For What It's Worth

Red State, Brown People, Blue State Ideas...

"There's something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear."

Arizona is on the leading edge of a national discussion on illegal immigration due to it's passage of legislation known as SB1070 or the Arizona Immigration Law. The original law was amended within a week after passage to specifically prohibit racial profiling and stipulate that the request to "show your papers" may only made in the course of enforcing any other law and not solely for the purpose of checking immigration status. This amendment is rarely cited when any mention of the law is made by the media or anyone speaking out against it.

The next step in the State of Arizona's process of attempting to stem the flow of illegal immigration through the porous border on the south, is to introduce into the legislature next year, proposals to deny birth certificates to children born in the state, of parents who are illegal immigrants. This idea is based on interpretation of the original US Constitution, various interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution and the intention of Congress, as well as court rulings. It remains to be seen how that will play out between now and the next Arizona Legislative Session.

Another piece of legislation afoot is to charge students of illegal immigrants tuition for attending public schools. Therein lies another legal conundrum due to the US Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe (457 U.S. 202, 1982) which ruled against a State of Texas statute withholding funds to school districts that allowed the children of illegal immigrants to attend their schools. Over the years this ruling has been cause for much debate regarding the overreaching of the Supreme Court in interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment.

Regardless of what view anyone holds on any of these issues and what opinion someone may have of the motivations of the legislator instrumental in spearheading these pieces of legislation or supporters of them, one thing remains plain, simple and clear. You don't need to go very far back in history to see it either.

All of this is leading up to a confrontation between the State of Arizona (and probably other states who are following suit) and the Federal Government. The last confrontation of significance between states over States Rights and the Federal Government was over school desegregation by primarily Southern States and occurred over decades from the 1940s to the 1970s.

There are other factors involved this time around. We are likely beginning to fully enter an economic depression of a magnitude not seen since the 1930s. Additionally, after thirty years of Affirmative Action there is a resentment, rightly or wrongly, that is seething under the surface. In unfortunate concert we have the first black President of the United States, who seems to operate on the level of a Middle Manager at an ineffective Non-governmental organization  (NGO), with his priorities out of order. We also have a Political Class in legislatures and executive branches and Bureaucratic Civil Servants, on all levels of government, who clearly are so entrenched they do not see the people they were originally intended to serve. And then there's that Oil Spill...

The General Population is not happy generally. Make of that what you will. Let me be clear, I am only stating what I observe after careful watching, doing my best to keep an open mind and giving every opportunity to all sides to prove me wrong.

I can only see one result from everything that is building to a crescendo:

Civil Unrest

This video was taken on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend at Alto Arizona, an anti-SB1070 protest. The following day a pro-SB1070 rally was held. I view both events as the last opportunity I will spend time on for several reasons. Mainly I'm not sure what good comes from my attending any of them and I have a sneaking suspicion that any subsequent demonstrations will rival the civil disturbances and riots of the 1960s and 1970s and I experienced some of those.

This video is my own personal social commentary of what I saw at one event.


Red State, Brown People, Blue State Ideas... from JR Snyder Jr on Vimeo.


  1. I read your blog then went to youtube and watched the video and I have to say this: you, sir, are a great reporter/artist. I don't think I've said that of anyone before but I think it fits your work. And I mean that in the greatest way possible; the "art" parts of what you made only served to make me think more, not to lead me to any pro or con thought about what was shown. I love the ants-dispersing/truck-reflection/going-out-of-business-signs. It's all great, really. I could say you'd have had me at the initial Buffalo Springfield couplet. In most cases that would be true, but this was something much bigger. Excellent work, sir.

    As for what's going on, I can only say what I know: I don't know anything. I DO wonder why any legal citizen of the US (especially recent legal immigrants, who I know have to go through endless hoops) would have any problem with a state protecting its borders...or a nation, even, if said nation didn't refuse to. I wonder why most of the signs I saw and words I heard spoken were in English. Mostly I wonder if the person in the green "Just Do It" t-shirt had any clue of how joyfully ironic his attendance seems...which isn't true (though I thought it was when I typed it) because what most makes me wonder is if anyone in the crowd grooving to "Proud Mary" realized that it was written by a US Army vet whose music speaks of Americans suffering and striving and working. I don't think John Fogerty ever wrote a song about how great communism would be. Yeah; I'm pretty sure of that.

    It's a great blog and a beautiful video, JR. Thank you for doing this work (and it IS work), and for sharing it.

  2. That's very valuable praise coming from you that I appreciate very much. I thought about and worked hard on this video.

