I support Arizona's SB 1070. Therefore, I am a Nazi.
Despite my 25-year Lodi resume that includes teaching English to immigrants of all colors and faiths, sitting on the American Cancer Society's local board, instructing senior citizens about computer literacy and advising People Assisting the Lodi Shelter, I am the equal of Adolf Hilter's followers.
According to those who oppose the Arizona legislation and the journalists who agree with them, my Nazi sympathies are obvious.
No less an authority on morals than Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Cardinal Mahony repeatedly confirms it: SB 1070 reminds him of Nazi Germany. How Mahony can pretend to take the high road is beyond me. In 2007, Mahony's archdiocese paid out $660 million to settle pedophilia sex abuse charges against its priests.
Mainstream media reporting on SB 1070 represents the profession's lowest moment. And that is saying a mouthful.
To compare, even indirectly, Americans who believe that federal immigration law should be enforced to Nazis is an outrage. Not even a remote comparison can be made between what happened in Germany and what's going on in Arizona.
As you know by now, SB 1070 requires no more than the federal statute already on the books that instructs lawful immigrants to carry a U.S. government-issued green card as proof of authorization to live and work in America.
If they're not permanent residents, they need "temporary visas" that allow them to visit as tourists, students or seasonal workers.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said, to an apparently deaf media audience, "the legislation mirrors federal laws regarding immigration enforcement … . Despite erroneous and misleading statements suggesting otherwise, the new state misdemeanor crime of willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document is adopted, verbatim, from the same offense founding federal statute."
The truth is that native-born American citizens regularly have to show identification. Try to buy groceries without a driver's license. See if you can get on Southwest Airlines without proof of who you are. Not even the public library will issue you a card to borrow books published 50 years ago without confirmation of your name and current address.
Despite suggestions to the contrary, SB 1070 does not authorize or require random roundups or stop-checks.
The bill's key phrase is "reasonable suspicion," which like "probable cause" is a well-established legal concept requiring that a law enforcement officer must possess sufficiently trustworthy facts to believe a crime has been committed.
For example, an Arizona driver who has been stopped for running a red light who cannot produce a valid driver's license might be the object of reasonable suspicion.
On the other hand, an Arizona resident who "looks Mexican" and is walking peacefully down to street to buy ice cream for his children could not be asked for identification.
Over the past 10 days, I have challenged reporters from major California dailies who have written about public figures like Mahony that link patriotic citizens to Nazis.
In telephone conversations, I ask them if they know friends, have relatives or co-workers who are sympathetic to the intent of SB 1070.
Since this is California, where illegal immigration is as much a problem as it is in Arizona, the reporters of course know several from the pro-enforcement crowd.
When I then ask the reporters if they consider their friends and family as Nazis, they answer no.
Here's how I close my conversations. Just because someone like Mahony says that he links SB 1070 advocates to Nazis, reporters do not have to include his statement in their stories. Mahony's charge is baseless and incendiary.
But if unsubstantiated, outrageous lies slip into a story, the editors could strike them. Newspapers should not print hurtful allegations, especially when the unnamed targets of them like me are not given a chance to respond.
Surprisingly, President Barack Obama and the Anti-Defamation League agree.
At his University of Michigan commencement speech, Obama called for "civil discourse" about political differences.
Abraham H. Foxman, Director of the ADL, added: "It also is incumbent upon our political leaders on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of the immigration debate or whatever the hot-button issue of the day, to be responsible for their words, to consider their criticism carefully and to refrain from bringing Nazis or the Holocaust into the discussion."
Obama and Foxman have the right idea. Here's hoping that not only politicians, but also journalists follow their advice.
Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. This week, Pennsylvania introduced legislation similar to Arizona's SB 1070. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org