Maricopa County? More like"Marikkkopa": Conor Oberst's Not-So-Subtle Anti-Joe Arpaio Song

Singer-songwriter Conor Oberst had an early aughts hardcore band called Desaparecidos, and their new song is this horribly titled but sort of catchy protest of Maricopa County, Arizona's mini-dictator, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Oberst, known for singing in an overly-breathy and tearful voice as Bright Eyes is no stranger to protest songs. In 2004, he gave us "When The President Talks to God", an anti-George Bush anthem that is a pretty poor man's early Bob Dylan.

Here's a sampling of the lyrics to "Marikkkopa":

We got to round 'em up!
Door to door tonight we're ready"
Knock Knock Knock
"Drag them from their beds
They got some nerve to say they were here first"
"We're gonna round them up!
Hiding in the semi-trailers"
Knock Knock Knock
"Beat it in their heads
We keep our word and Maricopa pure

They're sweating in Sun City cause they just got off the course
Saying "Sheriff Joe it's awful and it's only getting worse"
"Oh did you hear about Rob Krentz? They left him bleeding in the dirt
These Spics are brave and getting braver"

Turns out that even the clunky title has something to it. In 2007, Arpaio, in an interview with Lou Dobbs, mentioned that it was "an honor" to be compared to the KKK, because "it means we're doing something." Oberst uses that soundbite at the end of the track.

Somehow the ticked-offness of "Marikkkopa" makes its hammering point work a little better than you might think. The Huffington Post interviewed Oberst and asked why he is angry:

[Immigrants] are without a doubt a net positive to our American way of life. I have many friends who are both Mexican and Mexican-American and others who, I guess you would say, are somewhere in between. The ironic thing is that all three of those categories often exist inside of the same family. I've seen with my own eyes how our unjust immigration system tears these families apart, separating mothers and fathers from their children and leaving all involved in a state of helplessness and despair. I'll never understand how destroying families through deportation benefits our society. How we treat the undocumented says a great deal about us as a people and whether or not we'll continue to fulfill the fundamental American promise of equality and opportunity for all. Considering our history, I can think of nothing more American than an immigrant.

He also says:

I think we should be pushing for amnesty and a path to citizenship for every undocumented person residing in the United States who has not committed a violent crime; with a special emphasis on keeping families together. This isn't just the only practical solution, it's also the only moral one. 

There's no need to pay the slightest bit of attention to a (probable lefty) musician's views on politics, sure. But Oberst could come off a lot worse in the interview, as he also gives a shout-out to cutting defense spending and changing drug laws.

Why care? Well, Joe Arpaio is awful. He's the old, smug face of the tragic idiocy of "tough on crime." Lawsuits against him and Maricopa County have cost taxpayers millions. He is obsessed with rounding up illegal immigrants, but brushed off scores of reported sexual assaults. Follow his Twitter feed and you'll get gems like "My deputies again seized over a half ton of marijuana and arrested a 16 year old illegal alien." Worse still, the Department of Justice's lawsuit against Arpaio means one has to root for Obama's DOJ (including Attorney General Eric Holder) or Arpaio, and in that world....well, the only way to win is for a chasm to open in the earth. 

Also, protest songs, or political songs in general, tend to suck. Post-9/11 we had our choice of Toby Keith-style jingoism or Neil Young-style heroic stiltedness. Later came the Bush rage, which had its moments as long as it didn't get too over-the-top. (I'm still a sucker for Green Day's "American Idiot", but the less said about Neil Young's entire cranky at George Bush album the better.) 

Still, you got to wonder if Oberst, clearly one of those liberals who at least remembers he's supposed to care about things like immigrants, wars, and drug laws, would ever bother to write a scathing song about President Obama. Turns out, definitely so much. Oberst was a big Obama supporter in 2008. If you're feeling really, really generous, you can remember that this was at least before Obama deported 400,000 immigrants last year alone. But also, Arpaio is a doughy-faced, tubby little tyrant, and the president has a charming enough smile, so railing against Arpaio is just about the best the protesting left has to offer. (Not that there aren't anti-Obama songs out there...)

Reason on Joe Arpaio and on protest songs. (Previously mocked: Pete Seeger, Steve Earle post-"Copperhead Road," and the co-option of "Monster Mash" for environmentalist ends.) 

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  • Jeff||

    Look at this fucking hipster.

  • Gweskoyen||

    Anti-hipsterism is the scourge of our culture.

  • ||

    Why the fuck does that matter? Does it mean his point isn't valid? I'll take an anti-Arpaio statement from wherever I can get it.

