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White-power gunman opens fire at Holocaust Museum.
June 10, 2009 12:16 PM   Subscribe

White-power gunman opens fire at Holocaust Museum.

This may be related to Westboro Church recently picketing various Jewish institutions, including the Holocaust Museum, to further their anti-semetic / anti-gay crusade.
posted by FatherDagon (466 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The church link is to wiki, to avoid driving traffic to their personal page and hate-site.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:18 PM on June 10, 2009


Washington Post coverage so far indicates that this may be a lone nutcase. We'll see.

I used to volunteer at USHMM. It's an amazing institution with a fantastic, dedicated staff. All the best to them.
posted by orrnyereg at 12:18 PM on June 10, 2009


Yeah, I really don't see the westboro connection, Dagon.
posted by boo_radley at 12:19 PM on June 10, 2009


MeFi's own arco works at USHMM as well.
posted by orrnyereg at 12:20 PM on June 10, 2009


Shooter's website. His email address turns up some interesting searches.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:21 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's an amazing institution with a fantastic, dedicated staff.

Seconding wholeheartedly.

Sorry to hear of more dangerous ideological wingnuttery in the U.S. Interestingly, the museum exists to stand as a force against exactly this kind of megalomaniacal, controlling thinking.
posted by Miko at 12:21 PM on June 10, 2009


They're coming out of the woodwork. First Dr. Tiller, now this. :(

Additional coverage: The New York Times. HuffPost.

TPM Muckraker has a profile of Brunn.
posted by zarq at 12:22 PM on June 10, 2009


Looks like there've been two casualties - the shooter and the security guard - both of them wounded. Not good, but not as bad as it could have been, I guess.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:23 PM on June 10, 2009


Someone needs to break that Nazi's skull, 89 or not. Violence is the only thing they understand.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:23 PM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


This may be related to....

Why did you do this? This is a tragic occurrence, and we are still with precious little information about the loss that occurred, much less why. And your first instinct is to post this to Metafilter with some rank speculation in an attempt to shoehorn this into some grand narrative? That is just icky.

As to the fine people who run this museum which I have had the pleasure of visiting on a couple of occasions, my prayers are with them. That violence would occur at that place of such powerful solemnity is a cruel lesson about how hard it is to escape history.
posted by dios at 12:24 PM on June 10, 2009 [25 favorites]


I'm glad nobody was killed. I don't suppose there's any way to have congratulations and get-well-soon wishes conveyed to the guard?

As for James W. von Brunn, the 89-year-old shooter, I hope he's gently and carefully nursed back to health by a team of Jewish doctors.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:24 PM on June 10, 2009 [21 favorites]


This event may be related to any number of things, but I'm not sure I see the Westboro Baptist connection either, unless the Westboro pickets of the Museum were more recent than a month ago.
posted by blucevalo at 12:25 PM on June 10, 2009


Can anything worthwhile be concluded from incidents like this?

I really fear for the cultural dialog in this country.
posted by kuatto at 12:25 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I couldn't possibly detest Phelps's clan any more than I do, but speculatively linking them to this on the basis of no evidence whatsoever is highly inappropriate. Why not accuse Al-Qaeda? I hear they're not big fans of the Jews.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:28 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I really fear for the cultural dialog in this country.

This old guy has been spewing anti-Semitic crap for many, many years apparently, and has bragged about using violence in the past. It could be the growing battiness of the right made him suddenly feel justified enough to take his anger a step further, or it could be dementia, but as it is, it looks like one lone crank with a long history of simmering in hate.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:29 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


On December 7, 1981, a man named James W. Von Brunn pulled out a sawed-off shotgun at the Federal Reserve Board headquarters, claiming to have planted a bomb and threatening to take members of the Board hostage.
Wow, how crazy is that? Same M.O., 28 years later.
posted by smackfu at 12:29 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why is it that the people most likely to say the Holocaust didn't happen are the people who wish it had?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:29 PM on June 10, 2009 [125 favorites]


The alleged shooter's website is offline, but Wayback has a good cached copy. Full of crazy.
posted by Nelson at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apologies for the speculation, the circumstances between the two events seemed to stick out to me, but the main post may not be the place for that.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can anything worthwhile be concluded from incidents like this?

Violence-inclined mentally ill persons should not have easy access to guns? I believe that both W. von Brunn and the man who shot Dr. George Tiller were previously investigated for acts or specific threats of violence. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, and US police forces rarely have the money or manpower to investigate every single case of threatened domestic terrorism.
posted by muddgirl at 12:31 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


a ron paul fan

this is my shocked face :|
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:32 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Can anything worthwhile be concluded from incidents like this?

Yeah. It's becoming increasingly apparent that right-wing domestic terrorism is a danger to Americans.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:32 PM on June 10, 2009 [50 favorites]


damn--this came online while i was putting my fpp together, so I completely missed it.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:32 PM on June 10, 2009


Okay, let's see if the media and the government describe this guy as a far-right domestic terrorist.

(on preview: jinx, mr_roboto)
posted by scody at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2009


News reports say James W. von Brunn is a World War II veteran.

It's unclear which side he was on.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2009 [25 favorites]


Yeah, it seems like he had a wide range of hatey interests that didn't necessarily converge with the Westboro folks', notably the Federal Reserve.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2009


This may be related to Westboro Church recently picketing various Jewish institutions, including the Holocaust Museum, to further their anti-semetic / anti-gay crusade.

No direct connection to WBC has been reported. With all due respect, it's not appropriate to speculate without proof. Brunn has a long history of antisemitic rants online that have nothing to do with Phelps or WBC.

My wife works for a Jewish non-profit which is apolitical and really doesn't do much of anything that non-Jews might care about. The organization has been getting hate faxes from WBC extremists, addressed to reach specific people who are listed on their website. My wife included. It's been pretty damned disturbing.

They don't need more publicity. Please.
posted by zarq at 12:34 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Free Republic poster and Ron Paul fan
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:34 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


seconding the "send well-wishing" idea to the museum, guard, etc.

We can all do so much better.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 12:35 PM on June 10, 2009


Minnesota Congressperson Michele Bachmann, responding in outrage to a Bush-requested report on the possible rise of right-wing domestic terrorism (which she was blaming on the Obama administration):

"The Homeland Security secretary has redefined pro-life, gun-owning veterans, who like smaller government, and who believe America should secure our borders against invasion from illegal aliens, are labeled the domestic rightwing extremists," Bachmann blustered.

As City Pages points out, the shooter perfectly fit this profile.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2009 [27 favorites]


FOX reports he was also in Mensa and did six years for that FED thing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:38 PM on June 10, 2009


Free Republic poster and Ron Paul fan

Where does that link say either of those things?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 12:39 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


From my wife:
"You know, it would have been interesting if he had gone in there with an Uzi. I would have appreciated the irony, anyway."
posted by notsnot at 12:39 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Where's Homeland Security when you need them?

Terrorism requires preemptive action! If only we had the executive power to monitor the communications of these folks, to find and pinpoint their network of terrorists, to keep them locked up before they attack American citizens!

(Meanwhile, we have extensive files on "Knitting for Peace" Circles. Thank god we don't let those maniacs go unmonitored, just imagine the bloodbaths that would ensue...)
posted by yeloson at 12:39 PM on June 10, 2009 [16 favorites]


On December 7, 1981, a man named James W. Von Brunn pulled out a sawed-off shotgun at the Federal Reserve Board headquarters, claiming to have planted a bomb and threatening to take members of the Board hostage.
Ah, I bet that's they they've closed off all the streets in the area, including one of the major arteries out of DC into VA, the 14th Street Bridge. The cameras at Trafficland are showing gridlocked traffic now, can't imagine what it'll be over the next few hours. Every Wednesday for the past 10 years, I've driven out of DC to VA to have dinner with my daughter, from whose mother I'm divorced; I've already called and cancelled tonight.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:39 PM on June 10, 2009


FOX reports he was also in Mensa

Of course he is.

[previously]
posted by dersins at 12:40 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"You know, it would have been interesting if he had gone in there with an Uzi. I would have appreciated the irony, anyway."

I'm not following the irony. I hope this isn't someone grasping onto a disturbing and upsetting expression of still-murderous antisemitism to score a few cheap and unrelated points against Israel.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:41 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Where does that link say either of those things?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 12:39 PM on June 10


He might not have been a FreeRepublic poster - that part is as yet unverified - but FreeRepublic did have on their site an anti-Obama tirade written by von Brunn. It was pulled today, because they don't want the world at large to know that they are a hate site.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:42 PM on June 10, 2009 [23 favorites]


In a recent blog post, Von Brunn wrote that Hitler's "worst mistake" was that "he didn't gas the Jews."

what

It's weird how white supremacists' Nazi-love rubs against their Holocaust denial. It's like, "Hitler is my greatest hero, even though he never really did anything particularly noteworthy."
posted by Sys Rq at 12:43 PM on June 10, 2009 [49 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "
I'm not following the irony. I hope this isn't someone grasping onto a disturbing and upsetting expression of still-murderous antisemitism to score a few cheap and unrelated points against Israel.
"

Nah, it would have been rather odd if the weapon of choice for an antisemite were an Israeli semiautomatic.

(That shoots beans.)
posted by notsnot at 12:45 PM on June 10, 2009


Nah, it would have been rather odd if the weapon of choice for an antisemite were an Israeli semiautomatic.

Thanks for the clarification; I hope you can understand my concern.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:46 PM on June 10, 2009


Yes sorry it is possible he is neither a Free Republic poster nor a Ron Paul fan.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:46 PM on June 10, 2009


From my wife:
"You know, it would have been interesting if he had gone in there with an Uzi. I would have appreciated the irony, anyway."


Her empathy is overwhelming.
posted by zarq at 12:48 PM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Once, I was lucky not to be arrested at the Holocaust museum. I had forgotten that my belt buckle (the belt having once belonged to a former boyfriend's greatgrandfather) was, in fact, a knife. I set off the metal detector at the museum, unsurprisingly. Instead of just staying "Oops! my belt buckle" and putting it on the table, I said "oops! my belt buckle knife." In DC, among the things the law defines as an illicit concealable weapon are knives of a certain blade length or shorter. So while I'm standing there, in my ten-hole boots, ripped fishnets, torn Siouxsie & the Banshees concert t-shirt, and pink hair, trying to hold up my holey shorts, all the security guards gather around to watch the measuring of my knife and decide whether to a) confiscate it; b) arrest me.

Fortunately, it was 1/4 inch longer than the illicit concealable weapons statute. And fortunately, they let me leave with my belt and come back in without it. Man, was I embarrassed. I don't think I ever wore that belt again.

(I know, if they'd made me pass the belt through an x-ray machine, the blade would have shown, but I don't recall if there was an x-ray machine in addition to the metal detectors. Probably.)

At any rate, what a terrible world we live in, where people vent their anger or frustrations or weird ideas by attempting to, or succeeding in, killing strangers.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fact that the Holocaust Museum has several armed guards tells you why we need a Holocaust Museum.--James Lileks
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:53 PM on June 10, 2009 [39 favorites]


At 89 years old, I'm guessing this guy was hoping for "suicide by cop" with an extra dose of crazy-right-wing martyrdom.
posted by availablelight at 12:54 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just when I think I've got you figured out, dios, you go and baffle me again. I completely agreed with you about this post - there's no Phelps connection, and to try to build one is misleading.

But the second post? Do you really think there's nothing salient or useful about linking to the shooter's writings, many of which deal directly with his distaste for Jews? Really? Really?
posted by roll truck roll at 12:55 PM on June 10, 2009


alrighty

repost:

Well its still here.

as someone who grew up next door to our wonderful muslim neighbours who just happened to have an extensive collection of writing on the holocaust thus reading Babi Yar at age 9,

.

that is all

I'm tired of prejudice, small mindedness, racism, casteism, xenophobia, and utter sheer stupidity of easily available firearms (how many families have been shot by their sires?)

the world is fucked as we know it, the media is desperately holding up a potemkin village pointing to the slightest rise in the Hang Seng or a drop in oil prices as a sign

come now, lets get real here in the matrix

"what is good for GM is good for the country"

remember that?

well, lets take that as a signal of "no, it fucking ain't gonna get well until we all do some serious overthinking of the plate of beans we call our global society and its frameworks, principles and fundamental assumptions and redesign the obviously broken systems"

meh
posted by infini at 12:46 PM on June 10 [+] [!]
posted by infini at 12:55 PM on June 10, 2009


Two right wing terror attacks in a month. I think it may be time to start rounding people up and using some harsh interrogation techniques. I say we start with Beck and Hannity.
posted by empath at 12:56 PM on June 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


"no, it fucking ain't gonna get well until we all do some serious overthinking of the plate of beans we call our global society and its frameworks, principles and fundamental assumptions and redesign the obviously broken systems"

More like, not until all the old racists die.
posted by smackfu at 12:57 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Forty-five posts into the thread, and we've already heard the invocations of Homeland Security and terrorism laws, the implication of the shooter's politics and reading list. We might do better than mime out the mirror image of every War on Terror cliche.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:59 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


So, after the Tiller murder and now this, can we get some retractions from the folks who thought it was horribly offensive that DHS issued a report about potential problems with right-wing terrorism?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:59 PM on June 10, 2009 [44 favorites]


.
posted by I Foody at 1:01 PM on June 10, 2009


It is being reported that former Secretary of Defense (and former Maine Senator) William Cohen was in the museum at the time of the shooting. Tonight many dignitaries were expected to attend a performance of “Anne and Emmett” written by his wife, Janet Langhart Cohen.
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on June 10, 2009


Word on Twitter is that the guard has died.

.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:05 PM on June 10, 2009


Free Republic poster and Ron Paul fan

Hey now let's be fair, He wasn't actually a freeper, it's just that they were such fans of his writing they re-posted it themselves.

--

It's really kind of amazing how often these incidents have been coming up since the election. There was that Unitarian church shooting and now the Tiller killing and now this. Crazyness.
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on June 10, 2009


This is upsetting. I wrote to arco and told him he was in my thoughts.
posted by jessamyn at 1:11 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


The theory that Democrats being popular and in power stirs up the radio (and FoxNews) racists, who in turn stir up the crazies and push them to finally lock and load, is looking more plausible every day.

Not much I can do about that, being a First Amendment fan and all, but it does make me sad and angry.
posted by emjaybee at 1:12 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Holocaust Museum shooter James Von Brunn's ex-wife says his racism 'ate him alive'
posted by ericb at 1:13 PM on June 10, 2009


Having an icon of yourself mugging for the camera and pointing at your JDate t-shirt as you report "Guard has died..." seems somehow inappropriate.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:14 PM on June 10, 2009


Jessamyn, thanks for contacting arco -- I've been thinking of him, too.
posted by scody at 1:15 PM on June 10, 2009


Two right wing terror attacks in a month. I think it may be time to start rounding people up and using some harsh interrogation techniques. I say we start with Beck and Hannity.

I know you're not entirely serious here, but I do wonder what sort of clamor would ring if the shooters' names in both cases were Arabic. I'm hoping we can strike a medium between batshit Constitution-shredding roundups and interrogations and just ignoring the emerging patten. As in, addressing the fact that the far right is getting more violent, more dangerous, and needs to be dealt with immediately and very directly.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:16 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Do you really think there's nothing salient or useful about linking to the shooter's writings, many of which deal directly with his distaste for Jews? Really? Really?
posted by roll truck roll at 2:55 PM on June 10


No. Not at this point in time. When I hear of something sad like this, occurring at a place I'm fond of, my first instinct is not to try to figure out how this fits into a broader culture war meta-narrative of Us and Them. Maybe I'm wired differently. I don't know. But I do know I dislike attempts to immediately politicize tragedy. That so many here are so quick to do so, quite simply, disgusts the hell out of me. Of course the guy who did this is hate-filled and nuts--the sheer act of doing this at all tells us that. Trying to plow through his history to try to put him in his place in the metanarrative is not something that needs to be done now.

Hopefully the casualties are minimal compared to what they could be in a crowded place. Thank god for that. It is still tragic that one of our most solemn national landmarks has been disrupted by violence. I apologize, but I will be critical when I see repugnant attempts to use a tragedy as part of a political narrative within 2 hours of it occurring.

Hell, we have a member who works at the place, but before we know anything about that members safety, we are already snarking? Sickening.

I think a poster above said it well:

Can anything worthwhile be concluded from incidents like this?

I really fear for the cultural dialog in this country.
posted by kuatto at 2:25 PM on June 10


The answer is "no" but that won't stop people from trying.
posted by dios at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Please don't let random Twitter become a primary news source.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


FOX reports he was also in Mensa

Speaking as a MENSA member -- what the hell does that have to do with anything?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having an icon of yourself mugging for the camera and pointing at your JDate t-shirt as you report "Guard has died..." seems somehow inappropriate.

Don't know that it is any more inappropriate than the fact that the guy who republished it on MetaFilter calls himself Astro Zombie.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Speaking as a MENSA member -- what the hell does that have to do with anything?....

Smart people is dangerous!
posted by scody at 1:18 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]



Two right wing terror attacks in a month. I think it may be time to start rounding people up and using some harsh interrogation techniques. I say we start with Beck and Hannity.

but they'll just keep on lying
posted by slickvaguely at 1:21 PM on June 10, 2009


We might do better than mime out the mirror image of every War on Terror cliche.

Kid, when we do that here, as often as not we're doing it for the irony. You know, as a way to rhetorically point out the ridiculous inconsistency of "National Security" policies and practices. Since 9-11, we've had more incidents, and many more fatalities, inside the US from domestic Ultra-Right political terrorism than from foreign Islamist terrorism.

Where's the media buzz asking why Right-wingers hate America?
posted by BigLankyBastard at 1:21 PM on June 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


But I do know I dislike attempts to immediately politicize tragedy.

You know, it's possible to feel awful about the tragedy that's occured whilst acknowleging that a guy shooting up a Holocaust Museum might in some way have political motivations as expressed in his very public rants against Jewish people. The one cannot be divorced from the other and is completely relevant to this story, its causes and possible motivations.

Speaking as a MENSA member -- what the hell does that have to do with anything?....

I thought it was a bizarre side note to this character? No, I don't consider smart people dangerous.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:22 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


No worries, Marisa, I was more asking FOX News what they thought his MENSA membership had to do with anything.

...Um. Not that I'm expecting them to come in here and answer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on June 10, 2009



Not much I can do about that, being a First Amendment fan and all, but it does make me sad and angry.
posted by emjaybee at 4:12 PM on June 10


See that's the really weird thing right there. We have the freedom of speech to say whatever lunacy we want. So of course, people say insane things. And they have the freedom to assemble. So the wackos assemble. And they have the freedom of the press, so they can spin the news it whatever crazy way they want.

But knowing that, I would expect more of these incidents. I find it rather disturbing that the stormfront.org website is getting slammed with massive traffic.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:25 PM on June 10, 2009


Meanwhile, we have extensive files on "Knitting for Peace" Circles. Thank god we don't let those maniacs go unmonitored, just imagine the bloodbaths that would ensue...

Hey, we knitters are dangerous. I mean, two pointed pieces of metal, the drive to keep them in play for hours on end... hello!
posted by orange swan at 1:26 PM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


dios: "But I do know I dislike attempts to immediately politicize tragedy."

Wouldn't you say that there were political implications in the crime itself? If he went on a nihilistic rampage and shot up a Denny's, but also happened to be a vile piece of antisemitic, racist, far-right-wing trash, OK, maybe you'd have a point. But he didn't; the shots were fired at a Holocaust Museum. The crime was obviously already tied to his warped views and disgusting politics.
posted by defenestration at 1:26 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Normally I'd be with you, Dios, but I think the political implications of this are inescapable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:28 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I was more asking FOX News what they thought his MENSA membership had to do with anything.

Oooh. Yeah, as you can see, I'm not a MENSA member.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:28 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


.
posted by lunit at 1:30 PM on June 10, 2009


When you go into the parking area of the Museum of Tolerance your car is pretty much given the once and twice over by security guards.

Apparently, with good reason.

*sigh*
posted by Danf at 1:33 PM on June 10, 2009


I was more asking FOX News what they thought his MENSA membership had to do with anything.

