Hateful Rhetoric & History Repeat

The hateful rhetoric of the Tea Party Movement is referenced throughout Jeff Biggers’s novel State Out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown of the American Dream. Throughout the novel, Biggers details how the Tea Party Movement came to be in Arizona and how it impacted the lives of the Mexican-Americans citizens within the state. In the section “Open Season” Biggers touches upon something that is ever so relevant in the aftermath of the 2016 Election: hateful rhetoric and vigilantism. While it may seem like isolated instances in the wake of Arizona’s SB 1070 and HB 2281, one must keep in mind how the small actions of the Tea Party Leadership changed the atmosphere in Arizona, a border state inhabited by Mexican-American and undocumented citizens.

Just like the recent election, the atmosphere (politically and socially) was not normal. The Tea Party was spewing hateful rhetoric that would later develop into law – specifically, SB1070 “papers please” and HB 2281 – that isolated and targeted the Mexican-American citizens (both documented and undocumented). The sheriff Joe Arpaio received, what “he thought…was ‘an honor’ [which was] to be compared by his critics to the Ku Klux Klan” (Biggers 107). While comments like that would have gotten, any other sheriff fired, Arpaio found he could get away with a slap on the wrist if he “clarified” his comments. Again, this was not a normal atmosphere. In the small section “Open Season” Biggers goes on to reveal that the hateful words, actions and intentions of the politician Russel Pearce and the Sheriff, along with Glenn Spencer resulted in actual deaths and hate crimes. The ‘leader’ of Minutemen American Defense, “a renegade faction of anti-immigrant border group” was taken into custody for the murder of “American Citizen Raul Flores and his-nine-year-old daughter, Brisenia” (115). The leader, in an attempt to ‘right’ what Washington was doing ‘wrong’ murdered two people. The actions in Arizona legislature as well as the words of the Tea Party Politicians drove “all border-patrolling militia, vigilante, and white supremacist groups” to form and seek out their goals of “stopping the ‘invasion’ of Mexicans” and seeking out their own “’Racist, frontier justice” (Biggers 116).

Similar instances have happened in the aftermath of the 2016 Election. The president elect has been endorsed and supported by the Ku Klux Klan as well as various members of the ‘alt-right/white supremacist’ movement. The president elect even nominated a self-proclaimed leader of the ‘alt-right’/white supremacist’ movement to his cabinet as the senior strategist. After a request by former Presidential Candidate Jill Stein to do a recount of the votes, a quote from the senior strategist has come to light. He expressed that there is “[a] genetic superiority of some people… [and expressed] the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners” (Philip Bump). In 2016! Years after the Civil Rights Movements led by Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez, there are those spewing the hateful and harmful rhetoric and ideologies of centuries past.

Unfortunately, history – especially harmful and dangerous history- finds a way of repeating itself. Already in the aftermath of the most unorthodox election in the 21st Century, hate attacks and vigilante justice has come rearing its ugly. From the president elect’s hateful, and bigoted perspective, those who could relate to the latter have taken matters into their own hands – shouting “build the wall” at Mexican-Americans, targeting Muslim neighbors, and liberal use of racial slurs when referring to minorities are all a part of the hateful rhetoric. Supporters of the Tea Party in Arizona saw it in their politicians and took matters into their own hands, and so did supporters of the president elect. Denouncing the harmful, bigoted and hateful rhetoric of vigilantes and extremists is critically imperative, especially when the person denouncing it is the presidential elect of the US.



Biggers, Jeff. “Open Season.” State out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown over the American Dream. New York: Nation, 2012. 115-21. Print.

Bump, Philip. “Steve Bannon Once Suggested Only Property Owners Should Vote. What Would That Look Like?” The Washington Post. WP Company, 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.