Top Menu

White Terrorism: Jared Lee Loughner Shoots Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Another case of, “All Muslims are Terrorist…no, wait.”

White Terrorism

by Juan Cole

Jared Lee Loughner,the assassin of Federal judge John M. Roll and five others and attempted assassin of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ), was clearly mentally unstable. But the political themes of his instability were those of the American far Right. Loughner was acting politically even if he is not all there. He is said to have called out the names of his victims, such as Roll and Gifford, as he fired. As usual, when white people do these things, the mass media doesn’t call it terrorism.

It is irrelevant that Loughner may (at this point we can only say “may”) have been a liberal years earlier in high school. If so, he changed. And among the concerns that came to dominate him as he moved to the Right was the illegitimacy of the “Second Constitution” (the 14th Amendment, which bestows citizenship on all those born in the US, a provision right-wingers in Arizona are trying to overturn at the state level). Loughner also thought that Federal funding for his own community college was unconstitutional, and he was thrown out for becoming violent over the issue. He obviously shared with the Arizona Right a fascination with firearms, and it is telling that a disturbed young man who had had brushes with the law was able to come by an automatic pistol. He is said to have used marijuana, which would be consistent with a form of anti-government, right-wing Libertarianism. I don’t think we can take too seriously the list of books he said he liked, as a guide to his political thinking. They could just have been randomly pulled off some list of great books on the Web, since there is no coherence to the choices.

The man who had most to do with Loughner after his arrest, Pima County Sherriff Clarence W. Dupnik, was clearly angered by what he heard from the assassin: “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry … it is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

When Gifford helped pass the Health Care bill, according to Suzy Khimm, “extremists subsequently encouraged the public to throw bricks through the windows of lawmakers.” Gifford had to call the police once before when an attendee at one of her events dropped a gun. Gifford had complained ‘ in an MSNBC interview that a Sarah Palin graphic had depicted her district in the crosshair of a gun sight. “They’ve got to realize there are consequences to that,” she said. “The rhetoric is incredibly heated.” ‘

The subtext of the angst over the shooting of Gifford is that in recent months Loughner was saying Tea-Party-like things about the Federal government. The violent language of “elimination,” “putting in the cross-hairs,” (as with Palin’s poster, above) “taking back,” “taking out,” to which members of that movement so often resort, has created a heated atmosphere that easily seeps into the unconscious of the mentally disturbed. That is Dupnik’s point.

There apparently is some indication that Loughner had an accomplice, and his arrest and identification will shed a great deal more light on the motivations behind this political massacre. Did Loughner have a Rasputin?

In some ways, the turn of Loughner to the themes of the American far right parallels what happened to Michael Enright, who slashed the throat of a Bangladeshi cab driver at the height of the campaign promoting hatred of Muslims launched last summer-fall by Rick Lazio and Rupert Murdoch. Everyone should have learned from that tragedy that heated rhetoric has consequences.

Those right-wing bloggers who want to dismiss Loughner as merely disturbed are being hypocritical, since they won’t similarly dismiss obviously unstable Muslims who, like the so-called “Patriots” of the McVeigh stripe, sometimes turn violent. (Zacharias Moussawi, for instance, isn’t playing with a full set of backgammon dominoes, and blaming Islam for him is bizarre). In fact, the right-wing Muslim crackpots and the right-wing American crackpots are haunted by similar anxieties, about a powerful government in Washington undermining their localistic ideas of the good life.

AP has video on the shootings, h/t LAT.

Among the last things Gifford did before she was shot was to reply to the Tea Party-inspired congressional reading of the Constitution by reading out the Bill of Rights. She obviously enjoyed pronouncing the words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” But where members of Congress encourage extreme rhetoric, and where Rupert Murdoch’s stable of demagogues use code to whip up racial hatred and violence, those rights can be withdrawn by vigilante and mob violence. Not the letter of the Constitution can protect us, but only its spirit, and then only when implemented in our daily lives.

, , , , , , , , ,

  • Slevdi

    @Mosizzle “People interpret Islam not as it should be interpreted but how they want it to be interpreted.”

    I think we are in complete agreement. We need to condemn those people who interpret Islam in a way that allows murder (amongst other things) in Islam’s name. I believe this is all that the “hate-sites” are saying. I often see the phrase “misunderstanders of Islam” on many sites. These are the people who need help.

    Having read a lot of the comments on that Facebook site at the time, I admit to being dumbfounded by it once I had got over the urge to vomit caused by the language used.

    Having said that, many comments were actually anti-Butt. Most of the pro-Butt comments seemed to be more anti-establishment than pro-Butt. No-one used religion (unlike the the world’s greatest nut-job Phelps mentioned in this thread). No one said the victims deserved to die.

  • Pingback: Ett Ord kan säga mer än mången bild… | Paulus Indomitus Art()

  • And robbie spencer will probably be one of the first to crawl out of the woodwork to defend Fred Phelps, cuz you know, he’s anti-Muslim and all.