FWIW, that little tidbit seems to be in most stories (not just Fox).
posted by inigo2 at 1:34 PM on June 10, 2009


When I hear of something sad like this, occurring at a place I'm fond of, my first instinct is not to try to figure out how this fits into a broader culture war meta-narrative of Us and Them

Would you say the same thing if he were a Muslim?
posted by vibrotronica at 1:34 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


The guard is dead.

With all due respect dios, I don't think we need to be stepping on eggshells around the complex motives of the Nazi who shot up the Holocaust Museum. The political element is inherent in the discussion.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:34 PM on June 10, 2009 [20 favorites]


What I find so hard to understand is why it is that criticisms of particular social movements and political ideologies that present clear dangers to national security and public safety purely on a human interest basis are routinely met with skepticism and dismissed as political calculus these days? As a human being, and a US citizen, damn right, I'm concerned about Neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists. I'm also concerned about the more committed confederate loyalists. And I think its manipulative and dishonest to dismiss serious discussion of the root motivations of mindless violent acts like this as "politicizing the subject." This country has a serious problem it refuses to face squarely with the increasing radicalization of the political right. I say that not as a representative of the "Left" but as a human being, who worries about the future of his son's world.

I didn't even particularly care about politics as such (and even probably leaned a bit rightward, at least, in the libertarian sense) until I realized what a monstrous hydra right-wing movement politics had become in the Gingrich/Bush/Cheney/Limbaugh era.

Why isn't it legitimate to be concerned about the threat of right-wing radicalism, and to see this as another illustration of the immediacy of that threat, as a human being, without having to endure accusations of partisanship and political opportunism? Do Republicans really feel they have to defend guys with beliefs like this (and Tiller's murderer) and the groups they represent because they equate to reliable votes at the polls? Or do they actually share some common ideological ground?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:35 PM on June 10, 2009 [49 favorites]


Ignoring the political implications and greater context of this event serves no useful function. Trying to understand them and recognizing the role of the institutions that foster and foment this type of hatred are useful steps in acknowledging and addressing the greater problems that lead to incidents like this.
posted by snofoam at 1:35 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


MSPT: I'm hoping we can strike a medium between batshit Constitution-shredding roundups and interrogations and just ignoring the emerging patten. As in, addressing the fact that the far right is getting more violent, more dangerous, and needs to be dealt with immediately and very directly.

I would maintain that the far right is not becoming more dangerous; the pattern outlined from McVeigh, to Wolfowitz and Cheney, and finally to this is that of a wave of organized, bankrolled, and concerted violence receding back into a noise floor of the sporadic, mad, radio-guided.

We should be more cautious about stepping into the shadow of all that has been wrong for the last decade. A Dante would have smiled on all the symmetries of role reversal but our aim is not to live like in hell.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:35 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Very well put, saulgoodman.
posted by defenestration at 1:36 PM on June 10, 2009


I would maintain that the far right is not becoming more dangerous; the pattern outlined from McVeigh, to Wolfowitz and Cheney, and finally to this is that of a wave of organized, bankrolled, and concerted violence receding back into a noise floor of the sporadic, mad, radio-guided.

I think the fact that the right-wing political violence spiked during the Clinton 90's and is spiking again during the Obama years (months so far, I guess) says a lot about the nature of it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:36 PM on June 10, 2009 [22 favorites]


"The Homeland Security secretary has redefined accurately defined pro-life, gun-owning veterans, who like smaller government, and who believe America should secure our borders against invasion from illegal aliens, are labeled the as domestic rightwing extremists,"
Fixed That For You, Bachmann (also grammatically, idiot).

It can't be repeated enough THE GUNMAN WAS NOT A MUSLIM.
THE GUNMAN WAS NOT A MUSLIM.
THE GUNMAN WAS NOT A MUSLIM.

And the perfect punishment for "Dr." Brunn would be, as Faint of Butt said, to be "gently and carefully nursed back to health by a team of Jewish doctors." Then to live to 100, all of it in prison, while watching the outside world outgrow his sick philosophy.

And dios, "FreeRepublic did have on their site an anti-Obama tirade written by von Brunn. It was pulled today.". Not a comment, which anybody can make, but content selected by the site's editors. Nice. But now the cockroaches have scattered and gone into hiding, trying to cover their tracks behind them, like O'Reilly after the Tiller Muder. We are NOT politicizing tragedy as you claim, Brunn already did that by becoming a political terrorist. You think it isn't time "yet" to study the metanarrative behind this act? Nobody waited an appropriate time after 9/11, did they? And using the word "tragedy" instead of "heinous act" is more convincing evidence that you are thisclose to being a terrorist apologist, which surprises me NOT. If the Holocaust Museum is a "place you like", it is obviously NOT a place you have learned a damned thing from.
posted by wendell at 1:40 PM on June 10, 2009 [42 favorites]


We might do better than mime out the mirror image of every War on Terror cliche.

Like what? Reasoned and rational discussion? We tried that. Timothy McVeigh, Minutemen, neonazis, police shooters, what more do we need to say about the constant string of examples? What do you rationally say at this point?

Snark doesn't change shit, but it might give you enough to endure the unchanging shit.
posted by yeloson at 1:41 PM on June 10, 2009


Here is a pleasant little thread singing the shooter's praises from stormfront.org. It's 5 years old.

Here's another thread, now locked, thread urging others to come out and support him.

Also, if you want to get involved and do something about this stuff before it turns violent: Southern Poverty Law Center.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:43 PM on June 10, 2009


The guard is dead.

Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns has died after being shot at the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

.

Alav HaShalom. :(
posted by zarq at 1:45 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I hate to say this (Shiva forgive me, but Kali won't ;p) but after just coming across debates like this after Obama's Cairo speech etc (because imho courtesy and decency and politeness and respect ARE not up for debate)


I'm glad he's white.

there, I said it.

otherwise there would have been a witch hunt

{but they didn't teach me how to be PC at the Second City]
posted by infini at 1:45 PM on June 10, 2009


The Bush/Cheney Administration kept the RightWing Extremists quiet for eight years by strongly reassuring them that they were on the same side, and taking a number of actions demonstating that they indeed were. It may have been the single most effective action that Bush & Company did to prevent terrorism within the United States after "9/11". Because, other than that one isolated but spectacular offense, America's terrorism has almost always been fully homegrown.
posted by wendell at 1:45 PM on June 10, 2009 [15 favorites]


Rest in peace Stephen Tyrone Johns. May his memory be for a blessing.
posted by felix betachat at 1:45 PM on June 10, 2009


.
posted by defenestration at 1:46 PM on June 10, 2009


Pastabagel: I find it rather disturbing that the stormfront.org website is getting slammed with massive traffic.

Me: Really? Oh, I can't imagine where all that extra traffic would be coming from...

Pastabagel: [Deadpans] Here is a pleasant little thread singing the shooter's praises from stormfront.org. It's 5 years old.

Here's another thread, now locked, thread urging others to come out and support him.

posted by saulgoodman at 1:47 PM on June 10, 2009


Thanks for taking the time to reply to me, dios. I don't entirely agree, but I respect what you're saying.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:48 PM on June 10, 2009


. for Stephen Tyrone Johns

You died so that hateful people could have Freedom of Speech.
posted by wendell at 1:49 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm glad to know his name. Stephen Tyrone Johns. He didn't deserve this, but it was through the quick work of Mr. Johns and the other guards that this madness didn't escalate. I know what he does deserve: Endless gratitude.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:51 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:52 PM on June 10, 2009


TBH I'd be more inclined to call it lone angry nut than terrorism, but I'm not sure I'd call it terrorism the time it was a muslim either.

As always I'd go with crazy people not having access to guns being a good idea as my conclusion, but I realize that offends some peoples religious sensibilities here.
posted by Artw at 1:53 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:55 PM on June 10, 2009


.

Oh, no. What terrible news. My condolences to Officer Johns's family and loved ones.
posted by orrnyereg at 1:55 PM on June 10, 2009


stormfront's referer of the month: pastabagel *golf clap*

Seriously, a link to SPLC would have been enough.
posted by boo_radley at 1:55 PM on June 10, 2009


.
posted by scody at 1:56 PM on June 10, 2009


saulgoodman, I certainly never said I found it surprising, just disturbing.

The Bush/Cheney Administration kept the RightWing Extremists quiet for eight years by strongly reassuring them that they were on the same side,

I would maintain that the far right is not becoming more dangerous; the pattern outlined from McVeigh, to Wolfowitz and Cheney, and finally to this is that of a wave of organized, bankrolled, and concerted violence receding back into a noise floor of the sporadic, mad, radio-guided.

The white supremacist movement hates the Bush-era Republican party, because in their minds it was completely co-opted by Jews. This movement grew stronger during W's presidency because they felt that the party alienated them. Too pro-Israel, starting a war in Iraq to defend Israel and Saudi Arabia, etc.

Not everything exists along a linear spectrum from right wing/left wing. This is a multi-variable problem.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:57 PM on June 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


Er, don't we have some kind of policy with regards to linking to Stormfront? I'd assume anyone curious to know what the white supremacist take on this is knows where they can find it already.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2009


Such are the fickle uncertainties of Fate.

This guy...wow. His internal monologues must be amazing. To carry around so much hate and so much crazy for so many years--I really don't understand how he can still be walking around and functioning on any level.


What a sad day, what a sad way for Officer Johns's life to end.
posted by Neofelis at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2009


To respond to a point in here: I think there's a difference between analyzing what may have made the gunman do what he did, and actually naming a group responsible (unless you have proof that they did have a direct influence). The former is constructive, but the latter veers close to slander. It's one thing to say "looks like he hung around various right-wing sites", but it's another to say "This may be related to Westboro Baptists' picketing campaign." At the very least, with the Westboro accusation, I would personally want to see something the gunman wrote in which he cites Westboro as an influence, otherwise it's just an assumption.

You died so that hateful people could have freedom of speech.

Forgive me if I'm reading something into this, but would you rather they didn't? Consider: a) who is "hateful" and who isn't depends on who you talk to, b) letting the hateful folks speak reminds us that they're out there and so we can be watchful, and c) letting the hateful folks speak may also dissipate some of the energy they build up which, if suppressed, may blow into an even greater conflagration.

Do I think that some speech incites such actions, though? Yes, and there is a clear legal precedent defining what such speech is, and what it isn't.

Again, if I'm reading something into what you wrote that you didn't put there, my apologies. But I'm also a First Amendment fan and I've just had some arguments in the past...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:59 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a pretty sad fact that the Holocaust Museum needed an armed guard in the first place.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


No. Not at this point in time. When I hear of something sad like this, occurring at a place I'm fond of, my first instinct is not to try to figure out how this fits into a broader culture war meta-narrative of Us and Them.

Well, the entire point of this exercise was to engage in his version of the "culture war". Obviously people are going to wonder about and discuss this person's motivation, why he wanted to do what he did. How much time did we spend talking about the Virginia Tech shooter's crazy philosophy and motivation? There isn't any reason why this would be different, just because you don't like hearing people criticize conservatives and his views echo those free republic types and so on.

To say that we shouldn't 'politicize' this is absurd. Politics was the entire point.

Speaking as a MENSA member -- what the hell does that have to do with anything?....

No offense, but it seems like every other crackpot out there is also MENSA members. It's not a question of smart people being dangerous, but it's a subset of intelligent people who want to join a club with other smart people just to brag about how smart they are. I realize there is an availability bias going on, as the people who feel most oppressed are the ones who have the greatest need to let people know about how smart they are and also the ones most likely to make news. But still.
posted by delmoi at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2009


Second amendment sucks AMIRITE derail.
posted by GuyZero at 2:01 PM on June 10, 2009


A lone angry nut with at least one online community (stormfront) that considered him a hero, and another (ostensibly more mainstream site) that published his writing as if it carried some weight. How can someone who shares a common ideology with thousands of like-minded others who reinforce those beliefs and encourage acting on those beliefs be considered just a lone nut?
posted by saulgoodman at 2:05 PM on June 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:05 PM on June 10, 2009


It's a pretty sad fact that the Holocaust Museum needed an armed guard in the first place.

I'm pretty sure that all the major museums in DC do.
posted by empath at 2:06 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Second amendment sucks AMIRITE derail.

Not if you don't start one.
posted by jessamyn at 2:06 PM on June 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


I've nofollowed the stormfront links. They're not something we're real hot on seeing, but this is a pretty specifically exceptional case where I think the sunshine is probably worth the ick.
posted by cortex at 2:06 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


How can someone who shares a common ideology with thousands of like-minded others who reinforce those beliefs and encourage acting on those beliefs be considered just a lone nut?

The same way Scott Roeder, who has long-standing affiliations with Operation Rescue and who had one of their policy people's name and phone number in plain sight in his car when he shot George Tiller, can.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:07 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


A good friend of mine has been worried that domestic, right-wing terrorism would be on the rise once Obama took office. I have to admit, between the assassination of Dr. Tiller, and this event, I'm starting to agree with his fear.
posted by SansPoint at 2:08 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Free Republic reacts:

There, but for the grace of God, go a large number of people who have lost faith in their government. A lot more radical than ever I would ever countenance, but is he really a subversive? There was a simpler, more pure America, once, but it has been contaminated by poisonous and treacherous propaganda that paints the defense of that ideal as the bad guys. Then, when after years of denigration and slights, one of the more susceptible reacts and explodes against all whom were considered his oppressors, we get, “See! See! Tolja that’d happen!” I suppose it did. Some people SHOULD be afraid nights. Or in the daytime. Or anytime they are out on the streets. Or in their homes. Or at work. Or at their house of worship. Or shopping at the store.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:08 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Some people SHOULD be afraid nights. Or in the daytime. Or anytime they are out on the streets. Or in their homes. Or at work. Or at their house of worship. Or shopping at the store.

And if you're reading MeFi, there is a not-insignificant chance that he means you personally.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:09 PM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Holy shit. Is that really Free Republic's response Joe Beese?
posted by saulgoodman at 2:10 PM on June 10, 2009


saulgoodman: "Holy shit. Is that really Free Republic's response Joe Beese?"

A commenter there, yeah.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2269022/posts
24 posted on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 2:40:47 PM by alloysteel
posted by Joe Beese at 2:13 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unpleasant and unfair, Joe Beese. You emended the freep post to make a point. For the record, it begins: "Nutjob white-supremist home-grown terrorist." and then continues with the unpleasantness Joe Beese quotes here.

In general, I think we'd be better off with less hate-porn trolling and more recollection of what the Holocaust Museum is trying to accomplish. Mark Blumenthal's recollection strikes me as particularly moving.
posted by felix betachat at 2:16 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


can we quarantine this virus from the Rest of the World (tm) ?
posted by infini at 2:16 PM on June 10, 2009


wendell: I can't let that slide. Shooting people.Is.Not.Protected.Speech. Not by any stretch of rhetoric. This guard's senseless death is in no way related to free speech, no, not even by trying to connect the protection of hateful speech leads to people thinking it's okay to shoot people they disagree with.

What are earth do you mean by what you've written?
posted by crush-onastick at 2:18 PM on June 10, 2009


It's not a question of smart people being dangerous, but it's a subset of intelligent people who want to join a club with other smart people just to brag about how smart they are.

#1) The Mensa membership requirements are so low (I bet 95% of MeFi members would qualify) that they might as well just call it a "club for those with brain waves that register."

#2) I assume it's in the news reports so that your average non-Mensa member / Fox viewer half-hears it and thinks they heard "Muslim". The extra benefits to the anti-intellectual right wing are just gravy.

But I'm batshit-tinfoil crazy when it comes to what I think they do with Fox programming.
posted by rokusan at 2:18 PM on June 10, 2009


Haaretz is citing Fox News reporting that the gunman died in hospital. Fox News website doesn't have that yet.
I'm trying hard not to see this and the Tiller murder as part of a pattern that's intensifying since the election.
posted by yiftach at 2:22 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think the MENSA reference originated on the guy's own site, where, from what I understand, he made repeated crowing references to his membership, as though that legitimized his crazy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:22 PM on June 10, 2009


It's a pretty sad fact that the Holocaust Museum needed an armed guard in the first place.

Definitely not disputing the broader reasons why the Holocaust Museum in particular would need armed protection, but it's worth mentioning that some (though certainly not all) major art museums have armed guards as well. In those cases, the decision to arm the guards seems to inevitably be a response to high-profile art thefts (e.g. the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist in Boston in 1990, the Munch Museum heist in Oslo in 2004, etc.).

posted by scody at 2:22 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've nofollowed the stormfront links. They're not something we're real hot on seeing, but this is a pretty specifically exceptional case where I think the sunshine is probably worth the ick.
posted by cortex at 5:06 PM on June 10


I don't know what 'nofollowed' means, but my intention was not hate-porn trolling. My intention in posting those links was to illustrate to people here how people like the shooter think and view the world, because the commonly-held belief here - that Fox News and similar "right wing" outlets are fueling supremacist hate - is incorrect. It may be correct that Fox News exacerbated the anti-abortion sentiment at issue in Dr. Tiller's murder, but that isn't the same as the racist and antisemitic sentiment we're dealing with here. In my opinion it pays to know more about your opponents than less.

posted by Pastabagel at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


felix betachat: "Unpleasant and unfair, Joe Beese. You emended the freep post to make a point. For the record, it begins: "Nutjob white-supremist home-grown terrorist." and then continues with the unpleasantness Joe Beese quotes here.

In general, I think we'd be better off with less hate-porn trolling and more recollection of what the Holocaust Museum is trying to accomplish. Mark Blumenthal's recollection strikes me as particularly moving.
"

[quoting you in full...]

Unpleasant? Of course. You expected kitties and bunnies in this thread?

Unfair? Well, in light of what came after, I hope you'll understand if I found what came before unconvincing.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:24 PM on June 10, 2009


For the record, it begins: "Nutjob white-supremist home-grown terrorist." and then continues with the unpleasantness Joe Beese quotes here.

So, wait, it's OK to say "Well, I can understand why he was a white 'supremist' home-grown terrorist" as long as you preface it by calling him a "nutjob"?

I don't see how you can parse that post as meaning anything other than "This guy was reacting somewhat extremely to a real problem that we all know is real," which is what I, for one, find scary as fuck.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:24 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


. for Stephen Tyrone Johns

You died so that hateful people could have Freedom of Speech.
posted by wendell at 4:49 PM on June 10 [1 favorite +] [!]


I think you need to explain both what the hell you mean by that statement, and also what the hell you think gives you the right to be the arbiter of the worth of this man's death.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:24 PM on June 10, 2009


felix, I don't really see how Joe Beese's omission changes the substance of what is being said. I also think it is important to understand just how totally different the opinions of some of our fellow citizens are.

I also think I've probably seen about enough of them for the time being.
posted by snofoam at 2:24 PM on June 10, 2009


crush-onastick, no, Shooting People Is Absolutely Not Protected Speech. But motivating people to shoot people (as long as it is not done too 'directly') definitely is. The Second isn't the only amendment that sucks.

I've been professionally involved in the "Speech" business on and off for 35 years, and I'm no longer a fan of the First Amendment. The first thing I learned was that the Freedom of the Press only belongs to those who own one. I know I have no specific Freedom to post any freaking thing I want at MetaFilter if Matt and the Mods consider it not appropriate for the site. That Power over my Rights is the siteowner's "Right". And the only reason Free Republic is 'cleaning up" Brunn's past hate writings is because they know they have an exposure to legal liability for it, and ex post facto editing can help them avoid being held responsible (which is not right).

The white supremacist movement hates the Bush-era Republican party... Then why didn't Mr. Braun open fire on the Holocaust Museum last year? I have had the misfortune to meet enough of their ilk over the last few years to see how many of them had had their hatred re-routed to the Muslims, and President Obama's outreach to the Muslim world has helped them refocus their energies on their old enemies. I know it doesn't make sense. They haven't ever made sense. And there is so damned little that makes sense coming from the Right of the American political spectrum these days I have given up trying to find any logic in it. It's all about having somebody to blame, somebody to hate for your own failings and having 'leaders' who make a boatload of money by feeding their nonsense to their shrinking 'masses'. My greatest hope for the near future is that some of those who are realizing how it doesn't make sense will turn on their leaders the same way Bernie Madoff's happy investors have turned on them. Because The American Right Wing is a philosophical Ponzi Scheme.
posted by wendell at 2:27 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Unfair? Well, in light of what came after, I hope you'll understand if I found what came before unconvincing.

