In this great country, our freedoms can sometimes cause controversy. A president can use executive action to shield specific individuals from deportation, and Americans have the right to express their opposition.
Or, a president can pardon an individual for a conviction, and the public has the right to disagree.
Sometimes, folks can go overboard in their expression of speech by using filthy, disgusting, un-American language that would result in immediate grounding for our adolescent children had they mouthed those words.
Which brings us to the current controversy over President Donald J. Trump’s pardoning of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The president had every right to pardon the Arizona sheriff after he was convicted of criminal contempt for violating a court order to halt his office from racially profiling Latinos for immigration sweeps.
The Aug. 25 pardon saved Arpaio, 85, from an October sentencing that could have resulted in up to six months in jail.
The backlash – again, freedom of expression – from the Latino community and others was fierce.
USA Today’s editorial pretty well summed it up: “Fresh from pouring gasoline on the fires of intolerance in Charlottesville, Va., President Trump on Friday pardoned a man who systematically persecuted people of color. Invoking the presidential pardon power for this man — former Maricopa County (Ariz.) sheriff Joe Arpaio — further shreds whatever semblance of moral authority the president retains, not to mention Republican hopes of making inroads among Hispanic voters.”
Which brings us to the point we want to make. The Fresno County Republican Party has all the rights in the world to invite Arpaio to Fresno later this month.
But, we doubt it’s a smart move for a Republican Party that has been weakened ever since1994 when then-Gov. Pete Wilson railed against undocumented immigrants in pushing for passage of Proposition 187. All of a sudden, Latinos showed up at the ballot box; and, today, no Republican holds a statewide office and the GOP has been pushed to near irrelevance in the state Legislature.
National Republicans, following Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, commissioned an autopsy on what the party needed to do to attract Latino votes. The report was succinct: Pass immigration reform, listen to minorities, and don’t demean them.
Then Trump came along.
The Fresno Republican Party would have been smarter to avoid antagonizing a large percentage of the Latino community (Fresno County is almost 53 percent Latino). Already, there are plans for a demonstration on Sept. 29 when Arpaio shows up for the annual Second Amendment barbecue.
Fred Vanderhoof, chairman of the Fresno County Republican Party, told The Fresno Bee the organization invited Arpaio because “he’s probably the most famous sheriff in the country and he was an early supporter of President Trump, so we just felt it was appropriate to honor him.”
Arpaio is also the reincarnation of Wilson for a new generation of Latinos who were too young to experience the racial rhetoric in 1994.
Trump has been criticized for his pardon of Arpaio. Some view the act as an embrace of a person who has openly targeted Latinos. In fact, Maricopa County has spent upwards of $140 million to settle lawsuits filed against the former sheriff.
Bringing Arpaio to Fresno is inappropriate. And, we’re sure Republicans know they will face criticism from the Latino community. If this is how they define outreach to Latino voters, we’d hate to see how they would treat them as enemies.