Since the horrific shooting of Rep. Giffords and the loss of Judge Roll, Christina Green, and four other innocent bystanders, folks have been grappling with the role of violent rhetoric in triggering the tragedy. And now the National Day Laborer Organizing Network has set up A History of Hate: Political Violence in a Rogue State to chronicle political violence and intimidation in Arizona since 1987, which is when U2’s Bono received a death threat because of his stance on Martin Luther King.
“Something strange happened toward the end of the Joshua Tree tour,” Bono noted in a 2006 interview. “We had campaigned for Martin Luther King Day in Tempe, Arizona, where the tour opened back in April. There was a governor there called Mecham who was holding out against it, and we had got involved in local politics there and took a stand. We went back to Tempe at the end of the tour, in December, to play the Sun Devil Stadium.”
“I was getting death threats throughout the tour," Bono said. "This character was a racist offended by our work, he thought we were messing in other people’s business and taking sides with the Black man. One night the FBI said: ‘Look, it’s quite serious. He says he has a ticket. He said he’s armed.’… So we played the show, the FBI were around, everyone was a little unnerved. You just didn’t know, could he be in the building?”
A History of Hate's stated mission is "collecting evidence of intolerance that have been brewing and boiling over in this country." And it's asking folks to contribute their story to this growing archive, "so we can turn the tide from a history of hate to a future of progress."
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families in this horrible tragedy,” NDLON director Pablo Alvarado stated. “We mourn alongside them in part because as day laborers, we understand deeply the experience of being targeted by violent hatred and extremism. If there is one lesson from those who have built the historical rights and privileges we enjoy, it is this: hate must be confronted so it can be overcome by love. It cannot be ignored and the world needs to know,” Alvarado continued. “What Arizona needs, and what all of us need, is to confront the hard truth of our current political environment with unifying steps. After we have paused to comprehend the immeasurable tragedy in Arizona, we must now do our part to make a more just society.”
Sounds like a good idea. Hey, maybe immigrant rights advocates and the communities they represent can submit all the hate mail and death threats they regularly receive --a burden they have so far largely borne alone and in silence.