In Gifford's District, a Long History of Tension
This article was reported by Sam Dolnick, Katharine Q. Seelye and Adam Nagourney and written by Mr. Nagourney.
... Given its locale and its demographic mix, the Eighth District long offered a stage for a combustible mix of issues that have torn apart other parts of the country. But the divisions seemed particularly searing here. Because of efforts to more aggressively close California's border with Mexico, Arizona has seen a surge of illegal immigration that has heightened tensions. "There was no question there were more and more illegal immigrants coming in," said Mr. Kolbe, who had held her seat. "They were flooding in."
Ms. Giffords was seeking re-election at a time when Arizona passed a tough law aimed at illegal immigrants, which Ms. Giffords opposed, and as the state faced a threatened boycott from parts of the nation for passing a law that many people saw as intolerant.
"Immigration, that's the ingredient that makes Arizona unique in a very twisted way," Mr. Grijalva said.In sharp contrast, Nick Baumann of Mother Jones does good work interviewing a long-time friend of the Arizona shooter:
[Bryce] Tierney tells Mother Jones in an exclusive interview that Loughner held a years-long grudge against Giffords and had repeatedly derided her as a "fake." Loughner's animus toward Giffords intensified after he attended one of her campaign events and she did not, in his view, sufficiently answer a question he had posed, Tierney says. ... Giffords was the target of Loughner's rampage, prosecutors say, and the sworn affidavit accompanying the charges mentions that Loughner attended a Giffords "Congress in Your Corner" event in 2007. The affidavit also mentions that police searching a safe in Loughner's home found a letter from Giffords' office thanking the alleged shooter for attending an August 25, 2007 event. Tierney, who's also 22, recalls Loughner complaining about a Giffords event he attended during that period. He's unsure whether it was the same one mentioned in the charges-Loughner "might have gone to some other rallies," he says-but Tierney notes it was a significant moment for Loughner: "He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, 'What is government if words have no meaning?'"Obviously, this 2007 obsession was caused by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and SB1070 sending their thought rays of hate back from the future.
Giffords' answer, whatever it was, didn't satisfy Loughner. "He said, 'Can you believe it, they wouldn't answer my question,' and I told him, 'Dude, no one's going to answer that,'" Tierney recalls. "Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her." ...
Tierney notes that Loughner did not display any specific political or ideological bent: "It wasn't like he was in a certain party or went to rallies...It's not like he'd go on political rants." ...I think we have a pretty good understanding by now of the killer. So, why does the NYT continue to humiliate itself like this? Have you no shame, sir?
Tierney, who first met Loughner in middle school, recalls that Loughner started to act strange around his junior or senior year of high school. ...
Tierney believes that Loughner was very interested in pushing people's buttons-and that may have been why he listed Hitler's Mein Kampf as one of his favorite books on his YouTube page. (Loughner's mom is Jewish, according to Tierney.) Loughner sometimes approached strangers and would say "weird" things, Tierney recalls. "He would do it because he thought people were below him and he knew they wouldn't know what he was talking about." ...
After Loughner apparently gave up drugs and booze, "his theories got worse," Tierney says. "After he quit, he was just off the wall." ... By early 2010, dreaming had become Loughner's "waking life, his reality," Tierney says. "He sort of drifted off, didn't really care about hanging out with friends. He'd be sleeping a lot." Loughner's alternate reality was attractive, Tierney says. "He figured out he could fly." Loughner, according to Tierney, told his friends, "I'm so into it because I can create things and fly. I'm everything I'm not in this world."
Since hearing of the rampage, Tierney has been trying to figure out why Loughner did what he allegedly did. "More chaos, maybe," he says. "I think the reason he did it was mainly to just promote chaos. He wanted the media to freak out about this whole thing. He wanted exactly what's happening. He wants all of that."