Arizona – Phoenix; Musician Manu Chao, Joe Arpaio cross paths on immigration
Musician Manu Chao,
Joe Arpaio cross paths on immigration
The stage was set for an impromptu public debate on Arizona’s immigration policies when Sheriff Joe Arpaio stepped out for a sandwich Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 20, and found a press conference assembled just outside his office to call attention to Manu Chao’s appearance at Festival de Resistencia.
The free concert, beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, on the corner of West Second Avenue and West Grant Street in Phoenix, is being held in « celebration of the fight for civil rights, human rights, indigenous rights and the rights of Mother Earth. »
Arpaio seemed willing and eager to talk, but the French musician was surrounded by reporters and photographers in front of Wells Fargo Bank. After waiting nearly half an hour, the sheriff went inside, asking reporters, « Who is this guy? He doesn’t know who I am? He’d rather badmouth me than talk to me? »
Asked why he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to engage with Arpaio, Chao said, « I’m sorry if he want to talk with me. I was involved here with a lot of people. »
A multilingual world music artist, Chao said Wednesday’s appearance at Festival de Resistencia marks his first Arizona performance.
« So I’m really happy with that, » he says. « It may sound stupid, but Arizona, for me, from my childhood, was the center of the world because I used to spend so much time watching films of cowboys with my grandfather. So for me and for my grandfather, I am really happy to be here.
« But I also see that the situation is very cruel for a lot of people. So one of the goals of the show tomorrow is to talk about that and to let all the communities talk about what’s happening here with the repression of illegals.
« I think it’s really a big problem all around the world, and it’s a problem that must be solved for the better of society for everybody. That’s maybe the most important goal why I’m here. »
Asked how he feels about the argument often advanced that artists should just stick to their art and leave the matters of the day to politicians, Chao responded, « Why am I involved in politics? Because in my everyday life, I’m involved in politics. Everywhere you go, there are social problems. You can’t close your heart and say nothing is happening. Politics is all around you.
« So my way of writing songs is a little kind of journalistic way – I write songs about what I see. I’m really, really sorry that in all the travels I’ve made in my life, all around the world – I’ve been a lucky man for that – I’ve never found a place where people told me, ‘Manu, here, everything is going good.’ I never found this place.
« Everywhere I go, there’s social problems. So I write about that. I’m not inventing things. It’s what I see. »
Arpaio engaged the protesters by dismissing them with jokes while defending his record and reputation.
Asked how he feels about musicians speaking out against the immigration policies enforced by the sheriff’s department, Arpaio shrugged it off.
« I had Linda Ronstadt. You remember her? She led 10,000 people against me. Shakira. Who else came? Santana. They all come. Why don’t they ask me to sing? I’ll sing with ‘em. I’ll sing with this guy. Is this guy French? I lived in France. »
If he could choose a song to sing, Arpaio said, it would be « My Way. »
« That’s my favorite song, » he said. « Because I did it my way.
« You like that? I took the blows. Just like you guys keep giving me the blows, you understand? »
When a reporter asked if « Our Way » wouldn’t be a more appropriate way for an elected official to view the situation, Arpaio said, « You’re right. I do what the people want me to do. That’s why I’m doing the illegal immigration. They want me to do that. And I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job. And the people support me. »