Mike the Mad Biologist

Whenever some right-wing associated nut shoots someone, we always hear it described as the actions of a ‘lone wolf.’ Well, if that’s the case then them wolves have formed themselves a pack:

July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how “liberals” are “destroying America,” walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

December 2008: A pair of “Patriot” movement radicals — the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted “to attack the political infrastructure” — threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

December 2008: In Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear “dirty bomb” in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.

January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

February 2009: A Marine named Kody Brittingham is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

April 2009: A white supremacist named Richard Poplawski opens fire on three Pittsburgh police officers who come to his house on a domestic-violence call and kills all three, because he believed President Obama intended to take away the guns of white citizens like himself. Poplawski is currently awaiting trial.

April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama’s purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

May 2009: A “sovereign citizen” named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

June 2009: A Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protester named James Von Brunn opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.

February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one “domestic terrorism” too.)

March 2010: Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

May 2010: A “sovereign citizen” from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

May 2010: Two “sovereign citizens” named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded. [Mad Biologist: Glenn Beck had been ranting about the Tides Foundation; Williams referred to Beck as a "professor"]

September 2010: A Concord, N.C., man is arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a North Carolina abortion clinic. The man, 26-year–old Justin Carl Moose, referred to himself as the “Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden” in a taped undercover meeting with a federal informant.

To top it off, we now learn that a massive bomb was rigged to explode during a march on Martin Luther King day. This isn’t property damage or a scuffle, this is murder or attempted murder.

All of the bullets seem to be flying from one particular side of the aisle to the other. Odd, that.

Also.

Comments

  1. #1 Ketil Tveiten
    January 22, 2011

    Why haven’t we heard of all this before? (Question only half rhetorical.)

  2. #2 smaller
    January 22, 2011

    Ketil, I remember hearing about most of those in the news when they happened. They were mentioned, and then forgotten.

  3. #3 JImmy Groove
    January 22, 2011

    Yeah, I remember most of these on the news, at least in internet form. But the country has a shockingly short memory for such things, largely because the “liberal media” so often sweeps this sort of right-wing terrorism under the rug.

    There is a huge terror gap in the US, and there are only two ways to close a terror gap. The preferred way is obviously for the group doing most of the terrorizing to calm down. But we’ve seen very well that we can’t reason down the extreme right, and that calls to restore sanity are ignored.

    The other way is to make them afraid. And that doesn’t necessarily mean stooping to their level, as many would suggest.

    I recall one incident when I was in high school. A group of about six kids, lead by an aggressive fellow nicknamed “Snake”, decided they would constantly bother me in this one class. Name calling was the least of it; often they would throw things, or get one of their members to lead the teacher outside so that another could come over and harass me in person, often going so far as to punch me.

    Now, I was a big fellow, quite fat but also muscular, and the main reason they bothered to mess with me is because I was generally so meek and mild that they didn’t have any reason to be afraid (the school certainly didn’t give them a reason, as this was Georgia in the 1990s). But during one of the sessions with the teacher out of the room I had finally had enough. Right after Snake punched me across the jaw I very slowly and deliberately pushed my chair back, stood up, and turned to him. I then walked a few steps in his direction, forcing him back against the wall with my body against his, staring into his eyes. And with a very intense, focused tone I told him “You are going to go back to your seat now, and you are going to sit down. And you will never bother me again.”

    He looked over to his friends for help, but it was very clear that the fat guy they were picking on was more than capable of hurting them, so they refused to back him up. And as a result, he backed down, and I didn’t have to deal with their abuses any more. In fact, they were perfectly cordial.

    As a country, we have to do the same thing with the extreme right. We have to stand up and make it very clear that further violence and violent rhetoric will not be tolerated. And the only way that will actually have an effect on their behavior is if we also make it quite obvious that should they continue to hurt us, we are ready, willing, and able to hurt them more.

  4. #4 harold
    January 22, 2011

    As a country, we have to do the same thing with the extreme right. We have to stand up and make it very clear that further violence and violent rhetoric will not be tolerated.

    You are absolutely correct, but it is more complicated.

    The actual violence is already not tolerated. All of the perpetrators discussed above were sentenced to long prison terms or the death penalty. The perpetrators were themselves, in addition to being amoral vicious hate-crazed criminals, pathetic victims of manipulation.

