Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.
“Chihuahua!” exclaimed Doroteo Arango. “That Arizona anti-immigrant law is going to put Hispanics like me in the police crosshairs! My civil rights won’t be worth two pesos.”
“Anti-immigrant?” asked his friend Howard Bashford. “I thought it was aimed at illegal immigrants.”
“It’s aimed at Hispanics, man,” said Arango, “primarily those of Mexican descent. People who look like me, dress like me, get their hair cut like me and speak English with an accent like mine.”
“But these immigrants, they are breaking the law, aren’t they?” asked Bashford.
“If you want to get technical about it, but as we like to say, ‘no human is illegal,’” replied Arango.
“But aren’t there thousands of these ‘technical lawbreakers’ in Arizona?” Bashford said.
“Yeah, man,” said Arango truculently, “thousands of law-breakers who look like me, dress like me, get their hair cut like me and speak English with an accent like mine. This means cops are going to be stopping people who look like me, dress like me, get their hair cut like me and speak English with an accent like mine to check our immigration status.”
“It’s one thing to have affirmative action laws, which discriminate to our benefit,” Arango continued, “but it’s another thing altogether when a discriminatory law tramples our civil rights.”
“Let me get this straight,” said Bashford. “The Arizona law is discriminatory because the criminals breaking U.S. Immigration law look like you, dress like you, get their hair cut like you and speak English with an accent like yours?”
“Well, right,” said Arango.
“But if they weren’t overrunning the state, there wouldn’t be this draconian ‘anti-immigrant’ law, and your civil rights would be secure,” Bashford said.
“I … I guess so,” said Arango, “but you have to understand: We’re still upset because the United States took most of Arizona from Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and ripped off the rest for 33 cents an acre in the Gadsden Purchase. They stole our land!”
“We’re still upset? They stole our land?” said Bashford. “But, you’re not a Mexican; you’re an American.”
“Viva la raza!” shouted Arango.
Years ago in Sacramento a reporter at a news conference asked a no-nonsense police department spokesman why the cops arrested more black people than white people.
The spokesman answered tartly, “If we are arresting more black people than white people it’s because black people are committing more crimes.”
The questioner gulped and shut up, and that was the end of the “issue.”
Perhaps some public official in Arizona will apply the same kind of clarity to the question of ethnic profiling in the enforcement of immigration law. We know ethnic profiling does happen, in contravention of official policy. But let us suggest that civil rights anger ought to be directed at the transgressors rather than the state.
Obama’s mediocrity: During the ’08 presidential election, pundits invoked the memory of the late Sen. Roman Hruska, R-Neb., when criticizing the vice presidential nomination of Sarah Palin.
Hruska, in the debate over President Richard Nixon’s dud of a Supreme Court nominee, G. Harrold Carswell, famously said, “So what if he is mediocre? There are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they?”
In 2008 commentators suggested Palin, connecting as she did with average Americans, was another mediocrity. She wasn’t, of course, but let’s not argue that point here. Instead, let us examine President Barack Obama’s assertion that sensitivity to “ordinary Americans” will be a prime criterion for his next Supreme Court pick.
When the president asserts this link to ordinary Americans, he reveals he wants a nominee long on paternalistic concern for certain protected classes and short on commitment to the Constitution. Thus we will get a nominee like 9th Circuit designee Goodwin Liu, who is pathologically devoted to “welfare rights,” to the exclusion of both logic and law.
We’d argue Obama’s “sensitivity” will produce a nominee to whom emotion is more important than constitutional precedent. In short, the president will pick a scholarly ideologue, a choice as intellectually mediocre as the Carswell nomination of 40 years ago.
Wednesday will be May 5, celebrated in Cinco de Mayo parties in the United States as a great booze fest. Let it be noted that in Mexico itself, the date of the 1862 Battle of Puebla in which Mexicans defeated French forces is a solemn observation.
As a Jalisco shop keeper once told us, “It is not for parties. Many people died.”