And the Hits Just Keep On Coming…..

Posted: April 26, 2011 in AZ Assholes, AZ Sen. Russell Pearce, Gov. Jan Brewer, The Economy

In yet another act of nincompoopery, bigotry, and just plain dumbstupid, the state Legislature passed a bill along party lines to change the names on the state’s 9/11 Memorial.

The Memorial is a raised metal circle with the names of 9/11 victims carved all the way through the metal so that the sun shines through and projects the names in sunlight onto another part of the metal circle (see a photo).  The Memorial is set on the Legislative Governmental Mall in downtown Phoenix, a pretty standard location for such things.

Another pretty standard thing about the Memorial is the controversy that surrounded its erection.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any memorial being built without competing ideas expressed vociferously about what it should look like, who should be honored and why they should be honored.  This one was no different back in Sept. 2006 when it was finally unveiled.  Unfortunately, elements in Arizona and Fox News (yes, imagine that, they stuck their ugly noses into it) decried the Memorial as being “anti-American” and “pro-Islam”.

Of course, the hullabaloo died down and everyone went about their normal lives.  However, those elements didn’t forget.  No, folks like Russell Pearce and John Kavanagh remembered and now that the GOP controls the state legislature they’re in the mood for a little “correction”.

Similar to the other “corrections” they’ve given the state such as SB1070 and The AZ Birther Bill, this new law seeks to define who is “in” and who is “out”.  Evidently, one of the names on the Memorial isn’t “in” as far as the state GOP is concerned and should be removed.

Interestingly enough the name being removed is that of a brown man.   Balbir Singh Sodhi* was murdered in cold blood Sept. 15, 2001 by an American who wanted revenge for the 9/11 attacks.  Mr. Sodhi’s name was included because the intent of the Memorial was to express all of the various emotions evoked as a result of 9/11 and to be a place of healing.  There are statements inscribed on the Memorial that are both positive and negative, angry and sad, commemorative and accusative.  And it was statements in that last category that angered conservatives in the first place.  Evidently, nothing negative about the U.S. was to be allowed on the Memorial regardless of its factual nature.  No, what these extreme right wingers are arguing about is the “applicability” of some of the statements and the inclusion of Mr. Singh’s name.

This is exactly what they want the public to focus on because if the voting public can get beyond the emotions that are evoked by this issue, they might start to ask questions.  They might ask the state legislature, “what have you done to improve local economies?”, or “what are you doing to stop housing prices from falling?”, or “what are you doing to improve our broken education system?”, or “what are you doing to encourage innovation and future development in AZ?”.  And if they were to ask those questions, the public would find out that Rep. Pearce and Kavanagh and all the cronies of the state GOP aren’t doing diddly to address those critical issues.  No, instead they are opening a 5 year-old wound and making political hay out of it.

Ultimately the Memorial is fine as is.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with including events before, during and immediately after 9/11.  What happened didn’t happen in a vacuum and clearly it fundamentally changed us as a nation. We are affected by it each and every day in one way or another.  The Memorial properly reflects that context and ALL of the emotions and changes that would come after.  The inclusion of Mr. Singh’s name is perfect for a Memorial with that intent.  Meanwhile, his family feels the same way and is distraught about his potential removal as they await the Governor’s decision regarding the bill.  Let’s hope Gov. Brewer does the right thing (again**) by vetoing it.

Notes:

*Sadly, Sodhi was a Sikh, a religion completely unrelated to Islam.  The killer mistook him for a Muslim because of the traditional turban that all Sikh men wear.
** Gov. Brewer recently vetoed the Birther Bill, pleasantly surprising me and many other critics.  

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