The Paranoids Are Out to Get Me!

The return of the militia scare.

Who killed Stephen Tyrone Johns, the guard gunned down at the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., last week? If you only read the news pages, the culprit should be clear: the 88-year-old Nazi James W. von Brunn. But in the opinion section, the answer looks cloudier. For some pundits, blame rests not just with the killer but with a host of angry voices on the radio, the television, and the Internet.

Bonnie Erbe of U.S. News and World Report indicts the "promoters of hate" for the shooting, adding, "If yesterday's Holocaust Museum slaying of security guard and national hero Stephen Tyrone Johns is not a clarion call for banning hate speech, I don't know what is." In The New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman warns that "right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment." His colleague Frank Rich has written a piece that begins with the museum shooting but rapidly becomes an argument that "homicide-saturated vituperation is endemic among mini-Limbaughs." After the museum murder, Rich writes, Glenn Beck "rushed onto Fox News to describe the Obama-hating killer as a 'lone gunman nutjob.' Yet in the same show Beck also said von Brunn was a symptom that 'the pot in America is boiling,' as if Beck himself were not the boiling pot cheering the kettle on."

Less than a month before the museum murder, an assassin shot the Kansas abortionist George Tiller, prompting a similar set of complaints. For the record, I don't think Tiller's critics in the media and the pro-life movement should be blamed for that crime. Speakers are not morally responsible for all the ways their words can be received. But in that case, at least, there was a coherent connection between the rhetoric and the killer's target. Say what you will about Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or Michael Savage, but I don't remember any of them railing against the Holocaust museum. If Beck, to borrow Rich's mixed metaphor, is cheering on a kettle, it isn't the kettle that produced von Brunn.

We've heard a lot of warnings about extremist paranoia in the months since Barack Obama became president. We've heard much less about the paranoia of the centrists; indeed, the very idea that the sober center could be paranoid sounds bizarre. But when mainstream columnists treat a small group of unconnected crimes as a "pattern" of "rising right-wing violence," their thesis bears more than a little resemblance to the conspiracy theories of the fringe figures they oppose. In both cases, the stories being told reflect the anxieties of the people discerning the patterns much more than any order actually emerging in the outside world.

This isn't the first time the establishment has been overrun with paranoia about the paranoiacs.

The Paranoid Style in Center-Left Politics

The classic account of American conspiratology is Richard Hofstadter's 1964 essay "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." It's a flawed, uneven article, but it includes several perceptive passages. The most astute section might be this:

It is hard to resist the conclusion that this enemy is on many counts the projection of the self; both the ideal and the unacceptable aspects of the self are attributed to him. The enemy may be the cosmopolitan intellectual, but the paranoid will outdo him in the apparatus of scholarship, even of pedantry. Secret organizations set up to combat secret organizations give the same flattery. The Ku Klux Klan imitated Catholicism to the point of donning priestly vestments, developing an elaborate ritual and an equally elaborate hierarchy. The John Birch Society emulates Communist cells and quasi-secret operation through "front" groups, and preaches a ruthless prosecution of the ideological war along lines very similar to those it finds in the Communist enemy.

Hofstadter doesn't acknowledge it, but the argument could be applied to a lot of his audience as well. His article begins with a reference to "extreme right-wingers," a lede that reflected the times: As he was writing, America was undergoing a wave of alarm about the radical right. This had been building throughout the Kennedy years and had intensified after the president's assassination, which many people either blamed directly on the far right or attributed to an atmosphere of fear and division that they traced to the right's rhetoric. By the time Hofstadter's article appeared, the projection he described was in full effect not merely on the fringes but in the political center. Just as anti-Communists had mimicked the Communists, anti-anti-Communists were emulating the red-hunters.

