Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bloody Arizona

Gabrielle Gifford at her wedding

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a nationally syndicated columnist, an NPR commentator, and a contributor.

San Diego, California (CNN) -- Arizona is broken.

In the wake of the shooting of a congresswoman and 19 other people, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told the news media Saturday that he blamed "the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business."

"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. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Bingo. Take it from me. I lived in Phoenix in the late 1990s while writing for The Arizona Republic. Dupnik got it exactly right.

Raise your hand if you have had it with the drama capital of America, which seems to spend more time on the front page than the other 49 states combined. Or if you think the Grand Canyon State has become, in recent years, more trouble than it's worth. Or if you feel like saying, to paraphrase what folk singer Phil Ochs said about Mississippi in the 1960s: "Here's to the people you've torn out the heart of. Arizona, find yourself another country to be part of."

The latest heartbreak comes from Saturday's horrific shooting rampage in Tucson. What authorities believe started as the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at an outdoor constituent meeting turned into a mass shooting that killed six people and wounded more than a dozen, including Giffords...more

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