First: Riverdaughter's latest
is brilliant. We have allowed the right to accuse the left of politicizing the Arizona tragedy, and this must not stand:
We seem to have forgotten how ruthless and unsentimental the right can be about politicizing personal tragedies when their agenda can benefit from it. No one here should be under any illusions about what the right is capable of when it comes to turning on the histronics to 11.
If it had been a Republican legislator gunned down, the right would be on the air right now screaming for the rescission of the first amendment from the Constitution and some Republican extremist in Congress would be drafting legislation to make sure that Fox was the official news channel and the Roberts’ court would be standing by, ready to not only invoke the amendment but retroactively remove all of the speeches it finds offensive in elementary school text books. Goodbye, “I have a Dream”.
It's worse than that. The right has itself politicized Tucson -- nonstop. Remember the words of Tea Party leader Judson Phillips? "The shooter was a liberal lunatic. Emphasis on both words."
Nothing is too small or too large for the right to politicize. If it could profit by doing so, the right would not balk at politicizing a murder, a kidnapping, an earthquake, a toothache, a song by Miley Cyrus, a bad burrito from Taco Bell, that dreadful show starring Amy Poehler, or a bad paint job from Earl Schieb. When the Second Coming hits, a FOX news team will be spinning their coverage ruthlessly -- right up until the moment they are cast into the lake of eternal fire.Second:
It's true that some of Loughner's former schoolmates said that he used to be "liberal" (circa 2006). Why did they use that word? Why did they come to this conclusion? Because Jared suspected Bush of masterminding the 9/11 attacks.
This raises a further question: How would those kids even know what a liberal is
? How would young people raised in Arizona's bizarre culture define the term?
Michael Parenti (I think
it was Parenti) used to tell a story about perceptions of news bias. As he traveled the country, he encountered many young people who believed with jackass certainty that liberals control the media. They "knew" this because Rush Limbaugh told them it was so.
Parenti responded: "Okay, tell me who is the liberal equivalent to Limbaugh. Name a liberal commentator who has that kind of power." The kids, stuck for an answer, finally blurted out one name: "Howard Stern."
Stern (whose shtick started to bore me about halfway through his second Letterman appearance) is a YAL -- Yet Another Libertarian. He mostly supports Republican candidates, although he came to hate Bush.
This brings us right back to Loughner's callow school chums, who resorted to the term "liberal" because they had no other frame of reference. They didn't know of any other way to describe someone who did not love Dubya.Third:
Let's get back to the blame game. One Cannonfire reader has asked:
Joseph, I appreciate that you love to riff on this subject, but I'm still left wondering what the point is.
I mean, even if Loughner had been obsessed with, say, Moby Dick, to the point where he went out and harpooned a half-dozen fat white men, what would that prove aside from the obvious: that people who are insane will do insane things, occasionally even violently lethal things, and there's no telling what's going to set them off?
My answer was that guys like Loughner function as the proverbial canary in the coal mine. That response now strikes me as true but inadequate. This
is simpler and better:
One needn’t be sane in order to be motivated by a political agenda.
Just so. The debate between "Loughner was a nut" and "Loughner was political" centers on a false dichotomy. Presidential assassin Charles Guiteau was an absolute toon who heard voices in his head -- but he was also a political animal who belonged to a faction of the Republican party that felt betrayed by Garfield.
Thus, whenever a winger tells you that "no evidence" links Jared to the right, we may legitimately bring up such items as this
The Times also noted Loughner’s references to the “second Constitution,” right-wing jargon for the amendments to the Constitution adopted in the decades after the Civil War, and regarded, like the Civil War itself, as illegitimate.
One of the experts interviewed by the Times is Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors racist and neo-Nazi groups. He wrote of Loughner’s references to the US currency: “The idea that silver and gold are the only ‘constitutional’ money is widespread in the antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement that produced so much violence in the 1990s. It’s linked to the core Patriot theory that the Federal Reserve is actually a private corporation run for the benefit of unnamed international bankers.”
