Composite Illustration Copyright by Sharon McEachern
"Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies
in the desert, either buried or just lying out there,
that have been beheaded."
-- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer
MEMORABLE AND FALSE
Gov. Jan Brewer said it, "to manipulate an already emotional national debate on immigration," says St. Petersburg Times' PolitiFact.Com. The 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner ran Brewer's comment through its truth-o-meter and rated it "Pants on Fire."
In an attempt to defend her state's controversial immigration law, signed by her on April 23rd and now being challenged by the US Justice Department, Gov. Brewer told Fox News during a June 16th interview :
"We cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime and to the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings and the fact that people can't feel safe in their community. It's wrong! It's wrong!"
FBI SAYS IMMIGRANTS DOUBLED, CRIME DECLINED
Brewer's claims of beheadings, similar to others by opponents of illegal immigration is absurdly false and emphasizes another non-existent danger. For example, the Ethic Soup post, "Bigots' Scare Tactics Oppose Facts," tells how statistics from FBI Uniform Crime Reports provide evidence that "while the nation's illegal-immigrant population DOUBLED from 1994 to 2004, the violent-crime rate DECLINED 35 percent."
Oh yes, the Arizona governor has been on Fox national programs 20 times just since April to talk about illegal immigration, while generally unavailable to the local Arizona reporters, says the New York Times.
THAT HORRIBLE SILENCE
In the Arizona gubernatorial debates, "Brewer began by blanking out during her introductory statement -- there was this horrible 16-second interval where she went silent, stared down at her notes and giggled," describes The Times.
"The evening ended when she stomped away from reporters who were yelling: 'Governor, please answer the question about the headless bodies.' Everyone knows you never want to finish a big campaign night on a headless-body note," writes Gail Collins.
FINALLY SHE FESSED-UP
Brewer first made her statement about decapitations in mid-June and it's taken her three months to fess-up that it just wasn't true. Well, make that an almost, or near-miss, kind of fess-up.
Addressing the 'beheadings' comments, in an interview with the Associated Press on Sept 3, 2010, Brewer admitted she had erred:
'ER, I MISSPOKE'
"That was an error, if I said that. I misspoke..."
PANTS ON FIRE!
She really had to finally come out with the truth after numerous media reports quoted law enforcement folks who responded to the governor's claim that "Oh, our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded."
"It's exceedingly rare for the deaths to have anything to do with any type of violence at all, and certainly no beheadings," says Dr. Eric Peters, deputy chief medical examiner for Pima County -- which has the largest border with Mexico of any county in Arizona.
LAW ENFORCEMENT: NOT EVEN ONE, NOT A SINGLE BEHEADING
In an interview with PolitiFact, Peters said: "We probably have handled the most deaths from border crossings. We have had approximately 1,700 deaths in the last 10 years. We haven't had a single death due to a beheading or having a beheading associated with it."
Peters reported that the majority of deaths, some 95 percent he claimed, were due to exposure to the elements, both extreme heat in summer and extreme cold in winter.
There have been numerous medical examiners and law enforcement officials along the border who agreed with Peters. Nope. No beheadings a'tall.
WHO'S CREATING THE FEAR?
Has crime by undocumented immigrants created public fear, leading to the Arizona law and Brewer's popularity? Or, have politicians, in search of a winning issue, created the fear all by themselves, asks New York Times' reporter Gail Collins.
THEN THERE'S SEN. MCCAIN
To be fair, Gov. Brewer hasn't been alone in making ridiculous and untruthful statements about illegal immigrants. For instance, take Arizona Senator John McCain.
The Christian Science Monitor reminded readers that "Brewer isn't the only Arizonan who's made provocative (and questionable) statements regarding immigration," recalling that in April, Sen. John McCain told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly that "drivers of cars with illegals in it...are intentionally causing accidents on the freeway."
In her N.Y. Timespiece, Collins quotes Terry Goddard, Brewer's gubernatorial opponent, as saying that "the nonexistent beheadings and alleged drive-by assaults are being brought up at a time when violent crime is at the lowest level it's been since 1983 and crime along the border is at least at a 10-year-low."
CLICK AND SEE "Immigration Sculpture"
by Sharon McEachern