Arizona Shooting, the Limits of "Normal" and Our Future (2

1. Arizona Shooting Means We Have Reached the Limits of the
   "Normal" (Roberto Lovato)

2. The Tucson Massacre and Our Future - An Analysis
   (Lawrence Davidson


Arizona Shooting Means We Have Reached the Limits of the

by Roberto Lovato
Submitted to Portside by the author

Huffington Post

January 13, 2011 -- 02:17 PM

Like her friend Gabby Giffords and like her former
colleague, the late Judge Roll, Isabel Garcia has known the
hatred that can kill. Garcia, a Pima County public defender
and outspoken immigrant rights activist, was shocked and
moved by Saturday's shooting near the Safeway on Tucson's
palm tree and mesquite-studded northside. But she was not
surprised at the slaughter of so many innocents.

"I'm praying for Gabby and the other victims. This is very
sad," she told me when I called her recently. "It makes me
very sad knowing that there are lots of people in Tucson
capable of doing these things, lots of people with guns and
hatred" she said, adding "It makes you even sadder that we
couldn't do anything to prevent it."

Her positions in defense of immigrants make her a favorite
target of Tucson's radio shock jocks and local Republicans
-- and Democrats -- whose rhetoric and denunciations fueled,
she believes, the numerous death threats that she herself
has received. "Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time
before things blew up even more. The anger and fear have
become 'normal' here."

Garcia's insights and concerns about the larger culture of
fear and violence spinning out of control in Tucson are
shared by many from among the group that, according to FBI
hate crime statistics, is most targeted by that fear and
violence throughout Arizona and the entire country: Latinos.
Latinos have a very particular response to these
developments; we understand how extremist groups and right
wing think tanks, well-heeled foundations and Tea Party
activists have turned Arizona into the largest laboratory
for mainstreaming the extreme in the United States. As much
as any group, Latinas like Garcia understand that it's not
just the "deranged", "lone gunmen" and "mentally ill" we
must be weary of; we understand that Jared Loughner acted
within and drew from a political and cultural climate
increasingly prone to fear, hatred and violence. We
understand that the Tucson tragedy means we have reached the
limits of the "normal."

The killing of nine year-old Christina-Taylor Green, for
example, surely stirs memories among many of us of the
trauma-inducing murder of another nine-year-old local,
Brisenia Flores. Flores was killed by a woman affiliated
with organizations designated hate groups, groups like the
Federation of Immigration Reform whose smart-suited,
rational-sounding spokespeople are regularly sought out by
national media outlets as "experts on immigration." Rather
than simply watch as entertainment the doings of Joe Arpaio,
"America's Toughest Sheriff," on network newscasts and
syndicated television shows, our first response is to ask,
"'tough' on who?" Though some of us recognize the inherent
racism of referring to the Grand Canyon state as a "a mecca
for racism and bigotry" (ie; we wouldn't call Arizona a
"Jerusalem of hatred"), we understand the reality behind
controversial Sheriff Dupnik's statement.

Until Saturday's attack on Giffords and her followers at a
political event, the primary political issue heating up the
headlines, classrooms and streets of Tucson since I visited
there several months ago has been the ban on Latinos
learning about their history and culture in ethnic studies
classes. Latinos studying themselves means they're not
"normal." Attacking Latinos for studying themselves is. It
can even get you elected to high office. And prior to the
ethnic studies ban, both the state political process and
much of the country's body politic were politically and
physically (i.e. a Latino man in Phoenix was killed in a
racist attack by his white neighbor in one of several
largely unreported hate crimes) clashing around SB-1070,
Arizona's racial profiling law.

While many of us will join Daniel Hernandez and President
Obama in their call for civil discourse, we will do so
without losing sight of the fact that, for disconcerting
numbers of "regular Americans", hate and fear are the new
normal. That Senate President Russell Pearce, the author of
SB-1070 and one of Arizona's most powerful politicians, sat
in solemn attendance at the memorial was duly noted by many.
But his attendance and the calls for "civil discourse" will
not, should not erase less-publicized knowledge of the fact
that Pearce has ties to the Neo-Nazi extremist groups whose
members he has praised and whose rallies he has attended.

To many of us, the "deranged lone gunmen" on the desert
fringe can sometimes bear more than a passing resemblance to
the God-fearing, gun-wielding patriot filling our cities and
suburbs; we see how the "rugged individualism" of a previous
era is being hijacked by powerful interests. As I watch
reports of the shooting, I remember the death threats from
white men with guns who didn't like my work defending
immigrants and others.

So, when we read that the Department of Homeland Security
suspects that Jared Loughner is "possibly connected" to
American Renaissance, one of Arizona's many and growing
racist, anti-immigrant groups, many of us see someone who,
deranged or not, draws from the deep wells of verbal, visual
and physical violence in the substratum of US civilization;
We agree with scholars like Richard Florida who understand
Tucson's troubles as reflective of how "deep seated regional
and cultural factors play a substantial role in mass

And like Garcia and the national hero of the moment, Daniel
Hernandez, many of us will look at the blood-splattered
abyss on the street near Safeway and act decisively to find
a newer, truly safer way to deal with these influences on
Jared Loughner and other, more "normal" people, people
carrying unconcealed guns on their waists and increasingly
normalized hatred in their hearts.

