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August 8, 2010 - Ray Hall (Archive)
An ancient philosopher said that there is nothing permanent except change. Don’t look now but our world is changing. Last week a Federal Judge overturned Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriages in California. That prohibition, he said, was unconstitutional. California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state’s Attorney General Jerry Brown both refused to defend the proposition and the defenders were left with two discredited witnesses who made weak and irrelevant religious arguments.

What was surprising was that there was barely a ripple of public dissent. The message of exclusion preached by Jerry Falwell (deceased) and James Dobson (retired), two men once dubbed America’s Ayatollahs by columnist Frank Rich, remained submerged by the mendacity of past arguments.

Legalization of gay marriages in six states hasn’t created a stampede to marry children or animals or to have multiple spouses as was predicted by Falwell and Dobson and now even hardcore, evangelical believers are out of step with their children. Gay marriage isn’t coming, it’s here.

Another painful exhibit of how change affects this nation of immigrants is the anti-Mexican effort in Arizona. The fuss about immigrants in Arizona is all too reminiscent of the fifty and sixties Jim Crow era. In the Jim Crow regions racial opposition was predicated on law and order—states rights—and with Governors like George Wallace and Lester Maddox.

Arizona has the more sophisticated Jan Brewer as Governor who tries to legislate race and relies on Sheriffs like Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County to portray a more contemporary picture of Birmingham’s notorious Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Conner. Sheriff Arpaio and those who emulate him are no better than Bull Conner who used fire hoses and attack dogs on protestors and became the violent face of Jim Crow.

Racial divisions are exacerbated when Jim Crow sounding Republicans jump on the wedge issue bandwagon—it’s the economy stupid—with talk about repealing the 14th Amendment that declares those born, regardless of parentage, in this country as citizens of these United States.

Stranger still are their words because it wasn’t all that long ago that those same Republicans brayed loudly that the Constitution was a rigid, guiding document for all of time and should not be tampered with.

Regardless of how it’s framed Arizona’s fuss about immigration is race based. Crime is not on the rise, even on the Arizona-Mexico border—it is down. Even Texas officials admit that illegal immigrants—Mexicans—are a net financial plus. America is turning brown and that truly scares some people, but those who use those fears to further inflame the issue and to further frighten are the ones who deserve the greatest condemnation.


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Bull Conner and Civil Rights protestors