The mainstream media are portraying Jared Lee Loughner, the 22 year old who critically wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as a lone wing nut. They are distancing themselves from the liberal bloggers who are trying to connect his act to the Tea Party movement and other conservatives. They’re not even particularly keen on reporting Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who blamed the shooting on the “political vitriol” from the right wing and who called Arizona the national center of bigotry.
The problem is that his assassination spree was premeditated and his victims we’re specifically targeted, not only by him, but by numerous ultra-right organizations, while his actions had indeed been egged on by conservatives, including Sarah Palin. The Department of Homeland Security has linked Loughner to American Renaissance, an anti-government, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic organization that advocates white supremacy and racial separation. One of his victims, Judge John Roll, was the subject of hundreds of death threats in 2009. He had been vilified by right-wing talk shows for his role presiding over a case brought by undocumented immigrants against a local rancher.
Giffords was Jewish, which would be reason enough to make her a target of anti-Semitic groups. However, she had also just recently beat a Tea party candidate, Jesse Kelly, another violent wing nut who had organized an event encouraging people to join him in firing M16 assault rifles to “help remove Giffords from office.” Furthermore, during Giffords campaign, right-wing protesters would carry signs with the slogan “It’s time to reload,” a thinly veiled reference to assassination. When Giffords warned that people “have got to realize there are consequences,” Sarah Palin responded on Twitter with, “Don’t retreat, reload.” In conjunction with the rifle crosshairs on her website, it’s difficult to not to see Palin as a deliberate provocateur who was well aware of the potential for political violence.