  • Jeff||

    Why the fuck does it matter if he's anti-Arpaio? I'll bag on hipsters whenever I can.

  • ||

    Are you retarded, or just extremely stupid? The difference matters, so think carefully, or at least as much as you are capable of thinking.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Haters gonna hate.

  • Jeff||

    Fuck off and go listen to your post-everything noise rock, you hypersensitive cuntboy.

  • RBS||

    So you're retarded then?

  • ||

    You seem upset. Are you feeling sensitive...down there? Hipsters seem to give you a major boner. Why is that?

  • Jeff||

    You are such an incoherent cooze. No wonder you think a "DERP DERP DERP ARPAIO BAD" song is a valid contribution.

  • ||

    So you're definitely going with retarded. It wouldn't be my choice, but hey--I'm not retarded. Does it hurt at all to be retarded?

  • Jeff||

    Don't short sell yourself there, Epi. You are pretty fucking retarded.

  • ||

    Hey, you're the expert on retardation, so I'll have to take your word for it.

    You still haven't answered my question as to whether it's painful. I'm guessing not. Also, why do hipsters make your pants tight? I'd like to know the answer to that too.

  • Jeff||

    Why are you so infatuated with my pants, you fucking creeper?

  • ||

    You really don't want to answer the questions I asked. Why is that?

    Somebody secretly wants to be a hipster! And a retarded hipster at that! Give in, dude. Come out of the closet. Just live that dream that you secretly want to live. You'll feel better!

  • Jeff||

    I have zero desire to be like you.

  • ||

    So you really do want to be a hipster! Thanks for the confirmation, subgenius.

    God damn, it's fun talking to retards like you.

  • Jeff||

    "Retard! Retard! Retard! Retard! Hurr hurr hurr!"

    You have such an expansive vocabulary there, Epi. It's rather impressive. For such a dumbshit scenester creepshow, I mean.

  • ||

    That incredibly elegant response took you a while. It made your head hurt, didn't it. I guess that's the pain of being a retard. So look, you've answered my question, finally!

    Now, answer the other one: why do you have a huge boner for hipsters? Where did the hipster touch you, subgenius?

    I can't wait to see your next retarded answer. It's going to be awesome, I can tell.

  • Jeff||

    It "took me a while" because I'm doing other things besides desperately pressing F5 in hopes of getting the next dose of what passes for human interaction for you, you imbecilic limpdick.

  • ||

    Sure you are, subgenius. And you still haven't answered my question. Why is that? Your unrequited dreams of being a hipster disturb you, don't they. Embrace your shitty retarded hipsterness. It's what you are. You'll be happier if you just admit that to yourself, subgenius.

  • Jeff||

    Because I don't respond to nonsensical questions from sociopathic homunculi. It's probably a better idea still to ignore the rest of your nonsense, too.

  • GILMORE||

    I think you both make valid points.

    No, really. But keep going. Its really starting to get interesting.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Don't worry about it Jeff, Epi is just a member of TEAM anti-Arapaio. He doesn't care what his TEAM does, even when they wander into hipsterism, he will defend them!

  • GILMORE||

    Epi is just a member of TEAM anti-Arapaio

    Let me see... hating on an individual who is completely fucked up and routinely causes unecessary suffering in the world... That's IRRATIONAL TEAM-THINKING!!

    but hating on an entire type/class/generational stereotype of person (aka 'hipster')...?

    (and I, as an expert on all things hipster, will concede = indeed, 90% of them ARE douchehats)

    ...no, no... knee-jerk hatred of entire swaths of people, that *not* TEAM THINKING... that's honest, individual discrimination!

    If I could curse Arizona with an influx of Brooklynite art-rock bands and nascent 'graphic designers'...I would gladly let them suffer so i could be free of them.... however = I would not be so heartless as to curse Brooklyn with Sherrif Arapaio or anything like him.

  • Jeff||

    I would not be so heartless as to curse Brooklyn with Sherrif Arapaio or anything like him.

    In light of stop-and-frisk, what would even be the difference?

  • Marshall Gill||

    Lighten up, Francis

  • ||

    Someone's jealous.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    One of my favorite protest songs.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Excellent choice.

  • Whiterun Guard||

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Apropos to this:

    A friend of mine dropped me a line, I got no money, got no job." it said, "man I gotta run to the USA. before she fucking came? She skipped out of Mexico to stay alive. but what did you do to help her You've got a problem with her living here, I stand not by my country, What did the country do? What did the people do? Free movement for all.

    but the people of the whole fucking world. No fences, no borders. Fuck the border. It's about fucking time It's our culture and consumption to treat people wi th respect. its knee-jerk hordes. that makes her life unbearable. Fuck this country; its angry eyes, Legal or illegal, watch her fucking go. She'll take what's hers. Watch her fucking go. Fuck th border

    PROPAGANDHI - FUCK THE BORDER
  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Fuck yeah! Great band.

