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A State of Madness, a Call To Reason

by Ulises Silva

Sometimes, there are no words. No explanations. No ways to make light of the situation. Only ironies. Ironies that speak for themselves.

The irony that Sarah Palin’s now infamous bluster could have actually foretold a tragedy—albeit one she may have inspired.

The irony that in a state that’s leading the charge against a constitutional amendment, another amendment allowed a lunatic to procure the gun he used to shoot one of his state’s lawmakers.

The irony that, in a state where thinly-veiled anti-Latino racism spawned legislation (SB1070), it was a Latino who may have saved the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

The shootings that took place on Saturday afternoon in Arizona defied logic, and believability. When news broke that an Arizonan lawmaker—a Democrat in a very red state—had been shot, it was easy to imagine the worst. That the left was under attack—literally. Sounds paranoid? Probably. But then, Arizona and other red states have been steeping in Tea Party rhetoric for so long, who could know for sure?

Regardless of what the news reports in the coming weeks, what happens next is really up to all of us. Because for all of Saturday’s horror—the most horrific being the death of a nine-year-old who probably couldn’t understand our fixation with red and blue states—we are now at a moment of learning and opportunity.

I’ve often thought that history will not look kindly on this era. We’ve allowed network news to manipulate our political consciousness to the point that Abraham Lincoln would lose a modern-day election. We tweet simple thoughts to complex problems in 140 characters or less. We worry about who’s going to be voted off what island rather than what holes Congress is voting us into.

And yet, here we are, rudely awoken to the consequences of our inability to have civilized disagreements. To the consequences of spewing rhetoric fit for warring nations, not fellow citizens. To the consequences of our combative, disrespectful, and oftentimes selfish ways of dealing with problems and disagreements.

So I ask: How will history look at us? What is the legacy we’re leaving behind?

I e-mailed a friend on Saturday and mentioned the words “civil war.” Now a day removed from the madness, I have hope that the shootings will spark something else: the restoration of common sense. Of common decency.

In my fantasyland, tomorrow, Jan Brewer will call Daniel Hernandez, thank him for his bravery, and finally accept that Latinos have a rightful place in this society.

Tomorrow, Democrats and Republicans will start behaving like intelligent, rational people instead of armed mobs.

Tomorrow, Americans of every political inclination will finally realize that we’re setting a terrible example for our kids, and decide we’re going to do better.

It’s unlikely to happen, I know. But we can try. Because the legacy we’re leaving behind is unflattering to say the least. We are in a state of madness. Of apathy. Hubris. Selfishness.


When these days become a museum exhibit hall centuries from now, what will it say about us? And what will it say about this past Saturday? Was it the start of something terrible? Or of something amazing?

I know we’re more enlightened than those in The Dark Ages. Let’s start acting like it. It’s our legacy, and our children’s legacy, we’re actively creating, after all.


To read more from Ulises, visit his fiction blog at


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


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About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Jesus Suarez says:


  2. Eileen Rivera-de la Hoz says:

    I wish people would heed the call to rational thought and stop rationalizing their thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, I have a feeling things are going to get worse before they get better.

  3. This is powerful, powerful content. One of the best ones I have read on this topic. Amazing work. About to share it with everyone,

  4. Brendan Decker says:

    Wow….what a bunch of BS, written by a Latino BIGOT, no doubt. How dare you cast blame on the tea-party or anyone else for that matter!

    Facts suggest that the lunatic who shot the innocent people on Saturday (among them a blue-dog democrat and a conservative Federal judge who was appointed by George Bush Sr), was in fact a supporter of left-wing policies, and had he had NOTHING to do with the tea-party!

    How come that is conveniently left out of your blog?

    Why? Because if you realize that the shooter was SIMPLY a lunatic (surprise…they hail from BOTH blue and red states -moron) then you no longer can blame the tea-party or Sarah Palin, or anyone else you deem to stand in the way of your hatred.