  • Curious Joe

    Christian Fred Phelps Thanks God for the Shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

  • Hmmm…

    That’s why I came to Loonwatch. I knew you guys would be all over this topic in seconds…a terroist…yes…double standares…yes…Muslim…NO…white..Yes

  • Mosizzle

    “There are no parallels with the UK case you raise.”

    I only brought that up because you were comparing the Arizona shooting with Salman Taseer’s assassination. You were implying that only Pakistanis celebrate murder whilst there are worrying examples throughout the world where killers have ended up becoming heroes. But I might have read your comment wrong, in that case the example would be irrelevant.

    “– if we say that religiously inspired murder is what happened to Taseer, we are accusing Islam of being open to the interpretation that murder is acceptable”

    I don’t believe Islam is responsible for what happened. But Islam was used as a justification for the attack, unfortunately, by people who wanted him dead. People interpret Islam not as it should be interpreted but how they want it to be interpreted.

  • NassirH

    Look at Bob ranting about Muslims and liberals. It’s hard to tell which group he hates more. Telling from his defense of High Fitzgerald’s genocidal rhetoric and attacks on Muslims, it’s probably Muslims. Of course, he might just be this intolerant to everyone who disagrees with him.

  • Slevdi

    @Mosizzle – if we say that religiously inspired murder is what happened to Taseer, we are accusing Islam of being open to the interpretation that murder is acceptable. This is what should all agree is unacceptable and should be condemned. Not to do so is the stance of a true loon.

    There are no parallels with the UK case you raise.

  • Abdullah

    “Any one who will trade freedom for security deserves neither

    I guess the Left should have added, “Just kidding!””
    Jack Cope, here’s another, more recent example– What about WikiLeaks? It’s freedom of press, it’s true (ie: not slander/libel), so should it be restricted, and if so, why?

  • Of course you can abuse free speech bob, let’s do the ‘shouting fire in a crowded theater’ one again shall we? It ceases to be free when it causes harm to others.

  • JihadBob

    There is NO absolute “free speech” – and the regulation of speech should include demonizing other Americans as “enemies of America” for critical views against American policies.

    – Any one who will trade freedom for security deserves neither

    I guess the Left should have added, “Just kidding!”

  • JihadBob

    The Tea Party is abusing “free speech” in the same manner as abuse in the Netherlands over Wilders: That there is an absolute “right” to say what one wants – even as it is disruptive, damaging to society, threatening, harassing, defamatory, outrageous – and even calls for the deaths and assassinations of others…

    You can’t abuse free speech.

  • Lilly

    Speaking of Terrorism… I hear WBC is going to come and protest at the little girls funeral…..

  • Abdulmajid

    This guy is as much as a lone gunman as Lee Harvey Oswald or John Wilkes Booth were.

  • Speaking of “in support” – the Tea Party is now raising off of this outrageous act, to fight efforts to “tone down the rhetoric.”
    Well – the Tea Party is continuing that same demonizing rhetoric that could have played a role in the shooting of the Democrat congresswoman. http://www.casavaria.com/cafesentido/2011/01/10/7184/tea-party-express-raising-money-from-giffords-shooting/

    The Tea Party is abusing “free speech” in the same manner as abuse in the Netherlands over Wilders: That there is an absolute “right” to say what one wants – even as it is disruptive, damaging to society, threatening, harassing, defamatory, outrageous – and even calls for the deaths and assassinations of others…

    There is NO absolute “free speech” – and the regulation of speech should include demonizing other Americans as “enemies of America” for critical views against American policies.

    Part of what could have lead to this outrageous shooting spree could be the continued, but long-standing accusations against American Liberals, Leftists – and Democrats – that we are “anti-American,” “hate America,” are “trying to destroy America,” and of course that we “help America’s enemies.” We are even “self-hating Americans,” as if the only acceptable view is to accept everything this country does in the world – no matter how tyrannical – in the fashion of an authoritarian and totalitarian state.

    Some of this could stem from the long-term goal on the right-wing to shut out any and all speech and ideas that are not only Left, but to demonize (and even criminalize) those of us that are critical of American policies, both foreign and domestic.

    What is needed is a return to tolerance for other viewpoints and not demonizing others as “enemies” because of dissenting viewpoints against American foreign and domestic policies.

  • You know, all this terrorism talk from bob reminds me of that time he tried to say that people burning down churches in Malaysia was terrorism. Let’s ignore that no churches got burned down (some people threw firebombs at several, and then some lovely Christians threw firebombs at Mosques) or that all those responsible are now serving jail terms, that Malaysians and others were outraged and that there were collections by Muslims to fix the damage, bob still plowed on regardless of the facts, and never even apologized for trying to make it out that Malaysian Muslims burned down some churches as if it were normal behavior (which is slander in my legal opinion). I feel we are going to see a repeat here as bob tries to pin this on someone regardless of facts. Nor will Nur Alia get their request. Or bob might just slink off and complain about being ‘IP banned’.

Powered by Loon Watchers