BETTERS PAPERS PLEASE: Slogans please!

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012

The war of liberal aggression: In Arizona’s famous state law, SB 1070, a good or a bad idea? How bad?

Long ago, we pretty much stopped trying to figure that out. Discussion of the famous law was heavily shaped by slogan and narrative. It was hard to find real reporting about what its provisions entailed.

Do you understand the three provisions shot down by the Supreme Court this week? In many ways, we don't. Consider what we read in the New York Times Tuesday morning, after the court's decision.

Do you understand the discarded provisions? With their usual thunder and roar, the editors started their rumination like this:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (6/26/12): The Supreme Court rejected the foundation of Arizona’s cold-blooded immigration law and the indefensible notion the state can have its own foreign policy. In a 5-to-3 decision, the court blocked three of four provisions in the statute and gave a significant, though incomplete, victory to the federal government.

The majority opinion, by Justice Anthony Kennedy, knocked out sections of Arizona’s 2010 statute, S.B. 1070, that made it a crime not to carry immigration papers in the state and a crime for an undocumented immigrant to apply for a job or to work there. The court also struck down a section that gave state officers power to arrest without a warrant anyone that they had “probable cause to believe” had committed a crime that could make that person subject to deportation.
Do you understand the highlighted passage? Frankly, we do not. If a police officer has “probable cause to believe” that someone has committed a crime, shouldn’t he arrest that person, whether the crime would make the person subject to deportation or not?

There may be an answer to our question—but no, we don’t understand that passage. (We’ll guess you don’t either.) That said, the passage served its obvious purpose. It let the editors thunder and roar about this “cold-blooded” law.

In the two years which have passed since SB 1070 came center stage, our public discussion of the law have been built around heat more than light. Explanations are few and far between; slogans and thunder are common. This helps explain the cluelessness which virtually defines the public discussion. This very week, Eugene Robinson still thought (or said) that officers are required to check the immigration status of everyone they stop under terms of this cold-blooded law. Meanwhile, his readers seemed to have no idea what “papers” we are talking about when we thunder about this terrible “papers please” law. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/28/12.)

Also in the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker was still “imagining” what will happen when the upheld provision goes into effect—and what she “imagined” wasn’t good. It’s amazing how often the pundit corps turns to “imagination” (instead of reporting) as the way to critique this vile law.

Question: Do you understand the provision of SB 1070 which the court upheld? Do you understand what will happen under terms of that provision if a person is asked for his “papers” and he can’t provide them? Like you, we’re not real clear on that point. Here’s how the editors handled that central question:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: The one section the court did uphold requires officers to check the immigration status of anyone they stop, arrest or detain on some other legitimate basis—if the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally. Justice Kennedy wrote that until that provision is put into operation, the court could not assume that it would be applied in ways that conflict with federal law.

But the intent of the law is to harass Hispanics and to drive out immigrants by “attrition through enforcement.” That section of the law, as it goes into effect, will promote racial profiling of all Hispanics, including American citizens and legal residents. By mandating verification of immigration status even when it is unlikely the federal government will deport the individual, the provision sows fear that any contact with law enforcement—even for a jaywalking ticket—could result in detention.
Unlike Robinson, the editors explained that an officer must have “reasonable suspicion” that the person who has been stopped is in the country illegally before he can ask for his “papers.” But how would “reasonable suspicion” be established? The editors didn’t say.

Beyond that, what sorts of “papers” must be provided in response to the “papers please” cry? They didn’t tell you that either. Instead, the editors proceeded directly to the claim that this provision “will promote racial profiling of all Hispanics, including American citizens.” That’s always possible, of course—any law in any state can be abused by bad police work. But the editors don’t tell you what Police Chief Garcia is doing to avoid such outcomes in Phoenix (and yes, the chief’s last name is “Garcia”). Nor do they tell you that the demand for “papers” is satisfied, under explicit terms of this law, by the production of a driver’s license—the same sort of “papers” a citizen has to present in all our traffic stops.