  • Jeff||

    I didn't realize Canada shared a border with Mexico.

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    Or, in Espanol:

    La Plebe "Pinches Fronteras". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwdb_EyMXsE

    (They have way better songs, but lord knows I love that title.)

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Keeping the Gilman Street scene alive and kicking, I see. Nice.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Anal Cunt is definitely an acquired taste. But I like 'em. Sucks about Seth.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Yeah, it really does. I had a much bigger sad about him dying than I ever expected I would.

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    I had a paragraph where I talked about co-opting punk songs for libertarian ends and I linked to that very song! GET OUTTA MY HEAD.

  • Killazontherun||

    One of my favorite protest songs.

    Necromancy! That very sentence died at Altamont. I watched four Hell's Angels drive a stake into its heart. Stand back while I casts a few holy words at it, 'Dylan went electric', 'turn on, tune in, drop out'.

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    But it's time the baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaastards fell!

  • BakedPenguin||

    Arpaio is a slug, but the singer could really use some subtlety in his lyrics.

  • Proprietist||

    Protest music has generally sucked since the 80s. And most of the good stuff back then was mostly either socialist or anarchocommunalist (Gang of Four, The Pop Group, Minutemen, This Heat).

    It takes quite a bit of talent to write political statements with subtlety and still convey your anger.

  • The Derider||

    "If you're feeling really, really generous, you can remember that this was at least before Obama deported 400,000 immigrants last year alone"

    Still can't give any credit to Obama for unilaterally changing immigration policy, can you? Republican filibusters couldn't stop him from implementing the DREAM act, even if they could stop him from passing it through congress.

  • ||

    joe, you're the most pathetic pussy ever.

  • Invisible Finger||

    joe is now on the side of lonewacko.

  • Jeff||

    Isn't Obama the guy who constantly brags about how many people he's deported and how many families he's ripped apart?

  • Loki||

    Still can't give any credit to Obama for unilaterally changing immigration policy, can you?

    Still can't admit that prior to his old campaign season bait and switch he was deporting people at a faster rate than BOOOSH, can you?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Can I hate Arpaio and Oberst equally? For different reasons?

    Actually I probably hate Oberst more, as Arpaio is pretty easy to avoid.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Obert is one easy to be annoyed by at times, for sure. But he isn't achieving his annoyance levels through use of force, so he's gotta be preferred over Arpaio, in my opinion.

    Also, I'd argue that since he's no longer the mainstream indie elite's poster child he's been much easier to avoid these past few years. For better or for worse, because he certainly has some jams in his discography. I think I enjoyed his music before when he was doing an emo/post-punk skew on alt-country rather than just straight up alt-country.

  • Loki||

    Obert is one easy to be annoyed by at times, for sure. But he isn't achieving his annoyance levels through use of force, so he's gotta be preferred over Arpaio

    ^This^

    Celebu-tard dickstains are pretty easy to ignore, and what are they gonna do about it? It's not like they have any way to force you to listen to their bullshit. But if you live in Maricopa county and happen to be a little too dark skinned for your own good, Sherriff Joe is a little harder to avoid.

    Of course the easy solution is to not live in Maricopa county, and don't pay attention to anything Oberst has to say about politics. Both problems solved.

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    Uh, no. One is annoying, the other is a mini-tyrant.

  • silent v||

    poor man's early Bob Dylan

    Still, you can make a lot of money doing a poor imitation of Bob Dylan. See Springsteen, Bruce.

  • Ice Nine||

    "I have many friends who are both Mexican and Mexican-American..."

    OK, could we just get something straight off the bat? - this dick doesn't have many friends who are both Mexican and Mexican-American; he has some friends who are Mexican and Mexican-American and probably knows a few more.

  • GILMORE||

    Ice Nine| 8.2.12 @ 1:15PM |#

    "I have many friends who are both Mexican and Mexican-American..."

    In effort to out-worldly-hipster guys like this, whenever anyone drops the, "I have 'plenty' of X (insert: Gay, Black, 'religious', Tranny, Eskimo, Emo, fire-juggler, biker-gang, etc) friends..." ... I cut them off before they make their sensitive, sanctimonious point, and go, "FUCK THAT!! MY *ONLY FRIENDS ARE GAY BLACK FIRE EATING GOTHS!!! I'D NEVER HAVE ANY OTHER KIND, YOU FUCKING BIGOT!""

