Arn Krugman: Opposed to local platform for Arpaio

Monday, June 19, 2017
Opposed to local platform for Arpaio

I once saw a most hilarious and witty skit at the Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont satirizing the infamous Joe Arpaio, a former sheriff in Arizona.

Arpaio was played brilliantly by John Bell, head of the University of Connecticut’s puppetry program. Friends of mine in Arizona had been bewildered and outraged by Arpaio’s heavy-handed racist policies over the years until he was finally voted out of office.

Bell and my Arizona friends wouldn’t be surprised if Arpaio were asked to speak in northwestern Idaho where there is a notorious enclave of white supremacists, or in the deep South where lynchings were once a spectator sport, but they would be astonished to know that he was a headliner in Belchertown, Massachusetts (“Second Amendment rally in Belchertown draws ‘toughest sheriff,’ gun rights activists,” June 19).

I realize that Confederate flags and racist graffiti have been popping up more frequently in our area, but I’m still amazed. Even other law enforcement agents around the country in red and blue states have condemned the actions and pronouncements of Arpaio.

Critics of this letter will, no doubt, want to remind me that he spoke primarily about the right to bear arms and that he’s actually from Springfield. I know that outrageous speakers at various colleges this year created controversies where student demonstrators prevented them from speaking. I do respect the First and Second amendments, although I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone to have a bazooka or rocket launcher at the ready. I also don’t want to live in a town where people are walking down the street with guns in holsters like the wild west.

It is ironic that members of militia groups who state the need to be able to fight against forces from the federal government seem to be more likely to vote for a leader with dictatorial tendencies. I can hardly imagine Bernie Sanders instituting martial law.

Arpaio certainly has the right to speak. However, I feel that given his past record, he shouldn’t be honored by being given a platform locally. It reflects badly on the sensibilities and values of the greater community in the Pioneer Valley.

Our children already have seen their country elect a president who mocked a disabled person, cheated his workers, lied repeatedly, and boasted about grabbing women and beating the system. Do they need to see more examples of our misguided choices of heroes?

Arn Krugman