The Tucson Massacre: After the Cameras are Gone

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.

Roberto Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: Read other articles by Roberto.

19 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mary said on January 11th, 2011 at 7:20am #

    Cynthia McKinney says:

    ‘I know every one is still trying to digest the assassination attempt on the Congresswoman. My mother called and told me that she didn’t sleep all night. She had flashbacks of our own experiences as a political family. My father and I had our share of hate mail, stalkings, FBI surveillance, and armed haters at our public appearances and Congressional events. You all are aware of recent events with me. I am paying close attention as more facts relating to this case are revealed and I am reserving judgment until more is known. Beware the political spin; this matter goes to the core of who we are as a country and is well beyond Democrats and Republicans scuffling for Congressional and State Legislative seats.’

    In her e-mailing she follows with this:

    On August 30, 2010, John T. Williams was shot and killed as he walked down a Seattle street. He was a well-known woodcarver in the Seattle area, and minutes before he was killed, he was holding a knife that was 3 inches long–less than the minimum length that a knife needs to be to be considered illegal to carry in public.

    He was 50 years old, a Native American, homeless, deaf, and many people
    believe a fatality police brutality. Aspects of the incident were captured by a police car video camera. Video of parts of the incident can be seen here. {}

    On that video tape are heard shots being fired only four seconds after Williams was directed to drop the knife he was carrying. And according to Fern Renville, a community member actively involved in bringing about justice in this case, a coroner’s report states that Williams appears to have been shot from the side, not from the front as one would have expected if he was lunging towards the officer with the knife.

    An inquest into the case is scheduled to take place on Monday, January


    So not just Arizona where race hate atrocities happen.

  2. Don Hawkins said on January 11th, 2011 at 8:21am #

    Parachute journalists well I will remember what you wrote and when it happens the move on part I will write a comment in twelve words or less using; Parachute journalists, ok keep on rolling, the show must go on, really. That Governor in Arizona right out of central casting ever noticed.

  3. mary said on January 11th, 2011 at 10:24am #

    There is little hope for the Americans it seems.

    There Will Be Guns
    Arizona’s response to the Giffords shooting: Only guns can stop gun violence


  4. MichaelKenny said on January 11th, 2011 at 11:31am #

    The European reaction has been very interesting. The Congresswoman is unknown here and we are long accustomed to the idea that Americans spend a great deal of their time shooting each other, but it is big news. The tone is a sort of sad acceptance, particularly by those who still has a vestige of admiration for the US, that the country has sunk irrevocably into the quagmire.

  5. Don Hawkins said on January 11th, 2011 at 12:45pm #

    The country has sunk irrevocably into the quagmire well Michael much truth in that but for me a nice coffee shop the corner table listening to laughter as some watch Fox New’s the word’s of Plato, Dickens the talk of revolution in the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.

    What happens to the wide-eyed observer when the window between reality and unreality breaks and the glass begins to fly? ~Author Unknown

    Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement… let me go upstairs and check. ~M.C. Escher

  6. jayn0t said on January 11th, 2011 at 9:22pm #

    I could write a computer program to automatically generate knee-jerk responses to the news like this utterly predictable piece from Rodriguez. “With very few exceptions, only the right wing engages in this constant talk of targeting and taking out their opponents”. Nonsense. The Democrats use the imagery of crosshairs too – all democratic parties use overblown rhetoric to try to make out they are fundamentally different from each other. Anarchists call their critics ‘Nazis’ and post threatening messages on Indymedia. The police just as happily adopt left-wing rhetoric as right-wing ideas as long as it decreases freedom and enhances their power – several police agencies have adopted the line about dangerous white extremists who believe in the ZOG since the tragedy in Arizona.

  7. Deadbeat said on January 11th, 2011 at 9:32pm #

    I agree with jaynot. The pseudo-Left will use this, especially the fact that Giffords is Jewish, to blame the right for “rising” anti-Semitism . Just yesterday, Amy Goodman interviewed psuedo-Leftist, Chip Berlet, who has made a tidy living for 40 years off of the Right.

  8. hayate said on January 11th, 2011 at 10:01pm #

    Is any one making this out as an act of anti-semitism yet? Also, has it been shown the shooter was extreme rightwing yet (most americans are rightwing, BTW). Everything I’ve seen so far shows the guy as being crackers, or supposed to look like he is, but not exactly following a specific wing of politics. And what about the 50 year old white guy accomplice the cops had images of, what happened about that?

