Story pick: Arizona's political climate
This weekend's shooting in Tucson reminded me of two great stories about Arizona that appeared in Harper's magazine last year and in The New Yorker in 2009. Both stories provide detailed context to anyone unfamiliar with Arizona, its politics, and the atmosphere surrounding gun laws and illegal immigration issues.
Ken Silverstein's Harper piece in July 2010 is a highly opinionated but deeply reported take on Republican control of Arizona's state legislature. He describes the state's anti-government, anti-illegal immigrant climate and highlights some of the legislature's priorities:
In January, Senator Jack Harper, an immaculately combed zealot who speaks in the patter of an infomercial voiceover, submitted a bill that would allow faculty members to carry guns on university campuses, saying it was “one very small step in trying to eliminate gun-free zones, where there’s absolutely no one who could defend themselves if a terrorist incident happened.” The house passed a measure that would force President Barack Obama to show his birth certificate to state officials if he runs for re-election, as well as a bill that bars Arizona from entering into any program to regulate greenhouse gases without approval from the legislature. “There are only two ways to vote on this,” said Representative Ray Barnes of the latter initiative. “Yes, or face the east in the morning and worship the EPA because they own you.”
The other piece, by William Finnegan in The New Yorker, is one of the most definitive profiles of the infamous Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known as "America's Toughest Sheriff." (A subscription to The New Yorker is required to read the full text.) This is the sheriff who has appointed himself the nation's No. 1 enforcer of illegal immigration restrictions. He also prides himself on his strict prison rules: at one point, he decreed that all inmates must wear pink underwear.
As we comb through all the great journalism surrounding this weekend's tragedy, these two pieces are must-reads for understanding Arizona's recent political history.
| January 10, 2011; 10:23 AM ET
Categories: Story Picks
Save & Share: Previous: Story pick: A new Congress strips D.C. of its vote -- in 1874
Next: Story Pick: The toppling of Saddam's statue
Posted by: MaryJessel | January 10, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: GeirSmith | January 10, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: joelwisch | January 10, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse