Columns » John Brummett

Kansas City, Mexico

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There's this outfit calling itself Secure Arkansas. It hopes to get on the general election ballot a proposed initiated act by which public services could not be extended in the state unless would-be recipients proved their American citizenship through authoritative documentation.

In other words: If you're Hispanic-looking and go to a public health clinic for a flu shot, you'd better bring your Yankee bona fides.

The point person for this group is Jeannie Burlsworth of Bryant, whose public profile has been low, but who, apparently, sat for a visit the other day with a reporter for the Little Rock newspaper.

The account of that visit perhaps revealed the wisdom of her low public profile.

She was quoted as saying that America's sovereignty was threatened by NAFTA's Mexico-to-Canada axis and that we would soon see a super-highway several football fields wide that would gut the United States.

She also got quoted to the effect that Kansas City was about to become a sovereign Mexican state.

That intrigued me. I've been in Kansas City several times and am not sure I've visited a more quintessentially American city.

They had the nation's first shopping mall. They have the Hallmark Cards headquarters. They have the baseball Royals and the football Chiefs in those adjoining suburban stadiums. They have the Hereford House, where you can get a steak with an iceberg lettuce salad topped with Thousand Island dressing, which is, of course, the official American meal.

I tried to get in touch with Burlsworth and left a message on her cell phone voice mail. She replied instead by e-mail saying she was too busy trying to get signatures on her petition to talk to me and that I should submit my queries online.

So I asked her by e-mailed reply whether the Kansas City quote was accurate and, if so, what in the world she was talking about.

Late in the day she replied as follows: “I am totally focused on getting these signatures. This petition is not only in the finest traditions of our democracy, but manifests the will of the majority of the citizens of the state, whose voices must be heard.”

That was lovely, well-put. But it had nothing to do with what I asked.

For that matter, I think it requires less time to tell somebody something over the cell phone than to formulate a written response via the Internet. I suspect she simply didn't want any direct interaction with me. I can't say as I blame her.

The state Democratic Party put out a statement wondering if the state Republican Party shared Burlsworth's concern about the imminent invasion of Kansas City by Mexican armed forces.

That was unfair. It's my experience that state Republicans are divided on illegal immigration between economic conservatives who see the practicalities and social right-wingers who don't like all these Hispanic-looking people running around.

Now I'm advised by a third party that Burlsworth probably was referring to something called KC SmartPort, a nonprofit association in Kansas City and 18 surrounding counties seeking to take advantage of the region's central location to be a continental NAFTA hub in regard to transportation and logistics.

I'm not sure how denying flu shots in Arkansas is going to stop businessmen in Kansas City from the all-American pursuit of capitalistic opportunity.

Perhaps that can be addressed in the next time-saving electronic message exchange.

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