Arizona Sucks

I lived in Arizona, I enjoyed it and at one time thought I wouldn’t mind going back.  But give me a break!  Doesn’t anyone remember where they came from?  Doesn’t anyone want to acknowledge that most of us are the sons and daughters of struggling immigrants, some legal some not.  Did we not, we sons and daughters of immigrants, kill, torture and isolate the indigenous peoples of this country, forcing them onto increasingly smaller plots of land and taking the arable fields for our own use?  While I recognize that  immigration in this country, and in many others, is a serious issue and that we need discussion about how to create fair, orderly, just rules for immigration, I cannot imagine how people can think that simply closing our borders is a good thing. 

First, I think of all the amazingly hardworking, big dreaming, pushing their children people I know and have met who are willing to do almost anything to remain here.  They pay taxes, hold jobs, participate in the economy and are otherwise good citizens; not all of them entirely legal as far as status.  Not to sound racist, but I do not see a whole bunch of unemployed American white men jumping at the chance to mow lawns, maintain pools, clean houses, lay asphalt, sweep streets, wash dishes… you get the picture.  The good ones, the ones who get it, do.  When unemployed, responsible people do whatever it takes.  But I see a whole lot of guys on front porches and street corners in the middle of the day.  Amazingly, I don’t know a lot of what Arizonans might call “immigrants” who are not working.  I really don’t see them on their front porches or on the street corners in the middle of the day.  I see them working hard, often at jobs nobody else wants to do.  I hear a lot of rhetoric about “immigrants” taking our jobs; what jobs are those?  Doctors, lawyers, teachers?  We have a terrible shortage of doctors in this country, lawyers… who cares, and teachers… great.  But more likely they are dry cleaning your clothes, landscaping your lawns, stuccoing your homes, etc. 

And I haven’t even gotten to the profiling issue yet.  Since the Supreme Court of the last few decades has eviscerated our rights, allowing police great latitude in the “stop and search” category, this Arizona law adds injury and indignity to insult.  Anyone who says this law does not permit or encourage profiling is kidding themselves.  How else would the police know who to choose to stop and “enquire of”? By the color of skin, by their apparent ethnicity of course.  Arizona should do well to remember that “ethnic” Americans are fast becoming the majority in many places, as we were back in the day when places like Ellis Island teemed with those “yearning to be free”.  The difference then was that most of the immigrants looked more alike, it was harder to tell all those Europeans apart. But that didn’t mean there weren’t vast cultural and ethnic differences.

Maureen Dowd, in another context, referred to this type of cultural behavor as “pulling the ladder up after you.”  It is, with a vengeance.  We will never be, thank God, a nation of white protestants.  We are the melting pot, it is part of what has made us great and interesting.  The American Dream, in capitals, is about what you can achieve here, the ordinary person, the newcomer.  Trying to pull the ladder up and close the borders is isolationist, xenophobic and foolish.  Creating orderly rational rules is good.  Hopefully those boycotting Arizona will have an effect.  I know lots of people don’t agree with me, but that’s what I love about blogging, this is my opinion. Vive la difference.

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Miss USA in Lingerie?

The Donald, Trump himself, explains how his “art” pictures of the Miss USA contestants is not objectionable like those dirty pix that got the last Miss USA thrown out on her ear.

Leave it to Trump to even further junkify the Miss USA pageant.  First, let me be clear, I am an ardent opponent of beauty pageants.  I think they personify everything feminist and out of balance between men and women and our cultural perceptions of each other in this country.  That being said, I understand that there are young women who think that strutting around in a bikini on national television is the only pathway to fame for them.  They might be right.  If they aren’t too bright or talented in a real sense, and they get past their surgical prime, they might not get famous. 

