What's the Matter with Arizona?

by Michael Sean Winters

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My colleagues Demetria Martinez and Mario Garcia have done a fine job calling attention to the racist and immoral anti-immigrant legislation currently awaiting the signature of the state of Arizona. I second all that they have written about this horrid act.

But, that is not the only egregious and racist act of the Arizona legislature in recent days. The Arizona House of Representatives has passed a law requiring future candidates for President to present a copy of their birth certificates to the Secretary of State before they have their names put on the ballot. The law is the outgrowth of the “birther” movement, those people who question whether or not President Barack Obama was born in the United States and, therefore, eligible for election as President.

The other night, Anderson Cooper interviewed one of the Arizona legislators who voted for the bill. He denied he was a “birther” and said the bill was not aimed at President Obama. Funny, though, how these questions never came up when George W. Bush was president or Bill Clinton. The man said he had not “personally investigated” the matter of President Obama’s birth certificate but that there was sufficient controversy around the subject to warrant the new law. Cooper was having none of it. He asked the legislator if enough people raised a controversy about the moon being made of cheese, would he need to “personally investigate” the matter before concluding the people were mad?

The night before, J.D Heyworth, who is running against John McCain to be the Republican nominee for the Senate seat McCain now holds, appeared on Chris Matthews’ “Hardball.” He, too, denied being a birther but then went on to say that the White House could end the controversy by producing the necessary documentation. Sorry, sir, they have produced the documentation. You, too, are a birther.

Most frighteningly of all, the recent New York Times poll of Tea Party supporters indicated that some 60 percent either were convinced Obama was not a native-born American or were unsure about the matter. This is not political opposition. These people are not saying they disagree with Obama. They are saying he is illegitimate. And, the reason for this assertion is undoubtedly racist, that he is “not like us.” In this, they are correct. The President is not like them, thank God. He has a brain.

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