Joe Arpaio: our own personal Adolf Hitler
by Michelle S
I’m not one for hyperbole (lies!), or exaggerated comparisons (also lies) so I want to make a point of letting you know that I’m serious about the title of this post. I wanted to do a meme montage for Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio as “Scumbag Arpaio,” but seriously this guy is not a scumbag. Scumbags are just dumb people who are looking out for themselves.
Arpaio is not just looking out for himself. It’s hard to tell if what he does is out of a hatred for minorities, out of some deluded perception of self-righteousness, or a little of both. The crazy thing is we hear it everyday- people who have the same convictions and tell the same lies that Arpaio spews about undocumented immigrants.
Arpaio didn’t single-handedly convince hundreds of thousands of people to believe his lies about undocumented immigrants. He used pre-existing fears in order to order sadistic actions against fellow human beings. Didn’t Hitler do the same to his own state? Arpaio hasn’t waged wars on countries or slaughtered millions of people, but he’s following a beaten path that leads to the same old blueprints. His actions show gross indecency to human beings that puts him in a whole new level.
The Atlantic published an article entitled “Sheriff Joe Arpaio Allegedly Not Only Harrassed Latinos But Ignored Crime.” In it, they describe how Arpaio IGNORED CRIME. This is a Sheriff we’re talking about, right? Someone so concerned with pursuing the law and justice, he is considered the hardliner on immigration law? It’d be interesting if he was just one of those anti-hero bad guys in a film, you know, the one who isn’t actually evil but is just following orders and he’s really good at it and this ends up pitting him against the protagonist(s)? But he’s clearly not. He probably thought he could get away with it, doing the job so many felt needed to be done in an unlawful way; the ends justifying the means. This is the exact anti-thesis of illegal immigration. Where as we may break the law but hope to not hurt anyone to make our lives better, he pursues the law stringently even if means harming innocent people, nay, going out of his way to harm innocent people. For what? To send a message? He didn’t expect the Justice Department to slap him with a lawsuit. That’s a different kind of message.
This Yahoo! News article details what his department was capable of:
“In one case, the suit says, a five-months’ pregnant American citizen was stopped as she pulled into her driveway. Officers ordered her to sit on the hood of her car. She refused. They slammed her into the car three times—fetus-side first. Next, they placed the woman in a patrol car without air conditioning for half an hour. She was released and cited with failure to provide identification. Later, the charge was changed to ‘failure to provide proof of insurance.’
In another case, deputies trailed a U.S. citizen to her home, then knocked her to the ground, kneed her in the back, and handcuffed her when she tried to run into her house, the suit alleges. They charged her with disturbing the peace. (A judge dismissed the charge.)
In the jails, some Latinos were placed in solitary confinement because they didn’t speak English, the lawsuit says. On some streets, Latinos were nine times more likely to be stopped than non-Latinos. And sheriff’s officials detained dozens of Latinos because ‘probable cause’ included smelling of ‘strong body odor’ or appearing nervous and avoiding eye contact, the lawsuit says.”
Back in 2010, the comparison may have been seen as over the top, but after the revelations of his department’s actions under his watch, the interviews I’ve seen with undocumented immigrants and their treatment in detention centers, how has he not willingly put himself up (or down) there with the worst men in human history?
According to Michelle Alexander, “the Jim Crow laws were a system of rules, laws, customs and practices that operated to lock African Americans into a permanent second class status, authorizing legal discrimination against them in virtually all walks of life.” SB1070 is part of the New Jim Crow. Hyperbole after hyperbole. Is it fair to compare? That’s the whole point of knowing history: so we don’t repeat it. And if we can’t compare current atrocities to past ones, then we’re bound to repeat them.
Michelle is a writer for Undocublog from the Best Coast. She seeks reparations for her undocumented-ness through constant and competitive lyrical rap battles.