One last question: Under terms of this provision, what happens to a person who can’t produce adequate “papers?” We are rather unclear on that point; we’ll guess you may be too. On Monday and Tuesday nights, Lawrence O’Donnell kept insisting that this was actually a rather modest provision—that such immigration checks are already common in the case of such stops. Indeed, that seems to be what the New York Times said on Tuesday, in its front-page news report:
LIPTAK (6/26/12): In upholding the requirement that the police ask to see people's papers, the court emphasized that state law enforcement officials already possessed the discretion to ask about immigration status. The Arizona law merely makes that inquiry mandatory if the police have reason to suspect a person is an illegal immigrant.
Say what? Police officers already possess the discretion to ask? By the way: Under terms of the upheld provision, what happens if the officer asks and doesn’t get a convincing answer?

We’ll guess that you have no idea. Very few people do.

This provision of the law might end up being abused, of course—any law can be. We know that because such abuse of legal practice and constitutional rights is going on all over New York City, where these outraged editors live. In fairness, the editors have complained about “stop-and-frisk” for some time, going back at least one year before this detailed editorial in September 2011; in three recent editorials, the editors have even used the term “abusive” to describe the program’s practices. But on the whole, the editors are quite genteel when discussing this hometown program—a lawless program which is actually happening every day of the week. (No one has to “imagine” what might occur in the future.) Their gorge tends to rise when they picture what might occur in far-off Arizona, or when they think about Alabama. R- and B-bombs are often brought out to describe the folk in those red southern states; X- and N-bombs are sometimes dropped too. But as best we can tell, those terms have never been used about stop-and-frisk, where the abuses don’t have to be imagined.

R-bombs come out for those people down there. Up here in the north, all is civil.

Do you understand SB 1070? Can you explain what will happen when the upheld provision goes into effect? We’ll guess you cannot, but that’s because our parody of a public discussion has actually been a political war—a tiny small bit of a second war of northern aggression! People in Alabama and Arizona are denounced in the most aggressive terms; so are the “bigots” in North Carolina who oppose same-sex marriage. But the very genteel billionaire mayor is treated in a more suitable fashion. He throws extremely good parties, you see. Who cares what he does on the street?

Governor Brewer exists to be name-called. The great northern mayor does not.

Bring in the heat and send out the light! Give us the pleasure of shouting our slogans! The liberal world’s conduct is often appalling when it pretends to discuss this state law. Again, consider the “answer” Gene Robinson gave to one befuddled reader in Tuesday’s on-line discussion:
QUESTION: Imagine (and I am not talking about the song): Today right now someone demands that you have proof that you can be in the US legally. You are on your job and you have no way to prove your American citizenship right now. Geez whiz you never got a passport or is it at the bank in the safety deposit box? Where is your birth certificate? At home—well that's no help. Off to the pokey with you and no paperwork.

ROBINSON: If Gov. Brewer treats everyone in Arizona this way, she gets tossed out of office quicker than you can say "Sheriff Joe." If she only treats Latinos this way, the remaining fragment of her mean-spirited, un-American law gets tossed out by the courts.
That “answer” was simply astounding. Robinson’s reader was misinformed—and Robinson chose to extend his confusion. How would a responsible journalist have answered that question? He would have told that reader that a citizen need only present his driver’s license to satisfy the explicit terms of the provision in question, the one provision the court upheld. Instead, Robinson tickled the reader’s privates, helping him picture Governor Brewer locking up a whole state of Hispanics.

That is very bad behavior. It’s the way of the pseudo-lib world.

As we close, we’ll suggest you watch this tape to see some genuine world-class clowning. On Wednesday night, Ed Schultz invited Rep. Luis Gutierrez to play the fool about SB 1070.

Gutierrez played the cosmic fool. Here’s how Big Ed introduced the insulting, brain-dead segment:
SCHULTZ (6/27/12): You know, sometimes the best way to point out a serious problem is to just make fun of it. This morning, Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez used pictures of pop icons and basketball stars to rail against Arizona`s immigration policy.

Here’s his "Guess the immigrant" quiz.
Big Ed played tape of Gutierrez playing the fool on the floor of the House. Then, he let him play the fool right there in the studio.

Go ahead—watch the tape! You’re looking at dumb, ugly clowning. (In part, this clowning is aimed at Chief Garcia.) That said, we pseudos got our narrative tweaked! We were treated to the joy of sect.

Could SB 1070 lead to abuses? Yes, it actually could. But abuses have been going on all over New York for years—and Big Ed works right in that city.

