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Correspondence: the Arizona massacre

11 January 2011

Gerry Fitzpatrick presents his thoughts on the background to the Arizona massacre

The hysteria had been building for months against the Democratic Party government in Washington. Well before the US mid term elections commentators and journalists had noted the growing toxic and increasingly violent language of the Republican and Tea Party campaigners. One journalist Gary Younge of the Guardian also began to report on how the Tea Party movement was mainstreaming the violent fantasies of the armed political fringe:

Since this video was posted last summer, Republican Party candidates and members of congress increasingly adopted these fantasies and made them part of their campaign strategy against the Obama government. The lynch pin of the Tea party and republican lynch mob fantasy was that the Obama government was about to remove the constitutional right ‘to bear arms’. Bearing arms and saying you were going to use them was their ‘answer’ to the threat – the threat of health care reform, the threat of immigrants, the threat of reform of the banks – the threat of Obama ‘the socialist’ and his government.

In Arizona before the mid-term elections Republican Party candidate Jesse Kelly staged a rally in June to, “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M15 with Jesse Kelly”.

This brutality failed, Giffords was narrowly returned in the November mid-term elections – something that infuriated Tea Party Republicans. So it was not surprising to find that Sara Palin had included the congresswoman in her now infamous ‘targets list’ for the Tea Party movement. Gabrielle Giffords immediately recognized the potential of Palin’s Tea Party ‘targets map’, “when people do that”, she said, “they've got to realize that there's consequences to that action". Palin did not remove the targets map from her web site. Palin had published the targets map after President Obama’s government had passed the first stage of his much watered down health care reform Bill. Following the vote Gabrielle Giffords office in Tucson Arizona began to receive more threatening phone calls letters and e-mails, that was after the windows in her office had been smashed. 

The targeted congresswoman has now been shot. Gabrielle Giffords was one of eighteen people machine gunned by the anti-government gunman Jared Loughner. Six of those are now dead including the liberal judge John Roll, Gabriel Zimmerman one of Ms Gifford’s staff and a nine-year-old girl Christina Greene. The Judge had received several death threats after similar conservative hysteria. He too had become a figure of hate for the American conservatives and its talk radio rabble-rousers. His crime? He had recently found in favor of a group of sixteen Mexican workers who had been brutalized by their employers. 

America: The Fight Back Must Be Real

The notion that the hysteria and the violence will stop after such an atrocity is wrong. The atmosphere in America is not unlike that following the rise of Paisleyism here in the late 1960s; when Bombay Street was burned by Unionist mobs Paisleyism did not suffer as a result - it increased its influence. Similarly, the bombing of the federal offices in Oklahoma in which 168 people were killed did not stop the rise of the Republican Right and it’s mainstreaming of the lunatic fringe. Judging by the initial reports of conservative reaction to the Arizona murders Conservative and Tea Party activists are already on the offensive accusing their opponents of using the murders to ‘get gun control.’ There will of course be calls and attempts to ‘defend democracy’ however such a response must go much further and challenge directly the rights of capital and the fantastically rich – which is the true source of the hysteria and the anti-democratic violence.


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