    The problem is that we have right wing propagandists who are not merely legally within their rights to speak (I would fight to protect their right to speak), but who are massively funded and portrayed as celebrities, and who go uncriticized, or worse, “praised by faint criticism”, by those who have the power to reach an audience.

    They mix their right wing hate talk with support for short sighted policies that financially benefit the very wealthy.

    It’s as if “Snake” were a gifted speaker, and as if he spent all the time when he was legitimately allowed to speak opinions describing you in ill-defined but terrifying way, and as if he had access to an expensive megaphone, and no-one who had similar access was willing to criticize him. And as if “Snake” mixed his targeting with support for economic policies that made him popular with some of the richest people in town, regardless of his other behavior.

    He himself and most of his supporters would never get their hands dirty, but eventually some pathetic suicidal (consciously or merely implicitly) wretch, desperately craving the approval of a successful and seemingly “strong” authority figure, would come in and target the subjects of propaganda ravings with a firearm or explosive. And Snake could correctly claim that he had nothing directly to do with it.

    Unlike a slick but personally cowardly weasel, a hellbent nutjob with nothing to lose, who has been brainwashed by the weasel, will not back down until mayhem has ensued.

    I dislike and usually vehemently disagree with D’nesh D’Souza, to put it mildly, but the one thing he ever got in trouble for saying was the one thing he was actually right about – he pointed out that the 9/11 WTC attackers were not “cowards” in the usual sense of seeking to avoid physical harm or high risk situations.

    If Glenn Beck were personally attacking people, or directly ordering attacks, it would be easy to deal with. The problem is that what he and the many other right wing loudmouths (many of whom are even nastier) do is to act in a way that is statistically likely to provoke disturbed individuals to violence, but which is hard to link directly to the violence in a legal sense.

  5. #5 BaldApe
    January 22, 2011

    If a conservative had done these things, it would be all over the press, right? Why is the liberal press covering up all this violence by liberals? [/snark]

  6. #6 Jimmy Groove
    January 22, 2011

    Very true, harold. You are correct that the Right is being very careful to keep their hands clean. They are, after all, very closely tied to religion, and religion has a long history of using carefully selected rhetoric to get its job done. There aren’t any priests who go out and shoot abortion doctors, after all; they don’t have to do that when all they have to do is make an environment where a desperate, unbalanced person has reason to think he’ll be a hero if he shoots an abortion doctor.

    You know, I’ve got a bachelor’s in biology myself, and I have spent two years looking for any job I could find with it. I even moved all the way from Georgia to Minnesota, hoping for better chances. Instead, I am forced to work all the minimum wage hours I can find, and the forecast for an improved economy are dismal. So I am going to be moving out of the country. I am sad that I am giving up on trying to fight to improve things here, but like you said, it is complicated. And it is likely so complicated and so difficult that things simply will not get better here at all.

    I am actually quite afraid that after leaving the US, either my generation or the next will end up having to go to war against it, because the extreme right-wing policies the US is getting more and more bogged down in will almost certainly lead to even more warfare in the future. And I just hope that one day there will be people to stop this, even if it doesn’t come from inside the US.

  7. #7 John McKay
    January 22, 2011

    You can add to your list the bomb found in Spokane this week, which was almost certainly the work of the white supremacists who have plagued the area since the early eighties. The sparse coverage this one has had is a perfect example of how the “liberal media” plays down domestic terrorism.

  8. #8 darwinsdog
    January 22, 2011

    I don’t think that Joe Stack (February 2010) belongs in this company. He belongs more in the Ted Kaczynski taxon.

  9. #9 harold
    January 22, 2011

    Jimmy Groove –

    I wish you luck.

    I am a dual US/Canadian citizen, US born to a Canadian mother, and part of the reason I stay here is to work in my own small way to improve things. The other part is that I was born here and I love this country.

    I worked and borrowed my way through college and med school, and I thought it was tough at the time, but things have gotten even tougher for younger people.

    I’ve been frustrated lately, but I think it’s way too early to give up.

    I stand by every word in my prior comment, but at the same time, although I have many, many complaints about President Obama and his “bipartisan” ways, it’s worth remembering that the current flare-up in lunacy is partly because a man of African appearance has actually been elected president.

    I’m a pasty-pale looking obviously straight white guy. Blunt reality – in 1960, due to the presence of unethical discrimination, I wouldn’t have had to “compete” with women, visible minorities, or openly gay people, indeed, not even with Jewish or Catholic heterosexual white men, in some arenas.

