Have you ever been at a game with a buddy when, all of a sudden, he just goes nuts and starts screaming at a ballplayer or a referee or maybe even another fan?
I'm not talking Julia Roberts doing the Arsenio Hall "whoop, whoop" at a polo match in Pretty Woman, but rather somebody you know (and wish you didn't at that particular moment) screaming at the top of his lungs, veins popping in his neck, profanity flying.
Multiply that mortification several times over, and that's the feeling I get when people who are on the same side of a political argument as I am start engaging in hyperbole-on-steroids when trying to make a point.
If I'm on the right side of an issue, I should be able to state and defend my position through rational public discourse. But that's probably unrealistic these days. Many in my generation grew up screaming at the top of their lungs.
Add to that the fact that SB 1070 is not a disagreement over a temporary sales-tax increase, but rather a matter that could have a devastating impact on some people's lives. Then there's the fact that the range of opinions on this issue run the gamut from those who think there should be no national borders whatsoever to those who believe that the definition and defense of said borders is vital to the very identity and survival of a nation.
I am not a fan of SB 1070. On a personal level, I would rather that my (Hispanic) wife and kids not be subjected to any harassment. My wife looks quite Hispanic, and my daughter has relatively dark skin. (For some reason—darn those genetics!—my son, who is equally Hispanic and bilingual, is whiter than those sheets that Robert Byrd used to wear back when he was in that Southern social klub.)
As a citizen, I think SB 1070 is mean-spirited and counterproductive. If I could sincerely believe that the state Legislature passed it in an effort to spur the foot-dragging federal government into action regarding illegal immigration, that would be one thing. But, in actuality, Arizona's "lawmakers" have been too busy—doing things like conducting a vendetta against public-school teachers and seeing to it that terrorists can buy weapons at gun shows without getting bogged down in paperwork—to ever put in any heavy thinking.
At the same time, some of the people who are protesting the law are driving me nuts. First off, what's with the use of "racist"? Mexicans, let alone Mexican Americans, are not a separate race. Say it with me: They're not. Claiming that they are is scientifically incorrect and intellectually dishonest. To be sure, using the term "racist" is a powerful weapon; it can immediately knock the person at whom it's leveled back on his heels. But it's also wrong, and its use in this case dilutes its effectiveness when it is being used correctly.
Furthermore, does anyone truly believe that the two-thirds of all Arizonans who express support for the law are all bigots? How is that even possible? We're supposed to believe that 30 percent of Arizona is Hispanic, and everybody else is a non-Hispanic bigot? That doesn't make a lot of sense. Polls also show that half of all Americans support the law. Instead of shouting "Racist!" at 150 million people, perhaps we opponents of SB 1070 should take a step back and try to understand why that number is so high.
Professional blowhard Rush Limbaugh has always said that a great way to win a political argument before it even gets started is to establish the terminology that is going to be used. Such is the case here, but the attempts seem ham-fisted and largely embarrassing.
For example, if a cop pulls you over and asks for your driver's license and registration, you're not going to give it a second thought. But if he were to ask for "your papers," all of a sudden, he might as well be wearing a black leather trench coat and a monocle. Here in America, people get asked for their ID, not their papers. That "papers" thing is a stroke of genius.
Then, all of these news outlets keep referring to SB 1070 as an "anti-immigrant law." Is it really? My parents and grandparents all came through Ellis Island. Were they alive, would they be threatened by SB 1070? In the interest of common sense and fairness, isn't it more correctly an anti-illegal-immigrant law? I don't like the law, but when my fellow protesters start lying about things, it weakens their arguments (and mine, by association).
Which brings me to MSNBC, the cable network that is now as equally unwatchable as Fox News (although I still watch both of them with shocking regularity). MSNBC recently had this headline: "Law Makes It a Crime to be Illegal Immigrant."
It's as though it had been written in crayon.