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Activists criticize Ariz. Republican for Latino and Muslim jokes at roast of Joe Arpaio

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 21:53 EDT
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An Arizona state lawmaker’s material in a roast of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio centered almost exclusively on Latinos, Muslims and Asians, according to audio published on Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (SPLC)

“A lot of people claim that SB 1062 is gonna cause discrimination based upon religion in Arizona,” state Rep. John Kavanagh (R) said during the event, held as part of the Western Conservatives Conference in Phoenix last weekend. “And I scoffed at that until tonight. When a Muslim waiter serving up here walked up to Sheriff Joe, wouldn’t give him his dinner, ’cause he said ‘I don’t serve swine.’”

The law, which supporters said ensured “religious freedom,” was vetoed on Wednesday by Gov. Jan Brewer (R), amid mounting threats of economic boycotts and possibly even the National Football League moving the Super Bowl, scheduled to be held in Glendale in 2015, out of the area.

“Kavanagh was acting like a right-wing shock jock, not a legislator,” SPLC campaign director Josh Glasstetter told The Raw Story in an email Wednesday evening. “His jokes about Latinos, Asians and Muslims, not to mention his defense of SB 1062, reveal his disdain for people who aren’t like him. In fact, he was the driving force behind a bill that would have made it illegal for transgender people to use public bathrooms.”

As the SPLC reported in March 2013, Kavanagh introduced a bill that would have barred transgender Arizonans from using public restrooms, arguing that, “If you’re a male, you don’t go into a female shower or locker room, or vice versa. It also raises the specter of people who want to go into those opposite sex facilities not because they’re transgender, but because they’re weird.”

During his roast, Kavanagh asked Arpaio, “How many Hispanics did you pull over on the way over here?” and cracked that the federal monitor appointed to oversee the sheriff’s operations would be “unreasonable.”

“When Sheriff Joe sends his new deputies to the academy, he will no longer just train them to do the Miranda warning in Spanish,” Kavanagh said. “He will have to teach it in English too. The sign over the booking intake door in the jail will have to have ‘Welcome’ and just not ‘Bienvenido.’”

The mere mention of the monitor drew boos from the crowd, with Kavanagh saying, “Kangaroo court, federal overreach. We know the routine.”

He then asked Arpaio, “Is the federal monitor still gonna let you do them sweeps?”

After a pause, Arpaio told Kavanagh, “I’ll respond to you when you get done, that’s enough.”

Glasstetter told The Raw Story that he felt the political climate around both men was changing.

“If Kavanagh and Arpaio keep treating Latinos like second-class citizens, the last laugh will be on them,” Glasstetter said.

Listen to audio from the roast, as posted by the SPLC on Wednesday, below.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
 
 
 
 
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