not actually a piece of legislation, the state’s plan was so bizarre that it prompted The Daily Show team to run a segment on it.

September 30, 2009: The state passes a law allowing those with concealed weapons permits to bring their guns into bars and restaurants. The law stipulates that any establishment with a sign prohibiting guns is off-limits for those packing heat, though it also provides plenty of loopholes to keep toters from having to disarm too frequently.

February 9, 2010: State Rep. Frank Antenori (R) introduces legislation, co-sponsored by twelve other House members, to cut off welfare funding to any recipients who spend money on cigarettes, alcohol, cable TV packages, a car, or anything else he deems of “the niceties of life.” Antenori said of his proposed legislation: “If you’re basically hungry and can’t afford to feed yourself, then I don’t think you should be able to afford to buy cigarettes.”

March, 2010: Arizona votes to repeal KidsCare, a health insurance program for poor children. Not only did the repeal cut health care for about 38,000 kids, but it also may have violated a provision in the recently passed health care reform bill that requires states to maintain its previous standards of eligibility. The move thus jeopardizes the billions of dollars the state receives in Medicaid funding from the federal government.

April 7, 2010: Arizona’s Attorney General, Democrat Terry Goddard, refused to join the lawsuit to repeal health care reform that was brought by a number of other state AGs, so Gov. Jan Brewer is on the lookout for other ways. The conservative-backed Goldwater Institute helpfully offered to bring the suit, and Brewer is reportedly considering the offer.

April 15, 2010: The Arizona House approves a bill to strengthen abortion requirements, following its passage in the Senate. If signed into law by the governor, the bill would require abortion providers to report on the individual abortions they perform. Though the names of the women would remain confidential, the bill would also require statistics on how many times courts bypassed parental consent laws, among other things.

April 20, 2010: A bill that would require presidential candidates to prove their citizenship before appearing on Arizona’s ballot wins initial approval from the Arizona state House. The bill still needs final approval from the House and state Senate before it gets sent to Gov. Brewer, but if it passes it would require President Obama to present his birth certificate if he hopes to get on the Arizona ballot in 2012.

That last one is interesting. Obama can run for president again, but he may be unable to run in Arizona. Cool. But it must be the heat. Next they’ll want to coin their own money have their own foreign policy and make treaties and wage war and all the rest. Yep, we call them Zoners.

But the illegal immigration issue is thorny. We need the labor, illegal though it may be, but we don’t need the burden on social services, but they do pay taxes, even if sometimes only sales and excise taxes, but they broke the law to come here so we really shouldn’t give them a way to say sorry and work their way to citizenship, but it would be cool if they did, and we have a right to control or borders, but it’s damned hard. And they’re almost all good people, trying to do what they can for their families and build a useful and successful life – the kind of people we say we are – but they broke the law. And they look funny and talk funny, as do many of our actual native-born citizens:

PHOENIX – A Valley man says he was pulled over Wednesday morning and questioned when he arrived at a weigh station for his commercial vehicle along Val Vista and the 202 freeway.

Abdon, who did not want to use his last name, says he provided several key pieces of information but what he provided apparently was not what was needed. He tells 3TV, “I don’t think it’s correct, if I have to take my birth certificate with me all the time.” …

Abdon was told he did not have enough paperwork on him when he pulled into a weigh station to have his commercial truck checked. He provided his commercial driver’s license and a social security number but ended up handcuffed.

Hey man, get the hell out of the desert. Bad things happen there. Everyone knows that. They end up out here.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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2 Responses to Out of the Desert

  1. Pingback: Haterism Part 2 « The Culture Wharf

  2. Cosette says:

    Wow.

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