In 1961, for example, Walter and Victor Reuther of the United Auto Workers and the liberal attorney Joseph Rauh wrote a 24-page memo urging the attorney general to deploy the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Federal Communications Commission in "the struggle against the radical right." By this they meant not just the Birchers and the Christian Crusade but Goldwater and the libertarian Volker Fund. In Before the Storm, his history of the Goldwater movement, the independent historian Rick Perlstein describes Group Research Incorporated, a UAW-funded operation, as "the mirror image of the political intelligence businesses that monitored left-wingers in the 1950s, identifying fellow-travelling organizations by counting the number of members and officers shared with purported Communist Party fronts. Group Research did the same thing, substituting the John Birch Society for the reds."

Since there's so much interest today in tracing the effects of extreme rhetoric, it's worth noting that the phrases that sounded so dangerous on the lips of the Christian crusaders weren't so different from comments that had been common among Cold War liberals. Robert DePugh, founder of the Minutemen—the anti-Communist activists of the '60s, not the anti-immigration activists of today—claimed to have been inspired by John F. Kennedy's own words: "We need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life." In Before the Storm, Perlstein notes that JFK "spoke often in these absolutist, apocalyptic terms."

Philip Jenkins of Pennsylvania State University, a specialist in both the history of moral panics and the history of the American right, has described this period as the second of three "brown scares." The first came in the late 1930s and early '40s, when the Roosevelt administration and some of its allies in the press conflated genuine domestic fascists with critics who were far from Nazis. The third came in the 1990s, after Timothy McVeigh's mass murder in Oklahoma City, when the Clinton administration pushed through the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the media ran a series of fear-mongering stories about the alleged militia menace in the heartland. The latter period—the late '90s—may have the most in common with the anxieties emerging in 2009.

The Great Militia Panic

The militias embraced a battery of baroque legal theories and bizarre conspiracy folklore, but they were never a substantial threat to ordinary Americans' well-being. Neither McVeigh nor his accomplice, Terry Nichols, turned out to be a member of a militia. After the Oklahoma City attack, a Michigan Militia spokesman said his group's closest contact with the bombers had come when James Nichols, Terry's brother, showed up to speak during the "open forum" portion of a meeting. By that account, Nichols attempted to distribute some literature, urged everyone to cut up their drivers' licenses, and was eventually asked to leave. *

After Oklahoma City, some individuals in the militia milieu were nabbed for planning crimes. (The Michigan Militia Corps itself tipped off the cops when it learned a member was building pipe bombs.) Some militiamen were also arrested for plots that turned out to have originated with the government's own infiltrators. What did not exist was the pattern touted in much of the media, in which the militias were described as though they were terrorist conspiracies themselves. And while the press sometimes described the militias as though they were a simple continuation of the racist right of the '80s, the leaders of the older movement weren't so quick to recognize the militias as their children. "They are not for the preservation of the white race," Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler complained to New York Post reporter Jonathan Karl in The Right to Bear Arms, Karl's balanced assessment of the militia phenomenon. "They're actually traitors to the white race; they seek to integrate with blacks, Jews, and others." It's true that some racists and anti-Semites popped up in militia circles. Some blacks, Hispanics, and Jews showed up as well. The driving force behind the movement was fear of the government, not fear of foreign races and religions.

The militia-hunters nonetheless went through incredible contortions to link the anti-government populists to violent bigots. In A Force Upon the Plain, a not-so-balanced assessment of the militia phenomenon, Kenneth Stern essentially argued that when militia members weren't racist, they were racist dupes. If their theorists posited an international cabal led by Freemasons, the Illuminati, or the Trilateral Commission, Stern suggested, they were really proposing a cabal led by Jews; their theories were "rooted in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, because the worldviews were structurally similar. "The militia movement today believes in the conspiracy theory of the Protocols," Stern wrote, "even if some call it something else and never mention Jews." The argument resembles Woody Allen's syllogism: "Socrates is a man. All men are mortal. Therefore, all men are Socrates." (Stern's history was as bad as his logic. The Protocols did not emerge until the late 19th century and was not widely popularized until 1903. Anti-Masonic theories were common throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and the first anti-Illuminati hysteria broke out in 1797.)