So the question arises “is getting famous a necessity for a happy, fulfilled life?”  Obviously not.  So why do so many young Americans think that getting famous for any reason is an ultimate goal, even if it is for bad, ugly reasons?  What are we missing that our teenagers simply don’t understand, even on the most superficial level (the one they best understand) the concept of internal  satisfaction?  Of being happy with your life because you are doing well, are healthy, have happy relationships, a fulfilling job, good grades, a decent place to live, a halfway nice ride, etc. etc.  I am guessing I am not the first parent in history to wonder why children don’t get what it took me a lifetime to learn.

But I digress.  So the Miss USA pageant, as tacky and distasteful as it already was, is now promoting photos of the contestants in Victoria’s Secret ad type attire.  Keep in mind that the previous Miss USA was de-crowned for tacky pix.  The most humorous news bit of the week was watching Donald Trump explain why those pictures and these pictures are just different!  His explanation was that those were “over the top” and his were very “artsy”. Wow, maybe we should nominate him to the Supreme Court!  He’s got that first amendment jive down just right. 

So what began as a demeaning display of faux femininity just progressed to way worse.  How best can we reinforce our young men’s skewed ideas of what a woman should look like?  How best can we undermine our young women and encourage anorexia, bulemia and bionic boobs?  How can we create a set of expectations for our young people that ensures they will never be satisfied either with their un-famous lives or with each other? Just ask Trump.

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Elena Kagan and Anti Semitism On the Rise

Elena Kagan is nominated to the Supreme Court and anti-semitism rears its ugly head in American. Constitutional and intellectual considerations are less important than the religious makeup of the Court.

In the last few days I have read more anti-semitic trash than I can wrap my head around.  Everywhere I look there are articles about the fact that the appointment of Elena Kagan will, if she’s confirmed, result in a Supreme Court made up entirely of Jews and Catholics.  The first comment I heard about it was from my Rabbi several weeks ago.  I thought it was interesting and so did he.  He spoke of diversity and history, education and curiousity and the Jewish legacy of questioning and learning.  He most specifically did not speak of any idea that somehow the Court would be “skewed” or manipulated as a result of the religious makeup of the Court.  I am shocked that many of the comments I have read have been in Jewish publications! First, I should say that I am a lawyer by training and I spent most of my working life as a public defender; whose primary job, I believe, is to defend the fundamental principles contained in our beautiful constitution.  I believe deeply in the freedoms embodied there and that they comprise the essential safeguards of our society, the first and last protection from unchecked power, often kown as fascism.  Next, I believe that those who serve as jurists in our Federal Court system generally feel the same way.  Often they share different beliefs about how best to interpret the constitution which, like the Torah, should be a living document, interpreted to be relevant in the modern world.  What constitutes judicial activism is a controversy that has gone on for decades; centuries?  And that debate is a healthy one, the different views keep our system in balance.  Those who serve on the Supreme Court, I believe, are always changed by that service.  Witness the number of democratic appointees that have turned conservative and republican appointees who have turned the other way.  They should be changed.  The responsibility of those who serve on the Supreme Court is awesome in my opinion and I believe that most who serve take that responsibility very, very seriously.  The one exception currently being Clarence Thomas but I will save my opinion on that for another day.  So, what stands out most is this.  When the entire Court, for virtually all of its history until the last decade, was white, male, protestants, nobody complained.  There was no talk of diversity, or the lack thereof.  There was no talk of a “skewed” Court because of the religious, gender or racial makeup of the Court. So instead of one protestant there will be none. Why do so many care so much all of a sudden about the religious composition of the Court?  Look around, our country is becoming more and more “diverse” every day.  My son’s friends are Hindu and Muslim, Jew and Protestant, with the Protestants in the minority.  The Court should be comprised of the best and brightest, the most thoughtful and the most caring.  The Court should be comprised of those who, like Elena Kagan, have dedicated their lives to learning the law, living the law, teaching the law and loving the law.  Why do so many care so much?  Because racism and anti-semitism are all too alive and well here in the land of the free.  It may be better but we are not done yet.

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