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Arizona Iced Tea, Arizona Jeans, Arizona Discrimination

May 3, 2010

Picture from CNN Headline

I remember when I saw this story last week: Arizona passes law aimed at illegal immigrants.  I was unemotional at first because Arizona, to me, is famous for iced tea, blue jeans, and Steve Nash.  Now, it seems, Arizona has come to represent a growing animosity in this country, a supposedly fact-based discrimination.  I’m not sure I’ll ever look at Arizona the same ever again.

I didn’t write at first because I was wordless.  I’ve done more reading since then.  I had a Weekly Vista entry prepared for this week — something about how a year ago to this date I was accepted into the New York Pitch and Shop Conference — but in light of this story, that memory seems flaky, self-centered.

And perhaps because of the job implications of this law, I’m thinking about my own employment.  Nine years ago, when I got my job with 401K STALWART out of college, their policy was 2.75 GPA or higher.  Which was great for me because, at the time, I had somewhere in the neighborhood of a 2.95, and their offer was the strongest I received.

But then, after I signed the dotted line and became a part-time (upon request) campus recruiter and interviewer, 401K STALWART upped the policy to 3.0.  Which meant I wouldn’t have qualified for employment under the new policy.  Which meant I was judging hopeful candidates, the threat of pending student loan payments in the whites of their eyes, by criteria I never had to live up to.  It made me feel like a hypocrite.  Reviewing resumes at career fairs, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had “gotten mine”, and that I couldn’t care less how anyone else “got theirs”.

When I think of this new Arizona law, when I think of the mindless debate in this country about who is a legal American and who isn’t, this is what I think about.

In my opinion, what’s lawful should never be confused by what is moral.  If it were otherwise we would’ve never had need for the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, or any other movement against the impassionate laws of the majority.

And what a difficult place it is to be one of the I Got Mines, and to be faced with teeming masses that desire — who dream in their cribs the dreams transferred from mom, father, grandmother — to follow in your footsteps.  Policy alone can never be sufficient for human problems.  It makes it easier, of course; and it makes it seem, to your constituents, that you are being scientific, and have a grasp for the no-nonsense realities.

But I’m a believer in compassion.  I believe that most of the supporters of this bill who claim their tax dollars are being spent unjustly to support illegal immigrants are mad at a phantom enemy.  I’m willing to bet most of these supporters got a tax return last month; if you asked them on their way to buy a new LCD TV for a dollar figure for how much of their money was spent on so-called illegal aliens, they couldn’t tell you.

So what are they mad about?

They got theirs and they have no qualms about changing the rules of engagement after the fact — that’s what they’re mad about.  In my opinion, that’s not the way to be.


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