Category Archives: Hate Crimes

FYI: I’ll Just Leave This Here

March 6, 2018  “A South Carolina white supremacist who praised racist mass shooter Dylann Roof and longed to commit violence against Jews, Muslims and people of color has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors that will likely result in a relatively short stint in federal prison.”  [HuffPo]

March 2, 2018   “Nikolas Cruz left at least 180 rounds of ammunition — inside magazines that bore Nazi swastika symbols — at the scene of the Parkland school shooting.Along with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, Cruz abandoned at least six magazines that each contained 30 bullets at the scene of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.” [SunSentinel]

December 16, 2016  “Dylan Storm Roof’s website hinted at why he chose “historic” Charleston to shoot nine people to death at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Along with a long, hate-filled screed, the 21-year-old included photos of himself burning an American flag, taking aim with Ca pistol and posing proudly at sites connected to the Confederacy.” [CNN]

August 6, 2012  “Before he strode into a Sikh temple with a 9 mm handgun and multiple magazines of ammunition, Wade Michael Page played in white supremacist heavy metal bands with names such as Definite Hate and End Apathy.” [CBS]

January 7, 2010   (DC Holocaust Museum shooting) “Prosecutors said that von Brunn, an admitted white supremacist who lived most recently in Annapolis, had been planning the assault for months and that he hoped “to send a message to the Jewish community” that the Holocaust was a hoax. “He wanted to be a martyr for his cause,” a prosecutor said in court.” [WaPo]

July 28, 2008  “Jim David Adkisson told investigators all liberals should be killed and admitted he shot people Sunday morning at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by CNN affiliate WBIR.” [CNN]

Generally speaking —

August 22, 2017  “Terrorists murdered 3,342 people on U.S. soil from 1992 through August 12, 2017. Islamist terrorists are responsible for 92% of all those murders. The 9/11 attacks, by themselves, killed about 89% of all the victims during this time. During this time, the chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by an Islamist was about 1 in 2.5 million per year.

Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists are the second deadliest group by ideology, as they account for 6.6% of all terrorist murders during this time. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the second deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, killed 168 people and accounted for 77% of all the murders committed by Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists. The chance of being murdered in a Nationalist or Right Wing terrorist attack was about 1 in 33 million per year.”  [Forbes]

ADL 2017 Report 

“Unlike 2016, a year dominated by the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida, committed by an Islamic extremist, a majority of the 2017 murders were committed by right-wing extremists, primarily white supremacists, as has typically been the case most years.”

I’ll just leave this here.

 

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Filed under Gun Issues, Hate Crimes, Politics, terrorism, White Supremacists

Ripped from a few Headlines: Friday Edition

If you haven’t already seen the New Yorker article concerning Trump, Putin, and what the Russians want…click immediately for some excellent reporting and analysis. Here’s a taste:

“The great fear is the neutering of NATO and the decoupling of America from European security. If that happens, it gives Putin all kinds of opportunities. If Trump steps back the way he seemed to as a candidate, you might not even need to do things like invade the Baltic states. You can just dominate them anyway. You’re beginning to see the collapse of institutions built to insure our security. And if that happens you will see the re-nationalizing of Europe as a whole.”


If anyone is counting, and they are, there have now been THREE Jewish cemeteries vandalized within the last few weeks, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Rochester, NY. And then there are the bomb threats to Jewish community centers.

“In all, 48 JCCs in 26 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats during January, according to the JCCA, an association of JCCs. Most were made in rapid succession on three days: January 9, 18 and 31. A number of JCCs, including Orlando’s, received multiple threats. On February 20, another wave of bomb threats hit 11 JCCs across the country, bringing the total to 68 incidents targeting 53 JCCs, according to the JCCA.” [CNN]

It would appear that while most people are protesting immigration related raids, Muslim travel bans, and assorted Trumpian outrages, others are taking the opportunity to express their antisemiticism, racism, and bigotry.


Meanwhile in the last two months four mosques have been attacked by arsonists.  The Oval Office remains silent:

“The press has certainly covered Trump’s attitudes—and those of his top advisors—toward Islam, particularly since he announced a ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim nations on January 27. But attacks on American mosques have received far less attention than the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers. As far as I’m aware, no reporter has asked Trump about them at a press conference. And no major network would suggest that Trump’s failure “to adopt a stern, public line” against Islamophobia has been “politically damaging.”


