Monday, January 17, 2011

Arizona's Russell Pearce: not down with the "civility" message

Russell Pearce: don't care nothin' about all this here civility talk

Nicholas Riccardi provides a profile of one of many Republican leaders who aren't even pretending to promote more "civil" political rhetoric, Arizona's state senate president Russell Pearce, in Arizona's relentless conservative voice Los Angeles Times 01/17/2011.

An enthusiastic disciple of Maricopa County's authoritarian Sheriff Joe Arpaio and a former chief deputy under him, Pearce promoted Arizona's notorious SB1070, the stop-and-search-the-brown-people law. He is a hardline rightwinger, reminiscent of the segregationist "shurffs" of the segregated South:

[In the early 2000s], some Arizona Republican leaders, including U.S. Sen. John McCain, favored citizenship for some immigrants who were in the country illegally. Pearce labeled that view "treasonous," and he has steadily pushed the party to his stance by helping to oust moderates. (He endorsed McCain's rival in last year's GOP primary.) ...

Pearce's opponents accuse him of racism. Some tie him to white supremacist groups — he once approvingly forwarded an e-mail from one such organization, and shared the stage with a local neo-Nazi at an immigration rally in 2007. ...

Pearce came to national attention last year with SB 1070, which would require police to investigate the immigration status of people they have detained.

The law also contains some distinctly Pearce-like absolutist provisions — taxpayers could sue any public agency that did not fully enforce immigration laws, and anyone arrested in the state would be held until their immigration status was verified by the federal government.
Pearce is also a disciple of the notorious Mormon fundamentalist Bircher Cleon Skousen (1913-2006):

Meanwhile [during his time in law enforcement], Pearce attended lectures by W. Cleon Skousen, a right-wing author and former FBI agent whose controversial theories have also inspired Glenn Beck.

Skousen argued that the United States was divinely founded and that breaching the country's law contradicted God's will. Like Pearce, Skousen was Mormon. Traces of Skousen can be heard in Pearce's stark, black-and-white style and his emphasis on the sanctity of the law.
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