An even odder idea held that the militias were a gateway drug. Stern attributes this argument to Ken Toole of the Montana Human Rights Network, who compared the patriot movement to a funnel. People enter it for many reasons—to protest taxes, regulations, gun control, you name it. As they're sucked in, they begin to embrace conspiracy theories and revolutionary rhetoric. At the far end of the funnel are the hardcore bigots. Not all the militiamen are at the funnel's eye, Stern conceded, but that was where they were heading.

The argument would only work if white supremacy were the reductio ad absurdum of opposing globalization and federal power, an assumption that makes no sense. You'd actually expect the most partisan patriots to embrace a radical decentralism, not racism. Perhaps expecting this objection, Stern argued that decentralist rhetoric is racist itself—that the idea of states' rights "has always been used to shield local governments from criticism over discriminatory practices" (emphasis added). And the dangers of decentralization didn't stop there. "Most Americans," Stern wrote, "define their political associations from top to bottom: One is an American, a Texan, from Dallas. There has always been a countervailing tendency...to reshape alliances so that small comes first, and large last, if at all." And what's so bad about that? "When a political movement rejects the idea of common American values and says, 'Let me do it my own way,' it usually means it wants to do things that are objectionable, and yearns to do them undisturbed and unnoticed."

So anyone critical of centralized power, from the property rights movement to the bioregionalists, was potentially a part of the problem. That's a mighty big funnel.

The Big Funnel of 2009

Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on the threat of "rightwing extremism." Depending on whose interpretation you prefer, the paper either defined "extremism" extremely broadly or failed to define it at all. "Rightwing extremism in the United States," it said, "can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

The charitable reading of this passage is that it's a sloppily phrased attempt to list the various ideas that drive different right-wing extremists, not a declaration that anyone opposed to abortion or prone to "rejecting federal authority" is a threat. But even under that interpretation, the report is inexcusably vague. It focuses on extremism itself, not on violence, and there's no reason to believe its definition of "extremist" is limited to people with violent inclinations. (The department's report on left-wing extremism cites such nonviolent groups as Crimethinc and the Ruckus Society.) As Michael German, a policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, noted after the document surfaced,

Focusing on ideas rather than crime, the latest bulletin from DHS cites an increase in "rhetoric," yet doesn’t even mention reports that there was a dirty bomb found in an alleged white supremacist’s house in Maine last December. Learning what to look for in that situation might actually be useful to a cop. Threat reports that focus on ideology instead of criminal activity are threatening to civil liberties and a wholly ineffective use of federal security resources.

Unfortunately, the Homeland Security report wasn't an anomaly. Government-run "fusion centers" in several states have produced similar papers aimed at identifying "potential trends or patterns of terrorist or criminal operations"; the subjects range from anarchists to Odin-worshippers to "Illicit Use of Digital Music Players." The most infamous dossier, produced by the Missouri Information Analysis Center, was devoted to—yes—the militia movement, plus a host of other dissidents that it roped in with the militiamen. The paper, which was distributed to police throughout the state, declared that "It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitution Party, Campaign for Liberty, or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate: Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr." Not content with that piece of political profiling, the document warned that the Gadsden Flag, a popular historical banner bearing a coiled rattlesnake and the slogan DON'T TREAD ON ME, "is the most common symbol displayed by militia members and organizations." Watch out, highway patrolsman: That history buff with the flag on his bumper just might be a terrorist!

In the wake of the Tiller and Johns murders, such sloppiness and worse is seeping into the mainstream media. For some pundits, the very basics of critical thought seem to have gone out the window, as they treat a handful of distinct crimes as sign of a rising menace without so much as bothering to check if there's been more small-scale rightist terror this year than in previous years.

That isn't the only way commentators have failed to do even the most cursory review of comparable events in the past. Rich's column reaches its nadir when he shares these thoughts from Camille Paglia:

[T]he invective in some quarters has unmistakably amped up. The writer Camille Paglia, a political independent and confessed talk-radio fan, detected a shift toward paranoia in the air waves by mid-May. When "the tone darkens toward a rhetoric of purgation and annihilation," she observed in Salon, "there is reason for alarm." She cited a "joke" repeated by a Rush Limbaugh fill-in host, a talk-radio jock from Dallas of all places, about how "any U.S. soldier" who found himself with only two bullets in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden would use both shots to assassinate Pelosi and then strangle Reid and bin Laden.

