Yesterday, Kos announced that Daily Kos would not be participating in Netroots Nation 2015 that will be held in July in Phoenix, Arizona. Kos explained his reasoning thus
I made very clear in the wake of Arizona's passage of SB 1070 that I would not be setting foot in the state, nor spending a dime in it until the law was revoked. The law, however gutted by the courts, remains on the books, as does systemic harassment of Latinos, so my pledge still stands.I cannot argue with this statement. SB 1070 was gutted by the courts, but has not been revoked by the legislature. If revocation is the standard, not actual implementation, then Kos is completely right. And I hope he will stand by that standard for all states that have not revoked laws that were gutted by the courts (e.g., that he will honor the boycott against California until such time as the voters revoke proposition 8 that was passed by voter referendum in 2008).
All that said, I want to make one issue clear. Kos is standing mostly alone in his boycott of Arizona. And by this I mean that national groups and latino politicians that champion immigrant and Hispanic justice do not currently support a boycott against Arizona.
In 2010, the Arizona State Legislature passed SB 1070, a draconian anti-latino law that required the police to essentially demand citizenship papers of any person they thought "might" be undocumented. This thinly veiled excuse for racial profiling was rapidly denounced by pretty much everyone. Almost immediately, there were calls to boycott Arizona. Among the key groups calling for the boycott were
"The governor and legislature are blind to what this bill will really do to citizens, law enforcement and the state economy. Tourists will not come to a state with discriminatory policies on the books. Businesses will not move here. Hispanic workers and taxpayers will leave. If state lawmakers don't realize or don't care how detrimental this will be, we need to make them understand somehow. Conventions are a large source of visitors and revenue, and targeting them is the most effective way to make this point before it's too late. Just as professional athletes refused to recognize Arizona until it recognized Martin Luther King Jr., we are calling on organizations not to schedule conventions and conferences in Arizona until it recognizes civil rights and the meaning of due process. We don't want to sustain this effort any longer than necessary. It's about sending a message."La Raza and friends
On May 6, NCLR joined with the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), the National Action Network (NAN), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Puerto Rican Coalition (NPRC), and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to announce a boycott against the state of Arizona in protest of SB 1070.And Sound Strike, A group of bands that agreed to not play in Arizona.
As an Arizona resident, I supported all these groups in their boycott. I also believe it was effective. Estimates of the economic impact of the boycott range from about $6-100 million. Several business leaders and business groups in Arizona called on the State Legislature to stop being crazed idiots (to little effect, I admit).
As would be expected, SB 1070 was challenged in the courts almost immediately. It took some time, but eventually in April of 2011, the Ninth Circuit upheld lower court rulings which effectively gutted the law. The State of Arizona appealed to the Supreme Court, and in June 2012 the majority pretty much upheld the 9th circuit ruling, leaving SB 1070 forever and definitively gutted and mostly unenforceable. While I agree fully that revocation of SB 1070 would be best, and that the Arizona Legislature is filled with deranged right-wing freaks who are really and truly evil, SB 1070 is really and truly gutted.
So, what does all this have to do with the current boycotts of Arizona? That's the thing, there really aren't any. Between 2010 and 2012, pretty much all the individuals and organizations who called for the boycott rescinded them.
In July 2010, after preliminary court ruling against SB 1070, Raul Grijalva ended his call for a boycott.
"I am encouraging national groups to return their conventions and conferences to the state to help us change the political and economic climate."As for La Raza, they ended their boycott in September, 2011.
That doesn't mean he's going to do an about-face and be the poster child for boosting tourism, however.
"I'm not going to pander," he said. "I am not going to get a list from the visitors and convention bureau and start dialing each number."
Instead, he said, he will support the efforts of groups that are publicly opposed to the law. Those who "don't have the guts to take a position on the law" shouldn't expect a hand, he said.
Sound Strike has never officially ended their boycott, but many of the bands who initially signed on to the boycott are now playing in Arizona.
So, after all this discussion, what is this boycott of Arizona of which you speak? I can understand that many people may choose to avoid Arizona, it sure ain't a progressive paradise, and there really are some deranged evil people running the place. But before everybody assumes that boycotting Arizona is a normal, progressive choice, I just want everyone to consider that Raul Grijalva and La Raza are on the other side of the issue. That does not mean you have to agree with me, or them, only that the decision to continue boycotting Arizona is not a simple one.
You all may choose to boycott Arizona, just don't argue that you are in solidarity with ALL your latino/latina brothers and sisters--many of those brothers and sisters stopped boycotting Arizona a few years ago. I also have no doubt that there are some latinos who continue to call for a boycott, and I in no way see that as wrong or bad.
My only point in writing all of this is to say that the decision to boycott Arizona is not simple or obvious--unless your complaint is that "who the hell wants to go to Phoenix in July?" It really will be hotter than a lava field in hell, no denying that one.
11:37 AM PT: I just realized I failed to link to Mother Mags far better diary on this subject.