Today's N&O has a big profile of Steve Bizzell, sheriff of Johnston County. The same Steve Bizzell who likes to talk about "drunk Mexicans" and how they "rape, rob and murder" Americans. Why, N&O, why? I've read it three times and I still don't see the point of this piece. I now know that Bizzell is such a bone fide country boy that "he won't even eat spaghetti, much less a taco" and that he misses his childhood, when he didn't have to deal with the complications of race. He preferred his Mexicans to be itinerant farm workers, largely invisible to the people around them. "'They were all in a group, down a path somewhere in a camp,' Bizzell says. 'It was bad for them as human beings. But we didn't have the problems then that we got now.'" How many people look back on Jim Crow with the same dimwitted nostalgia? Here's the kicker, though:
[O]verall, as Johnston's Hispanic population has grown, its crime rates have fallen. In the past decade, as illegal immigration has surged, Johnston County's rate of violent crime has dropped by almost half, according to the State Bureau of Investigation. Property crimes are also down."
In other words, Steve's problems are with having to look at so many brown faces, so many signs written in Spanish, and so many changes in his little corner of the world. Well, Sheriff, that's life. Things change, times change, and people have to keep up. Where is the story here? He sounds like a bitter old man, though he's only 49. He actually complains that the Mexicans – when they take a break from drinking and "breeding like rabbits" – don't respect law enforcement like they used to do. Why, one even failed to return his wave as he drove by in his cruiser. I s'wanee, Sheriff, I never did see the like! Then again, could it have anything to do with their increased trepidation about law enforcement officers who have taken over the federal government's job of deportation? I wonder.
The funniest thing to me is this: "'When people think about illegal Mexicans, you know the first thing they think of?' Bizzell says — 'driving drunk and shooting.'" That's what I used to think about people from Johnston County! And I was wrong, stupid and ignorant and wrong. I was just a city gal from that throbbing metropolis, Norfolk, Virginia, where it was all neon lights and glamour and sailors. I came around to the truth about country folk, and I guess someday Bizzell will have to come around, too. Git you a taco, Sheriff, a change gonna come whether you're ready or not. Might as well have the good eats while you watch.