That's not the point. You emended your quote to make the poster seem less sympathetic and then presented the whole as if it were the editorial opinion of the entire website and not the self-contradictory ranting of a single member. I agree with you, obviously, in rejecting the statement. But this community is ill-served by disingenuous and inflammatory posts in the wake of a tragedy.
posted by felix betachat at 2:27 PM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


But motivating people to shoot people (as long as it is not done too 'directly') definitely is.

I do not understand this.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:28 PM on June 10, 2009


I don't think we need to be stepping on eggshells around the complex motives of the Nazi who shot up the Holocaust Museum. The political element is inherent in the discussion.

Bringing up politics would be unfair to right-wing terrorists and their apologists on Metafilter. That would be Wrong.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


For the record, it begins: "Nutjob white-supremist home-grown terrorist." and then continues with the unpleasantness Joe Beese quotes here.

Thanks for the clarification and I suppose you're right, but still, felix betachat, I mean...

There was a simpler, more pure America, once, but it has been contaminated...

That this kind of language could still crop up in use un-ironically in the 21st century after the brutal lessons we were alleged to have learned in the 20th--it's just mind-boggling, is all.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:29 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


A lone angry nut with at least one online community (stormfront) that considered him a hero, and another (ostensibly more mainstream site) that published his writing as if it carried some weight. How can someone who shares a common ideology with thousands of like-minded others who reinforce those beliefs and encourage acting on those beliefs be considered just a lone nut?

Precisely.
posted by rodgerd at 2:29 PM on June 10, 2009


For the record, it begins: "Nutjob white-supremist home-grown terrorist." and then continues with the unpleasantness Joe Beese quotes here.

For the record, most of the other comments in that particular thread were neither exemplars of rational discussion nor calm recollections of the worthiness of the Holocaust Museum.
posted by blucevalo at 2:30 PM on June 10, 2009


.
posted by doubleozaphod at 2:30 PM on June 10, 2009


Some people SHOULD be afraid nights. Or in the daytime. Or anytime they are out on the streets. Or in their homes. Or at work. Or at their house of worship. Or shopping at the store.

Given the current context, are those not terroristic threats? The kind that should be taken with increasing seriousness? And why the fuck is it even remotely ok to say that when we're talking about a murder at the HOLOCAUST MUSEUM?
posted by graymouser at 2:31 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


That this kind of language could still crop up in use un-ironically in the 21st century after the brutal lessons we were alleged to have learned in the 20th--it's just mind-boggling, is all.

I agree with you. But if we're going to talk about that, let's play it fair. Otherwise, we run the risk of creating an echo chamber of our own.

In the present case, the emended bit (complete with misspellings) makes the poster sound less coherent and more unhinged. He's not fully digested the talking points and is thus not speaking for the freepers in general, but representing one spectrum of their opinion. That's germane, I think, if we want to talk about resurgent extremism in America.
posted by felix betachat at 2:32 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


(...[point on the] spectrum of their opinion...)
posted by felix betachat at 2:33 PM on June 10, 2009


PG: I think the fact that the right-wing political violence spiked during the Clinton 90's and is spiking again during the Obama years (months so far, I guess) says a lot about the nature of it.

I agree, but this hardly supports the idea that extreme politics are most dangerous when unseated. By any practical measure - dollars spent, seats won, laws passed, lives lost - you can't compare Kaczynski to a Project for a New American Century.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:34 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: It's a pretty sad fact that the Holocaust Museum needed an armed guard in the first place.

empath: I'm pretty sure that all the major museums in DC do.


USHMM was targeted by Brunn precisely because it IS a Holocaust Museum. Brunn himself is a Holocaust denier.

For that matter, security at the Holocaust Museum is heavier than at other National Museums. (Or at least, it used to be. I haven't personally been to the Smithsonian since '03, but I do remember that at the time I didn't have to go through a metal detector while I did at USHMM.) Most other museums devoted to Jews or the Holocaust have also had to install metal detectors, x-rays and wand scans of bags and packages thanks to security concerns. I know from personal experience that the two Jewish museums in NYC have done so.

Synagogues in every major US city have armed, on duty police officers posted at their entrances on every major Jewish holiday and at all publicized events. In many cases that was the result of bomb threats or antisemitic incidents, and predated both 9/11 and the creation of DHS.
posted by zarq at 2:34 PM on June 10, 2009


Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns died defending tolerance and peace. But the man who shot him (whose name I would prefer the world to forget) did so in the name of intolerance and violence, which he has proudly used the First Amendment to promote.

I don't like the concept of "he died defending a righteous cause". To me, he (like soldiers we mourn) was killed by somebody with an UNrighteous cause. And Dr. Tiller definitely died so that late-term abortion would become unavailable to anyone in the Mid-West.
posted by wendell at 2:36 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know what 'nofollowed' means, but my intention was not hate-porn trolling.

Here's the Wikipedia explanation of it. Basically cortex just updated the link to tell Google that linking to that site doesn't mean we want it to show up in people's search results.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:37 PM on June 10, 2009


felix betachat: "In the present case, the emended bit (complete with misspellings) makes the poster sound less coherent and more unhinged."

It's not enough that I'm supposed to spend my every waking hour in fear of him and his ilk? I'm supposed to correct his spelling too?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:38 PM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Just a wild guess, but I'm betting this is the first time von Brunn has ever set foot in a museum.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:39 PM on June 10, 2009


I'm supposed to correct his spelling too?

While you're doing that, remember not to point out he's a member of the right-wing. Don't want to politicize this thing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:41 PM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


(Or at least, it used to be. I haven't personally been to the Smithsonian since '03, but I do remember that at the time I didn't have to go through a metal detector while I did at USHMM.)

Every Smithsonian museum has armed guards and metal detectors, as of about 3 months ago when I was last through them. This includes the Hirschorn, the Air and Space in DC and the one in Dulles, the Natural History Museum, and the American History Museum. When school field trips come through, they may reroute traffic around the detectors.

At A & S in Dulles they specifically visually inspect any bags you have. The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia even has some armed guards, but no metal detectors. It is a reality in modern urban life that public buildings have armed guards and/or metal detectors. I believe the rationale is more for the protection of the exhibits than the people, but I could be wrong.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:41 PM on June 10, 2009


And the only reason Free Republic is 'cleaning up" Brunn's past hate writings is because they know they have an exposure to legal liability for it, and ex post facto editing can help them avoid being held responsible (which is not right).

If someone isn't already spidering and archiving sites like that, this would be a good reason and a good time to start. (But I'd be surprised if someone hadn't already saved copies of the deleted things. FreeRepublic has a pretty high profile among sites of its ilk.)
posted by oaf at 2:46 PM on June 10, 2009


The story so far: At a prominent university's commencement, President Obama speaks reasonably and eloquently about the pro-choice/pro-life debate, and two weeks later, a pro-lifer murders a doctor in church. Later, at the capital of a leading muslim nation, President Obama speaks reasonably and eloquently about the hateful ignorance behind denying the Holocaust, and a week afterward, a white supremacist kills a guard at a museum that stands as a memorial to those who died in it. I'm now utterly paranoid Obama is going to say something reasonable and eloquent in public about gun control. "Once is happenstance, twice coincidence, three times is enemy action."

Meanwhile, the developing news suggests that Stephen Tyrone Johns and the other security guards bravely prevented von Brunn from getting any farther into the museum than he did. The museum has released the following statement:
Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns died heroically in the line of duty today. There are no words to express our grief and shock over these events. He served on the Museum's security staff for six years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Johns' family.

We have made the decision to close the Museum tomorrow in honor of Officer Johns, and our flags will be flown at half mast in his memory.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:47 PM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


posted by FelliniBlank Just a wild guess, but I'm betting this is the first time von Brunn has ever set foot in a museum.

I'm betting it's going to be his last.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


FR can delete all they want, but the evidence, such as it is, is easily obtainable though the waybackmachine. All FR's actions really does is keep the idly curious from accessing it directly.
posted by edgeways at 2:50 PM on June 10, 2009


Wow. What an ugly thing to do.
posted by nola at 2:50 PM on June 10, 2009


We have made the decision to close the Museum tomorrow in honor of Officer Johns, and our flags will be flown at half mast in his memory.

This is the time to keep it open.
posted by stavrogin at 2:51 PM on June 10, 2009


We have made the decision to close the Museum tomorrow in honor of Officer Johns, and our flags will be flown at half mast in his memory.

This is the time to keep it open.


I think giving Mr. Johns's colleagues a day off to process this terrifying tragedy is a compassionate choice. They'll be open again on Friday.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:52 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Inciting people in such a way that makes those people an immediate threat is also not protected speech. Merely motivating someone to consider an idea until it leads that person to violence, that's a hard thing to define. A hard thing to control. A dangerous thing to try to control.

In interpreting the First Amendment, our judges err on the side of letting people speak, debate, and say ugly, vile, hateful, unjustified things. Even while constraining the place, or time, and in some case, the means of exercising that right to speak, we err on the side of letting people believe and disseminate grotesque ideas. I, personally, am proud of that.

I disagree with you quite stridently, wendell, that, by any measure, protecting free speech is to blame for this shooting. I disagree with you even more stridently that a legitimate means of ending intolerance, violence or hatred is ending or sharply constraining the rights of people say hateful things, even if someone may hear that hateful thing and find in it a justification for randomly killing a human being or a justification for targeting and killing a specific human being.

To say that a particular man died just so we could protect speech is, I think, grotesque. We do not protect violence in protecting the freedom to think, to say, to feel, even when those thoughts, words or feelings have no legitimate place in civilized society or cannot gain traction in rational discourse. In protecting the right to believe and speak about all things--ugly and hateful, kind and loving, aggressive or peaceful--we make it easier to see why killing anyone--someone you hate or someone you don't know--does nothing to advance an idea.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:53 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Freep post in question appears to be live again. I don't really have the energy or the hipwaders to look into what's going on over there in the backroom, but the down-and-then-up dynamic is kind of curious in abstract.
posted by cortex at 2:54 PM on June 10, 2009


This is the time to keep it open.

I don't think they're exactly closing it out of intimidation; I think they're closing it because the museum employees might reasonably be expected to need a day off to deal with what's happened.
posted by scody at 2:55 PM on June 10, 2009


this hardly supports the idea that extreme politics are most dangerous when unseated. The Bush/Cheney Administration was responsible for a lot of deaths, but they successfully exported them from The United States of America, where far too many Americans believe the worth of a single life is much higher.

But motivating people to shoot people (as long as it is not done too 'directly') definitely is.
I do not understand this.

Words have consequences. If they didn't, it wouldn't be worth using them. Yet, many "Defenders of the First Amendment" act like they don't. People like the moderators at MetaFilter know otherwise. And making people spreading Hate Speech responsible for those who listen to them and act on it will make it harder to spread violence and death, just as effective gun control would. But you're not likely to get that in a country which actually believes the Founding Fathers intended what was written in the Bill of Rights to be taken literally. (ooh, another opening for "wendell, what do you MEAN by that")
posted by wendell at 2:59 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fox News’ Shep Smith: DHS Report Was A ‘Warning To Us All,’ But ‘The Right Went Absolutely Bonkers’
posted by homunculus at 3:01 PM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


One thing we can all agree on is that clearly far-right terrorists like this and the guy who shot Dr. George Tiller all need to be water boarded so we can find out more about other imminent terror attacks.
posted by tkchrist at 3:02 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


wendell, kindly, I feel a little weird about you repeatedly bringing us in as proxies for an argument about public vs. private free speech in the middle of a thread about a psycho racist. It's kind of dizzying and not really the place I want to have this argument myself, let alone have it had for me without asking first.
posted by cortex at 3:02 PM on June 10, 2009


Was just coming here to say the same thing as cortex.
posted by jessamyn at 3:03 PM on June 10, 2009


There's a time and a place for such discussions, and it's when someone in some other country gets locked up for Holocaust denial.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


To say that a particular man died just so we could protect speech is, I think, grotesque.
Then the way things are in America is grotesque, because that's the way it is. And I don't like it, I'm just saying what I see.

In protecting the right to believe and speak about all things--ugly and hateful, kind and loving, aggressive or peaceful--we make it easier to see why killing anyone--someone you hate or someone you don't know--does nothing to advance an idea.
I'll repeat again. WORDS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, and you are denying that fact. And if you believe that "killing anyone... does nothing to advance an idea", you should be forced to read the links to FreeRepublic and Stormfront to see how that's working out.
posted by wendell at 3:07 PM on June 10, 2009


The fact that the Holocaust Museum has several armed guards tells you why we need a Holocaust Museum.--James Lileks

Yeah. No shit.

Go to the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris. We were there last year. You are immediately impressed by the lengthy security apparatus to get in and the fact that most of the staff I saw... including our guide... were packing. And the first thing they tell you is how many attempted bombings, attacks, and threats they get. All the god damned time. So in response they do not fuck around. As if learning about the Holocaust was talking to survivors was not depressing enough.
posted by tkchrist at 3:10 PM on June 10, 2009


cortex, I was just expressing why I am proud to read, belong to and contribute to MetaFilter as opposed to FreeRepublic. You may not realize that what you are doing is counterbalancing Freedom with Civilization (if you don't always do it enough for many people... even me sometimes) but that's what you're doing and that's why I like it here.
posted by wendell at 3:11 PM on June 10, 2009


Just FYI, the Stormfront links occurred because it was the first result when you google James Von Brunn.
posted by electroboy at 3:14 PM on June 10, 2009


I do know I dislike attempts to immediately politicize tragedy.
Cry me a river. The person who politicized this tragedy was the same person who perpetrated this tragedy.
posted by Flunkie at 3:14 PM on June 10, 2009 [18 favorites]


I had to close the tab after 5 minutes at freep. The responses went from "oh I bet you it was a mooslim what did this" to "oh it was a white guy? fits perfectly into obamas plan!" to general hysteria over how to best cover their tracks with regards to the shooter. That'll be my first and last visit to that pit of fail.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:21 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


For Officer Johns:

.
posted by rtha at 3:25 PM on June 10, 2009


Also, Shep Smith was the same guy who took Ralph Nader to task for his use of "Uncle Tom" in reference to Obama. I know it probably doesn't take too much ideological flexibility for a right-winger to lash out at Nader, but still - he could easily have said "Not even far-left Ralph Nader is impressed with Obama!" or some such.

What's the back story on this guy? How is he working at FOX?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:25 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Free Republic has put the shooter's original thread back up. A new comment has a picture of Sotomayor under the word "Chupucabra".

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2141655/posts?q=1&;page=210#210

Felix, what was that you were saying about "one spectrum of their opinion"?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:27 PM on June 10, 2009


dios, it will be difficult to get your point across because an alarming number of MeFites have no concept of decorum whatsoever.

Decorum?

So which is it--should we defend free speech except when it violates a certain artificially-elevated concept of decorum? Isn't "decorum" just a code word for "political correctness"? Now all of a sudden sensitivity should be our first concern?
posted by saulgoodman at 3:30 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shepard Smith is indeed most definitely one of the good ones over there at FoxNews.

(Even though I am reasonably certain he is a cyborg.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:31 PM on June 10, 2009


*closes thread and walks away*
posted by felix betachat at 3:32 PM on June 10, 2009


I'm intrigued by this Shep Smith character as well, having previously seen clips of him criticizing Glen Beck's particular brand of the crazies. Could it be that Fox News has someone with a relatively grounded conservative perspective in their otherwise topsy turvy stream of barely coherent nutjobs?
posted by eyeballkid at 3:34 PM on June 10, 2009


Free speech? At MetaFilter? Whatever can you mean?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:35 PM on June 10, 2009


I'll repeat again. WORDS HAVE CONSEQUENCES, and you are denying that fact.

Words themselves do not have deterministic consequences, but the use of state power to repress or bolster words does have historic consequences.

That the best running argument for anti-Semitism seems to be the flat denial that certain words were ever spoken or actions ever taken; and that among the the best arguments that the world should have known better and acted sooner was titled Mein Kampf, is compelling evidence to me that bad words are better confessed and comprehended than blacked-out.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:35 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


The first thing I learned was that the Freedom of the Press only belongs to those who own one.

Oh yeah, web hosting is sooo expensive.
posted by delmoi at 3:36 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


So which is it--should we defend free speech except when it violates a certain artificially-elevated concept of decorum? Isn't "decorum" just a code word for "political correctness"? Now all of a sudden sensitivity should be our first concern?

Absolutely. Don't mention the powerful and repeated anti-Semitic rantings this individual made over the years before unloading a shotgun at a Holocaust Museum. That would politicize this event. Why, he could have done this for any number of reasons. Let's not focus on his beliefs or associates. That would be indecorous.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:36 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh man. Shep was also the "We don't fucking torture" dude?
posted by eyeballkid at 3:36 PM on June 10, 2009


Free speech? At MetaFilter? Whatever can you mean?

You can dump the pointless personal attacks on other users or take it to Metatalk, but cut that tired shit out here, Crabby Appleton.
posted by cortex at 3:37 PM on June 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


Could it be that Fox News has someone with a relatively grounded conservative perspective in their otherwise topsy turvy stream of barely coherent nutjobs?
That falls under the proud American tradition of tokenism.
posted by wendell at 3:38 PM on June 10, 2009


What's the back story on this guy? How is he working at FOX?

Came here to say this.

Also to say how glad I am to live in this country and be part of this community, where all this discussion can freely and openly take place.
posted by yiftach at 3:40 PM on June 10, 2009


Nor surprisingly, during my visit to freep I noticed people were mad at Shep Smith over this statement. One guy proudly reprinted his angry e-mail to FOX news about this, and others expressed scorn and disdain for Smith in general. So he must be alright.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:41 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first thing I learned was that the Freedom of the Press only belongs to those who own one.
Oh yeah, web hosting is sooo expensive.


The price of entry has certainly gone down in the Internet age, but building a site into something with an audience beyond a few dozen still costs money. Think you can pick up the bandwidth and server costs for MetaFilter or FreeRepublic yourself? I can't.
posted by wendell at 3:41 PM on June 10, 2009


[few comments removed - seriously metatalk if you'd like to discuss this]
posted by jessamyn at 3:47 PM on June 10, 2009


posted by wendell I'm no longer a fan of the First Amendment. The first thing I learned was that the Freedom of the Press only belongs to those who own one.

If you bought a press and printed up a newsletter about how Freedom of the Press only belongs to those who own a press, I would subscribe.
posted by mattdidthat at 3:49 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't mention the powerful and repeated anti-Semitic rantings this individual made over the years before unloading a shotgun at a Holocaust Museum. That would politicize this event.

What bullshit. Of course the guy is a wacko Anti-semite. He shot up the Holocaust museum. There is nothing to take away from that other than the self-evident: there are hateful and disgusting people in this world. Of course my point was not to ignore that he is an anti-semite. That's impossible.

What I was objecting to is exactly what you see occur in this revolting embarrassment to Metafilter: every pathetic little political viewpoint and grievance is being dragged into this as if this universally-condemned tragedy reflects on every single viewpoint of the Other. Hell, the post itself tries to equate this somehow to anti-gay rhetoric. Every little political trope has been dragged into this thread. It's like this website has been completely devoured by talking points and takes a tragedy, and within two hours, forces it into this giant meta-narrative about Them. This action is somehow indicative of everything about Them. It's like you people can't move beyond that retarded thinking (and I mean that in the definitional sense of the word retarded--but I'm sure some petty individual will jump off there).

It is so revolting and disgusting that in the wake of this tragedy, so many superficially and narrow-focused hacks go straight to that garbage. That is the politicization of the tragedy of which I was warning against, and this mess of garbage that has occurred in this thread is proof of my point.

The fact that one of our most solemn monuments was attacked and a worker killed is wholly irrelevant or secondary to the discussion that has occurred here. And we are worse off for it.

