January 11th, 2011

Lizzie Siddal

A Little About Arizona

 In light of recent events...

Arizona was always on my list of potential places to move after graduation because it is west, where I want to go (away from my northeastern liberal bubble, as my one of my professors put it), because it is beautiful (Stargirl is set there, enchanted places!), and because Hamlet 2 was filmed in Tuscon. Grad school for art history is also dirt cheap out there. (Upon reflection, this is probably because there aren't really museums, big pieces, or classical-specific cultural communities out there; I understand that much of the art vibe is newer, Georgia O'Keefe skulls-type stuff. Which sounds kind of awesome and fresh right now.) And it's just *different* -- they have cactuses (cacti?) and I'm pretty sure it doesn't snow there!

But after the immigration law was passed -- it *still* astonishes me, really -- and the media started zooming in on Arizona, it became clear that it was not such an enchanted placed after all. This is the NYT article I was reading when I tweeted "What the hell is going on in Arizona?" on Saturday morning; the shooting happened a few hours later, while I was at work. It felt like some eerie turn of fate when I heard the news. It's absolutely heartbreaking, shocking, and I'm glad that at least this is calling attention to the volatile political bickering that has lately been so bad, things like the Rally to Restore Sanity are happening. But from what we're hearing about the little nine-year-old girl who died, we probably just lost our future female President, a federal judge is dead and Rep. Giffords is in a medically induced coma. It makes me sick to my stomach. Sometimes it's easy to forget that not all problems can be solved with an inspiring speech, a sincere explanation, or a fancy dinner, like they are on The Clone Wars.

I just finished with this really insightful article from last July. (It is awesome uses architecture as a comparative device, win.) I go to a state school so I'm always hearing about the problems up in Albany, higher ed cuts, tax arguments etc, but when I look at what's happening in Arizona their issues seem so much worse, fundamentally.

The anti-government attitude in Arizona is now reflexive, especially because of its entanglement with the issue of immigration. As one local resident, who didn’t want to be identified because she has a government job, told me: “People who have swimming pools don’t need state parks. If you buy your books at Borders you don’t need libraries. If your kids are in private school, you don’t need K-12. The people here, or at least those who vote, don’t see the need for government. Since a lot of the population are not citizens, the message is that government exists to help the undeserving, so we shouldn’t have it at all. People think it’s OK to cut spending, because ESL is about people who refuse to assimilate and health care pays for illegals.”

Whatever else may be happening, it's clear that bad things are brewing in Arizona, and I hope that we don't have to have another tragedy for something for things to start getting done. I don't know if Arizona will be a fit for me after I graduate -- now I feel both a revulsion and a pull to help create change. My thoughts go out to all the victims.