Arizona Is the New Philadelphia

Lucky us, fellow Philly-ites. The country has a new punch line!

Philadelphia has been at the top of the list, thank to W.C. Fields. New Jersey has been there for a longtime thanks to condescending New Yorkers and Joe Piscopo. Cleveland topped the list thanks to Johnny Carson.

And now congratulations, Arizona, you have moved to the top of the charts as the most ridiculed spot in America. [SIGNUP]

It will be some time before Arizona will be able to shed the image of the state that signed into law a policy that everyone hated. Democrats and Republicans alike have decried Arizona’s new anti-immigration law as being un-American and un-Constitutional. The range of personalities coming out against it is astounding, from Karl Rove to Shakira (the new Sonny and Cher). Today the makers of Arizona Iced tea announced that their product is not made in Arizona or produced there. It’s just that the brand Brooklyn Iced Tea sounded too much like sludge, which is proof of a stubborn geographical comic sterotype.

In case you’re not in on the joke yet, Arizona is ready to enact a new law that gives police the right to stop anyone they “reasonably suspect” of being in the country illegally and ask for identification papers, which is a euphemism for stopping “anyone who is brown.”

The brilliant Seth Myers summed it up this way on Saturday Night Live: “I know there are some people in Arizona worried that Obama is acting like Hitler, but can we all agree that there is nothing more Nazi than saying ‘Show me your papers.’ There has never been a World War II movie that didn’t include the line ‘Show me your papers.’ It’s their catch phrase! Every time someone says ‘Show me your papers,’ Hitler’s family gets a residual check. So heads up Arizona, that’s fascism! I know, I know, it’s a dry fascism, but it’s still fascism.”

When the words fascism, Nazi and Hitler are used in describing your state, you might have a public relations problem

The late night comedians and comedy shows have had a field day with Arizona. On Comedy Central’s Daily Show they pointed out that Jeffrey Dahmer would not be “reasonably suspicious,” but Erik Estrada and Dora the Explorer would.

It took almost three decades for Philadelphia to get out from under comedian W.C. Fields constant ribbing. He said his grave stone should read, “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia” and “I once spent a year in Philadelphia. I think it was on a Sunday.” You hear things like that enough and you think something must be wrong with the city.

After the Cuyahoga River caught fire because of all of the chemicals floating in it, Cleveland became the all purpose punch line for the then king of late night, Johnny Carson. People still giggle at the mention of San Francisco and New Jersey is still ridiculed in movies and comedy acts.

It takes a long time to come out from under a heaping of national ridicule. And Arizona just spent millions coming up with a new tourism campaign and a new slogan. Are you ready for it? It’s “Arizona — One Grand Adventure After Another.”

Yeah, that may not work anymore.

How about “Arizona — You Get Here and We’ll Ship You Back.” Or maybe, “Arizona – If You’re Brown, Turn Around.”

See, the ridicule continues. It’s going to be a long time before Arizona lives this one down. Maybe it will happen when Washington finally comes up with a plan for real Immigration reform. But that is the real joke; everyone knows it has to happen, but no one has the courage to take it on. And in the absence of leadership, radicals take hold and you end up with un-Constitutional and un-American laws like the one in Arizona.

Come to think of it, that’s not funny at all.

LARRY MENDTE writes for The Philly Post every Monday and Thursday. See his video commentaries at