Arizona gets its doze of “Death by Media”
On March 28, 2008, my “Death by Media” article was published. The article dealt with how the US press had literally scared the pants off of people, and visiting Baja with emphasis on Tijuana, all but stopped. The reports that visitors to Baja were in danger were tremendously exaggerated and overly dramatized was the basis of the “Death by Media.”
Now Arizona is getting a dose of the same medicine, but in the Arizona case it is self promoted. Possibly not realizing that, as Professor of Communications at Arizona State University commented, “There is an attraction with conflict, and this is an issue that has captured the national attention.” And wow how it has, national coverage is non stop.
The Arizona state government introduced, passed and the Governor signed SB-1070 arguing that crime was rampant. In May, Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain wrote a widely published open letter to President Obama in part saying, “Many Arizonans do not feel safe within their own homes or on their own property. They feel that they live in a lawless area of the country and have been abandoned by the federal government.”
That wasn’t enough, Arizona Congress members Gabrielle Giffords and John Shadegg also sent Obama a letter asking for National Guard soldiers be sent to the border due to “violence in the vicinity of the U.S. Mexico border continues to increase at an alarming rate.”
The letters gave the impression that all Arizona is caught up in rampant non stop crime.
Arizona Governor Brewer got into the act on Fox News saying to a national audience, “Arizona cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from crime, the drugs, the kidnappings, the extortion, and the beheadings.” And she wasn’t through adding that illegal immigrants were drug smugglers not job seekers and responsible for much mayhem.
Just like in Baja California, tourism to Arizona has taken a huge hit, and just like Tijuana, Phoenix is suffering the most from the lack of tourism.
The self created perception of high crime, like in Baja California, looms out of proportion to the actual reality of the situation. But once the worst is imbedded in the minds of people, removing the negative perception can become a gargantuan task. Potential visitors to the state and its many cities don’t want to get caught in the cross fire of real or perceived violence.
And just like it’s been done to Mexico and Baja, comedians are having a field day – Stephen Colbert: Arizona police officers will taser anyone using the word ‘chipotle.’ Jay Leno: Rich Arizonians will now have to start raising their own children. Latino comedian: Arizona is the new boogie man, Mexican-American moms are telling their kids that if they don’t behave she will send them to Arizona. And so it goes.
A mite late, Arizona has reacted providing additional funding to their tourism department, but not nearly enough since economic times are tough. But fear is fear and the fear news continues to grow.
And worse for Arizona, they continue to dig themselves deeper into the hole of arousing fear and anger. Now their elected officials have decided to go after the children of undocumented – deny any child born of an illegal immigrant birthright citizenship.
The sponsors have yet to explain how this new attack on children will cure their self promoted “Arizona is being over run by crime.” Are babies still in the womb already criminals? Do they at birth begin their criminal careers?
Standing on the way of being able to carry out this new rather silly endeavor is of course nothing other than the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment providing citizenship to anyone born in U.S. jurisdictional land (foreign embassy compounds are not within US jurisdictional land).
This new ill conceived anti-babies rhetoric coupled with SB-1070 is causing quite a stir, leading to visitors’ boycott of Arizona, international negative press, conventions and events cancellations and threats of economic reprisals many already in effect. So Arizonians will now live the same Death by Media that Baja and Mexico have. And they will find it takes a long time to right the ship.
But it does do something for Arizona that truly sets them apart from Baja California – it removes the pretense that the SB-1070 had anything to do with “stopping crime” and exposes the promoters of such draconian thinking for what they really are – racists.
Whatever the problems Baja California may be experiencing, the one thing that is not present there is racism towards Americans and if any American woman wants to have her baby there – that baby will be a Mexican citizen and when registered with the U.S. embassy in Tijuana, the child will enjoy dual citizenship.
Maybe in time those dual citizens will manage to bring peace and understanding to both sides of the border, maybe even in Arizona.
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