    You are no different than what you preach against. I am guessing people like yourself would easily overlook an Abraham Lincoln if he were alive today…because history only works out to your advantage, when you can twist the facts to meet your set of beliefs.

  5. I agree with all of the above comments – a great article – poignant and intelligent and brutally honest! Thank you.

  6. Silva, you speak about this tragedy calmly and rationally. I appreciate that. The points you raise are correct. What will our children learn from all the violent rhetoric from the mouths of stupid people? This shooting by a very clearly sick boy, Loughner, was inspired by them… why not another person or generation. I think if we keep educating one another, our future babies and fellow humans in the present stand a chance at peace. Nice work, man.

    Decker- go home and be quiet. You’ve obviously not been paying attention. Did you even read the piece or did you just flip out? Go read a real history book, take note of the activists that changed things for the good. You MIGHT learn something.
    P.S. Also, go look up the word “Irony”. Here, I’ll do it for you.

    Definition of IRONY
    1: a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other’s false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony
    2a : the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning b : a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony c : an ironic expression or utterance
    3a (1) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2) : an event or result marked by such incongruity b : incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play —called also dramatic irony, tragic irony
    See irony defined for English-language learners »

  7. Ulises Silva says:

    Dear Mr. Decker,
    It’s odd. I don’t remember ascribing any sort of political affiliation to said lunatic, just describing him as just that–a lunatic. Although the initial reports about his political beliefs, and the fact that Mein Kampf was listed as one of his favorite texts, sure don’t seem to support your notion that he was a left-wing extremest.

    Regardless of whether he was right or left wing, I also didn’t suggest he was blindly obeying Palin’s call to arms. If you read the line, I said she may have inspired the shootings–a statement that is speaking with no absolutes, merely speculation.

    As to whether I’d vote against Lincoln, I like to think I’m an educated voter who reads up on affairs and pays attention to more than just the sound bytes on Fox News or MSNBC. Can you say the same? Because your response seems awfully reactionary, as if you conveniently overlooked key details of this article yourself in order to vehemently disagree.

    But, as I’ve been saying, I have no interest in carrying on an angry discussion with someone who disagrees with me. That’s part of this nation’s ongoing problem–we don’t debate, we insult one another. What does that solve? You have your opinions, and I respect them. If you disagree with mine, please share them in a manner that’s reflective of a learned, civilized individual. I don’t think that’s asking for a lot.

  8. This comment is far off for it is of no further interest Sarah Palin’s inappropriate attacks may or may not have influenced the delinquent.

    The real frustation has – ever since Tea Party rose – been the support by that large number of US Americans. The stereotype of the racist narrow-minded bully with the loaded gun in the holster (once almost buried with Oabama’s appearance) is back in the minds of people all around the world.

    There is no reason to discuss whether the campaigning of the Tea Party has led to this assassination or not.
    It has not none become worse or different. Always been there.

  9. This is a great article. Direct influence or not, Sarah Palin has brought a whole new low in dialect and rudeness and to the political table. That was apparent from her first words at the RNC. Palin aside, it seems like once upon a time people could have disagreements, debates, even arguements, without reaching the level of hate and violence that has been seen recently. A hate shooting like this past Saturday should have NEVER happened in this country.

  10. The shooting was definitely sad and unfortunately the news coverage overshadowed a very important story that broke in the NY Times that morning about the Arizona Attorney General declaring a Mexican American Studies class illegal.

    I know we’re focused on the violence and Sarah Palin but let’s not ignore that Tom Horne, AZ State Attorney General, is bullying Mexican High School kids in Tucson. Read the article. Act up, Post to FB and send the message that we’re not leaving our brothers to be picked off by racist vultures like a carcass in the dessert!

    Con Ganas!


  1. […] In the case of the Arizona shooting, Jared Loughner interpreted it to mean that he could use a Glock 19 that carries up to 33 rounds at one time, ensuring a high accuracy rate. No doubt, Loughner hit his targets, but did he really make his boogeyman disappear? Has he solved any problems by hurting other people, or has he just added to a state of madness? […]

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