So now, weighing in on the controversy about Arizona's SB 1070, we have that renowned legal expert and pundit known as … Lady Gaga?
Yes, you read that right. In early August, “Gaga” — whose mommy had the good sense to name her Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta — performed at a concert in Phoenix. She couldn't resist getting in on the debate about Arizona's SB 1070, that piece of legislation giving the state's police an effective means of curbing illegal immigration.
According to a story on the Web site of the New York Daily News, Germanotta had this to say about SB 1070 and Arizona: “We have to be active. We have to protest. I will yell and I will scream louder. I will hold you, and we will hold each other, and we will peaceably protest this state.”
Screaming and yelling. Now how did I know that someone who calls herself Lady Gaga wouldn't immediately embrace an approach that calls for reasonable, logical discourse?
In the Daily News story, Germanotta told her audience an anecdote, one she felt would bolster her position and allow people to understand why she opposes SB 1070. “During [the] concert, Lady Gaga told the crowd about a boy whose home was raided earlier in the day 'over a parking ticket or something,' and whose brother was deported to Mexico. Calling the case 'disgusting,' the star dedicated the song 'You and I' to the boy.”
Germanotta hasn't just hopped on the “defend poor, persecuted minorities of color” bandwagon. She's driving the darned thing. Her most revealing comment was this one: “I think it's important that people understand that it's a state of emergency for this place and this state.”
She's right, but for absolutely the wrong reason. Germanotta accepted uncritically an anecdote a total stranger told her and then criticized an entire state. Her story wasn't fact-checked for accuracy; she talked to no one but the boy, and based her tirade on his uncorroborated account.
A Daily News reader had this reaction to Germanotta's statement: “I was a Lady Gaga fan until I read this. Entertainers should stay out of politics unless they are going to become devoted politicians. Eight years of George Bush and none of them had the nerve to campaign against him and then when they do, they decide to come out of the woodwork and back a guy who has practically no political experience and because he is a man of color.
“I had a dear friend who was an Arizona police officer and was gunned down by illegals during a routine traffic stop. They left him in the hot Arizona sun to bleed to death. He had four kids and his wife was a LEGAL immigrant from Mexico. The Arizona Highway Patrol tracked the murderers from one safe house to another until they escaped across the border into Mexico. Now do you see why this law was created?”
The reader's account is every bit as anecdotal and uncorroborated as Germanotta's, but which one makes for the most compelling reading? Which one presents the better case for being either for or against SB 1070? Because if it comes down to a battle of anecdotes and unconfirmed stories, I'm sure Arizonans who support SB 1070 have a plethora of them to tell Germanotta.
It's too bad she didn't bother to talk to any of them before popping off. But, unlike Kanye West, Rage Against The Machine and other artists, she stopped short of calling for a boycott of Arizona.
At least she's got the good sense to know boycotts can work both ways.
Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.