If you have dark skin, then press #2

JUNE 2, 2010

Steven Greenhut: The Service Employees International Union has launched an 800 advisory number for travelers to call before they head to Arizona. The phone line — (800) 958-5068 — pretends to offer travel information so that people avoid unnecessary detainment in that state now that it passed an anti-immigration law, but it offers a hilarious insight into the dark visions of those who run this huge public employee union.

When you call the number, a recorded voice offers an incredibly demeaning message intended to scare people away from visiting Arizona. It seems designed to incite people to anger and protest over the law by overstating the situation and scaring immigrants.

Here is the text:

Thank you for calling the Arizona travel advisory hotline. If you’re planning a trip to Arizona, beware of an important travel warning. An overly stringent law on immigration has made it difficult for anyone who looks even remotely suspicious, resulting in detainment.

Please check the following options to understand the implications of your actions, and remember to carry your citizenship and immigration papers at all times.

If you plan to wear jeans, press one.

If your skin is even remotely tanned, yellow, brown or blue in hue, press two.

If you tend to eat fast foods, drink bright-colored juices, or eat fresh vegetables in lieu of meat products, press three.

1:  Jeans are worn by many working people targeted by the new Arizona immigration law. Please wear slacks or khakis to avoid appearing suspicious.  For more information, please press four.

2: Working people come in many shapes or sizes, but anyone who doesn’t resemble a J.Crew or Ralph Lauren model should be very, very careful. Consider wearing conservative or “preppy” clothing to avoid getting noticed.  For more information, press four.

3: Many working people targeted by the new Arizona immigration law eat fast foods, and drink bright colored juices. Avoid these foods while traveling in Arizona, to avoid undue attention from law enforcement officials. For more information, press four.

4: To learn more about this Arizona campaign, visit www.itstopsinarizona.com, or press 1 from your cell phone to receive text message updates about Arizona travel warnings, boycotts and other breaking news on immigration reform.

Clearly, this is a political stunt and not a real travel advisory. But it does show an absurd level of theatrics and dishonesty. For the record, I do not like the Arizona law, which will unquestionably encourage police to target people of Hispanic origin. Nevertheless, the law’s opponents are so far over the top in their opposition, that it’s hard to take them seriously. Everything has become political posturing and theater — never mind how far reality is twisted to suit one’s political ends.

The number is so stupid that I thought it must be a joke — an effort by some group to mock SEIU. But I called the press number and it is an official SEIU number in Washington, D.C.

And all this time I thought SEIU’s main concern was stopping pension reform!

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