Although this link
goes to a Kos entry, I think that the concept of "stochastic terrorism" merits discussion:
Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.
This is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.
This is also the term for what Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, and others do. And this is what led directly and predictably to a number of cases of ideologically-motivated murder similar to the Tucson shootings.
The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.
One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act. While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. "given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such"), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).
The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: "Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I'm not responsible for what people in my audience do."
Let us quickly note that Markos Moulitsas published one hell of lot of stochastic terror throughout 2008
Just slit her throat, lock her in a car boot, and drive the car into river in West Virginia. Ain’t gonna let no whore screw with the man
The heinous Hillary hag with a bullseye on her forehead is reason enough to vote for Obama
And a Drive-By Won't Be Out of the Question. What goes around, comes around. The stupid fucking bitch !!
Talk About WHITE TRASH that bitch better keep looking over her shoulder.
Even though the Kossacks refuse to 'fess up to their ghastly hypocrisy, the concept of "stochastic terror" has, in my opinion, much to recommend it.
In the early months of 1922, right-wingers in beer halls throughout Germany recited a ditty which translates thus: "Death to Walther Rathenau -- the Godforsaken Jewish sow." (Rathenau was a brilliant Jewish German politician who had argued that Germany needed to respect the treaty of Versailles.) The singers of that song were stochastic terrorists. When Rathenau was killed, they were, in a sense, the true authors of the crime. The actual hit men (a handful of army officers employed by this secret group
) were mere tools.
There are plenty of Loughners out there. Take the case of Jim Adkisson
, the unemployed truck driver who, in 2008, shot up a church he considered overly "liberal":
"This was a symbolic killing," he wrote in a four-page manifesto. "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate, + House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the Mainstream Media. But I knew these people were inaccessible to me."
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.
Adkisson explicitly wrote that he wanted "to encourage other like-minded people to do what I've done."
One such "like-minded person" was Byron Williams, who last year made plans to kill members of the ACLU and a progressive group called the Tides Foundation.
According to Thomason, Williams told investigators that he was disturbed because he was unable to find a job due to the poor economy.
Williams' mother, Janice Williams, said to the San Francisco Chronicle that her son was angry with "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items."
A similar case occurred last year, when Jerry and Joe Kane
-- two radical rightwingers -- killed two cops in Arkansas:
Kane and his son, by all accounts, didn't trust the U.S. Government. They didn't respect it, didn't think the laws that apply to the citizens in this country applied to them. They had particular beliefs and habits, like thinking they didn't need driver's licenses.
When those beliefs came into conflict with Officers Paudert and Evans, it was, according to hate group experts and friends of the Kanes, the perfect storm.
In April of 2009, Daniel Hayden was arrested for planning a terrorist attack in Oklahoma. Previously he had posted the following on Twitter:
Since we are already criminals in the eyes of the New World Order, and they intend to enslave us all, and to kill those of us who will NOT submit to their slavery, I say to IGNORE gun "laws" and keep your guns (AND ammo) handy. You only have three options:
1) Submit to total spectrum domination i.e. total enslavement.
2) Be rounded up and sent to a FEMA camp where you will be killed.
3) Die at the hands of the New World Order oppressors by taking as many of them with you as you can.
I recommend option number three and to keep your powder dry.
In Florida in 2009, Joshua Cartwright
was killed after he had shot two Sheriff's Deputies.
An offense report filed against Cartwright the day he died outlines an angry husband who threatened his wife, kept guns and knives on hand, was "severely disturbed" that Barack Obama had been elected president, and believed the U.S. government was conspiring against him.
Also in 2009, a bomb factory was discovered in the home of Mark Campano, of Ohio.
Barbara Vachon lived next door to Campano at the Center Park Place Apartments for several years and said he was a big reason she moved.
"He was always trying to get me and another neighbor to listen to anti-government tapes and watch anti-government videos," said Vachon. "I would never watch them. He was some kind of radical, and he didn't believe in the government."
I could list a number of similar episodes. In each case, scoffers might sneer: "Oh, it's just an isolated incident."
That's what people said when Walther Rathenau was killed.