  • wareagle||

    in some ways, this is not much different from the Chick-fil-A thing. A CEO says something and some folks lose their minds. A sheriff enforces a law and some folks lose their minds.

  • The Rantin Arkansan||

    Not really. An opinion doesn't have the threat of force behind it. These "laws" are enforced by the barrel of a gun.

    What Sheriff Josef does is far worse than anything Chick-fil-a's CEO has done or said, given the information we have.

  • Nephilium||

    Joe Arpaio only enforces the laws he wants to enforce. Remember the whole case of the documents stolen in open court?

  • Thane Eichenauer||

    The one bullet point that irks me about Joe Arpaio is the number of people who have died at the hands of his employees.

    http://qr.net/iNQw (from Wikipedia)

  • Loki||

    Still, you got to wonder if Oberst, clearly one of those liberals who at least remembers he supposed to care about things like immigrants, wars, and drug laws, would ever bother to write a scathing song about President Obama. ... Oberst was a big Obama supporter in 2008.

    Sounds like he should probably at least consider voting for Gary Johnson* this time around. Of course he'll probably end up voting for the big 0 again.

    "Hit me again O, and this time put some stank on it!"

    *That's assuming he doens't care more about making those 1%er "fat cats" pay their "fair share" and green energy boondoggles "investments" than he does about people actually suffering under our fucked up immigration system, WoD, drone strikes, etc. etc.

  • wareagle||

    of course, he'll vote for Obama. Party above all.

  • Sudden||

    I'll bite on my major issue with the song, and with protest music generally. Right here, the hipster singer is essentially attributing the motives behind the strict border enforcement to nothing but naked racism and xenophobia. Although I'm sure that animates some of the supporters of such laws, I don't think it animates all of them. There are a significant portion of people who have no issue with Mexicans per se, but are rather disturbed by the massive social welfare costs associated large-scale Mexican immigration. Sure, one can argue about whether low-skilled Mexican immigration is a net-gain or net-loss for the society as a whole, or a net-drain of net-surplus on the actual social welfare costs. But if that's the case, make that point. This whole tactic of trying to paint your political opposition as some sparsely-toothed neo-Nazi racist hellbent on seeing people of a darker shade suffer is intellectually lazy, disingenuous malarkey.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Excellent point Sudden. But unfortunately it seems like we are beyond the point of reasoned debate. It has devolved to finger pointing, shouting "racist", and then turning your back on your opponent.

  • The Rantin Arkansan||

    Two wrongs don't make a right. Yes, the influx of immigrants is a strain on the US "social safety net", but using force to take away someone's right to movement, not to mention life and liberty, does nothing more than cause a massive schism between those advocating this force and the immigrant coming here.

    People keep attacking the wrong problems.

  • The Rantin Arkansan||

    Also, and it pains me to say this, but there is a lot of, I don't know if I'd call it racism so much as bigotry toward another's culture, behind the feelings of many concerning Hispanics moving into the US, at least here in NW Arkansas.

    As for Sheriff Josef, I'd say brushing off more serious crimes to go after illegal immigrants might show his true colors.

  • Sudden||

    As was noted rather eloquently in this morning's Palestinian Culture post, conflating culture with ethnicity/race is fairly racist (and I use that word not in a pejorative sense) itself. Race and nationality are immutable characteristics, whereas cultures evolve over time. England was once a place of brutal torture, perpetual conflict, and witch-burning. It later evolved over time into a place of industry, natural rights, and humanism.

    Moreover, one need not be restrained by the culture they come from. People outright reject the culture in which they were raised all the time. The person whose hostility towards large-scale immigration is based on the lack of assimilation into traditional American values (whether or not that is a sensible or desirable position) is wholly different from one who just despises the increased melanin content.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I haven't assimilated into "traditional American values" either. That doesn't justify using violence to make me.

    The inability to deal with the fact that people may not agree with you how to live and the belief this justifies the use of force to ensure conformity is still a form of bigotry even if it's not racist.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    There are a significant portion of people who have no issue with Mexicans per se, but are rather disturbed by the massive social welfare costs associated large-scale Mexican immigration.

    I think this is closer to why people have an issue. But for some reason they do not make the leap that to fix the problem you should do away with the social welfare programs.

  • Sudden||

    Gubmint cheese for me, not for thee. Therein lies all the reasoning you need.

  • Loki||

    Sure, one can argue about whether low-skilled Mexican immigration is a net-gain or net-loss for the society as a whole, or a net-drain of net-surplus on the actual social welfare costs.