Rich and Paglia are supposed to be savvy to popular culture, so it's surprising that they'd consider that gag a harbinger of anything but the talk jock's poor taste. I've heard variations of the joke in every administration since Bush I (when the punchline featured the phrase "shoot Quayle twice"), and I have it on good authority that it dates back long before then.

So does the spirit it represents. American politics have been filled for centuries with angry rhetoric, crude jokes, dubious conspiracy theories, and, sadly, ideologically driven violence. You can't eradicate the rhetoric, the jokes, or the theories. And even if you could, the violence wouldn't end.

Jesse Walker is managing editor of Reason.

* The text originally described both Terry and James Nichols as McVeigh's accomplices. In fact, only Terry Nichols was charged with the crime.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I'm not sure I buy your conflation of the "sober center" with "mainstream columnists."

  • Mike||

    I'm no fan of our current president or attorney general, but they do have a little bit of a point. During the Cold War, the number one enemy of an American conservative was the USSR. Once the USSR went away, and we had our "holiday from history" in the 90's, you could reasonably argue that the greatest threat to personal freedom in America was the US Federal government. The vast majority of conservatives didn't become violent, but a few did. Remember, the largest terrorist attack in the 90's was the Oklahoma City bombing, done by a right-winger. Once 9/11 occured, you didn't hear much about the militias or the Turner Diaries anymore, but now that the threat of terrorism is fading from people's minds (it shouldn't be, but it is), and now that we have the most liberal Federal government since the 60's, it is not totally irrational to think that right-wing violence will resurge a bit.

    For the record, I believe that the government is far more of a threat to my freedom than right-wing terrorists, but I am still strongly against blowing up buildings.

  • Remember there are TWO sides||

    Meanwhile, we seem to be ignoring enviro-terrorists and left-wingers of that ilk.

  • ||

    Hate speech might not be the cause of these violent acts, but that doesn't mean it didn't play a part. Especially in Dr. Tiller's case.

  • ||

    For some pundits, the very basics of critical thought seem to have gone out the window

    This has been true for a long time. But good article, Jesse. The fact of the matter is that the media loves a boogeyman, and the Islamic terrorists just haven't been delivering lately, so their fickle attention drifts...to whomever catches their attention. That happens to be the recent news, and that's what they're focusing on.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Meanwhile, we seem to be ignoring enviro-terrorists and left-wingers of that ilk.

    Actually, I'd say "enviro-terrorism" is an exaggerated threat as well. For one thing, the vast majority is better described as vandalism than terrorism. For another thing, there isn't much of it -- the sort of anti-GMO attacks that plague Great Britain never got much of a foothold here in America.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Noting that McVeigh was a right-wing nutjob is all well and good. It provides some hints that can be used in legitimate law enforcement activities, and might suggest a kind of attention that should be paid to some of the kookier people in our own lives.

    But reading it as rightwing nutjob and making policy on that basis is as bad as noting that Ted Kazinsky was a liberal hippie nutjob, and using that reading for policy making.

    It's the nutjobbiness that means they need keeping an eye on.


    And Mike, dude.

    Blowing up buildings is cool! Blowing up building that don't belong to you or have people in them is morally reprehensible. But don't make too broad a statement here. Exploding building are (I can't help it) the bomb!

  • Pip||

    Over the last twenty years in America, blacks have killed exponentially more people than right-wing terrorists have.

    We need to keep an eye on black people.

  • Christopher Gadsden||

    I've had my Gadsden flag flying from the front stoop of my house since Memorial Day. Just waiting for representatives from the Ministry for Prevention of Thought Crime to show up.

  • ||

    Pip, but they killed mostly black folk so we can call it a wash.

  • ||

    very interesting article. I definitely feel like there is some fear mongering, and demonizing on both sides. I guess that's easier than actually debating ideas, but bad for our country, and making it hard to fix our many problems.