I'm done with this.
posted by dios at 3:50 PM on June 10, 2009 [17 favorites]


IT's too soon for me to think hard about this, but as a museum person there are some aspects of this that are worth considering from a professional perspective. Some museums are courageous, presenting unpopular stories of history, offensive works of art, or hot-button topics. Some name themselves museums of conscience. Most museums want to be facing and dealing in relevant issues and ideas, to mean something, and to evoke responses, intellectual and emotional that feel important to people. The Holocaust museum has always gone even beyond just evoking those responses and presenting facts; they've taken an advocacy role in opposing genocide worldwide, served as a research center to advance knowledge about the Holocaust, does leadership training. They are a museum of unusual utility and service to the nation and the world. They've been ambitious, effective, and serious. Sometimes visitors to museums bring a different agenda or a resistive mindset to what is available there, but this is a terrible extremity in a place devoted to learning, stopping the proliferation of hate, and raising awareness about ways of preventing senseless death.

It saddens me that this fearful event has occurred on their site. I wonder how often they have received threats. I wonder if the staff go to work each day conscious of the hatred directed at the very existence of their programs and exhibits. I wonder if vandalism is a frequent problem, if guards and interpreters are regularly confronted by visitors, protesters or disbelievers. In short, I wonder how much a part of the work culture there was consciously structured around potential violence. I'm trying to think of any comparable events that have occurred at US museums; I can't think of any right now, but there must have been some. World museums? There must have been some. The thing that is striking me is an extension of what Lileks said - that oddly, it is because this museum was courageous enough to reach for relevance, to look squarely at history and current events, to teach the truth in the face of many willing to outright deny it or at the least, suggest that the story be left behind in the past, that one man has died and another been injured, and every staffer and guest terrorized. It is an odd kind of relevance, a disturbing indicator of efficacy. We tend to think of museums as being safe places, rarefied and controlled environments for objects and people, certainly less prone to attack than embassies or temples or mosques or demonstrations or other, more overtly political targets; but oddly, if museums are doing their jobs, they may not be.

.
posted by Miko at 3:52 PM on June 10, 2009 [33 favorites]


every pathetic little political viewpoint and grievance is being dragged into this

Including yours.

Metatalk it dude.
posted by tkchrist at 3:53 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Words have consequences. If they didn't, it wouldn't be worth using them. Yet, many "Defenders of the First Amendment" act like they don't. People like the moderators at MetaFilter know otherwise.

That's also a pretty ridiculous thing to say, the mods are trying to foster a productive discussion because that's what people come here for. The moderation at fark is very different and if you go to a site like 4chan the moderation is completely different (there is moderation, but it's not aimed at having a productive discussion), but people still enjoy the site. In fact, 4chan is vastly more popular then metafilter. It's one thing to say "I don't want comments like that on my website" and something completely different to say "I don't think anyone should be allowed to say that anywhere on the Internet" People should be allowed to setup their own sites and succeed or fail depending on the rules they setup (or they can just blog on their own)

But there is just an enormous difference between "rules for a discussion, inforced by timeouts and bans that apply only on the site" and "rules that you have to obey everywhere, enforced by fines and jailtime that apply everywhere"
posted by delmoi at 3:54 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bless you Miko. Would that such thoughtfulness and heart were more prevalent.
posted by dios at 3:55 PM on June 10, 2009


Got a note from arco who is back from work and said everyone else at the USHMM is okay & thanks for thinking of him.
posted by jessamyn at 3:56 PM on June 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


TBH I'd be more inclined to call it lone angry nut than terrorism, but I'm not sure I'd call it terrorism the time it was a muslim either.

Am I not understanding you?
Although Haq grew up as a Muslim, he later disavowed Islam, converting to Christianity. Haq studied the Bible at Word of the Faith Church in Kennewick and was baptized in December 2005, but stopped attending his Bible study group after a few months. The Bible study group leader, Albert Montelongo, said that Haq talked about having bipolar disorder and that he seemed depressed by the conflict with his family over his religious conversion. According to Montelongo, Haq converted because he perceived too much anger in Islam and wanted to find a new beginning in Christianity. Montelongo added that he thought that Haq was succeeding in dealing with "his own anger" the last time he saw him, and that Haq had told them that he was moving to Seattle in search of employment.[7]
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:59 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I skimmed the Free Republic page. Some things never change. What an awful, ugly cesspool.

I'm also amazed that anyone could possibly think that Charles at LGF isn't anti-Islamic fundamentalist enough. Of course, they may just be peeved that he also announced today that the DHS report was justified:
"With the Tiller shooting and now this — the DHS report that caused such an uproar has been vindicated.

The report was a heads-up to law enforcement, warning of a risk of increased attacks from right wing extremists, and with two attacks in two weeks (in addition to the cop killer in Pittsburgh, the white nationalist with components for a dirty bomb, the plot by skinheads to assassinate Obama, and more) it looks like the heads-up was well warranted."

I trust y'all can find his rantings on your own. I don't want to give him the traffic by linking.
posted by zarq at 3:59 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This may be related to Westboro Church recently picketing various Jewish institutions, including the Holocaust Museum, to further their anti-semetic / anti-gay crusade.

Smells like octagon in here.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 4:00 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


jessamyn, thank you for letting us know about acro. That's great news.


...and for correcting the derail.
posted by zarq at 4:00 PM on June 10, 2009


What I was objecting to is exactly what you see occur in this revolting embarrassment to Metafilter: every pathetic little political viewpoint and grievance is being dragged into this as if this universally-condemned tragedy reflects on every single viewpoint of the Other. Hell, the post itself tries to equate this somehow to anti-gay rhetoric. Every little political trope has been dragged into this thread. It's like this website has been completely devoured by talking points and takes a tragedy, and within two hours, forces it into this giant meta-narrative about Them.

My turn to call "bullshit". I'm not getting the impression the tragedy is second to your perceived need of Metafilter to rant about the Other. But there's no doubt his views and associates are pretty tightly woven into this, and so people are going to talk about it. It's called a "discussion", dude, and people like to have them. As I said upthread, it is entirely possible to solemnly mourn this tragedy AND have a discussion about Why This Happened. That's what people do when tragedies occur. They ask "Why did this happen?" Part of that discussion, when we're talking about a politically motivated terrorist attack, is going to include political ideologies supportive of the attacker's mentality.

I find it absolutely baffling that you'd ask others to ignore or push aside any sort of discussion over the broader political implications or influences of this act. But since you're "done with this" this comment might be in vain anyway.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:02 PM on June 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


Wendell noted . for Stephen Tyrone Johns. You died so that hateful innocent people could have Freedom of Speech escape.

FTFY
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:03 PM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Moving story about the staff at the Holocaust Museum, and how the museum became a personal place of memorial for one family.
posted by Miko at 4:04 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


every pathetic little political viewpoint and grievance is being dragged into this as if this universally-condemned tragedy reflects on every single viewpoint of the Other

I think that the person who wrote There was a simpler, more pure America, once, but it has been contaminated by poisonous and treacherous propaganda that paints the defense of that ideal as the bad guys. Then, when after years of denigration and slights, one of the more susceptible reacts and explodes against all whom were considered his oppressors, we get, “See! See! Tolja that’d happen!” I suppose it did. Some people SHOULD be afraid nights. Or in the daytime. Or anytime they are out on the streets. Or in their homes. Or at work. Or at their house of worship. Or shopping at the store and was favorited out the wazoo on a high-traffic site is directly relevant to this issue.

Am I missing something? Are we not supposed to link racism and anti-Semitism to the murder targets of racist, anti-Semitic killers?
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:04 PM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Hell, the post itself tries to equate this somehow to anti-gay rhetoric. Every little political trope has been dragged into this thread. It's like this website has been completely devoured by talking points and takes a tragedy, and within two hours, forces it into this giant meta-narrative about Them. This action is somehow indicative of everything about Them. It's like you people can't move beyond that retarded thinking

If talk about politics bothers you so much, why don't you start your own site where you can ban it to your hearts content, rather then coming into these threads and complaining all the time? Everyone knows it bothers you, but it doesn't really seem to bother anyone else.
posted by delmoi at 4:05 PM on June 10, 2009


Am I not understanding you?

i don;t know, what do you think I'm saying?
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on June 10, 2009


Metatalk, FFS.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:08 PM on June 10, 2009


It is so revolting and disgusting that in the wake of this tragedy, so many superficially and narrow-focused hacks go straight to that garbage. That is the politicization of the tragedy of which I was warning against, and this mess of garbage that has occurred in this thread is proof of my point.

To be fair, I think the actions and beliefs of wack-jobs like this had already been politicized when some on the politicized that DHS report mentioned a few times already. What the hell is wrong with some (not all) on the right who don't distance themselves from this kind of crap, and instead intentionally align themselves with the fringe far-right to the point of pushing to suppress a report warning about how dangerous they are?

I feel like I should be clear that I am not one of those people who think all conservatives are one step away from shooting up a Holocaust museum or murdering a gynecologist who performs abortions. There is, however, a subset who pander to these people and I don't think it's inappropriate to call out the O'Reillys and Bachmanns.
posted by Mavri at 4:09 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, glad to hear acro's alright. Poor guy. What a terrible day.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:11 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


some on the politicized

some on the right, I meant to say.
posted by Mavri at 4:13 PM on June 10, 2009


Before I go into discussing a very difficult issue like this, I want to preface it by saying that nobody -- certainly no civilian or museum guard, doing his job -- asks for an attack like this... and nobody deserves to be the victim of a radical terrorist attack, which this most certainly is.

The thing is, there is an uncomfortable circle of fear, hate, and violence playing itself out behind this attack, which supports this kind of unacceptable, unconscionable behavior, and there are those on the rightwing of the Jewish community who do -- knowingly or unknowingly -- contribute to this kind of cycle of fear, mistrust, anger, and violence.

As to making a bad situation worse, the absolute worst thing that can come of this is that the Jewish community draws the same old conclusions of fear, anger, and mistrust.

The FEAR of an America in which they don't feel safe, and in which they question whether their fellow Americans will stand up for their right to live peacefully, without fear and persecution.

ANGER against antisemitism and against senseless violence, which pushes them further towards the ignorant, extremist, hateful viewpoints seen by those that Max Blumenthal interviewed recently.

MISTRUST that their fellow Americans will stand up for their rights, even as the American people insist that Israel does not continue to illegally settle in Palestinian territory, and agrees to negotiate a fair and just peace.

What this attack does is push American Jews -- especially those who share the viewpoints of those exposed in Max Blumenthal's recent video -- towards Aliyah... which contributes to a further radicalization of Israel and more illegal settlements which help to further inflame random acts of senseless violence.

Rightwing fearmongering is the *real* existential threat here... both to Israel and to Jewish people worldwide.
posted by markkraft at 4:14 PM on June 10, 2009


I pass a community center every morning on my way to work. There are concrete cylinders in front, which at first I thought were there to prevent skateboarding. Then after I while I noticed they have security guards that check the trunks of every car that goes in to the parking garage. Then I realized that it's a Jewish community center and these are safeguards against car bombs, and I thought, what fucking century is this?

Stephen Johns' job was to protect people. Alav ha-shalom.

It may have been the single most effective action that Bush & Company did to prevent terrorism within the United States after '9/11'.

Bush & Company did not prevent terrorism within the United States after 9/11.

posted by kirkaracha at 4:15 PM on June 10, 2009


This is not to say that if elements on the left also supported violence, they wouldn't be just as dangerous... but the thing is, radical leftists -- at least in the U.S. in recent times -- tend not to be as prone to significant terrorist attacks with the goal of actually killing people.

Both Israel's current political environment and that of the larger Jewish community worldwide are already dangerously overrepresented by spokespeople and politicians who teeter precariously towards ultranationalism and extremism, who openly promote illegal settlements and regime change in Syria, Iran, etc.

It would be dangerous and destabilizing, frankly, to draw the wrong conclusions from this attack and take yet another step to the right. Obviously, when you're already near the edge, each subsequent step becomes more dangerous than the last.
posted by markkraft at 4:27 PM on June 10, 2009


.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:33 PM on June 10, 2009


I'm not even going to read through the thread above, but I just wanted to say thanks for everyone's messages of concern. The Museum will be closed tomorrow in honor of Office Stephen Johns, who was a very kind and wonderful man and who will be sorely missed by everyone at the Museum.
posted by arco at 4:35 PM on June 10, 2009 [40 favorites]


What this attack does is push American Jews -- especially those who share the viewpoints of those exposed in Max Blumenthal's recent video -- towards Aliyah... which contributes to a further radicalization of Israel and more illegal settlements which help to further inflame random acts of senseless violence.

You have no idea what the hell you're talking about. What makes you think you can speak for the "Jewish community?"

Furthermore, how do Jews contribute to the circle of hate in regards to a neo-Nazi?

If this were Israel and Hamas had just staged a sucide bombing, then yeah, there might be something to that. But this is America. I'm American. I'm not Israeli. I am curious as to how American Jews end up in a circle of hate with Nazis... This isn't a circle, it's a line, with the haters on one side, and the hated on the other.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 4:41 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing is, there is an uncomfortable circle of fear, hate, and violence playing itself out behind this attack... and there are those on the rightwing of the Jewish community who do -- knowingly or unknowingly -- contribute to this kind of cycle of fear, mistrust, anger, and violence.

You are a truly vile excuse for a human being.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:41 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, markkraft waited a whole 4 hours before dragging Israel into it. Kudos to him for waiting so long, no doubt it took every ounce of willpower before he succumbed and had to claim the Jews are bringing it on themselves. *golfclap*

Although I'm confused aren't this murderer's writings and his Nazi ilk the kind of site you prefer to cite when talking about the Jews.
posted by PenDevil at 4:42 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hey, FatherDagon: If you're retracting the westboro church stuff, can you tell cortex or jessamyn to maybe edit it out of your post?
posted by boo_radley at 4:43 PM on June 10, 2009


I blame videogames.
posted by Artw at 4:45 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I second what Krrrison said.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 4:47 PM on June 10, 2009


markkraft - Good grief.
posted by fire&wings at 4:49 PM on June 10, 2009


markkraft: "This is not to say that if elements on the left also supported violence, they wouldn't be just as dangerous... but the thing is, radical leftists -- at least in the U.S. in recent times -- tend not to be as prone to significant terrorist attacks with the goal of actually killing people. "

Well, no. Radical means can be adopted by leftists, too, and there's several examples I can think of off the top of my head that, while they may not have killed anyone, would easily have had the potential to.

So you know, let's not go crazy patting ourselves on our lefty progressive backs.
posted by boo_radley at 4:51 PM on June 10, 2009


I'm confused.

If this guy is a neo-Nazi, and wants to attack a WW2 memorial to further his cause, shouldn't he be shooting up the US war memorial?

(and that's only because it's easier than making a trip to Moscow)

I mean, the US & the Soviet Union had more to do with bringing down Nazism than holocaust victims, or Jews in general, who were really only demonised scapegoats for Germany's post-WW1 economic woes, forced upon the country by the Allies at Versailles.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:56 PM on June 10, 2009


That's making the classic mistake of expecting extremists to have some degree of reason or consistency in their belief system.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:58 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Remember when conservatives wanted to exclude WWII vets from hate crime legislation?

Yeah.
posted by DU at 5:03 PM on June 10, 2009


Metafilter: can we quarantine this virus from the Rest of the World?
posted by tzikeh at 5:05 PM on June 10, 2009


Remember when conservatives wanted to exclude WWII vets from hate crime legislation?
No, I don't. Do you have a link, or further information? Thanks.
posted by Flunkie at 5:05 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Remember when conservatives wanted to exclude WWII vets from hate crime legislation?

No?
posted by brundlefly at 5:12 PM on June 10, 2009


To clarify, not snarking. Just wanting a link.
posted by brundlefly at 5:12 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't recall them wanting to exclude veterans, but rather complaining that veterans were not protected by hate crime legislation.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:14 PM on June 10, 2009


Ah, perhaps I misinterpreted their rantings and ravings. It's so hard to hear through all the spittle and flags.
posted by DU at 5:16 PM on June 10, 2009


To clarify:From Fox
The hearing was on the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which defines attacks against another person on the basis of religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation as hate crimes. At the hearing, Congressman Tom Rooney — a former member of the U.S. military — offered an amendment to make attacks against veterans hate crimes as well.
Video here.
posted by boo_radley at 5:17 PM on June 10, 2009


Sad day.

I have to say, ugly as the anti-Semitism is, that I can't help but see it much more as a mental illness than as a real ideology or anything. I realize this is in part due to where American society is—very few people are openly anti-Semetic, at least in my purview. I realize that in, say, Saudi Arabia this isn't the case.

But these seem like paranoid delusions, on the level of the CIA poisoning my coffee or birds spying on me. With that view, I don't know, it feels less directly evil and more pitiable. Like, what kind of hell do you have to be in to think that this makes sense on any real level?

On the other hand, I do acknowledge that there's at least a few active racists and anti-Semites out there, the Stormfront folks, etc. But that feels more like abject stupidity to me than this attack does—this feels more like Gene Ray off his meds.
posted by klangklangston at 5:23 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like, what kind of hell do you have to be in to think that this makes sense on any real level?

As opposed to other bigotry and prejudice? Dismissing ethnically-motivated, racially-motivated, gender-motivated, sexual orientation-motivated, and other attacks spawned by bigotry toward and hatred of a particular group as "mental illness" seems, at best, counterproductive to me.

This guy made at least part of his living from being a professional bigot, selling books/pamphlets on his website, being a guest speaker at other hate groups, etc. Dismissing him as a "lone nut" may make people feel better, but it doesn't do a thing to address the problem.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:28 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


This is such a horrible event. My heart goes out to Officer Johns, his family, and the staff at the museum.

The remarks about security measures at the museum here and in France, and Kirkaracha's observation about the bollarded Jewish community center, prompt me to remind folks that six women were shot, one killed, in a shooting at the Seattle Jewish Federation in 2006.
posted by Sublimity at 5:31 PM on June 10, 2009


I would just like to point out that just about anybody can have a freeper account. Heck, I have one (that I rarely if ever use) myself.

It is my educated guess that the majority of posters over there would be rabidly proIsrael. I know that most if not all the conservatives I know of fit that category. But I also know there is a subset of rabid "rightwinger" groups that are definitely hate groups. Don't lump the average conservative in with these evil nutjobs, please.

Is it such a stretch to simply understand that there are evil people in the world? And that these evil people come in all kinds of flavors? And that, just as the majority of Muslims are not terrorist, the majority of veterans or gun owners or prolifers or whatever it is you have a problem with are not evil as well?

If it is so that this evil old man has died, rest assured that God is sorting him out. But let us see him for what he is or was, and not simply and lazily lump him with whatever larger groups that perhaps he was marginally associated with...
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:35 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It is my educated guess that the majority of posters over there would be rabidly proIsrael.

My understanding is that the right wing loves Israel because of military contracts and end-of-days nonsense and could care less (if that) about actual Israelis or Jews.
posted by DU at 5:38 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


And that, just as the majority of Muslims are not terrorist, the majority of veterans or gun owners or prolifers or whatever it is you have a problem with are not evil as well?

I don't think a single person in this thread has contended that "the majority of veterans or gun owners or prolifers" are evil-doers and terrorists. What people are talking about is the extreme right, and the media pundits who egg them on and then backpedal when someone takes "action".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:38 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The remarks about security measures at the museum here and in France, and Kirkaracha's observation about the bollarded Jewish community center, prompt me to remind folks that six women were shot, one killed, in a shooting at the Seattle Jewish Federation in 2006.

I knew one of the women who was killed. Not very well, but she was one of the neighborhood adults when I was a boy. I try not to overreact when I think I am hearing antisemitism, but that sort of thing colors your perception of things. Antisemitism isn't what it once was, and I think klang is right -- that it's mostly a mental illness nowadays. But it's definitely still out there and definitely still deadly, and that just makes me feel inexpressibly sad.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:43 PM on June 10, 2009


I guess I knew the woman who was killed. Pam Waechter. I had thought more had died.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:45 PM on June 10, 2009


If the Holocaust Museum is a "place you like", it is obviously NOT a place you have learned a damned thing from.