  9. Deadbeat said on January 12th, 2011 at 12:58am #

    Here’s the spin …

    Giffords known for her openness and Judaism

  10. hp said on January 12th, 2011 at 10:33am #

    And here’s where the absence of spin says more than the spin..

  11. hp said on January 12th, 2011 at 10:38am #

    Obviously this is an example of web based ‘facts.’

    Just wondering how this will work out.

    It shouldn’t take a degree in theology to retrieve a membership list or the like.

    Should it?

  12. hayate said on January 12th, 2011 at 11:00am #

    Thanks Deadbeat

    Info about gifford’s aipac leanings I’ve seen before. She rather typical of what one would expect that way. It’s interesting about her “Jewishness” been portrayed. Jewish sites and especially israeli ones mention this extensively, but the regular msm seem to only mention it in passing in the articles I’ve read. If it is mentioned at all. There is a lot of play about the shooter being extreme rightwing, though the evidence provided to support this is rather vague. I have not seen any claim the shooter was motivated by anti-semitism yet. That’s what I was looking to find out since that it would be used to silence anti-zionism, rather than anti-semitism by the guv and the zionist run corporate media.

  13. Liberte said on January 12th, 2011 at 11:14am #

    The shooter was a Jew hayate.

  14. Deadbeat said on January 12th, 2011 at 12:02pm #

    Liberte writes …

    The shooter was a Jew hayate.

    That’s news. I hadn’t seen anywhere where the shooter’s religious affiliation was identified.

    What I have seen, as hayate mentions, are assumptions of the shooter’s political leanings. Democracy Now! has used this episode to blame the Right and especially the Tea Party for the past two days. This is not to say that I don’t disagree with the suggestion in all likelihood but good reporting would wait until the shooter’s motives and political leaning can be ascertained before making those allegations and connections.

  15. Liberte said on January 12th, 2011 at 12:37pm #

    Regarding Jared being Jewish, here is “a” source. I don’t know how reliable it is but, well, you decide for yourself.

  16. hayate said on January 12th, 2011 at 1:43pm #

    About the shooter and his possible Jewish roots, take a look at this:

    Loughner’s Jewish mother? Not so much

    By Ron Kampeas · January 12, 2011


    It’s possible, but highly unlikely.

  17. hayate said on January 12th, 2011 at 1:54pm #


    I agree about the shooter’s politics, there’s really nothing definitive I’ve seen, either. I think he is probably a paranoid schizophrenic. The article by ron kampeas made some interesting points about loughner’s views, also, that could be true.

  18. Liberte said on January 12th, 2011 at 1:57pm #

    Well the MSM is changing their tune in light of the possibility of Jewishness. So right there my eyebrow goes up a notch.

    Also the ling you provided hayate, the leg work, it was done by a Jew. Thats sort of unreliable dont you think?

    Oh and I love the logo at that blogsite LOL. Kinda says the whole thing doesnt it?

  19. hayate said on January 13th, 2011 at 4:02am #

    Looks like I got answer to my hayate said on January 11th, 2011 at 10:01pm post. IE: the israeli occupation army…er, homeland security and the israeli propaganda corps (far right division)…er, fox news, are now asserting loughner did the attack for anti-semitic reasons. The article below describes the pros and cons of their claim, and is actually fairly balanced and has some new info I had not seen before.

    American Renaissance: Was Jared Lee Loughner tied to anti-immigrant group?

    By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / January 9, 2011

    On Sunday, Fox News quoted a Department of Homeland Security memo that states Mr. Loughner is “possibly linked” to American Renaissance, which DHS says promotes views that are “anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG [Zionist Occupational Government], anti-Semitic.” Both Giffords and Mr. Zimmerman are Jewish.

    American Renaissance: Was Jared Lee Loughner tied to anti-immigrant group?


    “On Sunday, Fox News quoted a Department of Homeland Security memo that states Mr. Loughner is “possibly linked” to American Renaissance, which DHS says promotes views that are “anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG [Zionist Occupational Government], anti-Semitic.” Both Giffords and Mr. Zimmerman are Jewish.

    Through web posts and interviews with those who know him, a picture of Loughner has emerged as an anti-social, erratic and possibly mentally unstable young man, whose anti-religion and anti-flag views run starkly counter to the broader tea party platform. Caitie Parker, one of his high school classmates, says in press reports that in the past Loughner was “quite liberal,” and a “political radical.”


    This is the first time I’ve seen loughner being portrayed as anti-semitic. I think it is significant that homeland security and fox news are the ones making the claim.