    When the first really large demonstrations by the immigrant community started in 2006 (which took Phoenix and the state by surprise) a lot of criticism was directed at them because they flew the Mexican flag and spoke/chanted in Spanish. Since then, organizers have been very careful to make English and the American flag a prominent feature. If a person is fair, whatever viewpoint they take on the issue, they have to say that these demonstrations are well planned, organized, have incredible turnouts with little incident. The city police mainly need to be present and observe.

    On the other hand, also to be fair, there is an element to the "pro" side of this discussion that somehow is striking a dissonant chord that is bothering people that otherwise agree with the spirit of the law and want the problems of illegal immigration stopped. It's making it very difficult to have a point of view that we need to do something about this problem and not be labeled "racist" or "mushy" no matter how you put forth your position.

    As I wrote in the blog I see nothing good coming from this, although I fully support the right of everyone to peacefully assemble and express their grievances, no matter where you stand. All of this is literally happening within 1/4 to 3 miles from where I live and everyday interactions among people are now clearly affected. The tenseness is in the air and with other factors at play, civil rest like the sixties/seventies in the south seems inevitable. I hope not.

    This has not been my city since the early 90s and I left for Tucson for 7 years, to return 5 years ago out of job necessity. It's become unacceptable to live here for me anymore, I was never cut out for the urban life anyway and when this became very urban (starting in the early 90s) I have been disconnected from it. It's becoming clearer every day to me, my few friends and family still here, that we need to get out and go back to the small city hometown most of our families relocated back to 20 years ago.

    Thanks again for your praise and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

  3. I'm pleased with the amendment to the bill, and agree that I wish it would get more publicity, and I certainly hope that is how it will be implemented. Unfortunately, the anti-SB1070 bandwagon was already running downhill without any brakes by that point.

    You write: "We are likely beginning to fully enter an economic depression of a magnitude not seen since the 1930s."

    Personally, I thought we reached that point more than two years ago, which is what led to the election of President Obama. I also am of the opinion that things were finally starting to turn around. I fear, however, that the repercussions from Deepwater Horizon will set us way back in that recovery.

    As to Arizona's "next steps," as far as I'm concerned, the Constitutional question has already been answered. It's time for Arizona's leaders to stop barking up this tree and do something positive for their great state.

    My final point is to concede that while my cohorts on the left are wrong to say that everything happening in Arizona is the result of racism, it is also equally wrong to claim that race has nothing to do with it.

    Recent events in Prescott over the school mural certainly attest to that, as well as other events. When times are tough, people go looking for scapegoats and latent racism comes to the surface. That's not a slur against Arizona, but a recognition of a sad part of human nature based on years of studying history.

    Take care my friend. Even in these times of political division, we need to keep communication open. A new civil war benefits no one.

  4. From my libertarian point of view and attitude of liberty I’ve always thought the entire bill was taking a very serious problem and dirtying the water with all sorts of unnecessary problems. In a very pathetic way that is water under the bridge, wheels set in motion, whatever cliche you'd like to use. What is happening with the next pieces of legislation is clearly a move to set up confrontation. You are directly on point that is not necessarily racism but race is definitely an issue that cannot be ignored. We need solutions to these problems without the attendant agenda baggage attached.

    I absolutely agree that we need immigration reform and also think in realities. I do not believe, due to the economic crisis before us, that this is the time to lower standards to allow people in to "do work Americans won't do." It is my firm belief that in a sadly ironic way, Americans will now find it within themselves to do that work, our situation is getting that bad.

    This was never an ordinary or a particularly bad recession and I believe the Political Class, from all directions, knew it and never owned up to it. The situation was bound to get worse because root problems were never really addressed, fundamentally because there was both inertia and strong will, competing with solutions that could never be agreed upon. A double dip recession was literally always “in the charts” but the Deepwater Horizon incident does indeed change everything coupled with the global debt/currency crisis. These events not only forebode depression but depressing because anyone with any sense knows none of it should have happened. Too little, too late.

    You may have read my earlier comments (from another YouTuber incidentally) regarding living in Central Phoenix has become untenable.

    Prescott is my hometown and almost all of my family lives there. We plan on returning there very soon, so the incident at Miller Valley School (all of my nieces and nephews went to school there) really caught our attention. I paid personal attention to it and again…beware of national media. In truth there were more objections to the lightening of the skin color than support for it but that is not what makes for good headlines. The city councilman who made the offending headline remarks has been fired from his radio show due to his comments. More people are embarrassed and upset that he and his less than 500 supporters are getting more attention than the thousands who attended meetings and protests objecting to him and his comments.

    My question to the school board is “WHY has the bureaucrat who ordered the skin tone be lightened still an employee?”

    It is very tough to be an average, fair-minded, “live and let live” Arizonan these days…