I totally agree.

I went to the Holocaust Museum. I read on a placard that the average visit there is 3hrs. I spent 6. I touched every exhibit. Read every word. Watched every video.

Because I knew I would never, ever have it in me to ever go back.

No one in my family survived the camps... but many died in them. That the museum exists and that people are strong enough and dedicated enough to teach about such tragedy is nothing short of amazing. My thoughts are with Officer Johns' family and I hope they know that he died defending an incredibly worthy resource.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:48 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


My understanding is that the right wing loves Israel because of military contracts and end-of-days nonsense and could care less (if that) about actual Israelis or Jews.

I think the Muslim-killing is also a plus in their eyes. Also, this.

Anyway, my earlier snark aside, this sucks, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 5:50 PM on June 10, 2009


What people are talking about is the extreme right, and the media pundits who egg them on and then backpedal when someone takes "action

Well, what media pundits and what egging do you mean? I listen occasionally to people like Hannity and I am not hearing what some of you are talking about. I suspect that it is incredibly easy to assume something that is not in evidence particularly if one is not on the right and does not spend a lot of time listening to the voices on that side.

And please do understand that evil people don't require any egging on-or can choose to be "egged on" by things not related. I mean, if a member of this site (remember, anyone can plunk down five bucks without a psychiatric exam to join) were to shoot up a museum or assassinate someone, etc. would it be fair to paint Metafilter as a causation? Of course not.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:53 PM on June 10, 2009


I can't speak to any pundits, but Michele Bachmann, once again, is an example of someone who has been using militarized, radicalized, and blatantly violent language in opposition to the Obama administration:

I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.

posted by Astro Zombie at 5:57 PM on June 10, 2009


It is my educated guess that the majority of posters over there would be rabidly proIsrael.

Not snarking. Just so you know, being pro-Israel doesn't mean someone isn't a Jew-hater.

It might be that they also hate Arabs and Muslims, so that having Israel there as a place where they can kill each other is jolly fun. Or they might hate anyone who isn't a white protestant.

Or they might be not so much pro-Israel as pro-End Times, as alluded to before.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:57 PM on June 10, 2009


"As opposed to other bigotry and prejudice? Dismissing ethnically-motivated, racially-motivated, gender-motivated, sexual orientation-motivated, and other attacks spawned by bigotry toward and hatred of a particular group as "mental illness" seems, at best, counterproductive to me."

Noting that this is a touchy subject, I'm not going to be as brusque with you as I might have been otherwise: I do not believe that all bigots are the same, or that all "hate crimes" (for lack of a better term) are the same. This wasn't any rational part of a political program, as some anti-Semitism can be—Iranian politics comes to mind.

Not only that, but I'd point out that anti-Semitism dovetails much more neatly with the language of conspiracy and mental illness—a "them" that controls everything—in a way that, say, homophobia doesn't. Especially given this guy's history, I'd say it's likely that the mental illness preceded the anti-Semitism.

The question of "counterproductive" seems pretty irrelevant.

"This guy made at least part of his living from being a professional bigot, selling books/pamphlets on his website, being a guest speaker at other hate groups, etc. Dismissing him as a "lone nut" may make people feel better, but it doesn't do a thing to address the problem."

Yes, and? Gene Ray makes part of his living from being a professional loon, as do many folks on the fringes of science and fiction. I didn't dismiss him as a "lone nut," I just don't think there's a whole lot that can either be done or learned from this, and I think that attempting to put it into a broader political context is over-stating the program of Von Brunn. He's not a McVeigh, he's a Unibomber.
posted by klangklangston at 6:01 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Homegrown hate groups increase in number -- "Watchdog group blames recession, election of first black president."
posted by ericb at 6:03 PM on June 10, 2009


Well, what media pundits and what egging do you mean? I listen occasionally to people like Hannity and I am not hearing what some of you are talking about. I suspect that it is incredibly easy to assume something that is not in evidence particularly if one is not on the right and does not spend a lot of time listening to the voices on that side.

In the broader discussion of right-wing extremism, you may remember from the Tiller thread all of Bill O'Reilly's inflammatory blab about how Tiller is some sort of mass executioner of children. Yeah, evil people don't need external encouragement. They've got the voices in their heads. What I'm saying is, when you're widely watched media pundit telling millions of people that so-and-so is a baby killer, don't act too surprise when someone steps up and takes out the "baby killer".

Von Brun, being a part of this larger far-right movement - and make no mistake, he wasn't an island unto himself; the man had friends across several large like-minded communities - makes us wonder about this beast he's a part of, what's going on within it, what brings people within this group to do crazy things. That's a part of understanding tragedy, and a part of understanding terrorism. We ask, who are these people and what makes them do these things?

I think it's incredibly naive to willfully ignore the larger movement of which Von Brun is a part. It requires examination and discussion.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:03 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It is my educated guess that the majority of posters over there would be rabidly proIsrael. I know that most if not all the conservatives I know of fit that category.

It is entirely possible to be pro-Israel for political and/or religious reasons (i.e., Israel is useful as the U.S.'s watchdog in the region, AND its existence is necessary to bring on the End Times) and also hold anti-Semitic views. If you don't believe me, I'd be happy to introduce you to members of my own family who will more than happy to loudly and cheerfully illustrate my point.
posted by scody at 6:06 PM on June 10, 2009


I mean, if a member of this site (remember, anyone can plunk down five bucks without a psychiatric exam to join) were to shoot up a museum or assassinate someone, etc. would it be fair to paint Metafilter as a causation? Of course not.

This is so obtuse -- and I say this with no malice, just frustration -- that I just want to note the glaring false equivalency and then second MSTPT's sentiment: I think it's incredibly naive to willfully ignore the larger movement of which Von Brun is a part. It requires examination and discussion.

. for Stephen Tyrone Johns
posted by joe lisboa at 6:07 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"But these seem like paranoid delusions, on the level of the CIA poisoning my coffee or birds spying on me. With that view, I don't know, it feels less directly evil and more pitiable. Like, what kind of hell do you have to be in to think that this makes sense on any real level?

On the other hand, I do acknowledge that there's at least a few active racists and anti-Semites out there, the Stormfront folks, etc."


Take a look at the guy's site. He links prominently to racist hate groups, Christian nationalists, Waco apologists, etc.

But hey, Trent Lott and many other Republicans have traditionally had close ties with Christian nationalist organizations, even speaking at their events... and it became a big campaign issue for the Republicans as to whether the U.S. is/should be a Christian nation... and you can't listen to rightwing talk radio without hearing the whole same anti-immigrant spiel, or the "remember Waco" thing.

I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that that the actions of some on the right tend to create people like von Brunn, who thrive on hate until they become consumed by it.
posted by markkraft at 6:08 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


April 17, 2009: Steele Blasts 'Right-Wing Extremist' Label.
posted by ericb at 6:08 PM on June 10, 2009


It is being reported that former Secretary of Defense (and former Maine Senator) William Cohen was in the museum at the time of the shooting.

William Cohen And Wife Witnessed Holocaust Museum Shooting (w/ video).
posted by ericb at 6:09 PM on June 10, 2009


From his book, “KILL THE BEST GENTILES!” AKA “Tob Shebbe Goyim Harog!”:

"The TALMUD is concerned with almost every con-
ceivable aspect of JEWISH existence, little is left to chance,
from how to use seeds and herbs, to diet, and sexual rela-
tions; when to lie; whom to kill; what goat to sacrifice; Cab-
alism, numerology, necromancy, thaumaturgy, and
obsessions with Hollywood-style perversions, body func-
tions, etc. Nevertheless, throughout, the rabbis wove the
thread of JEWISH philosophy, JEWISH Law, and JEWISH
“history.” Here is the grist underlying the JEWS' goal to rule
the world, garner its wealth, and enslave the Gentiles. It is
this Luciferian credo, that is changing the United States into
an ILLUMINATI controlled, non-White nation, soon to
become part of One Mongrel World.

Gentiles prying into JEW LAWS will receive death.
TALMUD: Sanhedrin 59a.

Do not save Christians in danger of death.
TALMUD: Hilkoth Akum X, 1.

Kill the best Gentiles!
TALMUD: Sanhedrin 59.

A woman who has intercourse with a beast is eligible to
marry a priest.
TALMUD: Yebamoth 59b"
posted by fightoplankton at 6:17 PM on June 10, 2009


Fox News’ Shep Smith: DHS Report Was A ‘Warning To Us All,’ But ‘The Right Went Absolutely Bonkers’

There's now an UPDATE:
"Smith said that the e-mail Fox receives from viewers 'has become more and more frightening.' He read an example, from a 'birther' who called President Obama 'Hussein,' and said it was, 'I promise, a representative sample of the kinds of things that we get here.'" Watch it here."
I had never even heard of the term 'birther' -- or, the coordinated movement behind it, until today.
Culture of conspiracy: the Birthers.
posted by ericb at 6:20 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


This resurgence of white supremacists is hardly a new phenomena. The seeds were laid during the Bush administration and with the mainstreaming of rightwing hate speech.

"This February . . . the Southern Poverty Law Center reported on the continued growth of hate groups, whose numbers have risen by more than 50% since 2000."

Note to Krrrison: The most virulently outspoken enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.
posted by markkraft at 6:26 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why do conservatives have such a hard time calling it terrorism when white people do it?
posted by mullingitover at 6:26 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Smith said that the e-mail Fox receives from viewers 'has become more and more frightening.'"

Part of me wants to applaud Shep Smith for finally saying "enough!"... and part of me wants to whack him -- in a relatively gentle yet firm manner -- upside the head, say"Duh!", and point out that it's hard to put the hatemongering back in the box after you and yours did such a good job dragging it out for easy ratings.

Gee... sure would hurt their profit margins if the news was forced to become news again.
posted by markkraft at 6:32 PM on June 10, 2009


I'm interested in the network and psychology of this sort of thing. Some inroads have been made in understanding terrorists in other countries, how they're isolated from their families, then subsequently transfer their loyalties to abstract groups. Against a general background of noise which teaches them that they are intolerably oppressed and humiliated and that the foundations of their moral framework are being eroded; more intense, smaller groups get them wound up. And sooner or later, one of them goes off. Not in any particularly targeted manner, not like a guided missile, more as if a bottlerocket or four were carelessly aimed by children. And it doesn't matter precisely what it is hit, so long as there is a flash and a bang at the end of all of it.

My guess is that, if anyone bothers to do the analysis on this guy, the similarities will be astounding.
posted by adipocere at 6:37 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I mean, if a member of this site (remember, anyone can plunk down five bucks without a psychiatric exam to join) were to shoot up a museum or assassinate someone, etc. would it be fair to paint Metafilter as a causation? Of course not.


Yeah, but Metafilter isn't dedicated to any one particular point of view. Sure, it trends liberal, but that's not a requirement by any means, nor does it determine or constrain the content of our conversations. We don't stage protests, or rallies. When we meet up in real life we have a few drinks and converse.

Surely you see the difference between that and neo-Nazi or right-wing political sites? We aren't the lefty equivalent. We're something different altogether.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:38 PM on June 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


Von Brunn Revered by Some Neo-Nazis
posted by jonp72 at 6:42 PM on June 10, 2009


Is it such a stretch to simply understand that there are evil people in the world?

You know, Alia, the problem with evil is that it's a really silly concept when you get down to it. This guy didn't wake up this morning and say to himself "How shall I increase the suffering and hate in this world for no reason? I know, I'll shoot up the Holocaust Museum! Bwahaha! Bwahahahahahahaha!" This attack was not random horribleness for horribleness's sake, motivated by some "evil" in the gunman's soul. The cause of the attack was his belief structure, which established particular human beings as evil and wretched and in need of annihilation. That that belief structure made him welcome in some of the same circles that you find yourself welcome in is not a reason to flinch away from reality and blame abstract "evil" for his crime.

Actions have motivations, and effects have causes. To declare a person and his motivations simply as "evil" is childish and simplistic and distracts from the task of gaining a better understanding of the reality.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:44 PM on June 10, 2009 [47 favorites]


among the the best arguments that the world should have known better and acted sooner was titled Mein Kampf, is compelling evidence to me that bad words are better confessed and comprehended than blacked-out.

This comes from way back here upthread, but I can't let this slip by. I don't follow this argument in the slightest.

First, Mein Kampf fueled support for Hitler and the Nazi's rise to power. Second, how exactly do you suggest anyone "act sooner" on the basis of these bad words? Our free speech rights ensure precisely that we can't act sooner on the basis of someone's words.

Let's say Hitler lived here in the US. How would things have worked out any differently? He was a known security threat within his own democratic nation. Hell, he wrote Mein Kampf while imprisoned for trying to stage a coup! Not censoring "Mein Kampf" didn't exactly work out for the Weimar Republic.

Now, I believe firmly in free speech on principle--but I view it as a defining principle we have to preserve at all costs in spite of its inherent potential dangers. It seems to me the position that free speech actually somehow protects us from fascist ideologies just isn't tenable.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:46 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


One thing we can all agree on is that clearly far-right terrorists like this and the guy who shot Dr. George Tiller all need to be water boarded so we can find out more about other imminent terror attacks.
Scott Roeder, Charged with Abortion Doctor George Tiller's Murder, Says More Violence is Coming.
Yeah -- so, WHAT THE FUCK, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Beck, Cheney, "torture apologists, et. al.?" Should we not be waterboarding this MOTHERFUCKER to prevent any future harm to AMERICAN CITIZENS? He's announced a threat! Is this not a ticking time bomb scenario you assholes have been citing to justify the use of enhanced interrogation techniques for the previous 8 years? Oh, what's that? He's not a Muslim. He's Amuric'n. Okay. No problem then! Carry on.
posted by ericb at 6:47 PM on June 10, 2009 [22 favorites]


I'm visiting my wingnut grandparents in Florida next month and I just dread hearing what they'll have to say about this.

My condolences to Officer Johns' family and friends.

.
posted by desjardins at 6:48 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


At 89 years old, I'm guessing this guy was hoping for "suicide by cop" with an extra dose of crazy-right-wing martyrdom.

Was von Brunn a Neo-Nazi obsessed with the Neo-Nazi symbolism of the number 88?
posted by jonp72 at 6:48 PM on June 10, 2009


The cause of the attack was his belief structure, which established particular human beings as evil and wretched and in need of annihilation.

Yes-an evil belief structure. He hated Jews, and he shot and killed a security guard.

I think part of the problem I am seeing, though is that people in general seem to equate disagreement with hate. They are two separate issues. People like Hannity may disagree with people they deem leftists, for example, but this does not mean they HATE those people. Evil people, on the other hand, see those they disagree with as worthy of being killed, or blown up, or tortured, or beaten, or...silenced.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:56 PM on June 10, 2009


Surely you see the difference between that and neo-Nazi or right-wing political sites? We aren't the lefty equivalent. We're something different altogether.


Oh, I have been told quite plainly that this IS a lefty place. I would never ever consider it the lefty equivalent of Neonazi sites, but I most certainly do see it as a mostly leftwing site, just as some other sites are known as right wing.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:58 PM on June 10, 2009


People like Hannity may disagree with people they deem leftists, for example, but this does not mean they HATE those people.

You don't think Hannity hates the liberals and leftists he demonizes? You don't think it was hate driving Bill O'Reilly to insinuate that George Tiller should be killed? You don't think Anne Coulter doesn't hate the people she wants to round up and have executed?

Just because they don't wear white hoods doesn't mean they aren't spewing hate.
posted by scody at 6:59 PM on June 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


OK, Bill and Anne, you may have a point with. But I don't find anything hateful about Hannity.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:04 PM on June 10, 2009


People like Hannity may disagree with people they deem leftists, for example

What about fellow-travelers of Hannity's like Ann Coulter, who in her ironically-titled book "Slander" wrote that the American public would "boil liberals alive" if they knew what they really believed?

You don't see blatant incitements to violent attitudes like that as expressions of hate, but merely as expressions of disagreement?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:05 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think part of the problem I am seeing, though is that people in general seem to equate disagreement with hate.
In general, which side of the right-left spectrum has done the most screaming about "hate"?

Do the last 8 years of frothing rabidity from O'Reilly and pals about how liberals "hate" America's values ring a bell? How about your own continual protestations about how us liberals on MetaFilter "hate" religion?

When someone on the left uses the word "hate" to describe what's happening to us, it's generally because someone on the right has said something vile and personal about us. Like that we're unpatriotic because we don't like our country to torture people. Or that because we support a woman's right to choose, we're baby-murdering psychopaths. Which, you know, if someone said that to me in the street, I'd be pretty convinced that they hated me.

Oh, and also, we on the left are often described as hateful by the right. We hate freedom. We hate babies and want them to be killed. We hate this. We hate that. We hate the other thing.

When someone on the right uses the word "hate" to describe what's happening to them, it's usually because someone on the left has said, politely, that they disagree with the opinion of the person on the right. O'Reilly says that Dr. Tiller is a murderer, and gets called out on it, and all of a sudden, he's the focus of "hate". Savage says, well, just about anything, and gets called out on it, and he's the focus of "hate".

The problem isn't "people in general" from where I'm standing. The problem is a right-wing noise machine that's completely out of control and tipping over into fomenting violence. And I don't think the people in the middle of it have any idea how to control the whirlwind that they're reaping. They may not be pulling the trigger, but they're sure as hell throwing gasoline on the fire, and there's a point at which free speech becomes incitement.

The greatest irony of all this is that the right wing, by amping up the rhetoric to this point, is in extreme danger of bringing about precisely the situation they fear, because they're painting the administration into a corner where they're going to have to do something about it or face popular outrage. I think the rabid right wing overestimates exactly how much tolerance the American public has for this kind of frothing vitriol, and are about to find the line where freedom of speech runs up against "stop being such an asshole".
posted by scrump at 7:16 PM on June 10, 2009 [20 favorites]


I don't find anything hateful about Hannity.
You're talking about Sean Hannity?

The Sean Hannity whose "Enemy of the Week" segment featured brutal dictators like Kim Jong-Il, Fidel Castro, and Barbara Streisand?
posted by Flunkie at 7:19 PM on June 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Brace yourself for seven more years of this reactionary, hateful bullshit from right-wing terrorists.
posted by bardic at 7:27 PM on June 10, 2009


.

And I will second wendell. Praise God it was not a Muslim... I could not begin to imagine how this would have turned out if it were.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:29 PM on June 10, 2009


Forgot to mention: I was just there like a couple weeks ago, only got to see a couple of exhibits, but I bet if I got to see more it would have been better. Looked like a fine and well kept place.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:31 PM on June 10, 2009


The Sean Hannity whose "Enemy of the Week" segment featured brutal dictators like Kim Jong-Il, Fidel Castro, and Barbara Streisand?

His segment orginally began as "Enemy of the State." His first "hit?" Sean Penn.
"And finally tonight, the 'Enemy of the State.' This week, actor, activist, and all around very angry man, Sean Penn takes the honors. Now, besides calling little old me a whore at a recent speech, Penn has called for the impeachment of just about everybody in the Bush administration, and called them bastards. Now, Penn can say whatever he wants, and we invite him on this program to sit in the 'Hot Seat' and defend his outlandish comments. But, the real question is who does this guy speak for, who does he represent other than other bad actors. So Sean Penn, you are this week's 'Enemy of the State.'"
posted by ericb at 7:35 PM on June 10, 2009


I think part of the problem I am seeing, though is that people in general seem to equate disagreement with hate. They are two separate issues. People like Hannity may disagree with people they deem leftists, for example, but this does not mean they HATE those people. Evil people, on the other hand, see those they disagree with as worthy of being killed, or blown up, or tortured, or beaten, or...silenced.

I don't presume to have any original insight on the mindsets of Sean Hannity or of the person who carried out this loathsome act today in Washington DC. But to address your contention above, as a gay man, I sure as heck know that I don't have to be killed, blown up, tortured, beaten, or silenced to be very actively hated.
posted by blucevalo at 7:38 PM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm sorry to sound cynical, but nothing whatsoever will change as a result of this tragedy. Right-wingers will carry on, unchastened. Hannity, Limbaugh, Malkin, Beck, Coulter, Savage and their ilk will not stop spewing their hatred for one second. Look what happened after Tiller. Exactly - nothing, the right wingers carried on as usual.