  • Pip||

    brotherben

    Nevertheless, We should still keep an eye on them.

  • ||

    Blowing up buildings is cool!

    They're supposed to implode one of the campus dorms in the next month or so. No way will I miss that!

  • ||

    This isn't really all that complicated. Membership in wingnut organizations has exploded over the last several months. They are armed to the teeth. The thing that holds them together is that they gun for people that disagree with them. PETA, the Quakers, and Greenpeace et al. aren't gunning for people. The air goes out of the libertarian cause every time you morons try to apologize for or deny that this shit exists and scoff at the notion that it should be monitored.

  • Warty||

    Shut the fuck up, pinko.

  • ||

    They are armed to the teeth. The thing that holds them together is that they gun for people that disagree with them.

    Yup, there sure have been a lot of shootings of people who disagree with...wait, what are they disagreeing with? Who? Where? What?

  • ||

    Nevertheless, We should still keep an eye on them.

    They've (all of them - really) shown a prediliction for violence. So we have to keep an eye on the.

    Veterans too.

  • Warty||

    They disagree with me, AND THEY HAVE GUNS OMG OMG OMG


    Shut the fuck up again, pinko.

  • Some Guy||

    Meanwhile, we seem to be ignoring enviro-terrorists and left-wingers of that ilk.

    When were the last 3 terrorist attacks by such groups? How many were killed/injured in those attacks?

  • JB||

    Liberals and leftists should really be wetting their pants over all the people buying guns.

    They aren't the fringe or whackos, but they are preparing for the ruin of America at the hands of Obama. Those people will remember who voted for Obama and who supported his policies.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Here's a question I'd like to know the answer to: was Weigel the only contributor at this site to link approvingly to the Southern Poverty Law Center, or have other contributors done that?

    P.S. I got a visit from the SPLC earlier today to this post. I'm eagerly awaiting my frameable "Hate Group" plaque from them.

  • Warty||

    Those people will remember who voted for Obama and who supported his policies.

    You're not helping.

  • Warty||

    You shut the fuck up too, Lonewacko.

  • creech||

    No, the Quakers, PETA and Greenpeace aren't personally gunning for people. They vote to get pols to use armed government employees to do it for them. That way, they can claim their hands are clean and that those defending their individual rights are the violent ones.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, JB, that's it. Thanks for the constructive contribution. All of the people buying guns are preparing for the ruin of America and are at that point going to shoot people who voted for Obama. I know I am. That's just how gun owners are, fucking crazy bastards.

    Ass.

  • ||

    Obama wants hate crime legislation so the media is going to get it for him. It's as simple as that.

  • Paul||

    Jesse, the Southern Poverty Law Center has seen its donations drop since Clinton and the last Militia Scare. Besides, it's been a while since NPR had someone from the SPLC on... I swear to christ someone at NPR sleeps with someone at the SPLC.

  • Paul||

    Oh shit, lonewhacko mentioned the SPLC, too. Now how do I distance myself from my own remarks? What would Paul Krugman do?

  • Jesse Walker||

    Here's a question I'd like to know the answer to

    That's nice. Here are some questions I'd like to know the answer to.

  • ||

    Jesse had tired of asking LoneDipshit questions, but he resigned himself to trying just one more time. Why did he do it, he asked himself? Speaking rationally to LoneBoner seemed so...pointless, but he was determined to be an adult about this. The temptation to call LoneSchmuck a meathead was overwhelming, and many of the regular posters had done so, but Jesse was convinced this wasn't the way to go.

    By rationally reaching out to LoneFuckbag, he would make a difference. He had to...someone had to.

  • Paul||

    Abandon thread!

  • ||

    Anyone else get the sense that Epi talks like this in real life, too?

    [to himself, audibly, as people around him back away nervously] "Much to Episiarch's dismay, his coke dealer was out of town. He dreaded the thought of a night without chemical enhancement, and wondered in passing whether licking toads was all it was rumored to be. 'Oh well,' he thought. 'At least I have my LoneWacko prose to keep me going.'