Floating around in the Swamp, the Trumpster Regime — again (and again) says there was no connection between the campaign and Russian operatives. This, of course, goes nowhere toward explaining the contacts made by Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, … and what names are to come?


The most bizarre explanation for opposing Motor Voter/automatic  registration in Nevada comes compliments of Nevada’s political gadfly and whack job Ira Hansen, did you miss this one?

“Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, was the most vocal opponent during the committee hearing and said it represented an overreach of people’s privacy, especially those who don’t want to partake in the electoral process.”

 

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Hate Crimes, Immigration, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Politics, racism, Voting, White Supremacists

The One Thing Trump Won’t Put His Name On?

Let’s guess that the one thing the current occupant of the White House won’t put his name on is an apology. Here’s a template in case he’s harboring any transient desire to do so:

“My fellow Americans  I want to tell you how sorry I am that there are among us people who feel emboldened to act in ways that cause immeasurable pain to their fellow human beings.

They are the ones who have now vandalized not one but two Jewish Cemeteries, one in suburban St. Louis and another in Philadelphia. They are the ones who have burned a mosque in Victoria, Texas, and the ones who attacked a gay couple in Key West, Florida. They have created 917 hate groups in this nation. They have acted on their hate, and now Indian Americans in Kansas have felt the pain of their assaults.

They have internalized the messages from hate radio broadcasts, incorporating the demonization of Muslims, Jews, Immigrants, and women’s health providers into their daily thinking.  They are wrong. They are unworthy of our sympathy. They are cancerous intrusions into our civic discourse.

People who hold the despicable thoughts that drive these despicable actions should never be comfortable voicing their disrespect for their fellow human beings.  When they rant at the dinner table that “they” are responsible for all the ills of the nation, they should be challenged.  When they propose that the US would be a better place without immigrants they should be challenged. When they use abusive slang and epithets to describe other people they should be reminded that they are in polite society. When they brag about abusing members of minority groups and women they should hear from the righteous among us that this is completely and totally unacceptable.

When they voice support for the hateful actions of others they should be placed on notice that enabling or encouraging hate crimes and incidents is properly categorized as being an accomplice.  When their voices promote hatefulness and violence, our voices should call for tolerance and empathy. When their voices rasp with vile epithets and slogans, ours should call for civility and understanding.  Their voices must be challenged. Right here. Right now.”

Now, I wonder if the president would like to put his name to this template?

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Filed under civil liberties, Hate Crimes, Immigration, Politics, racism

#Enough Thoughts and Prayers, rights aren’t necessarily conveniences

Mass Shooting Victims

The photos of the victims of mass killings in this country show the faces of America. White, black, brown, gay, straight, men, and women. From the very young to the elderly.  And they all died too soon at the hands of those who could arm themselves with lethal weapons without any inconvenience.

The 2nd Amendment says we all have the right to keep and bear arms … there is NO mention in the Amendment that purchasing firearms has to be “convenient.”

The gun fetishists among us cry that their “rights are infringed” if they are to be inconvenienced in any way when purchasing or procuring lethal weapons. They cite their imaginary well greased slippery slope to full tilt gun control.

And, lo! cry the fetishists and their allies, any imposition of a burden of responsibility is a denial of our civil liberties.  But, wait a minute. It is inconvenient to register to vote – however, that’s the inconvenience we accept to prevent voter impersonation.  It’s inconvenient to edit and fact check news articles – but that’s the inconvenience we accept as part of the freedom of the press to avoid charges of libel.

It is inconvenient for government officials to get search warrants, but that’s the balance we have to prevent unlawful searches and seizures.  It’s inconvenient for the judicial system that a person may not be compelled to testify against himself – but that’s the inconvenience we accept to make the system work under constitutional principles.

How easy it appears to be to have advocates of the implementation of the Patriot Act speaking of national surveillance, and justifying those National Security Letters, while bemoaning the restrictions on those included on the terrorist watch list who seek to purchase lethal weapons.

If we didn’t infer “convenience” in the 2nd Amendment, then might we have fewer suicides, fewer murders, fewer mass shootings and killings.  Fewer funerals, fewer remembrances, fewer tragedies, and a much safer society?