Now I'm going to say something that might get me into trouble. Nonetheless: I don't believe this will even impact the unholy union between certain neocons and the political right. There, I said it.

Fact is, and shoot me, if you must, but that's the truth - anti-Semitism has been traditionally a right-wing affair. From the beginning. Even in Tsarist times in Russia. Yes, some leftists shaded into anti-Semitism wrt. Israel - on occasion - and of course, Stalin's Soviet Union had its share of vile, inexcusable, disgusting anti-Semitism, but by and large, it is a right-wing phenomenon, including in this country (Father Coughlin is a good example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Coughlin). In contrast, historically, the left has been (with rare exceptions) opposed to anti-Semitism.

How will the neocons view this? How will they explain this? They'll ignore it. Cognitive dissonance wins again.
posted by VikingSword at 7:41 PM on June 10, 2009


I have to say, ugly as the anti-Semitism is, that I can't help but see it much more as a mental illness than as a real ideology or anything.

Yes, objectively speaking it is insane to think that Jews - or Freemasons - or Rotarians - are the secret puppetmasters of the world. None the less, there are lots of people who think this. They have conventions, their own literature and music, you name it. It's a self-reinforcing mindset where everything confirms the hypothesis. George Soros is Jewish, which shows how Jews control the world. Barak Obama isn't Jewish, and this clearly demonstrates that the secret Jewish world leaders can intimidate even the most unlikely targets.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:41 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, erichb, do note that in your quote Hannity invited Penn to come on the show.

And, again, per your quote, since Penn called Hannity a bastard, are we to assume that leftists are full of hate?

I think people who feel strongly about issues ON BOTH SIDES tend to get a little heated in the discussion. That is NOT the same as equating all "right wing" (or from my perspective, all "left wing" ) people as being hatefilled.

What I would like to avoid is this-one crazy evil dude (who, I agree is affiliated with other crazy evil dudes) being seen or compared to people who are right of center politically simply because Crazy Evil Dude also considers himself right of center.

Because if we are going to consider everyone who is vocally right of center to be crazy and evil, I submit that similar criteria could be applied to Left of Center with equal assumptions. Let's not do that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:50 PM on June 10, 2009


And, in keeping with the TOS, I've heroically resisted pointing to certain posters by name. I just really would like to know how they explain this to themselves. Here, their supposed "allies" are the ones who cause the greatest harm to Jews, while their political "enemies" are the ones who fight and oppose anti-Semitism. I guess I want to see the cognitive dissonance in action. Genuinely curious how this works, no malice intended at all.
posted by VikingSword at 7:51 PM on June 10, 2009


Fact is, and shoot me, if you must, but that's the truth - anti-Semitism has been traditionally a right-wing affair. From the beginning. Even in Tsarist times in Russia.

I don't think anyone is likely to shoot you, brave and outspoken bearer of unpopular truths. Except you're wrong. Russia was antisemitic under the Tsars and it stayed antisemitic under the Bolsheviks. Germany was antisemitic under the Kaiser and it stayed antisemitic under Hitler. In contrast, the USA has always been more or less free from official antisemitism.

Antisemitism fits into both left- and right-wing rhetoric: left-wing zealots talk about the greedy Jews grabbing all the wealth with their greedy Jewish hands; while right-wing zealots talk about internationalist Jews who want to impose socialism upon hard-working native-born patriots. There are only a few world leaders today that use antisemitic rhetoric, and I can only think of two that make the headlines: Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Chavez is certainly left wing under any reasonable definition. I don't think Ahmadinejad fits into a right-left continuum.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:58 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


And, again, per your quote, since Penn called Hannity a bastard, are we to assume that leftists are full of hate?

If you don't see the difference between calling someone out on your show as an "Enemy of the State" for having opinions with which you disagree, and reacting to that bit of nonsense by calling the asshole who did it a "bastard"--

--wait, of course you do see the difference. You're just being disingenous.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:02 PM on June 10, 2009


What I would like to avoid is this-one crazy evil dude (who, I agree is affiliated with other crazy evil dudes) being seen or compared to people who are right of center politically simply because Crazy Evil Dude also considers himself right of center.

Then I'd recommend you stop wheeling out this strawman over and over again. No one is tarring ALL conservatives as batshit crazy bomb-throwing extremists. We're talking about the far-right here.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:03 PM on June 10, 2009


I don't think Ahmadinejad fits into a right-left continuum.

Yes he does. He's considered a right-wing hardliner.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:03 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think people who feel strongly about issues ON BOTH SIDES tend to get a little heated in the discussion. That is NOT the same as equating all "right wing" (or from my perspective, all "left wing" ) people as being hatefilled.

Nobody has done this here, as far as I can see, and your implication that someone has is a red herring.

I am still curious to understand why you apparently think that hatred is really just a strong form of disagreement as long as someone isn't being beaten to a pulp, tortured, or killed.
posted by blucevalo at 8:04 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


left-wing zealots talk about the greedy Jews grabbing all the wealth with their greedy Jewish hands

Actually, in the US, this particular accusation is more generally made by right-wing extremists, and has been since at least the days of Henry Ford. Left-wing extremists in the US tend to focus on how the Jews make the US government help Israel oppress the Palestinians.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:04 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


And, again, per your quote, since Penn called Hannity a bastard, are we to assume that leftists are full of hate?
What does that have to do with whether Sean Hannity is hateful or not?
posted by Flunkie at 8:05 PM on June 10, 2009


Left-wing extremists in the US tend to focus on "how the Jews make the US government help Israel oppress the Palestinians."

Sorry, needs scare quotes to indicate that this is not my personal opinion.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:06 PM on June 10, 2009


In contrast, the USA has always been more or less free from official antisemitism.

Not according to this.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:10 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Evil people, on the other hand, see those they disagree with as worthy of being killed, or blown up, or tortured, or beaten, or...silenced.

One of these things is not like the others.
posted by the_bone at 8:13 PM on June 10, 2009


"No one in my family survived the camps... but many died in them."

.

My father was among the GIs in postwar Germany, and had lots of stories about how shocked he was about the "what, me?" attitudes of Germans, and of their resentment when the nearby concentration camp became a temporary center for local reconstruction efforts. Hatred and intolerance can become epidemic in societies, and our own is hardly immune.

"If it is so that this evil old man has died, rest assured that God is sorting him out. "

Or, alternately, you could accept that -- separate from your faith -- you can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, think it likely that with a fatal wound, von Brunn probably felt a sense of accomplishment and only a mercifully brief moment of pain and little fear before slipping into unconsciousness, realize that he will soon be a hero and martyr to those who promoted his flavor of hatred, even as they feel compelled to publicly deny harboring such sentiments, while others who promote their own brand of fear and hate use him as a marketing tool to illegally settle Americans into parts of Palestine, in violation of numerous UN declarations that our country habitually neuters.

It's no surprise, perhaps, that Avigdor Lieberman, the racist Israeli ultra-nationalist who became part of the ruling coalition, has been tapped to oversee immigration to Israel from the Russian-speaking Jewish community both in Russia and in the US and Canada,, while his fellow party member Danny Ayalon oversees Nefesh B'Nefesh, the principal organization that encourages aliyah from English-speaking countries, overseeing immigration from the U.S... Russians being the current largest source of immigrants, while the US makes up the largest potential pool of immigrants.

Likewise, it's no surprise that when Lieberman was named Foreign Minister, he named Ayalon as his deputy, and that Ayalon personally wrote a three-page Foreign Ministry report, mysteriously "leaked" to the AP in time for Ayalon's arrival as a South American conference, alleging that Bolivia and Venezuela are supplying Iran with uranium, and playing host to Hezbollah terror cells in Latin America. Never mind how much sense this doesn't make, or that Bolivia hasn't even been surveyed for uranium deposits.

In short, Israeli ultra-nationalists now hold key positions to encourage more illegal settlements, as well as the stovepiping of fraudulent, politically-slanted intelligence, which, thanks to cooperation agreements, flows straight into our own intelligence agencies... and that tends to mean more innocent people will die.

I liked your idea of God fixing things better, frankly. It would make me considerably more reassured to feel that way, in that it would mean that there was some sense of justice, and that everything was proceeding along a divine plan, and will all work out okay in the end. But right now, the only plans I see sure aren't those created by a just God, and those plans could make things much, much worse.

My only solace being that despite a horrible status quo, my President still says the right thing.

"I am shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world."

Amen.
posted by markkraft at 8:25 PM on June 10, 2009


Germany was antisemitic under the Kaiser and it stayed antisemitic under Hitler.
Uh, whut? You know the Nazis were socialist in name only, right? Not much leftist about that regime.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:30 PM on June 10, 2009


"do note that in your quote Hannity invited Penn to come on the show."

How fucking considerate of him.

Look, there are crazies on the left, but you can't deny that over the past eight years or so the lunatic fringe of the Republican party is now its central core. Rush Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the GOP, and Rush Limbaugh is a racist, drug-addicted asshole.

Trying to play the false equivalency game ("Michael Moore is a meanie, just like a GOP'er who shoots up the Holocaust Museum!") is not only disingenuous, it simply doesn't work any longer. 2003 is long past. Iraq was and remains an epic clusterfuck. The right-wing in America has gotten its wish -- an ideological purity at the expense of any long-term relevance to American politics.

How's that working out for you konolia?
posted by bardic at 8:44 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bardic, all you know about the Republican party is what the leftleaning media tells you.

I, on the other hand, know and talk to real people in the party. My husband knows and talks to and associates with Republicans on the local and the state level. I think we have a better idea of what our core looks like than someone who only knows what he heard on the radio.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:54 PM on June 10, 2009


Alia, your husband and his associates told you that Obama would lose (handily!) in your own county, which he ended up winning by an overwhelming margin. It was at a fish fry, I believe.
posted by yhbc at 8:58 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Bardic, all you know about the Republican party is what the leftleaning media tells you.

This is a fascinatingly self-discrediting statement.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:58 PM on June 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


Bardic, all you know about the Republican party is what the leftleaning media tells you.

Holy fucking shit, you are not seriously trying to put that across in the same post as

what he heard on the radio

are you? NEWSFLASH: LOTS OF SELF-IDENTIFIED REPUBLICANS ON THE TALK RADIO, TALKING ABOUT STUFF WITH THEIR SELF-IDENTIFIED REPUBLICAN CALLERS, BEING CRAWLED TO BY THE OFFICIAL LEADERS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. Perhaps you've heard of this gentleman Mr. Limbaugh? Or this other gentleman Mr. Beck? Mr. Severin? Mr. Hannity? Ms. Ingraham? Ms. Coulter? Stop me if this is getting too complicated here.

Yes, there are lots of nice, smart, sane, moderate people who self-identify as Republicans. Unfortunately, none of them seem to be in the party leadership right now--the party's being run by clowns who toady to the abovementioned radio and TV demagogues.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:01 PM on June 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


Evil people, on the other hand, see those they disagree with as worthy of being killed, or blown up, or tortured, or beaten, or...silenced.

St. Alia, I know you're trying to make nice, so I hope you'll clarify that you don't mean that people on metafilter are "evil," and therefore moral equivalents of men who shoot random strangers at memorials, when they shout "SHUT UP ABOUT THE GAYS" or similar things at you.

Because the wording makes it look kind of like you are, but I don't think you are.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:01 PM on June 10, 2009


Bardic, all you know about the Republican party is what the leftleaning media tells you.

It's interesting, but the media basically aren't "leftleaning" at all. While individual people who work for the media are often likely to be Democratic and have leftish ideals, they work for more centrist folks who follow the money, court controversy, and don't want to alienate advertisers. I think you have bad information, and I don't think you care that you have bad information.
posted by jessamyn at 9:02 PM on June 10, 2009 [58 favorites]


I mean, seriously, every statement of Bardic's that you attribute to misrepresentation by the "left-leaning media" is present in self-descriptions from the self-identified right-leaning Fox News. And in self-descriptions from the self-identified right-leaning National Review.

If you or any of your fellow Republicans don't agree with this nonsense, and I am sure there are many who don't, perhaps it would behoove you to get your party's official leadership to stop pandering to it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:03 PM on June 10, 2009


I don't have cable, and I don't listen to the radio that much. Apparently that's a good thing.

And no, I wasn't targeting Metafilter with my phrasing, ROU_Xenophobe.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:07 PM on June 10, 2009


"I think we have a better idea of what our core looks like than someone who only knows what he heard on the radio."

St. Alia? I hate to say it, but 33% of what's left of the Republican Party -- the ones who didn't switch to Independents or Democrats in the last election -- have taken a good, hard look into the core of the party... and they're pretty upset about what they see.
posted by markkraft at 9:08 PM on June 10, 2009


Most of what I know about the Republican Party is what they themselves tell me, and they don't lack resources to get their message out. We're not at the mercy of some many tentacled left leaning octopus of a media here, who only allow the messages they approve. The right wing has its own media, and makes repeated and often devastatingly effective use of it.

It's not my fault that they currently seem to be interested in promoting the Obama is a socialist mere and promoting Michele Bachmann and Victoria Jackson as their mouthpieces, rather than Mr. and Ms. middle america. They made that decision themselves.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:08 PM on June 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


"all you know about the Republican party is what the leftleaning media tells you"

And thus, the crazy begins.

I know Republicans personally. I have family members who are Republicans. They love Limbaugh. They love Hannity. They love Coulter.

They are in love with hate.

The ones that aren't? Many of them have become independents. Former Reagan Republicans sickened by the loony-bin that passes for the contemporary GOP of Chairman Rush.

Democrats certainly aren't perfect, but they aren't authoritarian or eliminationist in their rhetoric.

But please, keep pretending there's no connection between the hateful rantings of Hannity and Limbaugh and the occasional (although now more frequent) right-winger who snaps. Keep clutching them pearls konolia, real hard.
posted by bardic at 9:08 PM on June 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't have cable, and I don't listen to the radio that much.

You are possibly the most consistently dishonest arguer on this site. Seriously, don't lecture the rest of us about being out of touch and then fucking pretend that you don't know who Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Ingraham, Coulter et al. are and how deep the current Republican Party leadership is in their pockets.

You can put your hands over your ears and yell "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" all you want, but be aware that you're coming off as a hypocritical, disingenuous waste of oxygen.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:10 PM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


See, right there is what is pissing me off (forgive my language)....I could go dive into the media and bring up people on the left that talk about people on the right just the same way as Limbaugh and the others you quote-but because you agree with those folks we aren't accusing THEM of hate speech.

What I am saying is that neither the Limbaughs of the world or the Al Frankens of the world have caused what happened today. What happened today was in a different category altogether.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:13 PM on June 10, 2009


(Oh, and careful there, sidhedevil-if for some reason someone decided I needed shooting this week someone could cite you for inciting it. Yeah, wouldn't THAT be stupid??)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:14 PM on June 10, 2009


The good news, however, is that the other 63% of what is left of the Republican Party who actually view their party favorably... well, they still get equal time in the media, despite being only around 17 percent of the population.

(27% Republican x 63% approval = 17.01%)
posted by markkraft at 9:15 PM on June 10, 2009


I used to live across the street from the Museum of Tolerance in LA, and I was surprised to see well-armed guards (I'm no gun expert but they looked to be sub-machine guns) patrolling the parking lot and the entrance.

I know that Mr. Jones died protecting something he must have deeply believed in. I can't imagine the kind of life and education that lead to the rotten soul that believed that attacking the Holocaust Museum was a good thing.

. for Stephen Jones, Hero.
posted by schyler523 at 9:18 PM on June 10, 2009


See, right there is what is pissing me off (forgive my language)....I could go dive into the media and bring up people on the left that talk about people on the right just the same way as Limbaugh and the others you quote-but because you agree with those folks we aren't accusing THEM of hate speech.

Name a single liberal pundit with as much reach as Limbaugh, or Hannity, or Coulter, or Beck, or O'Reilly. Name a single national-level liberal pundit who says the vile shit those people say. Go. Do it. Now.

What I am saying is that neither the Limbaughs of the world or the Al Frankens of the world

Franken is nothing like Limbaugh. I'm guessing that you're so far up the right-wing media's ass that it doesn't occur to you that the other side maybe isn't the same.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:19 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


What I am saying is that neither the Limbaughs of the world or the Al Frankens of the world have caused what happened today. What happened today was in a different category altogether.

Okay, I tried my best to give you the benefit of the doubt earlier, konolia, but you've shown your colors. This has transcended false equivalency. The fact that you would put a U.S. Senator and that xenophobic, cynical, opportunistic blowhard in the same sentence (despite their similar origins in "entertainment") tells me everything I need to know. You're not interested in establishing a putative common ground. You're either in denial or you're being used or you're as crass an opportunist as the media figures you claim to defend. Assuming the best of these interpretations: you're part of the problem.

I'm sorry if this gets me in trouble with the MeFi thought-police of the hallowed Middle Ground, but you're either dumb enough to swallow the lies and lines of the hollow men shilling at you or ...

You know what? I'm done. Whatever. You're convinced that there's a moral equivalency between Storm Front and MetaFilter, so I'm out. Way to obey your Savior's commandment to love thy enemy and give away all (ALL!) of your material possessions to the most in need. Camel's eye, the hypocrisy of Pharisees, etc. etc. etc.

So it goes. At least you can sleep tonight with the fantasy that your God is torturing George Tiller for all eternity. Guess what? You looked into the abyss without a trace of self-reflection and now the abyss is looking into you. YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Good night.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:20 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


"I could go dive into the media and bring up people on the left that talk about people on the right just the same way as Limbaugh and the others you quote-but because you agree with those folks we aren't accusing THEM of hate speech."

Please show me where Michael Moore said that Donovan McNabb is only a starter because he's black.

Or where Al Franken called for the forcible conversion of all Muslims to Christianity.

Nope, didn't think you could you hypocritical twit.
posted by bardic at 9:22 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I could go dive into the media and bring up people on the left that talk about people on the right just the same way as Limbaugh

That's not the point. You could not find any random irresponsible pundit who is treated by the Democratic Party leadership with the kind of deference and kid gloves that Limbaugh receives.

More to the point, no radio hatemonger is considered by a plurality of Democrats to be "the person who speaks for the Democratic Party", whereas Rush Limbaugh was named by a plurality of Republicans as "the person who speaks for the Republican Party."

Yes, there are assholes in both US political parties, just as there are assholes in every political party around the world. However, the current leadership of the Republican Party toadies to the assholes with bully pulpits in ways that embarrass the majority of the Republicans I know, who include some elected officials.

Oh, and careful there, sidhedevil-if for some reason someone decided I needed shooting this week someone could cite you for inciting it.

Yes, identifying you as a "hypocritical, disingenuous waste of oxygen" is hate speech. That's rich coming from you, with your endless invective about who's going to burn in hellfire!
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:22 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


JoeInAustralia - it's enormously reductive to say the Bolsheviks continued Tsarist anti-semitism. Wiki gives a reasonable study of the early period, including the many failures to effectively stop it, which is certainly to be noted and condemned. I've seen the rise of Stalin has been described as in part the revenge of Old Russia against the "cosmopolitanism" (in part a code-word for alleged Jewish influence) of the early Soviet regime.
I've no brief for Leninism, but I was always led to believe what Zvi Gitelman is quoted on Wiki as saying is broadly true: "Never before in Russian history — and never subsequently has a government made such an effort to uproot and stamp out antisemitism."
posted by Abiezer at 9:25 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


with your endless invective about who's going to burn in hellfire!

Links, please.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:25 PM on June 10, 2009


Links, please.

Mature theology, please.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:27 PM on June 10, 2009


"What I am saying is that neither the Limbaughs of the world or the Al Frankens of the world have caused what happened today. What happened today was in a different category altogether."

Did Rush Limbaugh and his ilk pull the trigger today? No, of course not.

But does Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, O'Reilly, Coulter and others on the right, by increasingly tolerating hateful rhetoric designed to incite their audience to anger -- and much of the rest of the Republican Party, by not vocally speaking out against such rhetoric -- help promote the growth of extremist right-wing hate groups?!