    It would have to be enough."

  • Warty||

    Lonewacko's face grew pale as he read Jesse's response. "HUGLUG MAK GRUPHLY!", he shouted. "GRAK MUGGLO NUGGLAT!" His diaper sagged.

  • ||

    Dagny hurried to the bathroom, having pooped a little bit with her last fart. God, she hoped no one had noticed. Thankfully, she was wearing brown pants and the stain wouldn't show. All she had to do was clean up and deal with the smell. Damn it if Warty hadn't made her incontinent. The man was a walking laxative, what with his horrible visage and horrific odor. Why had she decided to have sex with him? Why? It wasn't worth the twenty bucks.

  • Warty||

    Epi opened his window to get some fresh air and he JIZZED IN HIS PANTS

  • ||

    Epi was restless. He couldn't rid himself of the paranoid delusions that plagued his every waking moment. His internet husband, SugarFree, had been neglectful of late. And his internet lover, Warty, was suffering from another bout of e-impotence.

    He wondered to himself, 'Why were people worried about right-wing militias?' The real conspiracy was on the intertubes that were failing to get him laid.

    The warm, sticky semen in his pants was beginning to dry.

  • Paul||

    *floats away in lifeboat, watching in horror as the last people aboard suffer a fate worse than a fate worse than death*

  • Warty||

    Dagny trembled in excitement as she slipped the noose around her neck. This was the day she would finally try autoerotic breathplay...


    Three weeks later, her neighbors noticed a strange smell.

  • ||

    Dagny found herself thinking about Warty's shriveled scrotum again. Damn it, but she couldn't help herself. It was like a squash ball that had been put through a ram press, but there was...something...compelling about it. She was determined that it would never go in her mouth again, but just them her phone rang. On the caller ID, she saw that it was Warty.

    Oh hell, she could use another 20 bucks. She picked it up, hit the call receive button, and said "hey, shitface, ready for another scat session? I'm pretty loose today."

  • ||

    His internet husband, SugarFree, had been neglectful of late.

    Hey! I'll have you know that we can only be in a civil union because of your virulent right-wing hatred.

  • ||

    And it's a long distance relationship anyway...

  • ||

    OK, you two have successfully surpassed me in ickiness. I think I made a valiant effort, however.

    I'm kind of glad Warty killed my character off so quickly.

  • ||

    Sug,

    Excuses, excuses.

  • ellipsis||

    That was an amazingly fast thread derailment. Impressive.

  • ||

    "Have mercy, sirrah," Dagny begged, looking up at the shadowed face of the debauched Count Warty, "me bumhole is frightful sore and spattered." Tears tracked trails in the dirt of her urchin face.

    Count Warty leaned over and spat into her open mouth. "You will do as a I say, bumwhore," he growled. His monocle fell from his one unruined eye and dangled, glittering in the flickering light from the coal gas streetlamps.

    Dagny pulled up the hem of her tattered dress, exposing a dark thatch of damp pubic hair the size of a velocipede's seat. Count Warty reared back from the smell. He gestured with his cane for her to turn around, his tumescence already outlined against the fine cut of his trousers.

  • Warty||

    I wouldn't be a count, I'd be a debauched vicar.

  • ||

    The foolish part is thinking you have to choose.

  • Douglas Gray||

    At least one eye witness account suggests that the security guard was actually killed by crossfire from another security guard, not the 88 year old guy. See

    http://www.rense.com/general86/eye.htm

    Rense has lots of off the wall stuff, but the original info supposedly came from CNN. It is entirely possible that the 88 year old geezer shot and missed, then return fire from Security killed the guard.

    That's no fun for the political pundits of left or right, hence the lack of mention in the media.

  • ||

    Rense haslots of off the wall stuff? But if it comes from CNN, then its not off the wall?