[Roberto Lovato is a writer and the Co-Founder,
He is a New York-based writer with New America Media and a
frequent contributor to The Nation Magazine. He' has written
for the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Der Spiegel, Utne
Magazine, La Opinion, and other national and international
media outlets, and has appeared as a source and commentator
on English and Spanish language network news shows on
Univision, CNN, PBS and other programs. Prior to becoming a
writer, Lovato was the former Executive Director of CARECEN,
which was the largest immigrant rights organization in the
country. You can find him posting regularly on media,
migration, politics and other issues at his blog, ]


The Tucson Massacre and Our Future - An Analysis

by Lawrence Davidson

To The Point Analyses - Deconstructing the News

January 12, 2011

There are two groups responsible for the January 8th tragedy
in Tucson Arizona. One group is made up of right wing
Republicans, Tea Party fanatics, and extremist conservative
talk show personalities. These people have, for too long
now, been consciously creating an atmosphere in which
illegal acts of intimidation and violence are mistaken for
patriotism. It does not matter if members of this group are
self-deceived "patriots" or just political opportunists. The
nature of their actions were and are predictably disastrous.
When Sarah Palin placed a map on her website showing the
whereabouts of twenty Democratic politicians, including
Gabrielle Giffords, using, in Palin's words, "bullseye
icons" (that is gun sights), she essentially committed an
act of criminal incitement. Anyone with average intelligence
can recognize this to be so given the pre-existing
combustible environment created by the near criminal speech
of people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.
Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that when she
released her metaphoric invitation to violence Palin knew
that among her supporters were a large number of angry white
men armed to the teeth with everything from handguns to
bazookas. The fact that in the case of Tucson (not the first
or the last case), it was allegedly a mentally unstable
fellow who acted out this violence is irrelevant to the fact
that the pre-existing climate of incitement was palpable.
What Palin, Beck and their kind are practicing is not free
speech. It is the equivalent of, as Oliver Wendell Holmes
put it, "crying fire in a crowded theater."

However, the situation would never have gotten to its
present explosive level without the complementary behavior
of the second group. And that is the country's
center/liberal establishment, including the Democratic Party
leadership, all of whom have failed to treat the right wing
threat seriously. It does not matter if members of this
group simply misjudged the situation or they had the
mistaken notion that to confront it would only make things
worse. In either case they were wrong. Whether we consider
Al Gore's response to the stolen presidential election of
2000 or Barack Obama's consistent refusal to prosecute the
criminal acts of the Bush era extremists, these
center/liberal leaders have behaved irresponsibly in the
face of a growing and recognizably dangerous situation. They
do the country no favor by confronting a violent right with
passivity or sorrowful words.

It has been 153 years since Abraham Lincoln made his
prescient House Divided speech. He did so in June of 1858 in
Springfield Illinois. His words, which at the time were
considered alarmist, went like this, "If we could first know
where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then
better judge what to do, and how to do it." Making reference
to continuing "slavery agitation" he went on "in my opinion
it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached
and passed." And then he told his audience (1,000 members of
the original Republican Party) that "A house divided against
itself cannot stand."

The United States is, once more, increasingly a house
divided. It is not divided by "slavery agitation" though
some of the issues have their roots in that era. It is over
fundamental differences in the meaning of the nation's
Constitution and the very nature of government. These
differences bring with them feelings that are just as
emotional and inherently divisive as was slavery.

There are a growing number of Americans who no longer
believe in the modern interpretation and application of U.S.
Constitution. They insist that the way Constitutional
interpretation has evolved over the past half century is a
betrayal of true American principles. Many of these
Americans are apparently enamored of the 19th century
outlook that the only government that is legitimate is that
which sees to the police, the military and the law.
Everything else should be a private concern. If you tax them
for programs that have to do with social equity or economic
justice (even in its pitifully weak form) or even to
maintain public functions such as education, transportation
and social services, they consider it theft and imagine that
they are subject to a new tyranny. In addition, many of them
are not willing to go along with any election that might run
counter to their outlook. Some are very close to advocating
sedition, and a few are obviously already gunning for their
imagined "tyrants."

The present center/liberal leadership is confused. As
Lincoln put it, they do not know where they are, where they
are going, or what to do. Unfortunately, unlike Lincoln,
they are not prescient. They do not seem to understand that
what is happening is not superficial or transient. They beg
us not to "politicize" the Tucson massacre, as if the
murders were not, prima facie, political acts. Lincoln knew
that the house was dividing and that the process would "not
cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed."
Our center/liberal establishment have yet to come to a
similar understanding.

Passivity and accommodation will not make right wing
violence go away. Those who incite this violence as well as
those who act it out have to be confronted in an aggressive
yet principled fashion. One way to do this is to enforce the
law in a way that prioritizes our problems in a common sense
fashion and ceases to practice double standards. In other
words, it is time for President Obama to tell his Justice
Department and the FBI to stop chasing around the mid-west
harassing people friendly to the Palestinians and to start
going after that element of the American right that is
inciting its members to act out their political rage. They
can start by taking a look at the activities of one Sarah

[Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester
University in Pennsylvania. He is a contributing editor to
Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture, His blog, To
the Point Analyses can be found at: ]



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