Since I live in AZ and frequently report on the crazy things that are said and done in this state, I am sensitive to the question that many pose on the left, “What’s wrong with Arizona?”. Where, oh where should I begin? I only semi-jest…there are so many reasons. However, the latest reason for this question is the massacre that occurred today in Gilbert, AZ. The purported perpetrator of a murder-suicide act that killed 5 people is none other than J.T. Ready, of Minuteman and State Sen. Russell Pearce fame.
Sadly I know the answer to the question, “what is wrong with Arizona?”. I just can’t do anything about it except rant and rave on this blog, vote and volunteer in any efforts to thwart the state and national GOP efforts and the efforts of their surrogates. And make no mistake about it, J.T. Ready, Tea Party Member, AZ Minuteman Founder, LDS Church Elder and White Supremacist was a surrogate of the state’s Republican Party.
How did he get there? How did someone with such an extreme view and ultimately, as is apparent with today’s massacre, such an extreme amount of anger and violence within them become a surrogate of the Republican Party? I will try to answer that here.
Part of what allows for the insanity of accepting someone like J.T. Ready into mainstream politics is the fact that this state has a long history of corruption.1 So long as one has money and/or power it doesn’t matter what one says or does in Arizona. Money/power talks and everything else walks. J.T. Ready, asshole that he was, was politically (and community-wise, religiously-wise, funding-wise) well connected. He knew the powerful and was therefore powerful. He shared goals with the powerful and was therefore powerful. He received money from the powerful and was therefore powerful. He was, probably, a useful idiot who didn’t comprehend the fact that he was being used. I don’t say that to engender sympathy for him as he deserves nothing of the kind. However, I believe it to be true as he was used to stir up anti-immigrant hatred in voters so that they would support the state GOP’s candidates. He was used as a lightening rod to say the things that mainstream politicians like Sen. McCain and Sen. Kyle could not say2 but certainly wanted to imply to stir up their base.
Besides the corruption that has existed since the State’s founding, what else contributed to J.T. Ready’s rise to influence in this crazy-ass state? I think that it has something important to do with the Western, male dominated culture. I find it somewhat disturbing that people in the media in the Phoenix area, who I have listened to today, while they covered this breaking news, are trying to wrap their heads around why someone like Ready, who loved to manipulate the Media and project an image of American values, patriotism and legality, would die this way and leave a legacy of violence against his own loved ones.
They are missing the obvious…J.T. Ready had the classic personality of the kind of man who would massacre his own family. He was antisocial in the most basic sense of the term. Meaning that he was hostile to the established order of society, rude to many who were different than him and rebellious of authority. He had quite the record of rebellion being dishonorably discharged from the Marines for violent offenses and as a civilian had a criminal conviction for a violent offense. The irony of such a man who flaunts societal norms but then rages at “illegal” immigrants because of their illegal status is lost only on those who supported his racist views. In J.T. Ready’s world violence was okay so long as it was in the service of his ideals, but no one else’s.
Ready spoke publically of the use of violence, carried and owned many weapons and was often pictured holding guns. The Gilbert police reported a history of domestic violence calls to the home of Lisa Lynn Mederos, his girlfriend. Anyone who vocalizes a willingness to patrol the country’s borders and shoot at illegal immigrants, many of whom are desperate women and children, is by even the broadest definition of the term, violent. Multiple domestic violence calls to his girlfriend’s house, demonstrates a pattern of violence3. So we can be reasonably sure he was both publically and privately a violent man.
So we have a history of violence, a history of hatred and rage…what else about Ready would make him predisposed to murder-suicide? The fact that he was Mormon. Now before you take umbrage at this remark, please hear me out. According to experts in the LDS faith, ” The Mormon position on women has changed little since the early 1800’s….Mormonism has created an ingenious system of oppression, in which opposition towards men is tantamount to arguing with God. The Mormon religion makes no distinction between clergy and laity, at least with regard to men” (see Sources McConkie and Laake). J.T. Ready was mentored into the system of priesthood as an Elder by none other than State Senator Russell Pearce. This status as an Elder would reinforce any already existing preconceptions of his role, his very religious obligation to rule over women. His religion told him that it was his religious obligation to marry women for all eternity4 and if he did not do so, it would be a counted against his very soul and salvation. In essence, he was raised in a culture that taught him that women are subject to a man’s will and if they are not, the man can face damnation. That had to work some crazy influence on his already anti-social mind.
And finally, Arizona still has that Wild West ideal where men are men and women are sluts/madonnas, that right is made by might (i.e., whoever has the bigger and faster gun–gratuitous phallic symbolism completely intended here), and that whoever is left standing is the winner. A true black/white, wrong/right world where there is no gray area and no room for compromise. It’s the pure id of Libertarianism run amok. The “Lord of the Flies” attitude of “I’ve got mine and you can’t have any so fuck off”. And that, ladies and gentlemen is what is wrong with Arizona. It is also what is wrong with the Republican Party. And while it is painfully obvious to me and to some of you reading this, it hasn’t hit the average American yet. But it will, eventually, when it is too late to avoid.
J.T. Ready was a result of this environment and as such, was only a symptom of what is wrong with Arizona and the nation in general. But it is an important, key symptom of the nation’s overall disease that, if not stopped, will ultimately be our demise.
1. Besides the long history of corruption with Sheriff Joe, there is the well documented history of corruption by the state’s governors, legislators, etc. When the GOP whines about Pres. Obama’s Chicago influenced thuggery, in reference to Chicago’s tough political arena, they are blithely ignoring about a 100 years of corruption and malfeasance in the GOP in AZ. Of course, the MSM doesn’t call them out on it. That would entail the MSM in actually committing an act of “actual” journalism…not their strong suit lately.
2. Senators Kyl and McCain say some pretty stupid and crazy things but even they can’t espouse “white supremacist” nonsense and get away with it…at least, not yet. Give it time……as extremist views become more mainstream in conservative circles, we will see such thoughts expressed more regularly. It has already begun in the War on Women, but no one but women want to acknowledge that. Just you wait…….
3. If it turns out the domestic violence calls had nothing to do with J.T. Ready, I will stand corrected.
4. Technically according to LDS doctrine, women cannot enter the “Celestial Kingdom” without having been sealed in marriage “through the veil” or some such nonsense. Even in the most innocuous interpretation this is offensive. If there is a God, why would he exclude women from heaven if they weren’t married? A just, loving God wouldn’t. As if a vagina disqualifies someone to enter the Pearly Gates. You know what I think? The Pearly Gates are the vagina and everything else, including all religions are mankind’s avoidance of that one, fundamental truth.
McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine. Salt Lake City, Bookcraft Inc., 1966.
Laake, Deborah Secret Ceremonies, a Mormon Woman’s Intimate Diary or Marriage and Beyond. New York, Dell Publishing, 1993.