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Filed under Congress, conservatism, gay issues, Gun Issues, Hate Crimes, Senate, terrorism

Do We Have To Make Racists Comfortable?

No sooner did an African American take the oath of office as the President of the United States than racists (and those who tolerate them) began slathering on the euphemisms and buzz words for making opposition to him credible.  Remember the e-mails that made the rounds? The ones with “bones in noses” and “watermelons on the White House lawn?” And the response, “We were only joking.”

Obama racist cartoon

Those who found this cartoon amusing are racists. Purely and simply racist. Those who took these people seriously are enablers .. consider CNN’s “debate” about whether this obnoxious drivel was “Racist or Satirical.”  There’s no debate here. The cartoon is clearly, obviously, evidently racism.  How do we know this? A black man as a “savage.” A black man as a “witch doctor.”   Enough people were indignant about this offensive cartoon that its advocates slunk off to find more fodder for their e-mail lists.

However, the obvious racists are relatively easy to deal with – and even easier to shun.  Those “dens of lone wolves,” the Internet’s dark corners of hate and intolerance can be monitored, the “patriots” can be watched, and the hate-mongers prosecuted.  It’s the enablers of institutionalized and personal racism who seem more problematic.  Perhaps we’ll be able to move forward if we shatter some persistent myths.

The Myth of Two Sides

In the current cable news template, there must be “two sides” to an issue.  Let’s revert to the day someone at CNN decided to produce a segment on that 2009 cartoon.  Yes, they decided, the cartoon was, indeed, racist, but why was the question posed at all?  Well, gee, it could, it might, it may look in some circles, … like racism, but it could also be political criticism… Really?  No, to anyone with any sensitivity, or an IQ above cauliflower, it was racism.   Moving along the continuum from “we’re just joking” we get to “can’t you take a joke?”  Other presidents have had horrible cartoons drawn and published about them, why are we so sensitive about a black president?   For the near-veggies who might read this: It’s because he is a black man, and black men have been vilified for centuries in this part of the world for being “savage,” and “wild,” and “emotional,” and “lustful,” and … we could keep going here, but that would only serve to raise blood pressure.  So, let’s get to the point: Racist and ethnic jokes aren’t funny. Except to racists.  But, but, but… African Americans (and blondes and Poles) do it? That still doesn’t make it right.  The ‘everybody does it’ response is usually the province of immature adolescents trying to explain their misbehavior to the parents.  We should be a bit more mature.

The Myth of the Mirrors

Another myth which should hit the skids is the banal “speaking out about racism is divisive.”   Well, obviously, yes.  As well it should be. Who wants to be lumped into the same category with racists?

Remember the Twitter Fit from the Right when the President commented on the murder of Trayvon Martin?   The  Right echoed George Zimmerman’s whining about the President “rushing to judgment,” and said the President’s comment “pitted American against American.” [Hill]  It’s “race-baiting” to talk about race?

“…the allegation is that simply talking about race in America makes you a racist. It is, as Boehlert called it, “a very odd brand of projection” that’s “very weird and complicated,” but that’s where the roles of endless repetition and cognitive closure come in. They naturalize and normalize what would otherwise clearly be both arbitrary and bizarre.” [Salon]

If we boiled the “endless repetition and cognitive closure” down to its essentials what comes out is – If you talk about racial issues in ways that make racists uncomfortable, i.e. it makes people confront their own racism, it must be ‘race-baiting.’   When this message moves inextricably closer to its inevitable extension we can no longer speak of a whole host of topics which cause conservatives to squirm.

We can’t have a national discussion about institutional racism in employment, housing, or health care outcomes because … we’d be “divisive.”

We can’t have a national discussion about voting rights and the African American community, and other communities of color, because … we’d be ‘divisive.’

We can’t have a national civil debate about the social costs of mass incarceration of African Americans and other people of color, because … we’d be ‘divisive.’

