Dispatches: Postcard from Arizona
July 10, 2010
Greetings from the Grand Canyon State, where I have been holed up since Friday. Here until Monday morning. Four days isn’t much of a vacation, but I prefer to be away from home for only short spurts at a time, cramming as much in to each day away as possible.
Today I visited Skywalk, the glass walkway that juts out over the western Grand Canyon and climbed the steep rocks of Guano Point. Then I moseyed over to Hualapai Ranch and got to pet a famous movie-star buffalo and hang out with real cowboys. Before long, I found myself driving on an isolated, winding, dirt road for about 40 miles without seeing another car in either direction. Tomorrow, I’ll try river rafting on the Colorado River, and should I survive, well, that will be enough adventure for the weekend.
I like coming to Arizona, though I could never live here because of the blistering summer heat. No one should leave this life without visiting the Grand Canyon at least once. I love the restaurants of Tucson, and Sedona remains magical. Even Phoenix has something to offer (I prefer connecting flights through there, instead of LAX).
But some friends raised their eyebrows when I announced my destination. “Arizona?” they sniffed. “Really? What about the boycott?”
What about the boycott?
Unless you’ve been wandering the desert for the last few months, you know about the boycott. About how cities like Los Angeles and Oakland and Berkeley are trying to punish Arizona for cracking down on illegal immigration. This new law went into effect July 1 and the Left has been yelling about it for months now. You can’t support Arizona, they argue. Arizona must be punished.
Personally, I’ve never been into organized boycotts. Sometimes they work, like when the blacks boycotted the buses in Birmingham during the civil rights movement. But more often, they backfire. There are tourists making a point of coming here now because they want to support the decision. People here are also calling for a boycott of California wines in retaliation.
A boycott accomplishes nothing. Many legal experts think the law will be struck down in the courts. We’ll see, but I didn’t think twice about coming here. I’m not going to punish the people of Arizona for a decision made by their governor and state legislature.
Meanwhile, spend any time here and you experience the stubborn independence that Arizonans pride themselves on. Friday night, I sat around a campfire with a cowboy who takes his gun with him almost everywhere. He doesn’t trust government, he especially doesn’t trust the federal government.
But the cowboy, like so many others I’ve spoken with these last 24 hours, feels frustrated. They’re not racist. They’re fearful that certain problems are getting out of hand and no one in Washington is listening. Frankly, they could care less what California thinks of Arizona. They have what they consider a major problem with illegal immigration and to them, the new law is merely a clarion call to the feds to do something, anything.
It’s ironic that all this controversy is unfolding in the Grand Canyon State, because it seems that’s exactly how wide the divide is over the question of illegal immigration.
We’ll see what happens. But I look forward to returning for future visits. There is so much of this state I’ve yet to explore.