Will Arizona Senate Leader Welcome President Obama or "Require Papers"?

Jeff Biggers

When Arizona state senate president Russell Pearce (R-Mesa) convened the new session of the state legislature yesterday, he declared: "There is no place for hate in our homes and outside our home."

In light of President Obama's trip to Tucson tomorrow to address mourning residents at the University of Arizona in a White House announced "Together We Thrive: Tucson and America" event, many Arizonans are wondering if Pearce will be on hand to usher in a new era of civility in the state.

A month ago, Pearce, one of the main architects and proponents of the SB 1070 anti-immigration law in Arizona, infamously joked
at a Judicial Watch panel: "I can tell you that the best thing about
1070 is that Obama may not be visiting Arizona because we actually
require papers now."

The Think Progress
website reminded readers of an earlier incident last fall when Pearce
accused President Obama of waging "jihad" against the United States.
Reported in the Arizona Republic, Pearce said at an award's ceremony at the David Horowitz Freedom Center:

"When you talk about jihad, that is exactly what Obama has
against America, specifically the state of Arizona. Think about it. This
is the first time in the history of the United States that a sitting
President has sided with a foreign government to sue the citizens of its
country. For defending our laws? For defending and protecting the
citizens of the state of Arizona? It's outrageous and it's impeachable."

Across the nation, religious and political leaders have called for a
new era of discourse in the political arena. Writing in the Huffington Post, Christian leader Jim Wallis wrote:

As many have already said, we must honor this tragic event
and Gabby's national service by reflecting deeply on how we speak to and
about one another, and how we create environments that help peace grow,
or allow violence and hatred to enter. Many of us who would never
consider violence of the fist have been guilty of violence in our hearts
and with our tongues. We need to be able to relate to others with whom
we disagree on important issues without calling them evil. The words we
say fall upon the balanced and unbalanced, stable and unstable, the
well-grounded and the unhinged, alike.

With six dead in Arizona from the Tucson shooting, and the lives of
Rep. Gabby Giffords and many others still in critical condition, will
Arizona's state leaders mark the end of a "place for hate in our homes
and outside our home"?

As the Obamas join mourning Arizonans at the McKale Center on
Wednesday evening, will Pearce and Gov. Jan Brewer greet them in a new
era of reconciliation and civil discussion?


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