Of course they do.
posted by markkraft at 9:27 PM on June 10, 2009


I also disagree with St. Alia of the Bunnies, but I think the rancor directed specifically at her, rather than her points, is misplaced. I would suggest that if you think she is being disingenuous, or is too obtuse to have a reasoned discussion, then ignoring her might be a better option.

And I say this knowing I can be as much of a cowboy as anybody and have gone after people directly as well. But this event has left me quite startled and unhappy, and I suppose just now I would like to imagine that reason and civility are things that might shift the world to the better.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:28 PM on June 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


I also disagree with St. Alia of the Bunnies, but I think the rancor directed specifically at her, rather than her points, is misplaced.

Fair enough, but she doesn't argue her points honestly. Still, you're right that this is a long-standing antipathy on my part, and she's digging her own rhetorical grave just fine without my help.

I suppose just now I would like to imagine that reason and civility are things that might shift the world to the better.

I'm not sure that you can fight wilful unreason and incivility (however disguised under passive-aggressive smileyface bullshit) with reason and civility. Sometimes reason and hostility...but I've lost my temper enough in this thread, so I will go away and pray for St. Alia of the Bunnies.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:33 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


[comments removed - a little less nickname griefing and more discussion if possible. SAotB, you know where MeTa is, please go there and don't make this thread all about you v everyone, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:33 PM on June 10, 2009


I'm not sure that you can fight wilful unreason and incivility (however disguised under passive-aggressive smileyface bullshit) with reason and civility.

I'm not sure you can either. You probably can't. I'm not likely to change St. Alia's mind, and she's unlikely to share mine. But she's definitely part of the MetaFilter community, and has shown herself to be willing to stubbornly remain. It's a little disheartening that her presence brings out the attack dogs in people I respect, because it really feels to me that it diminishes the quality of the discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:38 PM on June 10, 2009


But I'm policing the thread, and that's not my intention. I know this is an issue that is very emotional for people -- it is for me. So I won't tell anybody how to behave, and I'll let the mods do their job.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:41 PM on June 10, 2009


Honestly, I don't think there ARE any liberal pundits that talk like Limbaugh, so if you will, please do dive in and do a careful comparison I would be interested.
posted by edgeways at 9:45 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone is likely to shoot you, brave and outspoken bearer of unpopular truths.

Oh, I fully expected to get attacked, and here you are, obliging.

That said, you managed to distort the historical record to an amazing degree - and as such, you provided the illustration I was looking for, so thank you for that - now I see how some people think and what forms their world view.

Except you're wrong. Russia was antisemitic under the Tsars and it stayed antisemitic under the Bolsheviks. Germany was antisemitic under the Kaiser and it stayed antisemitic under Hitler. In contrast, the USA has always been more or less free from official antisemitism.

This is arrant nonsense. Russia was anti-Semitic under the Tsars, and did not stay anti-Semitic under the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks were the adamantly opposed to anti-Semitism - it was part of their official program to overcome the prejudices and backwardness of the Tsarist ideology (though, perhaps some individual Bolsheviks were anti-Semitic - as in any movement, anywhere). Jews by the thousands joined the Communist cause, and in fact reached the summits of power under the Bolsheviks (Trotsky was merely the most famous). This would have been unthinkable under the Tsars - in fact, in direct opposition to this, Russian Whites (anti-Communists) formed explicitly anti-Jewish units that engaged in wide-spread pogroms. This Jewish participation in the Communist cause, was the origin of the right-wing (especially Nazi) canard of "Jews and Communists" (i.e. implying that somehow being Jewish automatically predisposed one to be a Communist). You could not have a greater contrast when it came to the treatment of Jews than that between the Communists and the Tsarists. Down the line, the Communists even established a Jewish Republic on Soviet land. With time, however, things turned somewhat - Stalin, who was growing increasingly paranoid toward the end of his reign, in a frenzy to eliminate any and all possible rivals, used vile anti-Semitism to eliminate powerful old-time Jewish Communists in positions of power, and then compounded that with absurd charges against Jews in general ("Jewish doctors plot etc."). Unquestionably, in later years, Communism turned toward persecution of Jews, though never anything on a scale of Nazis.

To even compare the Nazi treatment of Jews to Communist treatment of Jews is ignorance at its most extreme.

And historically, absolutely, the left opposed anti-Semitism, while the right was guilty of it (the Dreyfuss affair was a good illustration of this in France). This was also true in the U.S. - there was casual anti-Semitism from the right, including the political right up to the 70's, with the left, including the political left being opposed to anti-Semitism. The question of Israel complicated that picture starting sometime in the 80's, but history shows very plainly where anti-Semitism comes from in the political spectrum: the right. And by the way, that was reflected by overwhelming support of Jews for the Democratic party right up until Reagan (and then a small trickle of Jews supporting Republicans started, and grew).
posted by VikingSword at 9:54 PM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


You know the Nazis were socialist in name only, right? Not much leftist about that regime.

They rose to power at least partially because they had a popular economic platform. In many ways the Nazi regime was sui generis, but in many other ways it followed the pattern of other populist movements. This doesn't make populist or socialist movements Nazi-like; it just means that adopting left-wing ideas like government health care and nationalised industries isn't a panacea against antisemitism.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:02 PM on June 10, 2009


"I think the rancor directed specifically at her, rather than her points, is misplaced."

I supported my criticism directly against the points raised, supported by statistical links... and bear no ill will, even though I strongly disagree with her.

...but that doesn't mean I will quietly cede a complete denial of any kind of accountability. Isn't ignoring hate and accepting the arguments made to defend it a big part of how we got where we are today?

Again... a 50% increase in known hate groups since 2000. Some of that is caused by the mainstreaming of hateful rhetoric. I lived through twelve years of Reagan and Bush, but I have never seen this level of hateful anger from the Republicans.

If you had told me in 1999 that a best-selling author would call me a traitor to my country, or incite violence against me because of my political beliefs, I wouldn't have believed such a thing. Not here.

First they came...

Is this trend towards hate and incitement to violence something that people of any political persuasion should tolerate, much less crow over?!

I disagree with the Republicans on most issues, but the fact remains that there are a lot of Christians in their midst... and to be honest, I come from that Christian tradition and greatly admire the teachings of Jesus, even though I can't tell you whether there is a God or not.

Is it too much to ask that Christians and other Republicans be concerned about the effect this trend to hateful rhetoric is having on the country, and not tolerate it in their midst?
posted by markkraft at 10:05 PM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"This Jewish participation in the Communist cause, was the origin of the right-wing (especially Nazi) canard of "Jews and Communists" (i.e. implying that somehow being Jewish automatically predisposed one to be a Communist)."

Quibbling point—The "Jews and Communists" canard predated Nazis, and was an update of the "Jews and Liberals" canard promulgated at least as early as the 1848 revolution in Germany. That the Liberals and reformers did have a disproportionate number of Jews was surely part of that, but since part of the Junker social platform was anti-Semitism, it's not like that wasn't a rational response. And the supposed alliance of Jews with the left was something that Bismark played with as a rhetorical strategy in order to strengthen his position with the nationalist conservatives in order to reform the Diet, which ultimately created a more powerful chancellery.

As for Russia, the Bolsheviks were remarkably charitable to Russian Jewish ethnicity (at least, remarkably for Russians), but weren't afraid of using anti-Semitism as a political tactic against the Mensheviks, a strategy continued by Stalin upon his assumption of power.
posted by klangklangston at 10:19 PM on June 10, 2009


For an interesting look at Judeasm and Bolshevism, take a gander at the Yevsektsiya movement, a Jewish sub-set of the Russian Communist Party that was in large part devoted to stamping out Jewish culture (obviously, more complicated than that).
posted by klangklangston at 10:25 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: See, right there is what is pissing me off (forgive my language)....

Oh, heaven forfend!

Oh, that's right ... one mustn't ever (EVER) utter the words: "Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker or Tits!"

BTW -- cornholio, your narrow-minded weltanschauung (look it up) seriously pisses me off!
posted by ericb at 10:29 PM on June 10, 2009


I also disagree with St. Alia of the Bunnies, but I think the rancor directed specifically at her, rather than her points, is misplaced....Fair enough, but she doesn't argue her points honestly.

"Albert Einstein once said:
'Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.'
But it doesn't take a genius to realize we are all surrounded by idiots."
posted by ericb at 10:41 PM on June 10, 2009


Maybe drop it in both directions, or at the very least contain it to the Metatalk thread, yeah?
posted by cortex at 10:47 PM on June 10, 2009


Russia was anti-Semitic under the Tsars, and did not stay anti-Semitic under the Bolsheviks.

I've got a lot of Jewish friends of Russian extraction who would disagree. Loudly and emphatically. But this is several miles away from the topic at hand.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:48 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe drop it in both directions, or at the very least contain it to the Metatalk thread, yeah?

Point taken, cortex.
posted by ericb at 10:51 PM on June 10, 2009


I have to say, ugly as the anti-Semitism is, that I can't help but see it much more as a mental illness than as a real ideology or anything. I realize this is in part due to where American society is—very few people are openly anti-Semetic, at least in my purview. I realize that in, say, Saudi Arabia this isn't the case.

I don't really think you can blame "mental illness" You're essentially saying that not conforming to societies viewpoints make you insane. But the thing with this guy, he did buy into societies views on race and so on, but those views changed during his lifetime. He was also involved in a subculture so that his friends and the people he socialized with all shared his views. In psychology, having the same views as your friends and social group is never considered crazy, it's normal.

The fact that he used violence his horrible, but not indicative of insanity, it's just a disagreement that felt strongly enough about to use violence. Obviously he's a horrible person. In fact, I would say that trying to claim he was crazy actually lessons how bad he is, it's in excuse, when in fact he knew exactly what he was doing.

Also, the fact that he's 89 years old and he just got shot. In a purely rational analysis, he wouldn't have lost much if he'd been shot or went to jail.
posted by delmoi at 2:47 AM on June 11, 2009


I think it's fair to say that many members of the Republican Party (and its many media spokespeople) are at least guilty of . . . wait for it:

PALLING AROUND WITH FUCKING TERRORISTS.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:19 AM on June 11, 2009 [10 favorites]


Oh, and:

rest assured that God is sorting him out.

Whew. OK, I'll let it go then.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:22 AM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


.

I'd also like to say, on behalf of Minnesota, that we're sorry about Michelle Bachmann. We don't really know where she came from or what she wants, but we got sick of her talking all the time, so we sent her to Washington.
posted by saysthis at 5:40 AM on June 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'd also like to say, on behalf of Minnesota, that we're sorry about Michelle Bachmann. We don't really know where she came from or what she wants, but we got sick of her talking all the time, so we sent her to Washington.

The interesting thing about Bachmann, is that she's basically the product of gerrymandering. The DFL wanted to create a bunch of safe democratic seats, and they did so by packing all the wingnuts into one congressional district. The result: Michelle Bachmann.
posted by delmoi at 6:17 AM on June 11, 2009


I read several posts here and the conclusion looks like some finger pointing towards the right. We should all collectively point our fingers at the nut case with the gun. I hope he gets the book thrown at him! I think I speak for the majority of us here:

Fuck Neo Nazis and their KKK cousins. Our country would be 100 times better off without their stink.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:26 AM on June 11, 2009


I read several posts here and the conclusion looks like some finger pointing towards the right. We should all collectively point our fingers at the nut case with the gun . . .

. . . that leaves me three fingers just on this one hand to point to the movement of which he is a member, if I count correctly.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:35 AM on June 11, 2009


But let us see him for what he is or was, and not simply and lazily lump him with whatever larger groups that perhaps he was marginally associated with...

I don't recall this poster or anyone else on the right saying this about Bill Ayers.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:37 AM on June 11, 2009


I know that Mr. Jones died protecting something he must have deeply believed in.

Really? Is there any evidence for that, or is it just projection? How do you know he didn't just work there every day because it was a well paying, respectable job? Is this not more about making his death easier for you to accept it? Why must he have 'deeply cared'? What does it matter?

I see this in every tragedy/incident/death related discussion in (mainly US, as it happens) media and discussions. As the conversation goes on, higher and higher moral purpose and heroism is applied to the dead and greater and greater evilness/puppy kicking/kitten raping allusions made about the perpetrator. I don't know why this can't be a nasty and horrible example of one man's warped and racist view of the world and some poor guy being killed because he happened to work at a place that the gunman hates for what it represents. I think, personally, that this is enough reason to find it abhorrent.

Why would it be worse, or better, or in fact any different at all if Mr Jones was just doing his job? Why does he need to be a 'deep believer' in the Holocaust museum for it to bring any sort of additional gravitas to his death? Why would whether or not he was a 'deep believer' give anyone any comfort as to the end result of this? Would you say "Well, he deserved it" if he wasn't a deep believer? The guy was killed for something unrelated to him - he didn't create the museum or participate in the holocaust, he just worked there. I don't think how much he may, or may not, have cared about the concept of the building he works at makes it any worse or better and I find that sort of projection objectionable (whether or not it is the case here).
posted by Brockles at 6:42 AM on June 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Johns. The man's name is Stephen Johns, not Jones.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:50 AM on June 11, 2009


.
posted by graventy at 7:23 AM on June 11, 2009


Is there any evidence for that, or is it just projection? How do you know he didn't just work there every day because it was a well paying, respectable job?

On the other hand, one would have argue that he would have to have been morally obtuse to have considered working at the Holocaust Memorial Museum 'just a job'. "Big John", as he was nicknamed, is being remembered for his unfailing courtesy and friendliness. Upthread, there have been a couple of links to a personal memoir of the importance of those qualities in the staff there, and it bears repeating: "The guards and staff at the Holocaust Museum have a special duty. The do more than just protect and operate one of Washington's many heavily trafficked museums. On a daily basis, they help open the doors* to the elderly survivors of the atrocities of World War II. As my stories attest, they do it with a remarkable degree of kindness and professionalism." {*And he means this both literally and metaphorically.}

As for Special Officer Johns himself, there's a Facebook group dedicated to his memory, which includes first-hand remembrances. (Facebook is blocked at work for me, annoyingly, so I can't quote from it.) The worst thing to contemplate about his death, though, is that von Brunn may have targetted him, even in the arbitrary instant of walking into the museum, because of his skin color.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:57 AM on June 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


But these seem like paranoid delusions, on the level of the CIA poisoning my coffee or birds spying on me.

There is a difference, which is dinstinct and important. Paranoid delusions accompanying an episode of decompensation in someone with a psychotic disorder are usually accompanied by highly disorganized thought and sometimes even disorganized speech that can lapse into total gibberish. You do not often see this type of clarity and intensity of focus in paranoid delusions that are psychosis symptoms. The perceived forces at work in psychotic delusions are usually pretty vague and nobody in the midst of a full blown psychotic episode is going to be capable of sitting at a computer and constructing a forceful, clearly written diatribe, even if said diatribe's content seems so politically radical as to verge on delusional. People suffering from psychotic disorders can often act out in violence when symptomatic but when they do, again, it's generally a random lashing out triggered by some internal stimuli rather than an organized attempt to attack a certain group or ideology. I think we need to be really careful in equating fringe political psychopaths with people suffering with chronic mental health conditions like schizophrenia, the stigma for these people is already great enough. I know that wasn't your intention, Klang, and I see the vague similarities but on closer inspection I honestly don't think they're very similar at all.
posted by The Straightener at 8:41 AM on June 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Also, the fact that he's 89 years old and he just got shot. In a purely rational analysis, he wouldn't have lost much if he'd been shot or went to jail.

My grandfather once told me, "A young man will threaten you, but an old man will kill you."
posted by vibrotronica at 8:43 AM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think we need to be really careful in equating fringe political psychopaths with people suffering with chronic mental health conditions like schizophrenia, the stigma for these people is already great enough.

In other words, you don't have to be crazy to believe something insane.
posted by jonp72 at 8:49 AM on June 11, 2009


I don't really think you can blame "mental illness" You're essentially saying that not conforming to societies viewpoints make you insane. But the thing with this guy, he did buy into societies views on race and so on, but those views changed during his lifetime. He was also involved in a subculture so that his friends and the people he socialized with all shared his views. In psychology, having the same views as your friends and social group is never considered crazy, it's normal.

Have you been to his web site and read any of his writings? He's got all the hallmarks of having a classic "internet crank" type of paranoia. He writes with an obsessive amount of detail, an obsession with explaining the flawed logic he used to arrive at his positions, and an obsession with unseen masters controlling and ruining his life. Just because other people show similarly flawed thinking doesn't mean they're all sane.
posted by TungstenChef at 8:53 AM on June 11, 2009


In other words, you don't have to be crazy to believe something insane.

Just because you believe in something crazy, you don't necessarily fit the diagnostic criteria for a psychotic disorder.
posted by The Straightener at 8:58 AM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


My completely worthless, internet psychological diagnosis is delusional disorder.
posted by TungstenChef at 9:10 AM on June 11, 2009


a classic "internet crank" type of paranoia

Wow, did they quietly slip that into the latest edition of the DSM-IV? Because it sure sounds like BS to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:21 AM on June 11, 2009


"I know that wasn't your intention, Klang, and I see the vague similarities but on closer inspection I honestly don't think they're very similar at all."

That's a fair point, although I think Tungstenchef is closer to what I was thinking of, even as I expressed myself poorly.

I also recognize that this is a very much a viewpoint critiqued by Foucault, the attribution of mental illness to those who act outside the bounds of normal society.
posted by klangklangston at 9:39 AM on June 11, 2009


Wow, did they quietly slip that into the latest edition of the DSM-IV? Because it sure sounds like BS to me.

That was meant as an archetype that most people on Metafilter would be familiar with. As I mentioned later, delusional disorder is an actual, honest-to-God-and-the-DSM-IV disorder that seems to describe his behavior very well. He believed so fervently that the Jews and Illumnati controlled the banking system that he walked into the Federal Reserve building armed to the teeth with the intention of holding the chairman hostage!
posted by TungstenChef at 9:39 AM on June 11, 2009


Let me put it this way. I once had a client whose psychotic delusions followed a thread of corporate control over society. When he became symptomatic he believed that a big corporation, usually IBM, was controlling his mind and the world around him. In those moments he believed that the way to free himself from IBM's control would be to actually ascend through the corporate ranks and take over the company from within. For the past couple years he had been keeping a journal in a binder where he logged his various plans for taking over IBM. It was roughly the thickness of a NYC phone book. It was important for us as his case managers to recognize this as a symptom symbol because this client had a history of extreme violence, assaultive behavior towards family and staff, and dude was also totally jacked and could seriously fuck you up. So when he showed up with the binder, it was like, oh shit, here we go. Watch his hands, make sure you're not backed into a corner, safety protocols, etc.

Well, I got him to show me the binder one day and it was hundreds of pages of complete incoherence. The sentences kind of ran all over the page and didn't have much grammatical structure. There were numbers scrawled all over that he said were stock quotes he was tracking that were extremely significant. And in these states of mind he was prone to invent words, could be very difficult to follow, often spoke into a ballpoint pen like it was a recording device. It was especially difficult working with him considering the entire time he's eyeing you all hard like he just figured out you work for IBM and is about to come across the table and try to choke you out.

That's more what psychotic paranoid delusions look like. That ain't this dude.
posted by The Straightener at 9:41 AM on June 11, 2009 [15 favorites]


New info from TPM:

Von Brunn's Site Was Transferred Out Of His Name June 1
The information, which SPLC obtained through a search of online records, suggests that Von Brunn was at the time planning the attack on the Holocaust Museum of which he is now suspected, and may have wanted to ensure that the site continued.

...

on June 1 the site was transferred from Von Brunn's name into that of Steve Reimink, of West Olive, Michigan.

...

A woman named Patti Thompson, who is listed as a coordinator for the Ron Paul campaign in Michigan, shares the phone number that's given for Reimink in the domain records for the site -- and who appears to be his (Reimink's) girlfriend.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:45 AM on June 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


"That's more what psychotic paranoid delusions look like. That ain't this dude."

