Friday, July 23, 2010

The Governor Who Hates Her State

Bryan Curtisby Bryan Curtis

In her quest to show why Arizona needs a tough immigration law, Gov. Jan Brewer has pulled off an awesome rhetorical feat. She has rebranded the entire state. Arizona is no longer the sun-drenched home of the Grand Canyon, golf courses, and retirees exulting in 100-degree lethargy. Arizona, in Brewer's telling, is a cross between a Cormac McCarthy novel and The Road Warrior.

"Has my 'dry heat!' desert finally seared one too many brain cells?" asks Rene Alegria. "Maybe so."

The controversial Arizona immigration law has sparked mass protests.

Taken together, Brewer's speeches, campaign commercials, and Fox News appearances offer a stern rebuke to anyone who thinks Arizona is a tranquil place. Arizona, Brewer told Fox News, is a "battlefield." It is the "drug corridor of the world," she said later. Phoenix—home to four pro sports teams and a well-regarded Trolley Museum—is "our nation's kidnapping capital," according to a Brewer campaign ad.

Brewer has been a relentless chronicler of Arizona's "porous" border with Mexico, which she said allows a daily "invasion" by undocumented immigrants. Who are the undocumented? The "majority" are "drug mules," she said, others are "human traffickers," and still others may carry "big, strong, dangerous guns, AK-47s."

What about the documented Arizonans—New West entrepreneurs, geezers, the Diamondbacks? "Beautiful people!" Brewer told Greta van Susteren. But also: "We have many, many people that feel they are not safe." And: "We need help." And: "We are just fed up." If Arizona's beautiful people sound slightly jittery, this may be because of what Brewer called the "terror which our citizens live in day in and day out along the border." Native Arizonans contacted by The Daily Beast were surprised the governor wasn't extolling tourist meccas like Tombstone Ranch and Sedona's yuppie playground. No, Brewer prefers to tout Arizona's "drop houses, kidnapping, auto accidents, extortion, drugs, the spillover with the drug cartels."

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