    Obviously, being intelligent and sane, I realize that it is a great thing for everyone that the kind of repulsive discrimination that stratified US society is breaking down. (For the record, I think that past generations had many good traits, too, relative to present day Americans.)

    We have an unfortunate cycle going on, in which bad economic policies are being supported by those whom they injure, because the politicians and interest groups who push the bad economic policies use dog whistle tactics to imply support for discrimination. The suckers vote for the discrimination, but end up getting a cycle of lower wages, longer hours, less job security, more expensive education, less public services, worse public education, etc. Then some of them get even madder and double down on homophobia, racism, and right wing craziness.

    However, this cycle may come to an end. They panicked in 1920 when women got the vote, too.

  10. #10 harold
    January 22, 2011

    darwinsdog –

    I think Joe Stack belongs on the list.

    The media bends over backwards trying to make every argument to deny that right wing violence is right wing, while at the same time trying to portray any violence it can as “left wing”.

    Ted Kaczynski wasn’t remotely “liberal”, or even coherently “left wing” in a communist sense, which is itself completely different from being liberal or progressive. I realize that you are not saying that he was, but plenty of people are. He was actually a lone, untreated, tragic, violent schizophrenic, whose own intellectual gifts, in a cruel irony, enabled him to inflict horrific suffering on others, and ultimately doom himself. To the extent that he could be said to have a coherent agenda, and I think even that is a huge stretch, he was a neo-Luddite of sorts.

    Meanwhile, as for Joe Stack, we don’t have a controlled experiment, but perhaps if the radio and television hadn’t been blaring constant implications that any action taken against “taxes”, “government”, “Washington”, etc, is noble, he might not have done what he did.

    The fact that he had mental health issues and left a rambling message doesn’t change the fact that he attacked a favorite bugbear of right wing propagandists.

    I’m not arguing for censorship here, but I do insist on pointing out that if a skilled propagandist spreads the word, in a “plausibly deniable” way, that certain types of people are evil, plotting to destroy us all, deserve to die, etc, it is, of course, the most unstable and desperate listeners who will predictably commit the actual violent acts.

  11. #11 darwinsdog
    January 22, 2011

    Ted Kaczynski wasn’t remotely “liberal”, or even coherently “left wing” in a communist sense, which is itself completely different from being liberal or progressive. I realize that you are not saying that he was..

    You’re correct. Kaczynski wrote that “leftists” are “oversocialized” and capable only of attempting ineffective “reform,” and not of fomenting or participating in needed “revolution.” He advocated disassociation with “leftists.” I would suspect that bloggers with a “progressive” message are exactly the type of “oversocialized leftists” Kaczynski advises having nothing to do with, not because their hearts aren’t in the right place but because they are incapable of furthering the revolutionary agenda. On the other hand, neither Kaczynski or Stack had anything in common ideologically with the type of “right-wing” or “sovereign citizen” or white supremacist radicals listed above. The only common feature shared was the propensity for violence.

  12. #12 Monado
    January 24, 2011

    Other people have been making similar lists of home-grown U.S. right-wing terrorism, including the VidiotSpeak group blog. Here are a couple more:

    * July 30, 2010—Camp Hill prison guard Raymond Peake, 64, is charged with robbery and the murder of Todd Getgen. Peake allegedly shot Getgen to death at a local shooting range and stole Getgen’s custom, silenced AR-15 rifle. Investigators follow Peake to a storage unit when they find three firearms: Getgen’s AR-15 rifle, a scoped Remington rifle that had been reported stolen from the range in May, and a second AR-15 rifle. Thomas Tuso is also arrested and charged with conspiracy, receiving stolen property and other crimes. Peake tells police that he and Tuso had been stealing guns “for the purpose of overthrowing the federal government.”

    * August 17, 2010—Patrick Gray Sharp, 29, opens fire on the Department of Public Safety in McKinney, Texas, and unsuccessfully attempts to ignite gasoline and ammonium nitrate in a trailer hitched to his truck. Sharp is armed with an assault rifle, a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, and a 12-gauge shotgun. He is killed after an exchange of gunfire with police arriving on the scene. Miraculously, no one else is hurt. Sharp’s roommate, Eric McClellan describes him as “a great guy” and states, “We’re Texans. We have a right to bear arms.”

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