Photo by Tom Peck/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Border fence in Cochise County, AZ
It's a given that the suspected gunman in the fatal shooting that left six dead and critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords this weekend in Tucson wasn't acting purely on the political rhetoric coming out of the Grand Canyon State, nor on Sarah Palin's map of congressional districts with crosshairs over them. As with most things, it's much more complicated than that.
But Saturday's tragedy, regardless of the shooter's motive, has opened up a discussion that is still worth having. The incident has led to a national conversation about the political tone that has been coming out of Arizona, and much of that has to do with immigration politics - and, yes, the surrounding rhetoric.
The state is embroiled in controversy over its SB 1070 illegal immigration law, another new law that has essentially banned a Mexican American studies program, and the championing by some conservative political leaders of a national movement to deny U.S. citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.
Photo by Patrick Dockens/Flickr (Creative Commons)
How much of a role did the immigration debate and racial-ethnic hatred play in yesterday's devastating shooting in Tucson that killed six and injured 13, among them U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords? The motive of suspected shooter Jared Lee Loughner, described as mentally unstable, is still unclear and may always be. But there are connections to both that continue to develop.
A Department of Homeland Security memo leaked to Fox News pointed to a possible link between Loughner and the radical group American Renaissance, which advocates white supremacy. From the memo published by Fox:
...strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance. Suspect is possibly linked to this group. (through videos posted on his myspace and YouTube account.). The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic.
Gabrielle Gifford is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government. She was also opposite this group’s ideology when it came to immigration debate.