Arizona Shooter Followed Anti-Immigrant Group

According to an internal memo from the Department of Homeland Security that Fox News obtained on the possible motives of Jared Loughner’s shooting rampage:

[…] strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance. Suspect is possibly linked to this group. (through videos posted on his myspace and YouTube account.). The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic. Gabrielle Gifford is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government. She was also opposite this group’s ideology when it came to immigration debate.

The investigation on the ties that might lead to the motive of the shooter was confirmed by the Associated Press.  According to Yahoo News, the AmRen group was of course quick to deny any ties to Loughner:

AmRen founder Jared Taylor, however, tells Fox he’d never heard of Loughner and that according to his group’s records, Loughner never received AmRen publications. His group’s events are all held on the East Coast, he said, far from Loughner’s hometown of Tucson.

However, as you can probably imagine, the possibility of Loughner following AmRen’s ideology does not necessarily depend on whether or not he had direct contact with that group.  The Yahoo News report elaborates on the group’s ideology:

AmRen opposes all non-white immigration into the United States and strongly supports SB1070 [a law that was written by supporters of neo-nazis], which made it a state crime in Arizona to be an illegal immigrant. The AmRen website posted a notice about a rally in support of SB1070 over the summer. The founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which helped craft SB1070, has promoted AmRen’s efforts, according to The Southern Poverty Law Center.

Rep. Giffords is only mentioned on the AmRen site in re-posted news articles and in the comments.

Elise Foley at the Huffington Post notes that the group’s connections to anti-Semitism are “complicated.” The group’s think tank, called the New Century Foundation, occasionally features Holocaust-denying speakers, but Taylor [founder of AmRen] has cracked down on anti-Semitic speech at conferences and in AmRen’s magazines.

Nevertheless, Jared Taylor himself is notorious for writing anti-Hispanic material, as Media Matters documents here.  Furthermore, the fact that the Pima County Sheriff, Charles Dupnik, on an interview with Geraldo Rivera, stated pretty indicting remarks on potential associations with the inciting rhetoric espoused by anti-immigrant politicians the likes of Sharron Angle and Sarah Palin begs a troubling question: is there more of a connection between right-wing rhetoric and this particular tragedy than it is currently known publicly?   

Perhaps in a ray of light in all this darkness and as many have pointed out before, in the face of this horrific tragedy it’s been inspiring to see all of the heroism in the individuals that raced to stop the shooter and provide aid to the victims.  From the men that tackled the gunman and held him to the ground to Patricia Maisch, the woman that grabbed the clip away from the shooter, preventing him from reloading his gun; they are all heroes.  Ms. Maisch actually spoke with Shepard Smith of Fox News, home of the very same Tea Party vitriol rhetoric that has been criticized for being the perfect example of how violent hate speech has become commonplace in our political discourse.  At the end of the interview with Shepard Smith (who himself has previously warned about that the disturbing correspondence that that network seems to generate from its viewers), Ms. Maisch left the viewers with a call for the extremism in right-wing rhetoric that has been inserted in our society to stop:

Even more ironic, in the face of the revelations that the shooter might have been following hateful ideologies that might have influeced his motives, is that the person that is credited for possibly saving Representative Giffords’ life happens to be gay and Latino.  MSNBC featured a video interviewing Daniel Hernandez on his reaction of immediately running towards the gunshots to help the victims:

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Wrapping things up, perhaps this The New York Times editorial put things into context best:

It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.

Update: much is being said about gun control legislation on the aftermath of this tragedy, but it is worth pointing out that the consequences of having relatively lax gun laws has had impacts on violence not only on U.S. soil but has also fueled the drug lord violence on our Southern border and on Mexican soil.  So much so, that if you recall, the President of Mexico came to address a joint session of U.S. Congress last year to call for a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban and he was immediately lambasted by the right-wing media machine for making such a request.

Update # 2: Arizona Fallout: Hispanic Group To Press FCC, Hill, NTIA For Hate Speech Inquiries; wants to update almost two-decades old report on effects of hate speech, press Congress for money to do so:

“We’re not looking for regulations,” […] “We’re about bringing this to the consciousness of the American people to the point where we as a nation and a population say to each other: ‘We can’t continue like this.’ We want to put the pressure on those individuals who continue to use that kind of rhetoric so that they stop it or mitigate it.”

Read the rest of the announcement here.