I’m finally going to have to comment on the Arizona law, I guess, not in support of it but in response to the worst of the hyperbole regarding it. Hardball has a graphic which they use every time it is the topic which is particularly horrible, a group of jackbooted soldiers carrying weapons, who look suspiciously like Hitlerian storm troopers. Chris Matthews keeps talking about “women and children on their way to Sunday school” being stopped simply because they are Hispanic.
The law does not call for, or even permit, anyone to be stopped merely for the purpose of investigating the legality of their presence in this country. It merely says that such legality may be questioned “upon reasonable suspicion” if they are stopped for any other lawful reason. The phrase “reasonable suspicion” is not unique to this law, it exists in many laws in Arizona and throughout the nation, and has been found to be permissible. This law says specifically that ethnic origin may not be used as the basis for that reasonable suspicion.
Of course Olbermann, Mathews and such ignore all of this and refer to the law as the “racial profiling law” or, in Olbermann’s case, the “death panel” law. By all means, let’s not allow facts to get in the way of our hysteria.
Another alarmist feature of the law seem to be that it treads on grounds reserved to federal jurisdiction. That strikes me as somewhat laughable in the face of the federal government mandating state highway speed laws and issuing dozens of spending mandates for individual states. In any case, the federal government has abdicated this area of it’s responsibility for decades, and if it is unwilling to fulfill its responsibility then it has little room to complain when the states step up to protect themselves.
That is not to say that I support this law. I most emphatically do not. It certainly does open the door to abuse that can lead to ethnic tensions. It injects local law agencies into an additional realm of enforcement that adds to an already heavy burden and strains budgets that are already at breaking point. It has significant potential to create friction between federal and local law enforcement agencies.
But using hysteria to argue against it is hardly useful.