Unless you are utterly clueless on current events, you know by now that a couple weeks ago Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, signed into law the most hardcore immigration bill ever. It’s been widely criticized, even by President Obama. There have been protests against it, the usual suspects (Sharpton, Limbaugh) have come out against and for, and much blowharding has been engaged in over the issue. I’m not writing to really give my thoughts about the law one way or the other.
Okay, screw that, I’ll tell you: I think it sucks. It’s draconian and embarrassing, and will do absolutely nothing to stem the “immigration problem” we have in America. The circumstances that feed this issue go so deep, and deal with realities that (typically) the average American would rather not face, that no law like this will do a damn thing about, no matter how many hobnailed boots you put behind it. It is a complex, complex issue that no law, or fence, or angry mobs of gun-toting militia freaks will solve.
The point of this blog tonight though was to talk about the Phoenix Suns. They are currently participating in the NBA playoffs, and recently revealed that for tonight’s game against the Spurs — on Cinco de Mayo* — they would wear their “Los Suns” uniforms in solidarity with the Latino community, as something of a protest against the Arizona law.
The idea was that of team owner Robert Sarver, per the article I linked above:
The decision to wear the jerseys on the Cinco de Mayo holiday stems from a law passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer that has drawn widespread criticism from Latino organizations and civil rights groups that say it could lead to racial profiling of Hispanics. President Barack Obama has called the law “misguided.”
Sarver, who was born and raised in Tucson, said frustration with the federal government’s failure to deal with the illegal immigration issue led to the passage of what he called “a flawed state law.”
“However intended, the result of passing the law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under the law are being called into question,” he said, “and Arizona’s already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them.”
Sarver didn’t make the players do it, he left it up to them, and they voted unanimously. Guard, and future Hall of Fame player, Steve Nash (pictured above), who also happens to be Canadian, had this to say:
“I think it’s fantastic,” Nash said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think the law is very misguided. I think it’s, unfortunately, to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties. I think it’s very important for us to stand up for things we believe in. As a team and as an organization, we have a lot of love and support for all of our fans. The league is very multicultural. We have players from all over the world, and our Latino community here is very strong and important to us.”
Of course the decision has touched off a firestorm of discussion, especially in the sports world. There are many fans of the team who are claiming they will never support the team again, often with strongly-worded diatribes like this brilliant comment on an article appearing on the Pro Basketball Talk website:
The Suns just lost me as a FAN!! These Players are not True americans. To them it`s ok to come here and take Jobs,RAPE,PILIGE ,PLUNDER all that is offered to Legal Citizens, Pack the Hospitals, Drain the Coffers that were at one time here to help the Good People of Az. I agree with the Gov. in her stance against the take over by these Illegal`s becouse that GUTLESS P.O.S. of a President wont get off his high horse and do what he is supposed to do, ENFORCE BORDER SECURITY!! Oh I`m sorry, did I hurt your Liberal Feelings?? Signed: Proud American Hispanic!!
Ah, the genius of political “discussion” in this great country, eh? Every time I wade in, I’m reminded why I don’t look at political sites much anymore.
Here’s the thing. I’m proud the Suns are doing what they are doing, and I’m happy the NBA is actually standing behind them. I’m all for people standing up for what they believe in, even if I don’t agree with them. Yes, there are lines you can cross that I don’t feel should be crossed, but as long as no one is being threatened with violence, or actually experiencing violence, then part of what this country is supposed to be about is the freedom for all of us to do our thing. Like marry who we want to, or go to the prom with who we want to. Or stand with the people whose plight moves us. I may disagree with the bulk of what these tea party folks are all about, and believe a lot of their rhetoric and signage crosses many lines, but I don’t think they should be denied the right to have their say. Just as I feel people who disagree with them should have an equal right to speak their minds as well. The Suns are doing it right. They said how they feel, they are wearing their uniforms, and that is that. Point made, damn the consequences.
What I don’t respect is people too timid to stand up for their beliefs. Artists (or, worse, politicians) who won’t say one way or the other how they feel about something because they don’t want to “alienate” their audience (or potential voters) drive me up a wall. I want to know what an artist thinks — if they are smart and make intelligent arguments, that can take them from being someone I really like to someone I friggin’ love. I want to know about the humanity of someone who has caught my attention, and that humanity is often reflected in political stances they take. Yeah, it can work the opposite way too, and reveal someone I thought was cool to be a total jackass, but that’s life. I may disagree wholeheartedly with much of what comes out of the mouth of someone like Ted Nugent, but at least he has the guts to speak his mind. I respect that, more often than not. I may not like it, and I may think he’s hypocritical and full of shit and borderline batshit crazy at times, but at least he isn’t playing me for a sucker. I may not buy his recent albums or his books or anything like that, but I’ll still throw Double Love Gonzo! on a few times a year and have my ass thoroughly kicked every time, and love it.
You know what else I don’t mind? Celebrities who use their fame, and the microphone it gives them, to speak out on issues they believe in. Some of it is entertaining because a lot of them are morons, and I enjoy people blindly showing the world how big of an ass they are. But if they have the opportunity, or if they are asked a question, why shouldn’t they speak their mind? One doesn’t have to listen, you know. A guy like Bono with the world listening isn’t any different from any of us shmucks blogging for half-a-dozen people — he just is lucky enough to have a huge audience. Some of these individuals do reveal themselves to be deep, soulful and compassionate people, and I like to see that whenever I get the opportunity. I’m willing to wade through some dross to get to the good stuff now and then.
Another example would be a guy like Joshua Dysart, a writer who has taken his passion for the plight of Africa and turned it into a great piece of art; the ongoing comic series Unknown Soldier from Vertigo Comics. It is powerful, compelling stuff, in a medium where most people wouldn’t think to look. I love that.
I’m a fan of Mexican culture. I think Mexican immigrants, like so many other immigrants in this country, have made it a better place. Arizona has been good to me. I’ve met some great people there (like my wife, duh), and much of it is breathtakingly beautiful. I look forward to every visit, and another one is long overdue. I feel for so many of the people there living on the front lines of one of our country’s biggest (perceived) problems, and they are frustrated at the inactivity at the federal level. You can’t pin all the blame on the current administration, certainly, but it’s a problem that drags on and on. Unfortunately, I don’t think their current legislative efforts put us anywhere near the right track, though, and hopefully folks can put a lid on all the bullshit rhetoric and work together to find some reasonable solutions. We need it, because this has put us on the brink of a dangerous slope. It won’t stop the tide, but it could sure make it bloodier.
* I think the general American celebration of Cinco de Mayo is even more ludicrous than St. Patrick’s Day. Most Americans have no clue what is even about. It just boggles my mind to see herds of overweight white people stampeding to a Mexican restaurant on this day to “celebrate,” or to see gangs of overprivileged, inebriated college kids whooping it up like they really give a rip what the story is. But oh, we gringos love any and every excuse to get fucked up, don’t we? Tequila, whooo!