Jan 10, 2011
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 other's 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 leftwing equivalent to the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Beck's 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.
* For an in-depth look into the Arizona hate, go to:
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