January 15, 2011

Arizona is the new Alabama

In Political Vitriol in the Giffords Shooting and A History of Conservative Hate Speech, I noted some of the vitriol infecting the country in general. Here's a hint of the vitriol infecting Jared Lee Loughner's Arizona in particular:

Arizona’s Long Dark Night Continues

By Randall Amster"Even before the shooting of a U.S. congresswoman on Saturday, the state of Arizona was in the throes of a convulsive political year that had come to symbolize a bitter partisan divide across much of America," writes David Schwartz for Reuters. "I feel huge sorrow, that's just been building in southern Arizona for some time, this hate, hate, fear, somewhat around SB 1070, somewhat around healthcare reform. It definitely heated up when President Obama was elected," said Molly McKasson Morgan, 63, who participated in Tucson politics and knew Giffords. "It's never been this angry, it's never been this divisive," said Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state lawmaker.

These trends of divisiveness and open hostility have been manifesting for some time here. Following the passage of SB 1070 and approaching its date of implementation last July, I observed the growing tendency toward violence and its unabashed cultivation:

"One of the unspoken tragedies and implicit intentions of Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, is the promotion of a climate of fear among certain segments of the population. This fear-mongering strategy has been cooked up by the bill's leading proponents and most likely beneficiaries: the governor, rightwing state legislators, and an unscrupulous sheriff who shall remain nameless.... Fostering an environment of racialized violence is the harsh reality of Arizona's drive toward legislated intolerance. For those who might feel saturated by the incessant news about immigration, or who wonder ‘what's the big deal?' about SB 1070 and the like, this is a reminder of the stakes involved. Will there be a climate of escalating fear, hatred, and violence that takes over, or will this be a tipping point toward social justice and human dignity instead? Politics and legalities aside, this is the basic question that the Arizona dilemma is posing to the nation...."
Arizona’s enemy:  The Collective Consciousness of Hate

By Three SonoransYou have already seen plenty on the media about Sarah Palin painting crosshairs on Giffords’ district.

Lock and load!

Don’t retreat, re-load!

If the crosshairs were not bad, why did Sarah Palin take them down from her website this weekend?

JT Ready is already noting the fact that Gabrielle Giffords is the

“first Jew to Congress from Arizona.”

Giffords district is along the Mexican border, and the rancher that was killed, Robert Krentz, was in her district. They immediately blamed a Mexican for the shooting even though, to this day, there is no suspect.

A few weeks ago a border patrol agent was killed just south of Tucson in Rio Rico.

JT Ready sent a message to my friend in the Latino media up in Phoenix that

“Your people took one of ours today. We WILL get revenge.”

The point here is that the same anti-Mexican, anti-Immigrant forces are also neo-Nazis, and Nazis tend to be anti-Jew last I heard. They are filled with hatred of humanity.
And:Once the seed of fear is planted in an individual, it can grow to consume them, especially if it is watered and nourished with a daily supply of fear.

They are invading our country!

Aztlan… they want to retake the United States!

We are going to be the minority!

Border invasion!


They don’t speak English!

They are taking our jobs!

They are not one of us!
And:The election of the first black president changed everything.

People were afraid that a non-American was in the White House. And Fox News fanned those flames, and so did right-wingers.

“We are not afraid of Obama coming to Arizona… he has to show us his papers also!” – Russell Pearce.

We end up clinging to the Bible in these times… the same Bible which the right-wing claims is predicting that these are the end times.

The apocalypse is near.

Time to cling to those Bibles… and those guns!

What good is a gun if you never use it?

Set a target, set your crosshairs on Gabby Giffords. Say lock and load. Say don’t retreat, reload!

And then take no responsibility for your actions.
Comment:  Arizona seems to be the proving ground for today's right-wing hate just as Alabama was in the 1960s. The same "toxic environment" theory applies.

If black activists stood up to police in one part of Alabama and whites lynched black activists in another part of Alabama, is there any doubt the two events were linked? No. The climate of bigotry and fear put every black at risk whether they were protesting or not.

Same for anyone who opposes the conservative hatemongering in Arizona. Whether they're in Sarah Palin's someone's crosshairs or not, they face a greater risk of harm. Ask yourself this: In today's political climate, would you stand on a street corner in Tucson and shout slogans for healthcare reform, immigration, and gun control? I wouldn't.

The ultimate point of these Giffords postings, why they're relevant to Newspaper Rock, is that this fear and hate has infected America since the beginning. Fear of the unknown, fear of the dark(-skinned), fear of anyone who calls our God-given truths into question.

Native Americans endured it, then blacks, then other minorities. Now gays and Muslims are enduring it. It's all about white Christian Euro-Americans maintaining their power and privilege over everyone else. These people will never be satisfied with "all men (and women) are created equal." Not unless there's a corollary that says, "...but we get to rule."

For more on Arizona, see Arizona Laws = Manifest Insanity and Arizona Laws = Clash of Civilizations. For more on the fundamental issue, see Culture War Over Who's American and Angry White Christians Want Country Back.