As a journalist/columnist of nearly 40 years, I can tell you what will happen in Tucson in a few days. Better yet, I will tell you what the media will do in the next few days; the cameras will leave.
It’s called parachute journalism.
The whole country is exposed to, or gets a glimpse of, Arizona, and then it’s off to the next rampage. Blood and gore sells, but it only has a shelf life until the next crisis.
What will the country have learned from the saturated and instantaneous coverage (much of it unverified, expectedly wrong or exaggerated)? They will have learned that there’s a lot of hate in Arizona. That the inflammatory and incendiary political rhetoric with subliminal and even blatant calls to violence from the right and left have to be toned down, that we all need to be civil and we all need to be positive.
Nice try. But that is not a description of Arizona, nor the nation. With very few exceptions, only the right wing engages in this constant talk of targeting and taking out their opponents and of 2nd Amendment solutions.
The rampage is/was the rampage. It was carried out by what appears to be a right-wing lunatic. He may have had a co-conspirator. His target appears to have been first, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and, secondarily, with his weapon of choice, anyone else who was in the vicinity. Giffords, a conservative democrat, was literally in the crosshairs of the Tea Party and the Sarah Palin wing of the conservative movement. Everyone knows that.
Yet in Arizona, most of the hate here is directed specifically at
Mexicans/immigrants. That cannot be left unsaid by all those who have discovered Arizona overnight. All the hate that Arizona is famous for emanates not simply from right wing hate radio but from the state capitol itself.
Here, Mexicans/immigrants and Indigenous peoples are fair game for the loudmouth talk show hosts and their cult followings, but also from the highest officials in state government. Here, Mexicans/immigrants are daily demonized. The viciousness and dehumanization here has become normalized.
There’s a consensus that everyone is conscious that we need to be civil, that we need to respect each others’ rights except when talking about illegal aliens. Racial profiling (read Indigenous) is a way of life here in Arizona and truthfully, when it comes to brown peoples, it has been normalized across the country. That’s what sb 1070 is about. But it’s also about hb 2281, the effort to kill ethnic studies.
There is no left wing equivalent to the Rush Limbaughs and Glen Becks of the world and there’s plenty local ones in Arizona who revel perversely every time their names are mentioned. They preach unadulterated hate because ‘illegal aliens’ are not human to them. It is not uncommon to hear people talk on the radio about killing Mexicans along the border as if they were speaking of flies or cockroaches.
The hate here is deafening. We have been sending signals for years now and the hate continues. It is relentless, whether from minutemen, hate-radio loudmouths or from state legislators.
To the parachute journalists and all those that have discovered Arizona overnight, don’t forget that. Long after you leave, long after this massacre has ceased to be headline news, we will continue to have to contend with the normalized bigotry and hate against brown peoples that continually comes out of the state capitol and that is nowadays prevalent throughout the state.
Please remember this and look at your own communities to see if all this hate is already festering there. I can almost guarantee you that it is. Bring it to light before the next massacre. Perhaps you will prevent the next massacre.
* Click here for an in-depth look into the Arizona hate.