Dreams of Power and Flying: Jared Lee Loughner and the Columbinization of Political Assassination
by Phoenix Insurgent
From Fires Never Extinguished: A blog of the Phoenix Class War Council
By now everyone has seen the picture. Smiling — beaming, even — and wide-eyed in the first photo taken of him by Pima County Sheriffs Department, Jared Lee Loughner defies what everyone wanted him to be. One hesitates to speak too soon, given that more information surely will come out. But all the evidence so far suggests that, rather than a tea bagger nutcase Nazi, Loughner might just be yet another in an increasingly long line of run of the mill psychopaths that each have taken their fifteen minutes of fame in a blaze of bloody, homicidal glory. The kind of psychopath we’re getting increasingly familiar with in the US. Since news of the shooting first broke, the country has struggled to overcome its assumptions about the man alleged to have attempted to assassinate Representative Gabrielle Giffords and to have murdered and wounded nearly twenty others in what surely will mark one of the worst tragedies in recent Arizona history.
Friends said he like to shock with his politics, perhaps explaining his book list which, other than Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto, looked like a typical reading list for high school English. Some people forget, Arizona is a hardcore libertarian state — anti-government is the default position for a large portion of the population. Going after a politician in that respect doesn’t necessarily mean it fits into some grand narrative about immigration or health care. Indeed, there is little indication that Loughner is a racist beyond what is standard for Arizona these days.
During those first few hours, the sense that the left hoped he was a Tea Partier was palpable. Self-righteous speeches were at the ready and fingers were warming up for enthusiastic wagging. Cathartic choruses of “I told you so” seemed about to break out at any moment. When now, as it seems more and more likely, it turns out he was just another madman in a country that seems to have made madness its chief commodity, just more wreckage from a collapsing society, you can feel the disappointment in the air.