Archive for Jared Lee Loughner

Why Aren’t We Calling Loughner a Terrorist?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on January 11, 2011 by loonwatch

A good piece from Charles D. Ellison on the differing usages of the “terrorism” and the double standards it reveals.

(hat tip: Blue)

Why Aren’t We Calling Loughner a Terrorist?

by Charles D. Ellison (Huffington Post)

I can’t help but wonder why folks are so afraid to call the mass shooting in Tuscon, Arizona an act of terrorism.

The fear of the “T” word seems almost palpable in describing the gruesome events that took place this past Saturday. There is little explanation or reasoning for the omission, except that it’s very obvious what most Americans won’t call 22-year-old Jared Loughner. It goes without saying that the man is deranged. Fairly obvious that he’s unstable. But, tell us what we don’t know. Get straight to the core of the matter here. Let’s not fool ourselves and everyone else struggling to make sense out of it. Loughner is a terrorist, clearly fit within the strictest definition of the term.

While other top public officials tip-toed around it, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton almost went there, just short of dropping the “T” word. Instead, she chose “extremist.” While clearly holding back, it was one of the braver rhetorical stands we’ve heard in the past few days. Her comparison to the Middle Eastern “extremism” we routinely see plastered on global headlines is sure to raise a few brows and ‘how-dare-she’ remarks back home, especially since she said it while in Abu Dhabi.

But, let’s keep it real. The “T” term gets quickly applied within every second a suicide bomber blasts a busy street corner in Pakistan or when a crowded European commuter train is vaporized. We find some sort of geopolitical logic, however violent and horrific, to explain the indiscriminate mass killings of innocent civilians in various corners of the world. Even before responsibility is investigated or admitted by some obscure political fringe group wanting their spot blown, we’re already using the “T” word.

When a “crazy” white guy with a gun, wound up on polarized talking points and manifestos, indiscriminately kills innocent Americans in broad daylight, it takes several days in the aftermath before the larger public will even accept a hint of premeditation. Typically, the collective American psyche will initially trivialize the event by calling the perpetrator “deranged” or “mentally unstable.” The social response script is fashioned to fake us into a false sense of security. It’s isolated, they say. Just one crazed nut with a gun.

That dude who flew his plane into an IRS building? Isolated. Or the cat who waited for, scoped, then killed three Pittsburgh police officers? Crazy. What about the man who shot at the Panama City school board then shot himself? Off the edge.

Brown skin man with bombs strapped to his torso? Oh, that’s a terrorist.

Yet, in every instance, the “isolated” or “crazed” Americans each expressed some form of political reasoning for committing the act. Loughner, whose elaborate musings are outlined in lengthy Internet entries on MySpace and YouTube, was apparently hanging with anti-government dudes who probably have posters of Sarah Palin in a bikini brandishing a semi-automatic prior to the attack.

So, what’s the difference between a mass political killing in Tuscon, Arizona and the same in Any Town, Middle East?

Part of it is that we don’t want to accept that Americans are actually capable of politically motivated destruction. Clearly, the level of invective in our political discourse has reached a feverish pitch in recent years, matched by the worrisome lack of civility and old fashioned decency we use to pride ourselves on. It’s another conversation, but we’re much meaner, much more hyper-competitive and much less compassionate — some can fairly argue with that assessment, especially after 400 years of slavery and institutional racism peppered by mass lynching. We don’t want to admit it, but we all talk about how foul our social attitude is these days.

But, as we enter this 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, we are afraid to accept the comparisons. While the North vs. South battle lines disappeared with every history lesson, we can see a scary repeat of similar passions which led to the first cannon shots at Fort Sumter in 1861. Congress, in the 1850s, was also a scene of unadulterated political mayhem, Members beating each other senseless on the House floor and Senators drawing guns on one another. While it’s not that bad today, we are seeing an alarming deficit of decorum in the House chamber which, if left unchecked, could lead to unbridled outbursts of ideology we’ll end up regretting one day.

We’d be irresponsible not to reassess our national discourse. There are serious consequences to the ideological bubbles we’ve created while we self-isolate ourselves in Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts, interacting only with those we agree with.

Disagreeing is our national legacy and right, but how we disagree is a national discipline we should embrace before Tuscon becomes the norm rather than the exception.

 

White Terrorism: Jared Lee Loughner Shoots Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by loonwatch

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.