    Rense is far more credible than:

    CNN
    NBC
    CBS
    ABC
    CNBC
    MSNBC
    The New York Times
    The Washington Post
    The Wall Stret Journal
    The Boston Globe
    FOX News
    The National Review


    Res ipsa loquitor

  • IceTrey||

    There has been some talk in the blogoshpere that it was actually another guard who shot the one that was killed. Maybe you can check up on that Jesse.

  • wayne||

    Even if true and the 88 year old guy completely missed and hit nobody, I don't see how that absolves him in any way.

  • ||

    Wayne, the point is that the the mainstream media is in the tank for statism.

  • wayne||

    "Wayne, the point is that the the mainstream media is in the tank for statism."

    Well, yeah, of course; but how does lying about the details of the Holocaust museum shooting support statism?

  • JB||

    Zeb,

    My point was that you aren't crazy if you are right. All sorts of people see the writing on the wall and are taking precautions. Are the Chinese crazy? They just stated they are worried about US deficits and spending and are selling US bonds to 'show concern'.

    The crazy are the people not buying guns and ammo right now. The liberals and the left should be scared; it's not the extremists they have to fear, it's a huge chunk of America that will be armed and they will be cowering with only their blankies and pacifiers to protect them.

  • ||

    The short answer to your question Wayne is that statism is better served with its media propaganda pieces sticking to the narrative.

  • Helper||

    You gun-hoarding bed-wetters can kill every liberal in the world with your big gun, and you're still stuck living with your own bad selves.

    What's the point of surviving Chinese treasury bond garage sales when your whole life is just a sad pile of angst and paranoia?

  • Mike||

    "And Mike, dude.

    Blowing up buildings is cool! Blowing up building that don't belong to you or have people in them is morally reprehensible. But don't make too broad a statement here. Exploding building are (I can't help it) the bomb!"

    I stand corrected :)

  • ||

    Epi, Dagny, Warty, SF,

    Nice job with the "fiction"!

  • ||

    Douglas Gray, LibertyMike, IceTrey, wayne,

    You're missing the point. In a sad case of life imitating art imitating Crispus Attucks, the black guy dies first.

  • Wog||

    Long ago I would have agreed, but I have come to hate my fellow Americans so fucking much that anything bad that happens to this country is pure joy for me. Speech bans. Oh, please, yes! Trillions in new debt and hyperinflation? Fuck, yeah! Black helicopters? Bring 'em on!

    Where's the anonymous federal tip line to turn in subversives? I have some annoying neighbors I'd love to disappear.

    Oh, and I am totally, fucking serious. You all SUCK and deserve everything that happens.

  • ||

    Oh, and I am totally, fucking serious. You all SUCK and deserve everything that happens.

    Kaczynski? Is that you?

  • Uh...||

    Fun, you people.

  • gales of stud||

    LibertyMike gazed out the window of his apartment, hazy thoughts of another day gone by drifting through his consciousness. He then crapped in his pants.

  • ||

    The media obviously have a vested interested in predicting an increase in "right-wing extremism." A trend - whether real or made-up - gives them something to write about for months and months. And instilling paranoia ensures that people will turn to the news to find out how the trend is progressing. It's like a soap opera, only people are more interested because they seem to be involved, somehow, in the story.

    And, of course, if the media ignore the right-wing nutjobs and one of them blows up a building, the public will be screaming "Why weren't we warned?"

    It's pretty obvious which course the media will choose.

  • Harpoon||

    The Left always focuses on the domestic, because that's where the political fight is. Hence Clinton ignored foreign terrorism and went after "Rightwing Extremism". That gave him the opportunity to paint his political enemies as far right nutjobs. The Obama administration is justing restarting this tactic after the hiatus of the Bush years.

  • JB||

    Helper,

    Please go back to sucking on your pacifier and sticking your head up your ass.

  • LarryA||

    Remember, the largest terrorist attack in the 90's was the Oklahoma City bombing, done by a right-winger.

    If you don't count the Branch Davidian incident in Waco.

    They are armed to the teeth. The thing that holds them together is that they gun for people that disagree with them.

    Like the Weather Underground or the Black Panthers?

