By Dana Milbank
The Arizona governor, seemingly determined to repel every last tourist dollar from her pariah state, has sounded a new alarm about border violence. "Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded," she announced on local television.
Ay, caramba! Those dark-skinned foreigners are now severing the heads of fair-haired Americans? Maybe they're also scalping them or shrinking them or putting them on a spike.
But those in fear of losing parts north of the neckline can relax. There's not a follicle of evidence to support Brewer's claim.
The Arizona Guardian Web site checked with medical examiners in Arizona's border counties, and the coroners said they had never seen an immigration-related beheading. I called and e-mailed Brewer's press office requesting documentation of decapitation; no reply.
Brewer's mindlessness about headlessness is just one of the immigration falsehoods being spread by Arizona politicians. Border violence on the rise? Phoenix becoming the world's No. 2 kidnapping capital? Illegal immigrants responsible for most police killings? The majority of those crossing the border are drug mules? All wrong.
This matters, because it means the entire premise of the Arizona immigration law is a fallacy. Arizona officials say they've had to step in because federal officials aren't doing enough to stem increasing border violence. The scary claims of violence, in turn, explain why the American public supports the Arizona crackdown.
Last year gave us death panels and granny killings, but compared with the nonsense justifying the immigration crackdown, the health-care debate was an evening at the Oxford Union Society.
Note the parallels here. Conservatives tell scary but false stories about immigrants, so people support Arizona's new law. Conservatives tell scary but false stories about Indians--savage, drunk, greedy, get government checks, don't pay taxes--so people oppose sovereignty and treaty rights.
In other words, perceptions have a tangible effect on reality. Stereotypes lead to changes in laws and policies. People wrongly believe illegal immigrants are dangerous, so they curtail the immigrants' rights. They waste police resources and tax dollars to assuage their fears.
This is basically what conservatives do. "The sky is falling!" they scream like Chicken Little. Climate controls, healthcare reform, illegal immigration, gay marriage, gun laws, evolution, etc. are going to destroy us! Join the Tea Party to save the Union from a Communist/terrorist/Mexican/One World/homosexual/secular takeover! And with no evidence whatsoever, millions of gullible Americans believe the scaremongering lies.
For more on the American/Mexican clash, see Arizona Laws = Manifest Insanity and Arizona Laws = Clash of Civilizations. For more on how immigrants represent Indians, see "Most Mexicans Are Indians" and Arizona's Laws Target the Indigenous. For more on conservative scaremongering, see Why Americans Hate Welfare and Conservative Worldview = Fear of Cooties.
Below: A previous brown-skinned bogeyman for white Arizonans.
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