And, Heaven Help Us, we can’t have a discussion about policing in America because … we’d be ‘divisive.” Worse still, we’d be “race-baiting,” as asserted by the Louisville, Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police.  [Full letter here]

The Myth of A Non-Partisan World

I think I’m going to gag at the very next assertion that what we need in this country is “healing,” and “bipartisanship.”  There never was, and never will be, a harmonic idyllic session of any democratically elected ruling body gracefully gliding over issues and points of disagreement with elegance and aplomb.  And yet, this is the standard by which some of the Chattering Classes measure the effectiveness of legislators and legislation. “The bill had bi-partisan support,” as if that automatically made the bill any better law.  Yes, politics is the art of the possible. And, yes, pragmatism usually makes more progress than strident partisanship.  However, there are some points at which we should agree, and one of the prime ones in American life is that racism is wrong.

The racists are aware of this. Why else would they be quick to tell us that they were only joking, or that they are merely being satirical? Why else would they begin obnoxious expressions with “I’m not racist, but…?” Why else would they whine so loudly if it’s suggested their own brand of projection is nothing more than an attempt to ‘normalize’ what is patently arbitrary and downright bizarre?

Sometimes wrong is just wrong.   We can debate the finer points of trade agreements, international arms agreements, educational policy, health care insurance needs, and so many other topics, but this is 2015 and we should no longer have to make racists comfortable and racism tolerable. Nor do we need to tolerate its symbols.

CSA battle flag

The Stars and Bars, isn’t a Redneck Flag —  unless the aforementioned Redneck is a racist. It isn’t a symbol of southern heritage – unless that heritage is hate.

NASCAR, yes NASCAR, got the message back in 2005:

“NASCAR has a policy that prevents use of the Stars and Bars or other controversial subjects on any car, uniform, licensed product or track facility under its control, but that doesn’t stop hard-line rebel fans from displaying it.

“We recognize that the Confederate flag is an important issue for a lot of people and as our fan base grows, we are doing what we can to break down its use and be more in the mainstream,” said Ramsey Poston, NASCAR director of corporate communications.” [LA Times]

Mainstream America doesn’t sport the traitorous Stars and Bars, the battle flag of a revolt, the cornerstone of which was the preservation of the Peculiar Institution, as expressed by the CSA vice-president when speaking about their new CSA constitution:

“Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. [Applause.] This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.” [Alexander Stephens,  March 21, 1861]

Lee surrenders Is there any good reason why we have to tolerate the display of a flag which was truly and historically divisive – physically, philosophically, and morally divisive?  It did divide us – dividing us between those who thought chattel slavery and all its horrible implications was a physical, philosophical, and moral good, from those who believed chattel slavery was a cancer in the body politic and a moral catastrophe.  It took four bloody years, but the Good Guys won.  Someone made a picture of it.

So, if reading this post made you “uncomfortable” I’m not the least bit sorry.  I think there’s a better use for my capacity for sympathy and sorrow – for the victims of that heinous act of domestic terrorism by a horrid racist in South Carolina.

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Filed under conservatism, Hate Crimes, Human Rights, media, Obama, Politics, racism

The Bundy Boys Join the Circus

AB 408

Remember the Bundy Boys?  Wonkette hasn’t forgotten the Fiore Forays into governmental mismanagement, nor have too many other people.  Now, the flags are flying again, for Freedumb!, in the form of AB 408, a singularly silly bill put forth by the usual group of Tea Partying Fanatics: Assemblywomen Fiore, Dooling, Shelton, Titus, and Seaman. Yes, it’s Ladies’ Day for AB 408, with some fellows tossed in as co-sponsors.  The ladies would like to kick the Feds out of Nevada:

“AN ACT relating to public lands; prohibiting the Federal Government from owning or regulating certain public lands or the right to use public waters; requiring the State Land Registrar to adopt regulations that provide for the appropriation and registration of grazing, logging, mineral development or other beneficial use rights on public lands; requiring the State Land Registrar to sell permits for grazing, logging, mineral development or other beneficial uses on public lands for which such rights are not registered and appropriated; requiring the board of county commissioners of each county to impose a tax on profits from the beneficial use of public lands;…”

Translation: Any rancher who doesn’t want to pay grazing fees for the use of public lands doesn’t have to.  And, we can go one step further – any mining company or logging enterprise can have the State Land Registrar sell off Nevada’s minerals and timber resources at will.  It’s privatization, as they say, on steroids.

What the Tea Bag Biddies seem to have forgotten is that there are other people using those lands too – not just the likes of Cliven “I want to tell you one more thing I know about The Negro” Bundy – and they aren’t hikers and tree huggers, they’re other ranchers.   If the Bundy ilk are allowed to over-graze range lands the land isn’t just Bundy’s problem, it becomes a problem for other ranching operations in the area which might want to use the land eventually.  This isn’t the only thing the Tea Bag Biddies seem to have overlooked.

There is more to BLM land management operations than protecting wildlife, there’s the part wherein the BLM is involved with wildland fire fighting, fuel mitigation, and related issues; combined with programs to manage energy resources, communication right of way and access, and hunting and fishing access.  Then, there’s that pesky bit of Constitutional History, in the act admitting Nevada into statehood:

“Third. That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States; …..”

So, the terms of AB 408 are ultimately selfish, deliberately narrow, and most probably unconstitutional – and Ammon Bundy, litigant in a relatively new phony lawsuit against the Feds, is gathering support from the Tea Bag Biddies in the Legislature. [LTN]  And, they’ll be hoping for some company. Company who share the Bundy fictional version of the country:

“The natural resources of America are being stolen from the people and claimed by the federal government. Everything we eat, wear, live in, use and so on comes from the earth. If we lose access to the land and natural resources we become beggars to those who control access. Without doubt this is the greatest immediate threat to the individual person and people as a whole. More lives, liberties and property can be taken under this threat than any other we see.”  [RReport]

No statement could make it more abundantly evident that the Bundy Brigade sees itself as separate from the other 320,000,000 people in this country.  For all the blathering about Constitutional-ism, the Brigade appears to have forgotten the first words of the hallowed document: We the people of the United States, on Order to form a more perfect Union…”  We the people form the government. Not “we the Bundys.”  A rough translation of Bundy-ism might be: What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too.

And lest we forget, it was this same general philosophy which attracted support from the two Bundy-ites who killed Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, in Las Vegas, NV in June 2014. 

The bill will get its hearing, and should get nothing more. 

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Filed under Constitution, Hate Crimes, Interior Department, Nevada, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, public lands, Rural Nevada

Domestic Terrorism Home on the Range

BundyThe Nevada Progressive leads off this morning with a column on “Everytown,” and the efforts of those who seek reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, a post following “Clear and Present Danger” on the Bundy Anarchists in southern Nevada.  It’s both timely and appropriate to put these thoughts in close proximity.

“There’s really no way to candy-coat it. The extreme fringe of the far right who have once again gained national prominence thanks to Cliven Bundy’s nationally televised temper tantrum are not interested in mere protest. And it’s time for all the rest of us to recognize the clear & present danger of legitimizing this kind of behavior. ” [TNP]

There’s “right wing,” and “far right wing,” and then there’s that “extreme fringe of the far right.”   As the Rachel Maddow Show illustrated, they are both armed and dangerous.   We have an unfortunate roster of hits and near misses to prove the point.

The Bloody and Near Bloody Decade

On April 19, 1995 Timothy McVeigh bombed the Federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The 7000 pound truck bomb caused massive loss of life and damage.  McVeigh was among those on that Extreme Fringe of the Far Right, who could refer to the children killed that day as “collateral damage.”  There was a near miss in July 1995 when antigovernment extremist Charles Ray Polk tried to purchase an machine gun and plastic explosives in order to carry out his proposed attack on the Austin, TX Internal Revenue Office.  Polk was sentenced to 21 years in a Federal Prison.

On October 9, 1995 the Extreme Fringe scored a hit on an Amtrak Passenger Train in Arizona, leaving antigovernment messages, some signed “Sons of the Gestapo.”  There was another near miss in November 1995 when members of the Oklahoma Constitutional Militia were arrested while in the process of planning bombings and attacks on abortion providers and gay bars.

The antigovernment message almost hit close to home when in December 1995 a drum filled with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil failed to detonate at a Reno, NV IRS office.  The tax-protester was arrested, tried, and convicted.  It would seem that the designation “tax-protester” might be a bit mild for someone who had demolition on his agenda.

