Granderson: Arizona's indictment of Trump allies follows a sordid, racist history

I’ve lived and/or worked in 10 states scattered across the country. Arizona was and remains the most complicated. The same state that elected the first openly gay mayor of a large U.S. city is also the state that did not want a federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.

Perhaps the cultural pendulum swings so drastically because the population shifts depending on the time of year — shoutout to you snowbirds.

Whatever the season, though, Arizona is not a liberal epicenter like New York. To get news like we saw this week — where an Arizona grand jury indicted 18 allies of Donald Trump, including Mark Meadows and Rudolph W. Giuliani, over their efforts to overturn the 2020 election — takes more than dislike of Trump or Republicans.

It takes facts.

And it should be no surprise to find that kind of evidence in Arizona, where election denial arises from a long history of other racist power grabs.

Let’s think back to 2020 in Arizona, even before the election drama. This was the same year when Scottsdale City Council member Guy Phillips, appearing at an anti-mask rally, made a joke with the dying words of George Floyd as police killed him: “I can’t breathe.”

That kind of brazen racism is not unique for the area.

Scottsdale is a former sundown town that is nearly 90% white. Black people made up less than 2% of the population.

After pushback Phillips apologized, blaming the remarks on adrenaline, whatever that means. As if resisting mask requirements required a teaspoon of racism to be effective.

At the time of his remarks, my family had just moved to the Phoenix suburb, and I was beginning to think we had made a terrible mistake. On multiple occasions I was called the N word by drivers in pickup trucks with large Trump flags flapping from them.

Overt racism played well with a lot of voters. Months after mocking Floyd’s death, Phillips not only made it out of the primary but also ended up dangerously close to being reelected. Colton Duncan, Republican Kari Lake’s campaign manager when she ran for governor, retweeted a racist post about Native Americans on Indigenous Peoples Day in 2022. Lake herself has talked about going to war with Mexico over the migrant crisis. This year she is leaning into the racist “replacement theory” rhetoric as she runs for Senate against Rep. Ruben Gallego.

She launched her campaign in Scottsdale, by the way.

That’s not to suggest all of Maricopa County is filled with people who are racists. Only that the largest county in the state has a lot of them. Enough to sustain political careers of people who have said and done some vile things. This is the state that gave us Sen. Barry Goldwater, who opposed the Civil Rights Act. Arizona also attempted to pass “show me your papers” legislation.

It’s a cloud that continues to hang over the area, a constant reminder that how far we’ve come is not nearly far enough. And underneath that cloud of racial grievance, a group of citizens chose to make a stand for Trump, the king of racial grievances. It’s little wonder out of all the states to challenge the election results, no state worked harder through multiple recounts and lawsuits than Arizona. In fact, Lake still suggests the election was stolen even after the indictments reiterate that simply is not true.

What has been true is Arizona politics swinging between the unacceptable and the remarkable. After it was discovered the mayor of Tempe was gay, recall efforts were kicked into high gear. One of the key people to help fight them off? Republican Sen. John McCain — who resisted having out LGBTQ+ members in the military.

From the outside that makes little sense. But after living in Arizona, and witnessing the constant tug-of-war between progressive and conservative policies, the one thing that is clear is neither political philosophy defines the state. There is hatred, there is love, and then there is truth. The indictments may be characterized as a liberal attempt to punish Trump. It’s not that simple. Arizona isn’t liberal or conservative. The same goes for these indictments.


Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top