Despite that fact, Big Ed had never mentioned stop-and-frisk until one night last week. Al Sharpton had led a march; this clued Ed to the problem! He brought Professor Peterson on to discuss the death of Rodney King. But first, he talked about stop-and frisk, about which he had no idea.

“Is this racial profiling?” he worriedly asked. We let the analysts laugh:
SCHULTZ (6/18/12): I want to start with New York’s stop and frisk law and that protest yesterday. Is this racial profiling? Is this necessary for law enforcement to do this in New York?

PETERSON: It is institutionalized racial profiling. I don’t believe it’s necessary to do this in the city of New York or the city of Philadelphia or any of the cities where the stop and frisk policies are in place now. And you cited the numbers there, initially, Ed. The bottom line here is that black and brown men are being subject to search, illegal search and sometimes seizure for no reason.

Now the mayor of New York City and other mayors of these big cities will tell you that these things have certain benefits in terms of reducing the crime rates. But there’s other data that show that there are factors in the reduction of crime rates over time.

SCHULTZ: Yes. Well you know, I live in New York City, I walk home, to and from work. I see black police officers all the time.

When the story came out, I thought, “I wonder what they’re thinking. Where are the black police officers?” Are they actually— And you’ve got this former sergeant, who obviously walked the beat, saying there’s illegal activity taking place. I mean, if that's the case, what does the city to have to do?
Big Ed was shocked—shocked—to learn that illegal activity was taking place! He walks back and forth to work each day. But until the story about Sharpton’s march, he simply hadn’t heard.

Warning—these people are frauds. Yes, we know, they’re TV stars—but they’re also ridiculous people. In his Tuesday morning column, Robinson still didn’t know shit from shinola—or he simply chose to pretend. And Big Ed Schultz had no idea that gambling was going on!

It’s all about slogan and all about narrative. These people are paid to advance them.

These very bad people are in the Post, telling you they’re on your side. The problem is, that’s just the con. In truth, they’re corporate hirelings, paid to amuse and fellate you.

They imagine what might occur down there. That said, we live in the northern blue states.

What’s done up here is OK.

The conduct of corporate con men: On MSNBC, you constantly get your wieners pleased by discussions of SB 1070.

But how many times has stop-and-frisk been discussed on this fiery channel? Using Nexis, we checked the number of discussions involving the channel’s prime-time hosts, they of the fiery values:
Lifetime discussions of stop-and-frisk:
Chris Matthews: none
Al Sharpton: one
Ed Schultz: one
Rachel Maddow: none
Lawrence O’Donnell: none
Four of those liberals live in New York. Stop-and-frisk? They haven’t heard!

7 comments:

  1. So I suppose if you spend too much time talking about one form of racial profiling and not enough on another form, then your views on racial profiling don't count.

    So tell me Bob. Did Cesar Chavez lose his right to try to organize Latino farm workers because he didn't also march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge with Martin Luther King Jr.?

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    Replies
    1. Chris Matthews = Cesar Chavez?

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    2. Were the words I used too big?

      Let me ask you in a simpler way. Exactly how much time must a pundit have to spend on all forms of racial profiling in order to be qualified in the mind of Somerby to comment on any one form?

      Obviously, he's got some number in mind that if it isn't reached, then the pundit is absolutely unqualified to comment on any form of racial profiling.

      Oh, and while we are on the subject, Bob himself will soon defend once again, as his hits continue to drop, a guy who obviously racially profiled a kid then would up shooting him.

      Unless you think George Zimmerman would have chased down and shot a white girl under the same circumstances. And no doubt the pussy would have gotten his ass kicked by a girl he was stalking, too.

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    3. "a guy who obviously racially profiled a kid"

      Argument by pussy -- it's your specialty.
      Perhaps because you're such a douchebag?

      Delete
    4. I think Zimmerman would have just as equally shot a white girl who was holding him down and beating the shit out of him. I don't think he's a sexist.

      Delete
  2. Perhaps all the talk of privates being tickled, fellating, and the pleasing of wieners has gone as far as it should go.

    ReplyDelete

  3. Great report. this is my personal very first holiday to your blog post. Thank you for submitting a great post.

    ReplyDelete