Arizona is a southwestern US state famous for one of seven natural wonders of the world – the Grand Canyon – and is home to the largest number of Native Americans – the Navajo Nation, the Tohono O’odham, the Apache people and various tribes such as the Hopi, Yuman, the Yavapai, Quechan and Hualapai. The Granite State is known for its stark desert landscapes, its cacti and its Ponderosa pine forests.
But on January 9, 2011 Arizona caught the world’s attention because of a shooting rampage in a shopping mall that left six people dead and fourteen others injured. The dead includes a federal judge; the injured includes a recently elected member of the US Congress and a Democrat, Gabrielle Giffords who was shot through the head at point blank range. A 22-year old college dropout called Jared L.Loughner, the lone gunman is being charged with the attempted assassination of a member of Congress.
What made Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik of Tucson, Arizona say on national television that the state had become “a mecca for prejudice and bigotry”?
Let’s first examine the word itself. The word bigot is supposedly from the German words bei gott which translates to By God in English. A person who is a bigot is someone who is intolerant of and hostile to people of other races, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or religion.
While the earliest inhabitants of Arizona are the native American tribes, written history of the area begins from the 16th Century when the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado came to conquer the mythical Seven Cities of Gold. The area was colonized by the Spanish up until 1821 when it became a part of newly-independent Mexico. Soon after, the United States annexed Texas and forced the newly-founded Mexican Republic to give up its northern territory including present-day Arizona.
If not for this annexation, Arizona would still be a part of Mexico!
While the motive behind the attempted assassination will continue to be debated for days, it would be interesting to see if the world will see Arizona as a top tourist destination or now see it as a Mecca of hatred and violence.