© Original content written by James R. Carlson
Former Sherriff Joe Arpaio is bad for America. His brand of politics has led to vigilantism with a badge. The use of public office without authority is a problem we all have to deal with. I welcome more pardons from the President for people who have been abused by runaway government (Scooter Libby); but, pardon me Mr. President, why Joe Arpaio?
The rule of law is perhaps the most important job of people in the government. The office of the President should be concerned when people are wrongfully prosecuted and abused by those in power but it should also be concerned about the people who abuse power while in public office. Joe Arpaio embodies the abuse of power and his position in government. He should not have been the first person to receive a pardon by President Trump.
Sherriff Arpaio is guilty of abusing his office as have others around him. Sherriff’s deputies targeted Hispanics who may have been illegal aliens in our country. I spoke directly with a Phoenix city official years ago who said that sheriff’s deputies in Maricopa County (the county that includes the city of Phoenix) were testing a program to ask for people’s birth certificates instead of just their driver’s license when they were pulled over. This apparently was not done to white people but to Hispanics suspected of being illegal aliens.
There remains a basic level of bigotry in the United States. The idea that Hispanics are by default Mexican is not true and just plain ignorant. Mexicans are Hispanics because they reside in New Spain (Hispania). Also, Hispanics in the U.S. are also not always Latino. A person who supports or is a part of the Roman Catholic Church is a part of the Latin Catholic Church or Latino. Europe was known for Latin France, Latin Portugal, and Latin Spain. So, Hispanics in the New World are often called Latinos as they were a part of the Latin Church. Calling someone Hispanic who is Mexican also betrays the heterogeneous makeup of Mexico. Not all Mexicans are Hispanics. It helps to just give people respect no matter what.
A person without a proper driver’s license may be detained for not having a valid legal identification card, often called a Photo ID. There is no need to check a person’s birth certificate. In fact, the only people who would be carrying a birth certificate would be illegal immigrants who knew they would need one; they would counterfeit them just like many driver’s licenses have been counterfeited. This was a stupid act on the part of sheriffs; acts that were done without proper legislation.
On another note, I applaud holding prisoners in tent cities without all the creature comforts of life; this is another of Mr. Arpaio’s efforts to get tough on crime. However, prisoners need to be properly fed and clothed and sheltered against adverse weather. Here again, Mr. Arpaio went beyond the rule of law and just plain common sense when he made prisoners wear pink underwear and eat green sandwiches. The punishment prisoners should receive is incarceration; sheriffs do not need to add to that punishment. Maybe Mr. Arpaio has a deeper problem with color than was first suspected.
Mr. Arpaio did not help this country with his aggressive behavior. While he may be a hero to some in our country, he has added more problems to America than he has solved. His work demonstrates what it means when someone in power abuses that power and extends themselves beyond the rule of law. The President was definitely tone deaf when he pardoned the former sheriff in light of recent racial tensions. But regardless of timing, it was a bad pardon from the standpoint that Mr. Arpaio does not represent the rule of law (immigration or otherwise); he represents what is wrong with our country. It is time for Republicans in the Arizona Legislature to consider impeaching Mr. Arpaio. People like him do not need to serve in public office ever again.