Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hate, a Vicious Disease

If you think 'hate'...if you speak 'hate'...if you instigate 'hate' will get hate, violence and death.

There's a wave of hate in this country. Don't fool yourself. It's nothing new. Yes, the right-wing pundits now feel at liberty to spew their hate filled rants. But it has always been here and it usually stems from ignorance and fear.

When hateful, radical, and despicable rhetoric is being sent out over the internet and broadcast by extreme cable and radio pundits then violence related to hate crimes will increase.

Digby at Firedoglake refers to a new book by Dave Neiwert called The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized The American Right.
The Eliminationists is an extremely timely book, not because we are on the verge of fascism, which Neiwert patiently explains is not the case. But with the Republican party shrinking to its most ardent true believers and the conservative movement floundering on the shoals of its massive failure at governance, this ugly tendency is both more prevalent and more obvious. Recent shootings in Tennessee and Pennsylvania were shown to have been motivated by the malignant misinformation that's being passed down through radical right wing groups to the mainstream media. The Tea Party movement features a febrile paranoia about the president, comparing him to Mao, Stalin and Hitler. People are stockpiling guns. On the edge and losing power and prestige, the conservative id is pulsating like a raw nerve.
Unfortunately there have been several hate filled events that are recently in the news...

Scott Roeder Held As "Person Of Interest" In Probe Of Dr. George Tiller's Killer
Huffington Post
***UPDATE*** McClatchy Newspapers is reporting that Scott Roeder, the "person of interest" held by police in Kansas, belonged to the "Freemen" anti-government group in the 1990s and was once arrested for having bomb-making materials in his car:
"Freemen" was a term adopted by those who claimed sovereignty from government jurisdiction and operated under their own legal system, which they called common-law courts. Adherents declared themselves exempt from laws, regulations and taxes and often filed liens against judges, prosecutors and others, claiming that money was owed to them as compensation.

In April 1996, Roeder was arrested in Topeka after Shawnee County sheriff's deputies stopped him for not having a proper license plate. In his car, officers said they found ammunition, a blasting cap, a fuse cord, a one-pound can of gunpowder and two 9-volt batteries, with one connected to a switch that could have been used to trigger a bomb.

George Tiller Killed: Abortion Doctor Shot at Church
AP/Huffington Post
***UPDATE*** US Attorney General Eric Holder is dispatching US Marshals to protect abortion clinic and doctors around the country.
Guard Killed in Shooting at U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A rifle-wielding white supremacist entered Washington’s crowded but solemn Holocaust museum on Wednesday afternoon, fatally shooting a security guard before being wounded himself by return fire from other guards.

Stephen Tyrone Johns, a six-year veteran of the museum’s security staff, later “died heroically in the line of duty,” a museum statement said.

Law enforcement sources identified the suspect as James von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist from Maryland.

He is a known Holocaust denier who created an anti-Semitic Web site called “The Holy Western Empire.” He has repeatedly claimed “The Diary of Anne Frank,” a widely-read book about a teenage girl’s experiences under Nazi rule, was a hoax. The museum shooting occurred on a day the m
Von Brunn maintains a racist, anti-Semitic website and wrote a book titled Kill the Best Gentile, alleging a Jewish "conspiracy to destroy the white gene pool."
Right-Wing Violence

In light of the shootings at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. this afternoon, allegedly committed by white supremacist James Von Brunn, Matt Yglesias noted, "I hope that everyone who mau-maued the Department of Homeland Security for expressing concern about this kind of thing feel appropriately ashamed of themselves."

It's hardly an unreasonable point. Two months ago, Richard Poplawski, a right-wing extremist, allegedly gunned down three police officers in Pittsburgh, in part because he feared the non-existent "Obama gun ban." A few weeks ago, Scott Roeder, another right-wing extremist, allegedly assassinated Dr. George Tiller in Kansas. A few hours ago, Von Brunn, another right-wing extremist, allegedly opened fire at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

There are other recent examples that bear similar characteristics. This story out of Tennessee from last year continues to haunt:

Knoxville police Sunday evening searched the Levy Drive home of Jim David Adkisson after he allegedly entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and killed two people and wounded six others during the presentation of a children's musical. [...]

Inside the house, officers found "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly.

The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday's mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of "the liberal movement," and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.

Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his "hatred of the liberal movement," Owen said. "Liberals in general, as well as gays."

Obviously, we're dealing with sick individuals here. There are key differences between violent right-wing radicals and mainstream Americans who happen to be conservative. Indeed, I'm not suggesting that conservative activists are necessarily dangerous, violent people.

I am suggesting that it makes sense of the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate and communicate with law enforcement agencies about potentially violent extremists -- of every ideological stripe -- to help prevent tragedies like the ones we've seen lately.

The DHS report specifically addressed the possibility of violence from anti-abortion radicals and anti-Semitic extremists. And in the last two weeks, Tiller was assassinated and a white supremacist opened fire at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Republican hysteria over the DHS report -- which was, by the way, initiated by a Bush administration official -- was always based more on a partisan scheme than reality, but the incessant complaints look especially misguided today.

Changing the rhetoric won't change those who are filled with hate. But right-wing pundits, politicians and bloggers need be responsible. A change of tone will be a place to start.
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars on point about "Glen Beck and his fellow wingnuts."

Beck offered the following rationale on his Fox News show tonight:

Beck: What they're missing is: The pot in America is boiling. And this is just yet another warning to all Americans of things to come.

Actually, Beck has this exactly right. But frankly, it's boiling because of people like Glenn Beck, ranting hysterically every night about impending apocalypses of various forms -- looming "liberal fascism," the "economic meltdown," the "New World Order," violence spilling over the Mexican border, even FEMA concentration camps.

As I tried to explain in the case of the shooting of Dr. George Tiller, when you spread far-right conspiracy theories through mainstream channels the way Beck does with such abandon, it not only validates their beliefs, it rather hyper-validates them: It tells these people -- who see the Becks and O'Reillys as part of the "liberal media" -- that things are even worse than they thought, and it often spurs them into action.

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