[Beyond] Arizona and Miranda Rights

John L. Clark jlc6 at po.cwru.edu
Thu May 20 11:55:58 PDT 2010

On Thu, May 20, 2010 at 11:23 AM, Emily Burgess <ebritt at gmail.com> wrote:
> It is not my desire to demonize Arizona as a whole, but their xenophobic
> determinism has historical roots. As one (very opinionated) friend recently
> put it, "Miranda [rights legislation] came to be because of an overzealous
> law-breaking Arizona police department."
> The wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miranda_v._Arizona is
> considerably more neutral about it, but it's interesting how this region of
> the country behaves at institutional levels in order to protect its way of
> life.

Now it would appear that we are shifting backward, as there appears to
be "bipartisan" support for both covertly and overtly stripping
Miranda rights from citizens[0].  As Glenn says:

"This shift in focus from non-citizens to citizens is as glaring as it
is dangerous. ... There is, of course, no moral difference between
subjecting citizens and non-citizens to abusive or tyrannical
treatment.  But as a practical matter, the dangers intensify when the
denial of rights is aimed at a government's own population.  The
ultimate check on any government is its own citizenry; vesting
political leaders with oppressive domestic authority uniquely empowers
them to avoid accountability and deter dissent."

Everyone needs to be aware of this, because we need dissent as one of
the tools available to us.  Who is leading the charge to strip away
critical rights?  "Barack Obama claims the right to assassinate
Americans far from any battlefield and with no due process of any
kind."  "Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman
Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) announced plans to introduce legislation to
strip the citizenship rights of Americans who commit acts of
terrorism, a proposal already drawing support from both parties."[1]
And, to bring it back to Arizona, 'John McCain says a "serious
mistake" was made if the Time Square bombing suspect was informed of
his Miranda rights.'[2]

What's the difference between xenophobia and nationalism?  I and many
others look in shock at the actions taken by Arizona, but I hear
people from all states talk reflexively about American exceptionalism,
about the need to emphasize supporting American industry, as well as
the need to constantly strengthen American "defense" capabilities.
Isn't what we see in Arizona just a dramatic analog of the generally
pervasive culture of continual improvement and addiction to
superiority?  Perhaps you can already tell my perspective from the
tone of my questions.

[0] http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/05/13/citizens/index.html

[1] http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/05/05/faisal_shahzad_lieberman/index.html

[2] http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/05/04/john_mccain_shahzad_miranda_rights/index.html

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