January 1996 literally started out with a bang, when the Militia under Commander Pedro, Peter Kevin Langan, tried to shoot it out with the FBI in Ohio.   The year continued with a terrorist in Hood River, Oregon stockpiling 460 pounds of Tovex explosive, 746 pounds of ANFO blasting agent, and a collection of homemade hand grenades.   April 12, 1996 Larry Shoemake takes his Neo-Nazi extreme fringe behavior into the open and goes on a shooting spree in Jackson MS.  He killed one African American man and wounded seven others during his racist shooting rampage.  A few days later members of the Militia At Large of the Republic of Georgia are arrested for distributing shrapnel packed pipe bombs to their membership for their ongoing “war” with the government.  In July 1996 the Viper Team in Arizona is arrested after they were found videotaping federal facilities as potential targets for their antigovernment attacks.  But, there was no “near miss” on July 27, 1996 when Eric Rudolph detonated his bomb in Olympic Park in Atlanta, GA during the Summer Olympics.

Near misses were prevented from becoming real hits when members of the Washington State Militia, the Phineas Priests, and the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia were arrested in 1996 before they could carry out their plans.

Eric Rudolph was back in action in 1997 when he bombed an abortion providing health care center in Sandy Springs, GA, an Atlanta gay bar, and an abortion provider in Birmingham, AL.  The year also included a thwarted attempt by the Black Dawn group to stockpile 35,000 rounds of ‘heavy’ ammunition and artillery shells, and another attempt to bomb an IRS office in Kalamazoo, MI.  Perhaps the most hazardous near miss came on April 27, 1997 when a Militia planned to cover an armed robbery by blowing up a natural gas refinery in Fort Worth, TX — a facility close to a local elementary school.

This wasn’t the end of antigovernment action in 1997, which included an explosion in Yuba City, CA, a fire in the Colorado Springs, CO IRS office, and a planned attack on Fort Hood wherein the Fringe group thought foreign troops were being trained.

Eric Rudolph wasn’t finished, in 1998 he set off a nail packed remote controlled bomb at a Birmingham abortion provider’s building, and during the same year the Ku Klux Klan planned to assassinate a federal judge in East St. Louis, IL.  More attacks were planned in Michigan by the members of the North American Militia of Southwestern Michigan, thankfully foiled.  The Republic of Texas should perhaps get the prize for the most bizarre attack plan to assault President Clinton and other federal officials, “Officials say the men planned to use a cactus thorn coated with a toxin like anthrax and fired by a modified butane lighter to carry out the murders.” [SPLC] There were eight more incidents, of varying efficacy and harm from 1998 to 2000.

So, what should we have learned in that half decade?

If nothing more, we should have learned the definition of Domestic Terrorism as set forth in 18 U.S. Code 2331:

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

And, yes, the acts and intended acts during that decade would certainly seem to fit the definition of Domestic Terrorism as established in the law.   Bombings, assassinations, and fires, would qualify as dangerous activities designed to intimidate and coerce, and even kill.   We should also have learned that antigovernment fringe extremists are quite likely to attack federal offices, to assassinate people associated with activities with which they disagree, and to otherwise seek to intimidate and coerce when they fail to convince.

We don’t have much trouble labeling such individuals as Eric Rudolph, the Phineas Priests, the New Dawn, the North American Militia, and other groups as domestic terrorists — but there is an inclination to be entirely too parsimonious with the term when an individual or group is characterized as a “protestor,” or an “activist,” when what they really advocate is armed opposition to legitimate authority.

Fast Forward

There are more incidents during the past 19 years which illustrate the extent to which extreme right wing fringe elements are willing to go in promoting their delusional beliefs.  No one should argue that ultra- beliefs have no Constitutional standing. However, remembering the definition of domestic terrorism in 18 U.S. Code 2331 should provide us with a guide line for what could be considered domestic terrorism —

Is it an activity involving, “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State?” Does the activity have the intent to (1) intimidate? Or (2) influence policy, or (3)  affect conduct by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping?

On July 27, 2008 J.D Adkisson opened fire at the Knoxville, TN two were killed, seven were injured.  Mr. Adkisson drafted a four page letter in which he described how he hated liberals and gays, and blacks, “and anyone who was different than him.” [HuffPo] On June 10, 2009  Neo-Nazi James von Brunn shot a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.  Adkisson surely intended to do as much ‘destruction’ as possible in the Unitarian Church in Knoxville, and von Brunn had an extensive history of right wing activities seeking to intimidate and coerce in the name of White Nationalism.  And to these two examples of domestic terrorists we should add Frazier Glenn Cross to the roster.

