This is the state that epitomizes what you think of when you see a Clint Eastwood movie: Guns, machoism, lawlessness and no remorse.
It’s a beautiful land once inhabited by Native Americans, Chicanos, Mexicans and Mayans. A state full of history, awe-inspring landscapes and deep, unforgiving wounds of America’s dark past.
This is a state that historically opposes the integration of races. From the decision by Governor Evan Mecham to fight for the state’s right to not celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. day to Tucson’s banning of a Mexican history class in a district because they claim it promotes the “underthrow of the government” and “resentment towards a race of class [white people] of people.” Also, let’s not forget that Arizona has also banned any history book that tells of the brutal oppression of the Native Americans and Chicanos. Tucson mandates that teachers stay away from books that focus on “race, ethnicity and oppression as central themes” (Keep these things in mind as I talk about Representative Giffords later).
Funny how Arizona was okay when the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, threatened to secede from the union after Obama’s health care legislation began gaining ground, Arizona was okay with that form of government disobedience. When Arizona politicians don’t get their way, they’re okay with going to war against the federal government and vowing for martial law, but they’re not okay when them Marxist Mexicans do it.
I’ll let the fervor of the immigration debate support my point about how radical Arizona is when it comes to minority rights. Even Governor Brewer of Arizona was in on the flame-fanning as she spread lies about Mexican immigrants “decapitating” citizens of Arizona. This is how ruthless Arizona politics are and always have been. They don’t give a damn who they run over as long as they get their way. Arizona is so heartless that their draconian immigration laws were not only unnecessary, but the laws were linked to contributions from donors who wanted to build private prisons in the state with the felons being mostly composed of illegal immigrants. This is a case of governments and corporate run prisons out of control.
Even though Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any president in recent history, Arizona claims that Obama is leaving the border wide open. This is a classic case of xenophobia because the United States is becoming a minority-majority nation.
As we move back to Giffords, health care was being modified under president Obama. From 2009-10, the rhetoric became extremely heated, even hostile at times. And the main reason this health care vote was so politically dangerous (besides the fact that it was something Obama actively supported) was because of the wedge issue of abortion. Somehow health care got entangled with illegal immigration, abortion, Mexicans and communism. This is the spark needed to enrage an already unhinged radical base the Republicans were so ready to pander to.
Republicans were clamoring that this legislation would force doctors to perform abortions at the expense of the taxpayer. By repeating this over and over, Republicans were able to rile up their voters, eventually giving birth to the tea party and their 2010 takeover of Congress.
Here are examples of the rhetoric and fear tactics being used by the opposition to health care:
That’s just a taste of the fear tactics being used during the health care debate. Lastly, here is an example of how childish and unruly Republicans were during the health care debate:
Now Giffords, a vibrant and passionate person when it came to servicing her community, had a tough decision in voting for the health care law. I know she knew how tough this would be, but she felt that it was the right thing to do.
Soon after her vote, she was targeted by Republicans. Sarah Palin made a map of representatives that had she felt had to go. On that map, she had crosshairs over several of the representatives’ districts who voted for the law. Palin championed this at first, but soon took down her Facebook post after Giffords was shot. Palin, known to cause a ruckus in the media, has never been afraid of attention so why did she take her illustration down with the quickness? Because she knew she messed up.
Sarah Palin's crosshair illustration over Gabby's district
As soon as Giffords casted her vote, she had a brick thrown through her office and reported multiple threats to the police. More similarly, threats toward several House Democrats became a trend (Links to all the stories will be provided at the bottom. There is simply too much to hyperlink them here). Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and former police officer had to resign after receiving multiple threats for his health care vote. I remember following the rhetoric closely and I couldn’t believe the things being said after Stupak casted his vote. People were furious.
Giffords was a bit shaken up and she had this to say to MSNBC after her office was vandalized:
Every time I watch that video I get chills. Giffords knew what was coming, but she proved how brave she was. Being a Democratic representative and an abortion doctor in today’s world has become a dangerous job. People will kill you because they have been radicalized and they are hopeless. They have so little faith in the system, that they’d rather kill people to have their way than to play by the rules.
They are cowards.
Soon after this speech, we all know what happened to Gabby. Gabby was shot in the head from three feet away by Jared Lougner.
I want to take this time out to thank Rep. Gabrielle Giffords for her bravery and service to make this country a place that can hopefully transcend political boundaries.
The experience that she has gone through since that tragic day was a larger reflection of the way she handled herself in politics. As a Democrat in a historically conservative state, Giffords was obligated to be a moderate. Being a moderate during heated political times is a rare thing nowadays, but being a moderate is not what makes this woman so special.
What puts Gabrielle above many other politicians is her fearless service to her community. It almost cost her her life, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason. She is a reminder that light will always outshine the darkest parts of this world. If we haven’t learned anything from this debacle, we have to learn to be civil and respectful. We have to be adults.
Gabby is truly an angel on Earth.
RIP to all the victims that died on that dreadful day on January 8th, 2011.
- Christina-Taylor Green, 9, of Tucson.
- Dorothy “Dot” Morris, 76, a retired secretary from Oro Valley.
- John Roll, 63, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Arizona, named to the federal bench by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.
- Phyllis Schneck, 79, homemaker from Tucson.
- Dorwan Stoddard, 76, retired construction worker, died from a gunshot wound to the head.
- Gabriel “Gabe” Zimmerman, 30, community outreach director for Giffords, and a member of Giffords’ staff since 2006. Zimmerman was the first Congressional staffer killed in the line of duty.
And here are the links I promised about the increase in the amount of threats around the country after health care votes: