I don’t think anyone reading this needs me to recap what happened to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday. Or to tell you who died that day or how old they were. We all know.
Here are my quick thoughts: 1) When I heard about the shooting, I was shocked. But I wasn’t surprised that the target was a woman or a democrat. Also, not surprised it happened in AZ. 2) Even if Loughner is “mentally ill”, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t influenced by hearing or reading or seeing rightwing pundits say that it is okay to use physical violence against people who fall on the left side of the political spectrum. Being “mentally ill” and influenced by hatred and rhetoric aren’t mutually exclusive things. 3) If he had been anything other than white, we would have heard about black thugs, Muslim terrorists, or dangerous illegal immigrants from Mexico. We wouldn’t be talking about the shooter’s state of mind at all. Instead, it would all be about the context and culture out of which his hatred and anger was borne.
But there are much more articulate people out there on the internets saying much more articulate things.
The MUST READ post is over at Shakesville, where Melissa McEwan traces not only the recent history of the “vitriolic rhetoric” that comes from the right but also why those people saying such terrible things need to be introspective (and, of course, they aren’t gonna). The end is so well written and so pointed, it hurts to read it:
Let’s get this straight: This shit doesn’t happen in a void. It happens in a culture rife with violent political rhetoric, and it’s time for conservatives to pull up their goddamn bootstraps and get to work doing the hard business of self-reflection.
This is one problem the invisible hand of the market can’t fix for them—unless, perhaps, it’s holding a mirror.
I like this post by Maya over at Feministing, which links to lots of other posts about the incident and its aftermath. I especially like this:
But it’s not about cause. It’s about context. And it’s not actually about Jared Lee Laugher [sic]. Frankly, I think it’s pretty irrelevant whether or not he was influenced by violent right-wing rhetoric. It’s possible he wasn’t at all. But the very fact that he could have been is damning evidence that our political climate has gotten out of control.
Shakesville has a round of links about all of this.
Pam’s House Blend spotlights the gay Latino intern, Daniel Hernandez, who is credited with saving Giffords life after he ran towards the shooting, assessed the scene, and attended to her head wound until the EMS could arrive. As someone said on Twitter, did the AZ authorities check his papers when they arrived? Check out his cool demeanor in an interview this morning with Matt Laurer.
A 61-year-old woman, Patricia Maisch, wrestled with Loughner as he was changing magazines on Saturday. She is credited with keeping him from killing or wounding many more people. The Telegraph has a video of an interview with her.
Angus Johnston at StudentActivism.net has a beautiful tribute to the 6 people who died on Saturday:
These six shared something in common. They were all the kind of people who, finding themselves with some free time on a sunny Saturday morning, could think of no better way to spend it than to schlep out to a supermarket parking lot to wait on a line next to a folding table for a chance to hang out with an elected official for a few minutes.
And that’s a beautiful thing.
Please also read Jill’s post at Feministe about the problems with assuming that the gunman was “mentally ill” and the problems with always jumping immediately to that conclusion when we hear about such incidents. As she says:
Certainly, some people with mental illnesses do commit crimes — but that shouldn’t really surprise us, since people with mental illnesses are people, and some people commit crimes. I’m worried, though, that “he’s crazy” will end up being the easy card to pull in the particular case of the Arizona shooting, without recognizing that, mentally ill or not, Jared Loughner participated in the same society as the rest of us, and was undoubtedly influenced by the culture in which he lived — mental illness does not typically put one on an island all their own, totally unswayed and oblivious to everything around. We need to take a good look at the culture and sub-cultures we’ve built in the United States; “he’s crazy” is a cop-out, and it’s irresponsible, and it doesn’t alleviate us of our responsibilities.