On Sunday the Arizona Diamondbacks Come to DC... and They're Not Alone

There is a joke going around about Arizona's spate of anti-immigrant
legislation: it may be fascism but at least it's a dry fascism. Welcome
to Arizona, the home of dry heat and dead-end bigotry. The DC metro
area, at least climatically, couldn't be more different. This is a town
where summer means the kind of muggy humidity that soaks you to the
skin. On Sunday at high noon, the dry nativism of Arizona collides with
steamy weather and steamed immigrant rights activists at DC's Nationals
Park. The Arizona Diamondback baseball squad is coming to town and, as
Major League Baseball has learned all summer, that means a protest at
the park. It means a rambunctious rally greeting the thousands coming
out to the ol' ballgame and leafleting them with a simple call to
action: contact MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and tell him to move the
2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona.

As Mackenzie Baris of DC Jobs with Justice
commented to me, "Turning the tide on hateful laws starts with sending
a clear message from the rest of the country to Arizona that what's
happening there isn't acceptable, and there can't be business as usual
anymore. Moving the All-Star Game would be a powerful statement, not to
mention a real economic sanction. Actions like the one planned for
Sunday not only put pressure on MLB, but also help to wake people up to
what's going on."

Rosa Lozano, the youth organizer for CASA de Maryland,
shared this sentiment. "Baseball is an iconic American sport," she
said. "What better way to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of
this country than to have such an institution like Major League
Baseball move their All-Star game out of Arizona and send a clear
message that there are real concrete consequences for promoting hate?"

This Sunday's game however contains several twists from the
typical ballpark demos that have been shadowing the D-backs all summer.
First of all, Nationals rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg is set to
pitch. That means a game between two dreadful teams which would have
normally drawn more crickets than people, will now be packed and garner
national media attention. And secondly, there will be an opposing rally
in front of the park by the utterly unhinged right wing anti-immigrant
organization, Help Save Maryland. As Help Save Maryland's call to action reads, "Radical,
anti-American groups like La Raza and CASA of Maryland continue to
threaten Arizona citizens and Major League Baseball. Using their
illegal alien clientele as protesters, they are demanding the 2011
Baseball All-Star Game be moved out of Phoenix, Arizona as part of
their state-wide boycott. It's time for the citizens of Maryland and
the Greater Washington Area to fight back...Let's use this game to show
our support for Arizona's crackdown on illegal aliens and increased
border security!"

After their rally,
Help Save Maryland will be sitting in their own section of the stadium
where they will root on Nationals players like Ivan Rodriguez and
Alberto Gonzalez. Clearly the one thing they haven't "saved Maryland"
from is irony.

Help Save Maryland does however hold one singular distinction: they are the only organization in the state named by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "nativist/extremist group".

Here is how the SPLC defines nativist/extremist groups:

"Organizations identified by the Intelligence Report as nativist
extremist are groups that go after people, not policy... Some conduct
armed "citizen border patrols." Others confront Latino immigrants
congregated at day labor centers or informal roadside pick-up sites.
Some conduct surveillance of apartment houses and private homes. Almost
all of them disseminate vicious, immigrant-bashing propaganda."

Now they're taking this political program to the park. This in and
of itself demands a response. While the debate on immigration in the
halls of Congress and the Sunday morning talk shows has veered toward
frightening territory, the ballpark has been the one place this summer
where immigrant rights allies have been able to congregate and get
their message out with terrific publicity and purpose. This Sunday is
about preventing Help Save Maryland from claiming that space and
turning Arizona Diamondbacks games into celebrations of the
"nativist-extremist" brand of politics so in vogue from Wasilla to

It's particularly galling that they are using the platform of
baseball, that historic symbol of community and cohesion, as a staging
ground for their hate. In the name of Jackie Robinson, Roberto
Clemente, and every player who has spoken out this year against
Arizona's laws, people should show up Sunday and say to the
hate-mongers and their foot soldiers that enough is enough. Immigrants
aren't the problem. Immigrants didn't bankrupt the economy or drag us
into multiple wars or jail two million of our citizens. What ails this
country, tragically, is home grown.

those who want to contact Bud Selig and ask him to move the 2011 All
Star game, his office number is (414) 225-8900 / FAX (414) 225-8910).
For additional resources check out

first run at thenation.com

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