by Marla Finn
A few hours before the big earthquake of '94 hit southern California, at 4:35 AM, on the morning of Martin Luther King's birthday, my husband and I had just come from a late showing of "Schindler's List," on the 3rd Street Promenade, in Santa Monica. On our walk home, we sobbed at the unjust horror of how our people had been singled out and taken down by the insane policies of one crazy man, and how long it took the world to do something about it. We had just fallen asleep when the quake hit, and it was so intense, at a whopping 7.1 magnitude, that our first thought was the Nazis must be coming to get the rest of us.
Once the ground stopped shaking, my husband and I decided to toss our two young daughters into the car and head for more solid ground, in our neighboring state of Arizona. In many ways, it proved to be a wonderful place for our kids to continue their growing process. Our neighborhood was like the fifties.
There were kids everywhere, dashing from house to house happily, with lots of sunshine and pristine swimming pools to play in.
Arizona's unbelievably backward political environment has always been a source of big laughs for us, having moved to this ultra conservative state from liberal California. We have daily reminders of how ridiculous the lawmakers here are, from the likes of John McCain, the now "Un-maverick," JD Hayworth, who puts his foot in his mouth every time he opens it, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who thinks pink underwear and green baloney, served in tents in the middle of the 120 degree desert, gives him the right to think of himself as god's earthly truant officer.
However, at other times, the politics this state employs elicit deep shock and nauseating disgust. Which is why it's not surprising, to any of us residents, that Arizona is now the brunt of every joke for all the political pundits, news programs and talk shows (except Fox news, which thinks everything any conservative or Republican does is just fine for everyone).
Never mind that Arizona refused to acknowledge Martin Luther King's birthday. And that wasn't the people of Arizona's idea, by the way. It was our state's lovely government officials who believe they have the right to ignore the peoples' actual wishes, ‘cause they're all such fine Christians, you know. Just ask them, and they will tell you.
Never mind that Arizona State University refused to grant President Obama an honorary degree, because the board of regents didn't think he deserved it yet for his present body of work. I think he, at the very least, deserved one for returning the presidency to someone with an actual brain. In this country, following a C-minus, "good ole boy" president, and the new crazy "Tea Baggers" running around with their illiterate signs, and outrageously incorrect statements of "facts," Obama rising above all that crap was a huge feat in itself, if you ask me.
Never mind that Arizona cares more about their sports teams than education for its children, where we rank next to the bottom among the lower 48, cutting new programs in the schools all the time. This year they cut all-day kindergarten. Last year they cut most of the arts programs. They refuse to jump on the health band wagon that many schools in other states have leapt on to, to serve healthy, nutritious food to our kids in school lunchrooms. No way. We're too tough a cowboy state to give in to that wimpy shit.
Never mind that our state government thinks its fine for anyone to be able to carry a gun in any public place, anywhere in our state.
Never mind that our lovely interim GOV decided that the place to slash funds, to fix our state budget, was by cutting off medical benefits for children in need. It's hard enough to fathom how any politician doesn't believe that everyone deserves medical coverage, wherever or whenever they're in need... but to take it away from helpless kids? My mother is turning over in her grave. She spent her life saving children from the horrors of oppressive governments.
But now we've hit the biggest gross out of all. Come to Arizona! Land of the Giant Saguaros, the Grand Canyon, and Racial Profiling! Yes! Come to our beautiful state and get stopped if you look Hispanic, and have to prove your citizenship with papers on the spot! Come get deported, jailed, or shot accidentally on purpose with a concealed hand gun if you don't cooperate! Come to Arizona! Just make sure you bring your birth certificate, driver's license, green cards, traffic tickets, arm bands, immigration papers, all medical and dental records…Nazi Germany, anyone?
We Arizonans in the know, the few of us out here, applaud the Phoenix Suns, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon, to name a few, for taking a stand against our state's latest immigration "fix," and demanding it be retracted. Those "Los Suns" jerseys stood for a lot more, this past May 5th, than just a Mexican holiday.
Thank goodness our daughter who looks Spanish is attending college in Santa Barbara. At least there she can be a brunette with brown eyes and dark skin in peace.
Marla Finn is an actress, writer, teacher, living in Scottsdale, AZ. She is the Co-founder of the Phoenix Film Institute, along with her Emmy Award Winning Producer husband, Peter Stelzer.As an actress, this past season, Marla played "Peg," in the film, "Jake's Corner," and is currently in theaters playing the waitress in the movie, "Sugar."
photo illustration by DrCuervo