    I don't know dude, that sounds kind of hard. I mean, that requires actually thinking about the issue, researching the economic costs/ benefits of open immigration policies, and making a sound well reasoned argument based on facts as opposed to emotion. It's way easier to point and scream "NAZISSSZ OMGZ!!!!1!!!!11! U H8 BRONE PEEPLE!!!!11!!" and then storm off in a self riteous huff.

    Plus, it's harder to put all that stuff you said into a hip 3 minute pop song format.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Sure, one can argue about whether low-skilled Mexican immigration is a net-gain or net-loss for the society as a whole, or a net-drain of net-surplus on the actual social welfare costs.

    Or you could reject the utilitarian assumption that people have to justify the exercise of their rights on the basis of their usefulness to other people. I don't exist for the purpose of being a "benefit" to society, only to be a benefit to myself and those I choose to care about.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    There are a significant portion of people who have no issue with Mexicans per se, but are rather disturbed by the massive social welfare costs associated large-scale Mexican immigration.

    Then why are the focusing so much attention on the companies that employee illegal immigrants? If you're really concerned about welfare costs, the productively employed immigrants would be your last target, not your first.

    There may be some people who actually are concerned about spending costs, but the reality is, that for most anti-immigrant types this is just a political correct disguise for racism.

  • Sudden||

    but the reality is, that for most anti-immigrant types this is just a political correct disguise for racism.

    Go ahead and continue to collective a vast group of people, assume their motives and thoughts to fit your own narrative, and pretend it is anything less reprehensible than the racism that you claim to oppose so vehemently.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Sorry, but in my area, most of the hispanic immigrants are from Puerto Rico, which means that by definition they're here legally. I've overheard way too many conversations involving Republicans complaining about "illegal Puerto Ricans" to believe this issue has to do with anything other than dolled up racism for all but a tiny percentage of the people complaining about it.

  • Sudden||

    And Lucy, if you're looking for a Bush-era protest song that actually has some substance and personality to it, may I recommend Sage Francis' "Makeshift Patriot".

  • Proprietist||

    Everyone knows "American Idiot" was the most substantial protest song ever.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Apparently the enemy of Lucy's enemy isn't necessarily her friend. Interesting tactic in this binary existence of ours.

  • Your Old TV||

    America may never produce a Bach or a Beethoven, but apparently we'll never exhaust our supply of whiny commie guitar pickers who couldn't carry a tune in bucket.

  • GILMORE||

    In the "you're fucking kidding me" news-department=

    You win a gold medal @ the oympics?

    YOU OWE TAXES ON IT

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/.....25z;_ylv=3

    A gold will run you around $8K in taxes.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure that's because the $25K in cash that's paid by the U.S. Olympic Committee is considered income by the IRS, in the same way that prize money won by Tiger Woods in a golf tournament or a baseball player's salary is.

    In the U.S., gold medal winners get $25,000, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. This is not government money, its paid by the U.S. Olympic Committee.


  • ||

    The $8,986 mentioned would be the tax owing on $25K of taxable income if it wer part the athlete's income that fell in the top bracket for taxation.

    Actually looks like the story is wrong on one thing. According to every sources of checked,the top Bracket for 2012 is 35% and kicks in for income over $388,350. That means that an athlete who has made over that much from other sources will be on the hook for another $8750 to the IRS for every gold medal he or she brings home.

  • ||

    Actually I'd be more outrage if I was an Italian, a Russian or a Frenchman and knew my government was handing out money like this:

    Raising eyebrows, Italy's $182,400 payout to any Italian who wins a gold medal. That's the highest payout in the world.

    .....

    In second place is Russia, paying nearly $135,000. Third is France paying $ 65,200.


  • ||

    Actually, I'm somewhat surprised that the IRS does not require the atletes to declare the specie value of their medals and levy tax on that as well.

    Perhaps it's because the gold is only gold plared silver and is only worth "$620.82 based on today’s precious-metals market".

  • Proprietist||

    I'm ashamed to say in my emotive younger years I once owned a Bright Eyes album. I mean respect that the dude was like 15, but in retrospect that stuff was pretty awful. Sounds like he hasn't progressed much in the "talented songwriting" department with age. A shame too, since I read so many reviews comparing his more recent stuff favorably to Dylan.

  • Ralph Wylie||

    I'll take the "mini-tyrant" (your label) Sheriff Joe Arpaio who respects the law and enforces it over some wacko hipster any day.

  • Ralph Wylie||

    Excuse me, you called Sheriff Joe a "mini-dictator". My comment stands.

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    Take Joe Arpaio...please.

    Ba-dum-chh.

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