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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    AZ isn’t just the ‘crazy state’, it has its shining moments

    The past few days have been filled with reports of Black Friday lunacy. Pepper sprayings, stabbings and a myriad of other awful things happened across the nation in the early hours of that craziest of days.

    Perhaps the worst display, and what seems to be one of the most reported incidents, happened in Buckeye, an Arizona town north of Tucson. A grandfather, shopping with his grandson, was bloodied by police officers at the local Walmart. He had been accused of shoplifting, although reports that came in later indicated he may have just been hiding an item from other greedy shoppers. Regardless of the truth of the matter, a minor hysteria seems to have gripped the nation because of this event, and once again that hysteria is centered on the state of Arizona.

    This is certainly not the first time something like this has happened to the Grand Canyon State. One of the most famous examples, SB 1070, caused the nation to lament the crazed racists who populated that distant desert land, so much so that entertainers and businesses boycotted the state.

    And the list goes on. A break from a northern Arizona private prison and the subsequent manhunt gave Americans a few weeks of Bonnie and Clyde readings, and some pointed out that this inevitably what comes with privatized penal institutions. A Phoenix area “church” was shut down and its members arrested on charges of exchanging sexual services for donations on a sliding scale, giving the national publications that carried the story and their readers a good snicker. And the colorful characters that grab nationwide headlines, like Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce and Governor Jan Brewer, seem to attract ridicule more often than praise.

    There are some interesting insights to be drawn from Arizona being the “crazy state” in the national media. Certainly Arizona has had its fair share of lunacy recently, and all of these eruptions of strangeness must be dealt with, and owned up to, at the state level. But many of these ills are not unique to Arizona.

    Though the media tends to portray it as an anomaly, Arizona is really just another state in the union, with all of the problems of the national entity. SB 1070 was quickly one upped by even harsher laws in such places as Alabama and South Carolina. Prison breaks and prostitution rings happen all across the country, and the questions these particular incidents raise (when does privatization go too far, and what are the limits of religious freedom) are puzzling concerns for all Americans.

    This is especially true of the Buckeye incident. Certainly it was heinous, but the circumstances that led to it were duplicated all across the nation early Friday morning. Arizona is just a microcosm of America’s madness. That doesn’t sound very hopeful, but it can be.

    If all eyes are on Arizona, waiting for the next crazy story, why not surprise everyone and do something good? Already some positive Arizona moments have caught national attention, and inspired those watching to deal with larger problems. The ousting of Russell Pearce certainly qualifies, as does one of America’s most inspiring figures: Gabrielle Giffords. She is southern Arizona’s own representative both in government and, hopefully, in identity. It is of course true that the terrible shooting that led to Giffords’ situation is the most disgusting of all the “crazy stories” to come out of this state. But the aftermath, thanks largely to Giffords’ own efforts, is the inspiration that many not just in Arizona, but all across America, desperately need. So why not do as she’s done?

    Why not take the attention America is giving Arizona’s sideshow antics and give the country something that’s a bit more useful than sensational news?

    — Andrew Conlogue is a philosophy, politics, economics and law junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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