Monday, June 15, 2009

Far RIght Polarization, Recent Shootings, and What Now?

The last couple of weeks have taken some surprisingly unsuspected turns for the worse in our society. Between the May 31st shooting of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, KS while he was at church and last Wednesday's Holocaust Museum shooting, which killed security guard Stephen T. Johns, it appears that lone gunman are committing horrific acts seemingly out of nowhere. In both cases, the tragedies were shocking and reported as if they came out of nowhere. But were they?

Back in April a Dept of Homeland Security report was leaked that sought to warn law enforcement agencies about the possibility of violence from far right wing organizations. Especially noted was anti abortion extremism and a possible rise in anti Semitism as well as using these organization potentially using the economy to try and get recruits.

It's definitely a bit ominous - even scary. However, Obama's Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano had to apologize for the report after it was attacked by neocon pundits and bloggers ranging from Sean Hannity to Focus on the Family's James Dobson (who claimed "there were no Timothy McVeighs out there" and that they were "making a big deal out of something that hasn't happened and may not happen". Michelle Malkin even claimed the report was proof that the Obama administration was doing a hit job. Thus while the report was worried about neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the like, these people automatically claimed they were being persecuted and blamed Obama.

The funny thing about the controversy regarding aid report was this - the report was requested by the Bush administration.

Yes, another instance for the right wing in this country to attack the current administration on something the President they supported all these years actually requested. You;d think most of these people would see it was about neo Nazi types and distance themselves, but instead they cried victim (funny how the right seems to do that a lot these days).

Soon it was pushed into the media version of the rabbit hole until the murder of Dr. Tiller. While pro forced pregnancy groups condemned the act they also in the same breath attacked Dr. Tiller and what he did. While it did temporarily bring the previous memo to light, it appeared to be a one time thing. Then suspect Scott Roeder called the AP from his jail cell claiming that more anti abortion violence is planned nationwide. While the topic continued to make its way in the news, it would soon be eclipsed by Von Brunn's shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

At first glance it appears that both Roeder and Von Brunn were lone wolves, people who committed acts of terror that weren't members of specific extremist organizations. However, both suspects had ties to organizations even if they weren't hardcore members. Roeder for example had the phone number for Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue's senioer policy advisor, on the dash of his car when he was arrested. Von Brunn had over the years had connections with Willis Carto of the white supremacist Liberty Lobby and had received praise from the White Supremacist web site Storm Front.

So how are the neocons reacting to Von Brunn. Well, they're claiming he was a leftist. Yes, I shit you not. They're actually claiming that this neo Nazi piece of fucking shit is part of the left wing movement. ONe of the more ridiculous ones include right wing blogger Andrew Breitbart's voicemail to gawker claiming Von Brunn wasn't a conservative and was actually a multiculturalist. Claims like these would be funny if they weren't scary and devoid of reality.

The truth of the matter is that assholes like Roeder and Von Brunn are the most obvious examples of the polarization this country has undergone over the past 25 or so years. Pushed to the breaking point by right wing radio hosts and Fox News, this movement has played a large role in creating a climate where people of opposing views cant communicate. While the right wing claims the left and their "PC culture" is to blame, the fact that they pushed their purge like attitudes even further during the Dubya era tends to show otherwise. It seems that many gravitate to this strain of conservatism when life doesn't turn out exactly as planned and they'd rather blame others than look inward and make changes. At this point, most of these people don't go to bombing places or shooting people (it's easier to cyberbully and troll websites on the other side using the Internet's anonymity to state things in a manner they might otherwise not say to a person's face). However just because most of these people don't reach that point doesn't mean the neocons had nothing to do with being a factor in Roeder and Von Brunn going batshit crazy and committing these inexcusable acts.

So what now? This question is way easier to ask than answer. Nothing is solved by censoring other opinions (and with the Internet the way it is that may be very impossible to do). While we shold allow free speech (if for no other reason than that knowing one's enemy is easier when one states their views out in the open) there are already laws that cover assault, vandalism and the like. When the line is crossed (and if we're going to have laws and government in the first place) those should be the go to when shit falls apart. However, in Roeder's case he was caught gluing the locks of an abortion clinic in Kansas City the day before he murdered Dr. Tiller (a clear violation of the FACE act) and was not arrested proving that if an existing law isn't enforced than new laws probably won't help things.

I know this has been a long, winding read. Sadly, this is the tip of the iceberg as things stand now. Currently this story is being written as it unfolds. What happens from here on out is up to us.