    The militias embraced a battery of baroque legal theories and bizarre conspiracy folklore, but they were never a substantial threat to ordinary Americans' well-being.

    We had a militia "movement" here for three or four years. They were the least competent people, individually and collectively, I ever met. In ten hours I teach Hunter Education students more about outdoor survival than the militia "expert" knew.

    They didn't want to use radios to communicate because they could be jammed and/or monitored, so they all got telephone pagers.

    The air goes out of the libertarian cause every time you morons try to apologize for or deny that this shit exists and scoff at the notion that it should be monitored.

    But who are you going to monitor? How much effort should go into it? Two undercover agents for each ten-person militia group? Even though I don't remember any organized attacks by militia groups?

    How many undercover agents should the Ron Paul campaign have? Do we need to track everyone who buys or borrows Atlas Shrugged, or one of my more-obscure libertarian-leaning books?

    You end up with the apocryphal story about the one competent organization that planned an elaborate, well-equipped attack on a major government nerve center only to discover, when the sting went down, that there was no one to arrest. They were all cops from various agencies.

  • Joint statement by Aaron Burr ||

    Jokes of violence? The militias ain't got nothing on us...

  • ||

    That's so true- violent people will be violent for any cause. Dogmatists will be dogmatic on any cause. What we need to do is educate and nurture children such that as adults we can prevent dogmatic thinking & violent behavior.

  • ||

    So called "Right-wing" violence is feared, Left-wing violence is glorified by the media, pace Animal Planet's Whale Wars.
    http://animal.discovery.com/tv/whale-wars/

    I hope the Japanese sink Sea Shepherds.

  • DaProf||

    Um,

    Who is going to define "hate speech" is really the operable question.

  • Rance||

    what ever happened to blaming the person who committed the crime? why does it always have to be society's fault? why can't the person committing the crime be at fault?

    Also, who "really" shot the security guard is irrelevant. If the crazed dude had not been shooting up the place NO ONE would have gotten killed.

    Rance
    http://thefunemployed.blogspot.com/

  • Researcher||

    So as far as I can tell, libertarians are in to blame everybody circle jerks involving suicide, guns and poop? Do I have that about right?

  • Kralizec||

    The left-"liberals" might feel less anxious, if they had guns.

  • ||

    We shouldn't restrict free speech, via law or shame, just because it might incite a random nut to act. Discouraging passion in political speech, promotes apathy and disengagement. However, whenever over the top outrage is expressed it should be accompanied by discussions of appropriate actions that can be taken.

  • perilisk||

    "Noting that McVeigh was a right-wing nutjob is all well and good. It provides some hints that can be used in legitimate law enforcement activities, and might suggest a kind of attention that should be paid to some of the kookier people in our own lives.

    But reading it as rightwing nutjob and making policy on that basis is as bad as noting that Ted Kazinsky was a liberal hippie nutjob, and using that reading for policy making."

    Crazy fuckers, left and right, that live in the woods and plot the death of the world's alleged string pullers have much more in common with each other than with their non-crazy right and left wing counterparts, though they'd never admit it.

    Ironically, they probably do more to help than harm the world's elites, since these allegations leave more moderate right-wingers and left-wingers across the country feeling the need to keep an eye on each other ("They'll murder us all, with their horrible guns!" vs "Their hyperbolic 'incitement of violence' rhetoric must be a leadup to censorship and oppression!") rather than the ongoing clusterfuck in Washington, which doesn't seem to truly serve either side, really.

  • Mike Rock||

    The only environmental terrorism I've noticed lately are the clear-cutting of forests, damming and clogging of salmon runs, strip mining of fertile soils through industrialized agriculture, insane warehousing of food animals in filthy enclosures in huge numbers with little room... all made possible by corporate welfare via federal subsidies coerced from American taxpayers via threat of institutional violence.

    True laissez faire capitalism would be much better for the natural world just as it is better for people.

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets...in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it's literally a labyrinth, that's no jokeTrue laissez faire capitalism would be much better for the natural world just as it is better for people.

  • Scarpe Nike Italia||

    is good

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement