Last week, in an apparent domestic dispute, a man murdered four people and then killed himself in a Phoenix, Arizona suburb. The identity of the alleged murderer reveals bothersome ties between violent local militias and the anti-immigrant movement led by Arizona lawmakers.
The name of the character in question was J.T. Ready, a well-known local activist of neo-Nazi ideology and a former U.S. Marine who was dishonorably discharged a few years ago. Ready belonged to a border patrol militia group that emerged after the Minutemen group was created in 2005. He also had more conventional ties with the local GOP and political leaders like former Arizona Senator Russell Pearce, the father of Arizona’s SB 1070. In addition, Ready had recently become a candidate for sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona.
The fact that individuals with a violent past exist and behave like this isn’t unusual. What is truly alarming is that they’re connected to the dominant political party in a state, in the way that Ready was.
Of course, in today’s Arizona, this isn’t that surprising. A few days ago, the State Legislature considered a bill to create an official volunteer militia to patrol the border. Even the generals of the Arizona National Guard questioned this militia as unnecessary and dangerous. The Arizona Senate passed the bill, but the House of Representatives rejected it.
Ready became part of the growth, between 2005 and 2009, of a wave of hate, anti-immigrant militia groups. These groups grew and multiplied throughout the country during those years, especially in border states. The groups began losing steam because of internal splits and corruption, as well as rejection from the country’s majority. But they also lost strength because politicians in state legislatures and more conventional organizations began implementing many of their ideas.
These violent elements have nothing to contribute to the national conversation on immigration. Unfortunately, neither do Arizona’s political leaders, who are too close to them as far as their ideology.