Arizona rejected King holiday, now produces would-be assassin

Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor | 1/11/2011, 6:25 p.m.

The tragedy that occurred in Arizona last weekend is utter insanity. But I don’t believe the 22-year-old gunman is as insane as some of us are being made to believe. I am not buying that kind of excuse.

The reality is that Jared Lee Loughner is the product of a political philosophy that espouses violence as a means to an end. He is the definition of a movement that preaches hate, racial intolerance and violence as the answer to addressing one’s own insecurities about current political issues.

What happened in Tucson was nothing short of an attempted political assassination on the life of a moderate voice, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was targeted by the Tea Party for defeat in the November election.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which documents hate crimes and the activities of the Ku Klux Klan, explained on MSNBC how the ideas of Loughner are drawn from past right wing extremist ideologues.

I was glued to the TV all day Saturday afternoon in San Francisco last week after hearing the news of Giffords attempted assassination, the killing of a respected federal judge John Roll, who was pro immigration in some of his decisions, and five other people, including 9-year old Christina Taylor Green who according to her father was enthralled by the Obama candidacy in 2008.

Young Christina, inspired by the Obama campaign, was beginning to take an early role in politics. An impressionable young girl, she, like everyone who was at the scene last week, did not deserve to die.

I watched Christina’s parents struggle to explain on CNN Tuesday night how they bade farewell to their gifted daughter lying dead at the hospital, and it struck me as the father of a young son, the unimaginable horror of losing a child in such a callous act.

Notably in a Dec. 15, 2010 posting, Loughner talked about the “second United States Constitution” and his apparent distrust of the federal government. “Second American Constitution” is very common term on the political right that has been hijacked by White supremacists for the sole purpose of raising objections to the Reconstruction Amendments (the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth), that deal with the freeing of slaves and the citizenship rights of all persons born or naturalized in the U.S.

“In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar. No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!” Loughner wrote.

Arizona, the place where steep racism and anti-immigrant rants call home, is now being challenged to do better and show the world that the action of Loughner does not define the state. That there are many people like Giffords who mean well and want to see a society free of racism and intolerance.

Perhaps it is also time for Arizona to apologize to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Years after the federal government instituted King’s birthday as a national holiday, Arizona refused to recognize it. Apparently Arizona did not believe then in recognizing a man who called for racial harmony and challenged America to make real on its promises of democracy.