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Why Was Giffords Targeted?

Alleged shooter may have been driven in part by anti-Semitism

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Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged would-be assassin of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.(Reuters/NYT)

Leaving aside whether broader currents in American political discourse influenced Jared Lee Loughner’s attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s life, what exactly were the direct, proximate motivations behind Loughton’s decision to shoot Giffords in the head and then open fire on the crowd at her “Congress on Your Corner” event Saturday in Tucson, Arizona, killing six and wounding nearly two dozen? More specifically: Was Giffords’s Jewishness—her father is Jewish, her mother Christian Scientist, and she identifies as Jewish; she even served on the Anti-Defamation League’s regional board—at all relevant?

It seems very clear that, primarily, Loughner was deeply disturbed and very likely mentally ill, and had been obsessed with Giffords for several years. “Loughner’s behavior grew so troubling that he was told he could no longer attend the school,” the New York Times reports, referring to an Arizona community college, “and he appeared, given his various Internet postings, to find a sense of community in some of the more paranoid corners of the Internet.”

The Department of Homeland Security suggested, in a memo distributed to law enforcement, that Loughner may have had links to American Renaissance, a racist publication (which denies both the link and its racism and condemned the attack), whose ideology, according to DHS, is “anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic” [sic]. And then there is one report stating that Loughner’s mother is, yes, Jewish. (Incidentally, President Obama has called for a moment of silence at 11 am.)

Loughner’s ideology—which is actually an overstatement for what seems to be cobbled-together rants united most of all by simple paranoia and lunacy—draws several of its strands from the far-right fringe. Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center has done the yeoman’s work here (his blog is dedicated to “Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right”). Loughner’s disdain for currency not backed by gold or silver is, according to Potok, a tenet associated with the right-wing, anti-government “Patriot” movement; it is “linked to the core Patriot theory that the Federal Reserve is actually a private corporation run for the benefit of unnamed international bankers.” (Hrmm.) In one of Loughner’s videos, an American flag is burned—a symbol most obviously associated with the far-left but actually, says Potok, at least as logically indicative of far-right leanings. Even Loughner’s bizarre obsession with grammar and language links him to the Patriot movement: It echoes the writings of a conspiracy theorist who “claims that the government uses grammar to ‘enslave’ Americans and offers up his truly weird ‘Truth-language’ as an antidote.”

Giffords, Potok notes, “was the nearest and most obvious representative of ‘the government’ that Loughner could find.”

Suspect’s Odd Behavior Caused Growing Alarm [NYT]
Suspect Fixated on Giffords [WSJ]
Exclusive: Loughner Friend Explains Alleged Gunman’s Grudge Against Giffords [Mother Jones]
Who Is Jared Lee Loughner? [Hatewatch]
On the Memo [Laura Rozen]
Related: Targeted [Tablet Magazine]
Giffords is First Female Jew Elected from Az. [Arizona Daily Star]
Earlier: Jewish Congresswoman Shot, May Survive

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Stop it already!!
She was shot by a crazy person because he was crazy. You’re no better than all the braying pack of hounds who want to carve off a piece of this poor woman in order to further their own agenda. I’m never ashamed of being Jewish, but you make me think of it. Once again, shame on you.

Why was this obviously disturbed young man able to get the weapronry that he used? Perhaps this, along with the almost daily reports of other gun massacres, shows that it is long past time to do something about our national worship of firearms.

It hardly seems surprising that a mind that has come unmoored would be adrift politically.

It’s fine to condemn the extreme right so long as the extreme left comes in for the same treatment. Blood libel on the left passes for acceptable political rhetoric these days, and it’s not hard to furnish examples.

The most astute analyst of this is Tablet’s own Lee Smith, who somewhat prophetically identified that rivers of antisemitic bilge that muck up political websites as a portent of something dangerous.

StanNadel says:

FW says it’s both the left and the right, but despite the antisemitism of parts (not all) of the far left there remains a big difference–all the shooters and all the attacks on synagogues have come from the far right. So enough of these phony equivalences, never mind the right wing Jews like J. Farkas who can’t seem to see anything wrong if it’s right wing and who think if it is wrong it can’t be right wing (like the ones who insist that the Nazis were left wing).

Thank you StanNadel for making my point. You characterized me as “Jews like J. Farkas who can’t seem to see anything wrong if it’s right wing”.
I specifically said “all the braying pack of hounds”. How does the word ALL lead him to right wing vs. left wing. You have identified yourself as one of the braying pack of hounds. They exist on all wings, all colors, all shapes and tastes — and they all stink.

David Stein says:

Re: “Loughner’s ideology—which is actually an overstatement for what seems to be cobbled-together rants united most of all by simple paranoia and lunacy—draws several of its strands from the far-right fringe.”

Perhaps it is the other way around. “The far-right fringe draws its ideology from the cobbled-together rants of public statements reflecting a simple paranoia and lunacy that found a home in Loughner’s psyche”

Ira M. Salwen says:

Marc Tracy’s first paragraph asked the question that the other media have been afraid to touch. Sorry Jacob Farkas, but you know the expression “even paranoids have enemies”? Well, as comfortable as we Jews are here in the USA, there’s still anti-Semitism out there. You can be sure that if Giffords was a Moslem, and was shot by the very same guy, the same media who seem intent on ignoring the anti-Semitism angle would be screaming about how it proves what an Islamophobic country we are. I’m not saying he was, in fact, motivated by anti-Semitism. I’m just saying the question should indeed be asked (and honestly answered) among the many questions that need to be asked in trying to sort through the aftermath of this horror. I can’t help remembering the Seattle nutcase who targeted a Jewish organization and everyone falling all over themselves to deny that anti-Semitism had anything to do with it. Of course, it turned out that the office was targeted precisely because it was a Jewish organization. That didn’t make the shooter any less of a nutcase, but it served as a reminder that anti-Semitism was indeed out there, whether we want to admit it or not.

Allan Leicht says:

Agreeing with J. Farkas (“Stop it already!), I would change “crazy” to “evil.” Evil exists. How do I know that? Because I know that goodness exists. And both come in all human forms.

anonymous says:

I just had the same thought 1 hr ago that a killer might know that he was Jewish, so his assination could be targeted not only at policitians, but jews also.
His favorite book was “Mein Campff”… read to Israeli news. A person like that could be anti-semitic. As you know most anti-semits are lunars.

Far right, far left, far anything is exactly that – TOO FAR!! This guy was a lunatic, period. Regardless of his beliefs, delusions, interests, this guy was off base; a satellite on an undisclosed orbit, adrift, alone, and severly overcome by the space around it. If we say anything else we are indirectly acknowledging a conspiracy much like the fantasies this wack-job agreed to in his “special” little world where gunning down a person of same citizenship as if they were some kind of extra-terrible enemy is somehow a solution. Crazy is crazy.

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Why Was Giffords Targeted?

Alleged shooter may have been driven in part by anti-Semitism

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