Friday, April 03, 2009

Immigration Rage Turns Tragic In Binghamton

The entire nation has been transfixed on the small upstate town of Binghamton today due to the brutal violence inside a community immigration assistance office. A man that goes by the alias of Jiverly Voong took his own life after killing at least a dozen others. The news is absolutely tragic to say the least.

From The Albany Times-Union:

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- A gunman opened fire on a room where immigrants were taking a citizenship exam in downtown Binghamton on Friday, killing as many as 13 people before committing suicide, officials said.[...]

The suspect's body was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in an office of the American Civic Association building, the official said. The gunman barricaded the rear door of the building with his car before entering through the front door, firing his weapon, the official said.

The gunman had recently been let go from IBM in nearby Johnson City, said Rep. Maurice Hinchey, whose district includes Binghamton. The gunman opened fire on a citizenship class, he said.

"People were there in the process of being tested for their citizenship," Hinchey said in a telephone interview. "It was in the middle of a test. He just went in and opened fire."

The pundits will be going non-stop today and for the next few days on how terrible this was and for the most part, that it was an isolated innocent and nothing more. The reality however, is that this type of violence is fomented by the bigots who spout their hatred of immigrants on Fox News and conservative radio. Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity and all those that like him all play a part in this terrible incident. This isn't a one-time only tragedy, it is a result of the immigrant bashing (whether overt or covert) that all of them love to do in order to boost their ratings.

Update (4/4/09-11am): In light of this, it is probably unlikely the attacker watched Bill O'Reilly or any of the right-wing hatemongers on radio and/or TV. However, that does not mean there is a culture of violence in their speech and does not fuel events similar to what happened yesterday. Immigrants are routinely lambasted for taking "American" jobs and discriminated against for not being as assimilated as many wingers would like. Whether or not "Mr. Voong" felt threatened by other immigrants (according to his sister he has been in America for 28 years) is something we won't know for sure, yet the hostility and divisiveness of this debate should not be dismissed lightly.