Granted that this post has listed individuals who have stepped over the edge of reason and committed, or sought to commit, heinous acts which deserve all the opprobrium they receive.  However, these individuals aren’t necessarily steaming in their own personal stew. They are justified each time someone “protests” in the name of “freedom.” They find rationalization each time someone is an “activist” for antigovernment causes.  They are easily swayed by the antigovernment rhetoric of right wing news and opinion outlets, and they are taking their cues from those who would fan their fires.

They are the Neo-Nazis, the Neo-Confederates, the Southern ‘Heritage’ types, the disaffiliated gun enthusiasts, the antigovernment crusaders, the social and cultural warriors… and they can be armed and dangerous. [Salon] [Alternet] [Salon]

Enter Cliven Bundy, disgruntled freeloader on federal (public) land, and those who would feed his fire:

“The involvement of armed militiamen—and Bundy’s promise to “do whatever it takes” to reclaim his cattle—doesn’t appear to phase conservative activists who have turned Bundy into a cause célèbre. Before this weekend’s confrontation, National Review Online, Fox & Friends, and American Thinker all blamed the government for mounting tensions. Two groups affiliated with Americans for Prosperity, a political organization funded primarily by the Koch brothers, spent the weekend tweeting their support for Bundy, Media Matters reported. Sean Hannity, who on Friday hailed Bundy as a capitalist hero—”When your cattle graze there, that keeps the price of meat down for every American consumer”—invited Bundy back on the air Monday for a second, easygoing interview in which he made only glancing reference to the armed confrontation.” [MJ]

“Blame the government” + “glancing reference to the armed confrontation” = a problem.   April 2009 Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Naplitano drew verbal fire from conservatives for daring to suggest that right wing extremists constituted a terrorist threat in the United States.  Her department’s report, which rightly noted that some of the ‘militia types’ and ‘radical right wing’ groups were potentially dangerous (witness the list above), was vilified in the conservative press as an attack on Conservatism, Conservatives, veterans…. but it was as prescient as it was accurate.  Look at Picture Number 3 from NBC, captioned: “Protesters gather at the Bureau of Land Management’s base camp near Bunkerville, Nevada on April 12. Hundreds of states’ rights protesters, including militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals’ return to rancher Cliven Bundy. Some protesters were armed with handguns and rifles at the corrals and at an earlier nearby rally.”

When is a “protester” a “domestic terrorist?”  Do people armed with rifles and handguns facing off against government officials and agents create a situation “dangerous to human life, in violation of  criminal laws?” What usually happens when someone brandishes a firearm before an officer of the law?

Did members of that crowd “of hundreds” seek to intimidate, coerce?  Of course they did — that’s why they were there, to coerce the federal officials from implementing federal land use policy.

The problem with hyper-sensitive thin skinned (albeit mostly white skinned) conservative ‘protesters’ is that when criticized for radical behavior, behavior which stimulates the warrior fantasies of delusional individuals, they whine loudly that they are being “attacked.” They are defending Freedom (read their own self interest), and the American Way of Life (read white and disgruntled).   Here’s a hint: If you are aiming a firearm at a BLM encampment, you are not ‘defending America.’  If you are standing in your phony camo-costume armed and disrupting law enforcement officials, you are not ‘protesting.’ You are — a domestic terrorist.

Recommended reading: SPLC, “Terror from the Right,” Ken Sofer, “17 years after Oklahoma City,” Think Progress. Matthew Harwood, “Law Enforcement/Right Wing Terrorists,” Salon. “Terrorist Attacks and Related Incidents,” Johnston Archive.  Molly Redden, “Everyone on the Far Right Loves...” Mother Jones. Reuters, “Bundy Ranch Standoff Emboldens Militia Groups.”  Brian Jencunas, “Why There’s Nothing Conservative About Cliven Bundy,” HuffPo.  “Almost 100 Hate Crimes Linked to One Website,” HuffPo.  NBC News, “Standoff at Bunkerville.”  Sarah Posner “Neo-Confederates and the Revival of Theological War“, USC Annenberg.

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