Former State Senate President Russell Pearce, sponsor of Arizona’s famous show-me-your-papers law, SB1070 is now running in tight primary race to try to reclaim his senate seat after his humiliating recall defeat last November. Aside from being considered by many to be Arizona’s biggest bigot, Pearce is famous for proclaiming that he was “Tea Party before Tea Party was cool” as well as his favorite rhetorical question,“What part of ‘illegal’ don’t you understand?”
In a rambling, patriotic Fourth of July Facebook post consisting of Mormon scripture and numerous quotes from his favorite Founding Fathers (as well as an interesting use of proper nouns), Pearce proclaimed:
“Extremism is not a vice when in defense of Freedom, protection of the unborn, private property rights, 2nd Amendment rights, balanced budget, eliminating Affirmative Action, protecting the sanctity of Marriage between a man and a woman, securing our borders, protecting American jobs, quality education with parents deciding on school choice for their children and reducing crime; in protecting your Life, your Liberty and your Property. It can only be preserved through constant vigilance”
It makes you wonder if Pearce understands what the word “extremism” means.
From the Free Online Dictionary:
extremist [ɪkˈstriːmɪst] n
(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a person who favors or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behavior, esp in being politically radical.
According to Wikipedia:
In democratic societies, individuals or groups that advocate the replacement of democracy with an authoritarian regime are usually considered to be extremists, in authoritarian societies the opposite typically applies…
Like many other off-the-rails GOP politicians and Tea Party pundits who have made noises about insurrection since the president’s Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court, Russell Pearce found the time to let his Tea Party followers know that, in his opinion, extremism is a viable method for those on the right to bring back his special version of “Liberty.”
We have to ask if Pearce realizes that extremism in the context of his message can be interpreted to include the bombing of abortion clinics or the murder of providers. Extremism also brings to mind militias plotting government takeovers and the use of violence to make sure black people don’t get jobs over whites, like we saw during the struggle for civil rights. And how exactly do we use extremism to make sure LBGT folks don’t marry and school choice is enacted?
Perhaps Pearce truly believes that since the election of our first black president, the US is now a totalitarian regime and it is now necessary to use extremism to defend our freedoms. But of course that is a ridiculous premise. Totalitarian regimes don’t allow people like Pearce to talk about extremist takeovers of the government on Facebook nor to amass in groups carrying guns and poorly spelled signs with racist depictions of the Commander-in-Chief.
No, I’m sorry to inform our recalled senator that we’re still a democracy that has far more freedoms in place than the kind of über right-wing libertarian utopia that Pearce and the master puppeteers of the Tea Party, the Koch brothers, envision for our country.
No matter how many religious verses and quotes from our freedom-loving, slave-owning founding fathers you include, your use of inflamed rhetoric to advocate extremism definitely does violate our nation’s common moral standards.
Which leads me to ask Mr. Pearce, what part of “common moral standards” don’t you understand?
Amy McMullen is an activist for human rights and social and economic justice currently residing in Arizona. Her former incarnations include back-to-the-land counter culturist in the 70s, small business entrepreneur, charter boat captain, EMT, and rehabber of distressed homes. She is currently unemployed except for her writing and the required care and maintenance of her husband and two dogs. She also volunteers for the Phoenix Urban Health Collective as a street medic and is on the board of a new nonprofit devoted to providing free medical care for the uninsured and under-insured in Phoenix. Her writings on social justice and other subjects appear in Truthout, Salon, Addicting Info, The Tucson Sentinel, The Pragmatic Progressive and on her blog at Open Salon.