Razing Arizona

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

When I was a kid, I definitely wanted to live in Arizona when I grew up.  It was not "on my childhood list of places I may like to live," but rather, it was the list.

Please remember, this is 1990 we're talking about.  And to my upper-middle class 12-year-old self, Arizona was a great big dude ranch of fun in the sun.  I mean, I'd been to dude ranches (great name, really draws in the lady-folk) a few times.  They were awesome.  I learned to ride a horse in Arizona.  Not only that, but I took to it so naturally that I quickly lied to the ranch instructors and told them that I already knew how to ride in order to get to lope with the grown-ups on excursions.   

They filmed an episode of Webster on a dude ranch in Arizona.  I know cause I saw the episode while staying on that ranch.  They also filmed the then popular kid's television show, Hey Dude in Arizona.  I loved that show so hard!  I even got to travel (not so) deep into the desert to watch them shoot a scene from an upcoming episode. Which I then watched on TV a few weeks later!  Magic!

And that cuts to the heart of it.  Arizona was magic.  Before the name John McCain existed in my lexicon, the state that is so naturally beautiful they put the sunrise/sunset right there on the flag, was a land of imagination, innovation and promise.  

What a dumb fucking kid I was. 

That's not totally fair.  Part of the pleasure of experiencing a childhood is that you are allowed to play in the whipped cream topping of the sundae of life for years and years, without having to realize that the ice cream firmament you're resting upon is really just frozen excrement.  Especially in this case. 

Now, all the horseback campfires of my nostalgic daydreams have been steamrolled by the remorseless hate-mongering of those in the state government.  When I hear, 'Arizona' today, my mind fills with graphic flashing images of volunteer border patrols, minority profiling, and dangerous abuses of misplaced authority.

And now they've come with this recent antigay Jim Crow law.  A law that was not designed to allow public businesses the right (*cough cough*) to refuse service to homosexuals based on their own personal "religious" feelings against gays, but rather a law that says that explicitly.  You can literally Mad Libs out 'gay/homosexual' from the proposed legislation, and add in 'black' and be immediately transported to the deep South circa 1904.  

Congrats Arizona, you kinda invented a time machine!

To say the least, I don't want to live in Arizona anymore, let alone even visit.  While South Carolina serves as the low water mark for American political scandal and corruption (with New Jersey quickly closing the gap), Arizona is now the American example of White oppression and exceptionalism.  This is actually quite the accomplishment if you consider the well-worn stereotype of the deep South being the 'most racist of them all' -- you know -- starting the KKK and all.  To overshadow years and years of historical oppression takes some pure, ultra-concentrated, volatile hate-filled legislatures.  Sorry, I mean some extremely fervent religious advocates.

And so Arizona becomes another sad punchline to the seemingly unending joke that our legislatures, both state and federal, have become.  As our country's moral compass becomes unmagnetized from its due course, state after intolerant state (see: Kansas's proposed law to be able to hit your kids harder! and Utah's issuing of automatic weapons to police in public schools) slides off the rails, our country's reputation left resembling a scene from the side of an Atlanta highway, shortly after a snowfall.  Puzzle pieces of a long-since fractured union scattered together haphazardly, with only a fading notion of the larger picture from whence they came. 

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