“Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness.” – John Wayne as Captain Nathan Brittles in “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”
I am also not the apologizing type. Not as much that I am afraid of being considered weak, but because all too often I find those expecting the apology are generally unworthy of receiving it. However, there are exceptions to every rule and I have determined this to be such an occasion. So, at this time I will apologize to the Sevierville Lodging Association and the City of Sevierville for my lack of proper representation of those who expected me to represent them during the Tennessee Hospitality Association Board Meeting in Murfreesboro on July 15.
As the current president of the Sevierville Lodging Association, I fill a seat on the board of the Tennessee Hospitality Association. These meetings occur quarterly and are intended to set policy for the statewide hospitality industry. A little more than halfway through our two and a half hour meeting, the topic of the State of Tennessee’s debate over passing an illegal immigration law similar to that of Arizona came under discussion and that we, as an association should send a letter to the legislature and gubernatorial candidates stating that we do not approve of such an action. After listening to one prominent board member warn all of us that we should be afraid of the possible boycotts that are presently threatening the Grand Canyon State I felt the need to speak up.
Although his pleas to “protect the jobs of our employees” have some merit, they did not address the fundamental reality that one of our “united” states is not only under attack by dangerous forces from without, but are also threatened by political forces from within. After all, what inspired the government in Arizona to take this action in the first place was the brutal murder of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz who was found Saturday March 27, fatally shot and slumped over in his all-terrain vehicle. His assailants’ footprints were physically traced from the scene of the crime all the way back to the Mexican border. In the absence of federal protection, Arizona decided to protect herself.
The murder has heightened tensions surrounding immigration reform across the country, with advocates of much stricter immigration controls saying Krentz’s death highlights the urgent need for significantly increased border security.
Krentz was well known in the area as a man who was kind to illegal immigrants he found on his property, even despite having been robbed by them in the past. “You know, if they come in and ask for water, I’ll still give them water,” he told a PBS interviewer in 1999. “You know, that’s just my nature.” But, Krentz’s brother had called border patrol agents the day before the murder, resulting in agents stopping a caravan of illegal immigrants carrying almost 300 pounds of marijuana, raising the likelihood of the crime being viewed as one of retaliation.
Arizona’s new immigration law is set to take effect July 29 and requires police to check the immigration status of only someone detained during the commission of a crime. Violators face up to six months in jail, $2,500 in fines and “possible” federal deportation.
Gubernatorial candidates across the country are singing the law’s praises, but are also carefully watching legal challenges and whether boycotts will harm Arizona’s or their own economies. Nevertheless, lawmakers in nearly 20 states, including Tennessee say they want to compose similar measures when their legislative sessions start next year.
President Obama calls Arizona ’s law irresponsible, but Arizona Governor Jan Brewer says it helped prompt him to send over 1000 National Guard troops to the US/Mexican border. Even though that is not nearly enough to matter, civil rights groups still oppose the legislation, saying legal residents who are Hispanic would be harassed and that immigration is a federal rather than a state responsibility. However, the federal government will not do the work.
The reason for my apology is that I did not make myself as clear as I should have that I believe the boycotts and the White House’s legal attacks on Arizona are little more than political correctness run amuck and by not supporting one of our sister states in her hour of need, we too would become part of the problem. Also, in our hour of need, whenever that may come to be, we would be hypocritical to ask for support from states that we were unwilling to support during their crisis.
In my 50 and one half years on this planet, I have learned that the right decision is not necessarily the most popular and political correctness is rarely correct. It is also not possible to be brave if you are not first afraid. Isolating Arizona for doing what many of us in Sevier County would have done in the same situation makes little sense to me and I did not explain this to the Tennessee Hospitality Association Board in a way that you would expect from a credible spokesman. I will not repeat that error.
“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security” – Benjamin Franklin
Henry Piarrot is the general manager of the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Pigeon Forge . Please send all story recommendations to email@example.com