President Barack Obama shakes hands with Sheriff Clarence Dupnik as he and first lady Michelle Obama arrive in Tucson, Ariz., to attend a memorial service for victims of last Saturday’s shooting rampage that killed six people and left 14 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
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The AP reported:
The woman was a native Arizonan, her family going back six generations. Hours after her congresswoman was gunned down at a neighborhood supermarket, she stood at a candlelight vigil on a street corner and clutched a sign that read “Peace.”
Margaret Robles lamented the shooting in the town where she’d lived all her 64 years. She praised Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, agonized for all the victims. But her sadness was mixed with shame.
“I’m embarrassed to say I’m from Arizona,” said the retired teacher’s aide. “Too many things are happening.”
Yes, acts of violence can, and do, happen anywhere. And the dismay over the nasty political rhetoric of past years — much discussed in the days since Saturday’s rampage — reaches far beyond this state’s borders.
Yet a feeling resonates among some in the days since the shooting: that Arizona has become the nation’s epicenter of divisiveness, the forefront of so much that’s gone wrong.
The local sheriff of 30 years, Clarence Dupnik, perhaps put it most bluntly, condemning his native state as “the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
“The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” he said. “And unfortunately Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital.”
Just as the tragedy has prompted national politicians and citizens elsewhere to rethink who we are and where we’re going as a country, it has left some here questioning the identity and ideals of a state that has come to exemplify a radical, antiestablishment, we’ll-do-things-our-way approach to governing.
The “meth lab of democracy,” comedian Jon Stewart called it last year, after Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the anti-immigration law that instructs police to demand proof of a questionable person’s legal status. The measure, which inspired nationwide protests, boycotts and a flurry of lawsuits, was signed within a week of another law making Arizona the third state allowing people to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
By the way… The AP forgot to mention that a vast majority of Americans support Arizona’s “shameful” immigration law.