American Proscenium

Arizona's Got Sand

On October 26, 1881, a gunfight erupted in a vacant lot on Fremont Street in Tombstone, Arizona, that would go down in history as the Shootout at the OK Corral.  Virgil, Wyatt, and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday stood on one side, and Tom and Frank McLaury and Ike and Billy Clanton on the other.  Guns blazed.  Men fell, dead or wounded.  There is controversy aplenty surrounding the deadly affray, but one thing is clear: Those standing their ground and firing their guns had sand.  Most men in the Old West—and women, too—had sand.  If they did not, they would have stayed in the East.  The territory of Arizona was inhabited by those with pluck and grit.

It seems that the state of Arizona is still inhabited by the same types.

One of those is Russell Pearce, an Arizona state senator from Mesa.  Before entering the political arena, he served for 35 years as a sheriff’s deputy with Maricopa County.  He rose through the ranks to deputy sheriff, was shot in the chest while on duty, and was awarded the Medal of Valor.  I first wrote about Pearce in Immigration and the American Future (Chronicles Press, 2007).  He was responsible for drafting Proposition 200, the ballot initiative known as Protect Arizona Now, a relatively mild reform that merely required people to produce proof of citizenship when registering to vote and when applying for public benefits.  It also made it...

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