Right, but having had a long family history with someone who thought that people with Ks in their license plates were part of a secret government plot to kill him before he could perfect a technology to block radio brain waves (seriously), I can tell you that sometimes they're perfectly lucid except for the giant craziness at the center of their brains. This guy ended up being diagnosed as bipolar, and was fairly functional most days (aside from a descent into the alcoholism that ultimately killed him), and other days he was trying to kick down my uncle's door so that he could save my uncle from the government injections. His notebooks weren't incoherent or filled with made-up words, they were careful notes of all the times that someone involved with the government persecuted him (a government which included practically everyone, since he was a giant asshole and was frequently asked to leave places).

Oddly enough, when Clinton was visiting within an hour or two from him, the Secret Service came to his small town and that validated all of Gary's delusions—see, they really were after him, he was right!

I am emphatically not saying that Von Brunn was bipolar or anything else, just that seeing his writing and looking at his actions makes me suspect he was mentally ill.
posted by klangklangston at 10:21 AM on June 11, 2009


Well, that and anti-Semitism does feel like mental illness to me, in that it's such a weird, alien belief system (which is more what Foucault was critiquing).
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 AM on June 11, 2009


I think it's true that nearly all extremist racism is based in disordered paranoid delusional thinking and likely has it's roots in a mental illness of one type or another. But I also think entire societies can be mentally ill in this regard.
posted by tkchrist at 10:41 AM on June 11, 2009


I see your larger point and agree, I am curious to know how psychiatrists handle clients voicing intense racialism like this during psychiatric evaluations, docs in the prison system probably run into pretty frequently. Honestly, I don't know where a doc draws a line in the crazy continuum to actually label it as part of some other psychiatric pathology.
posted by The Straightener at 10:46 AM on June 11, 2009


The question of whether or not extreme racist belief represents a form of mental illness is pretty controversial in mental health circles, as I understand it. It's not listed in the DSM-IV, according to this (which incidentally suggests that extreme racism should sometimes be regarded as mental illness, despite the absence of any particular diagnostic criteria for racism as illness).

Apparently, a group of psychiatrists proposed including extreme racism in the DSM-IV during the civil rights era, but the proposal was rejected on the grounds that racism was too widespread to be considered a mental health isssue.
The association's officials rejected the recommendation, arguing that because so many Americans are racist, even extreme racism in this country is normative—a cultural problem rather than an indication of psychopathology.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:00 AM on June 11, 2009


"I think it's true that nearly all extremist racism is based in disordered paranoid delusional thinking and likely has it's roots in a mental illness of one type or another. But I also think entire societies can be mentally ill in this regard."

Yeah, although I kind of think that a distinction is there. Like, I tend to think that a lot of the anti-Semitism that comes out of Iran's leadership is actually rather cynical political rhetoric rather than actual craziness. I guess the argument I'd make for that is that I think that the South has come a long way in a generation or two, and that most of the residual racism is ignorance and misplaced fear. In that context, I tend to think of, say, Jesse Helms or Strom Thurman as political racists, not crazy racists. Their racism served their political aspirations, but they both at least publicly toned it down as it stopped being as effective. The systemized violence of the South also seems like "rational" racism to me. The other side, the irrational racism, is folks who don't gain—and even lose—by adhering to it, especially when bolstered by patently illogical or invented talks about persecution.

I'd also add that I don't think these are necessarily mutually exclusive—a fair amount of the Nazi leadership seems both conniving and crazy.
posted by klangklangston at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2009


The conniving Nazi is I think more a part of the personality disorder than the mental disorder spectrum, and I suspect that quasi-delusional racialism probably falls somewhere over on that side, as well.
posted by The Straightener at 11:13 AM on June 11, 2009


This question of the relationship between mental illness and extreme racism is interesting to me for personal reasons -- a former friend of mine, who I've known since we were in junior high (and who was married for 18 years to one of my best friends), gradually morphed over the decades from a liberal/lefty anti-racist into a moderate (but still explicitly anti-racist), then into a Republican (with emerging racial ambivalence -- significantly, this is exactly the point at which he became a born-again Christian), then into a disgruntled Republican (with quasi-racist views), then into a militia/border protection guy (with overt racist views), into what he now is -- a white supremacist with his own "Christian Patriot" internet radio show, who (along with his brand-new former skinhead wife) is planning for the day he can slaughter ATF agents when they come to take away his guns and try to convert him to Islam at the behest of Obama and the Jews (though why the Jews would want to force him to become Muslim is... well, there's no use trying to apply logic).

Now, the guy is definitely bipolar (though on meds, last I heard) and unstable in the sense that he's never been able to hold down a job for more than a few months (which is, naturally, the fault of affirmative action/illegal immigrants). He was raised in an intensely unhealthy environment marked by pretty extreme poverty, abuse, and addiction; the rest of his family pretty much all ended up in prison or dead from overdoses. Still, he has a definite native intelligence; he's not well-educated, but he's not stupid. He's decently well-read. He used to display decent critical thinking skills. As a kid, he was filled with a kind of "angry young man" energy/angst that, over the years, has crystallized into a kind of furious, finger-pointing rage: it's the blacks/immigrants/his ex-wife's/liberals/terrorists' fault that he's poor/overweight/can't hold down a job/etc.

But is he crazy? Well, on one hand, obviously he believes crazy things, and it's not implausible that his mental illness (combined with such an unhealthy upbringing) may have made him more susceptible to believing said crazy things. But he's obviously not insane in the sense that he's not in control of his faculties or experiencing hallucinations that are driving his beliefs.

He's ill and unstable, yes, but more than anything I think he's filled with bottomless anger and shame that his life turned out so small and ugly. He must blame anyone other than himself for every single problem with his life, AND he must find some way to feel exceedingly powerful rather than experience the actual powerlessness that defines his life. And thus... the racist beliefs (I have a shitty life because black people are given all the good jobs), combined with the political paranoia (now we have a black president who wants to take away my guns!) that -- bonus! -- leads "logically" to the method by which he can be powerful and create meaning in his life (Onward, White Christian Patriots!).

Sure, it's crazy, but it's not DSM-IV Crazy. Given the context of his life, it actually has its own terrible internal logic. And, given the rise in numbers of hate groups in the past decade, he's clearly not alone.
posted by scody at 12:01 PM on June 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


Just to throw a little monkey wrench, but it appears that our shooter may have been planning on hitting the Weekly Standard next. According to Politico, the FBI stopped by the Weekly Standard's office yesterday, as the publication's address had been discovered on "a piece of paper associated with the shooter".

As the author suggests, connecting this guy with the Right really doesn't do justice to the situation, and those people in this thread spinning their wheels and attempting to score points over whether or not Hannity et al are "hateful," etc. are really missing the point. Which is simply that this guy has very little in common with the mainstream Right. So little, in fact, that he may in fact have been planning on blowing a bunch of them away.

Everybody's got their crazies, whether it's the Weathermen and leftist guerrillas on one hand or extremist militia/white supremacist nutjobs on the other. Using the extremes to condemn the mainstream is just sloppy and reflects at least as poorly on the presenter as it does on anyone else.
posted by valkyryn at 12:41 PM on June 11, 2009


Using the extremes to condemn the mainstream is just sloppy

Again, nobody has done that here. The extremists just have a much more visible media presence these days (thanks to a few very powerful, media savvy patrons). Limbaugh's vitriolic anti-liberalism is by no previous historical standard consistent with mainstream conservatism. That hate-driven politics have become increasingly mainstream on the right is the problem.

And I don't trust Politico farther than I can spit, for the record.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:14 PM on June 11, 2009


Which is simply that this guy has very little in common with the mainstream Right. So little, in fact, that he may in fact have been planning on blowing a bunch of them away.

And FWIW, the Weekly Standard doesn't represent "the mainstream Right" anymore than The Nation represents the mainstream Left. The mainstreams of both political wings in the US don't read pseudo-academic political journals. And the Standard has always represented the neoconservative, PNAC crowd more than mainstream Movement conservatism.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:31 PM on June 11, 2009


Whatevs, 'publican dudes - we saw those Palin rallies.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on June 11, 2009


Whatevs, 'publican dudes - we saw those Palin rallies.

She and Todd are really pissed at David Letterman!
posted by ericb at 1:52 PM on June 11, 2009


The real issue is not a preposterous fear that members of the official Republican/Conservative axis are likely to go out and commit such atrocities as murdering abortion doctors or shooting up Jewish museums as it is that they have consciously catered to the segment of the population that supports doing such things as part of their political strategy over the last three decades. In order to cobble together a majority, they have been willing to pander to the basest of instincts, including the paranoid factions that fear taxes and the government, folks that feel the Jews are responsible for their troubles, the racist and homophobic subelements, and those who desperately cling to their guns and religion. They developed strategies to appeal to each of these groups while at the same time not saying anything explicit. You say "We were founded as a Christian nation, " not "Musilims, Jews, and atheists should have no voice in our society." You say "Abortion is murder!" not "Kill the abortion doctors." You say "Taxes are too high and the government wastes your money," not "The government is an evil force that should be violently opposed." You say "I want to preserve the sanctity of marriage," not "We need to keep those queers down." The Limbaughs, Coulters, Malkins, Hannitys and O'Reillys walk the fine edge and garner larger bases to direct their energies toward supporting the conservative Republican agenda, knowing full well that they drag along these despicable elements.

Now each of these topics have currency in our modern society, but to consciously cultivate the most hateful groups to a) get them on your side, and b) motivate them actually to come out and vote for your candidates is extremely cynical and dangerous to our culture. I sometimes wonder whether the men and women responsible for these tactics hate America.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:42 PM on June 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


Sidhedevil: "I'm not sure that you can fight wilful unreason and incivility (however disguised under passive-aggressive smileyface bullshit) with reason and civility. Sometimes reason and hostility...but I've lost my temper enough in this thread, so I will go away and pray for St. Alia of the Bunnies."

Would that be imprecatory prayer? Oh! That's right. I don't think liberal christians do that.
posted by symbioid at 2:58 PM on June 11, 2009


Oh, wait: according to Rush et al., the shooter is actually a LEFTIST. So you know who's REALLY to blame? That's right. Obama!

Boy, are we Mefites silly for even having this conversation or what?
posted by scody at 3:03 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, wait: according to Rush et al., the shooter is actually a LEFTIST. So you know who's REALLY to blame? That's right. Obama!

Oh good, I was hoping there would be a reasonable explanation.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:11 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


As TPM points out, this is a very colorful exercise in No True Scotsman. It's nice of Rush, Malkin et al. to illustrate this fallacy for us so vividly, add spice it up with a dash of "WTF" by declaring the Nazis are, in fact, leftists.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:12 PM on June 11, 2009


We've had a weird spate of that argument elsewhere on MeFi this week, most notably in the BNP thread.
posted by Artw at 3:18 PM on June 11, 2009


Am I not understanding you?

i don;t know, what do you think I'm saying?


Well, the guy you linked to was, in fact, a Christian, not a Muslim. Your statement seemed to imply he was a Muslim, so I thought I had missed your point.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:22 PM on June 11, 2009


Dude was all kinds of shit, including crazy, but on the day he was very much Muslim.
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on June 11, 2009


Who was what now?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:30 PM on June 11, 2009


Jeez, Astro, try and keep up.
posted by Artw at 3:33 PM on June 11, 2009


Dude was all kinds of shit, including crazy, but on the day he was very much Muslim.

According to the Wikipedia article you cited, he wasn't.
Although Haq grew up as a Muslim, he later disavowed Islam, converting to Christianity. Haq studied the Bible at Word of the Faith Church in Kennewick and was baptized in December 2005, but stopped attending his Bible study group after a few months...
On July 28, 2006, Haq is alleged to have gained access to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building by holding a 13-year-old girl hostage with a gun to her back and ordering her to dial the intercom and request to be buzzed into the building.[8] After entering, he allegedly began shooting. Pamela Waechter was killed.[9] Layla Bush was critically wounded. Dayna Klein, Cheryl Stumbo, Carol Goldman, and Christina Rexroad were wounded.[10][11]
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:37 PM on June 11, 2009


Big woo.
At the time of the shooting, it was reported by witnesses that Haq stated, "I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel." During the incident, Haq also talked to 911 operators, saying, "These are Jews and I'm tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East."[8] He also demanded that the United States withdraw its military forces from Iraq. Eventually, however, he calmed down and told the operator he would surrender. He then walked out of the building with his hands on his head and was arrested by the police outside.[12]
posted by Artw at 3:44 PM on June 11, 2009


From the latest article on the incident:

Johns, the security guard, opened the door for von Brunn. Before von Brunn even got into the building, he pointed his gun at Jones' [sic] heart and pulled the trigger. Johns later died at a hospital.

Fuck this guy and anybody who utters or types even the slightest of defenses for him. I'd never heard or read the very beautiful phrase "may his memory be for a blessing" before this, and it sucks to have learned of it in this way. But I'll repeat for Officer Johns: may his memory be for a blessing.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:56 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, wait: according to Rush et al., the shooter is actually a LEFTIST.

Aw, gee, Rush, he spoke fairly highly of you.

But don't you dare violate their Freedom of Speech by pointing out they're lying because lies are the truest form of Free Speech.

And I so very very very want to be wrong about this prediction, but the fans of von Brunn's online writing are inevitably going to do a bunch of copycat attacks in his name. The only thing I've seen since the attack that would in any way discourage them may be that Rush disapproves.
posted by wendell at 4:16 PM on June 11, 2009


But don't you dare violate their Freedom of Speech by pointing out they're lying because lies are the truest form of Free Speech.

...I'm afraid I don't understand this sentence; can you elaborate on what it is you mean?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:22 PM on June 11, 2009


...I'm afraid I don't understand this sentence; can you elaborate on what it is you mean?
probably something like this?
posted by nomisxid at 5:36 PM on June 11, 2009


This is arrant nonsense. Russia was anti-Semitic under the Tsars, and did not stay anti-Semitic under the Bolsheviks.

The more you post, the more brazen and outlandish your lies become. To put your latest nonsense to rest, one needn't dig very deep. After a brief and ineffective attempt to refocus the hatred of the general population from the Jews to the Bolsheviks' opposition (during which time the pogroms continued and Jewish religious practice was all but eliminated), things went right back to normal. Hell, the Soviets invented the concept of using "anti-Zionism" as a veil for anti-Semitism, a tactic that is so popular today.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:56 PM on June 11, 2009


probably something like this?

wendell, IS that what you meant?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:28 PM on June 11, 2009


The more you post, the more brazen and outlandish your lies become.

The history of antisemitism under communism is a little more complicated than you seem willing to admit, Krrrlson. Marx was ethnically Jewish. Lenin was pretty damn clear about opposing anti-semitism on principle. And Trotsky, too, was Jewish, so there you go.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:02 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cortex gave me permission to repackage my metatalk comments for the metafilter thread.
The underpinnings of white racialist terrorism is a particular interest of mine and I have read heavily the revered figures in the movement as well as the semi-literate posters on Stormfront, Vanguard, and even more obscure forums.

From what I have read here, there is a LOT of misunderstanding about terrorism on “the white racialist right” (what they call themselves). White racist extremism is a serious problem and it’s irresponsible and lazy to blame it on the Republicans, Fox News, Ann Coulter, etc. Right wing terrorists DO NOT identify with these leaders. They DO NOT vote Republican, or adhere to neo-conservatism. They hate Ol’ Rush just as much as you do.

We should focus on what makes these extremists tick instead of wrongly lumping them into convenient categories like “Republican” or “Christian” and then conjure out of thin air explanations about their motivations and belief systems.

Just to be clear, my politics are far left of center. I in no way consider myself a fellow traveler of any rightist political group.

They abhor Bush's and Obama's administrations equally and a whole lot. This is because both support Israel. They believe that the US government is run by Israel—a government they call ZOG, or “Zionist Occupied Government.”

Of course they also hate Obama because he's black. No surprise there. To the extent that they support organized government, they support states’ rights. What they really want is politics at the county level. Again, none of this has anything to do with the Republican Party.

Idle speculation in these threads that right wing terrorists would support Jews fundamentally misses the point. These extremists are NOT the same as the fundamentalist Christians who support Israel and Judaism. Their religious affiliations are far more complex.
And I guarantee they are nothing you’ve ever heard of, unless you live in a PLE, Kalispell or another town in rural Montana, the Ozarks, and a few other strongholds.

I said this before in a different thread, but right wing terrorism has nothing to do with Christianity with a capital C. Why? Because right-wing extremists agree about religion no more than do the members of Metafilter. A large number of “racialists” vociferously reject Christianity. A few adhere to new religions related to the Christian tradition: Christian Identity (created in 1970s), British Israelite tradition (which argues that Europeans are the true Chosen people) and Radical Traditional Catholicism. But no one Christian group maintains hegemony over right-wing extremists.

Other cohesive faiths challenge Christianity fiercely for hegemony: Creator (a Skinhead atheistic creed), Neo-paganism, atheism, and Neo-Celtic beliefs based on pre-Roman Britain.

The lack of agreement about religion amongst white racialist extremists is far more important to understanding the movement’s lack of unity.

It’s important to note that the religions absent are just as important as the ones present: mainline Protestantism, evangelical Protestantism and fundamentalism. Extremists willing to commit terrorist acts are a breed apart from the religion of Bushes, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

I feel strongly that it is incredibly lazy and inaccurate to equate right wing terrorism with Christianity even if the individual terrorist was himself motivated by his Christian beliefs. “Christianity” does not motivate white racialist terrorism any more than “Islam” motivates the terrorism of a few extremists.


Obama's black heritage proves that the US is losing touch with its white European roots. They want to reclaim the government not only from the Jews but also from “mud” people.

They attempt to achieve this in many ways, all of which essentially boil down to withdrawing from US society. They want to establish PLEs (little European enclaves) and whites-only communities in the Northwest—Kalispell, Montana is the center of one such community. The Ozarks is another location of intense white community building. The community in the Ozarks centers on a Christian Identity church and seems culty and creepy to me.

4) The SPLC, ADL, and Wikipedia do an excellent job explaining how the right wing extremists evolved into hate-fests. The evolution occurred rapidly since the late 1970s and early 1980s when several skinheads and leaders of The Order were jailed for murder and armed robbery.

The SPLC asserts that the right-wing extremists are trying to make contact with Al Qaeda because they share opposition to Israel and the Jews. Cooperation is highly unlikely in my opinion. US racialist extremists bring nothing to the table. They have no money, no training, no education, and ideologically they are all over the place. Why would Al Qaeda cooperate with a bunch of undereducated loose cannons.

5) The "lone wolf" strategy makes these extremists so dangerous. The thinking is that you can achieve more the fewer people know your business. This strategy can be very effective, if you look at the last two decades.

As a movement, groups of white racialists do not pose much of a threat. This is because they have no money, no organization and they are all pretty stupid. But lone wolves can create terror as we have seen.

6) The bulk of the Museum shooter's writings are in at least one thread on Stormfront. In response to markkraft who did a quick search to find quotes on Stormfront that support Rush Limbaugh. I’m not impressed. Anyone who spends time reading the major “thinkers” on the extremist right quickly sees that Limbaugh=Obama=Bush. Anyone who spends time on Stormfront sees that most people despise him there.

I have no idea how this comment fits into the shitstorm of the metatalk thread and this more civil thread. I just think it is very important to avoid equating Republicans, Christianity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the rest of that odious gang with this far more extremist, dangerous group that hangs out on Stormfront, vanguard, and many other sites you have to join to view posts (I don’t join racist sites).
posted by vincele at 9:51 PM on June 11, 2009 [18 favorites]


Hell, the Soviets invented the concept of using "anti-Zionism" as a veil for anti-Semitism, a tactic that is so popular today.

And that's why criticizing any aspect of Israeli government policy makes you an anti-semite.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:55 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


And that's why criticizing any aspect of Israeli government policy makes you an anti-semite.

And a communist.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:04 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


The more you post, the more brazen and outlandish your lies become. To put your latest nonsense to rest, one needn't dig very deep. After a brief and ineffective attempt to refocus the hatred of the general population from the Jews to the Bolsheviks' opposition (during which time the pogroms continued and Jewish religious practice was all but eliminated), things went right back to normal. Hell, the Soviets invented the concept of using "anti-Zionism" as a veil for anti-Semitism, a tactic that is so popular today.

Krrrlson, why is it that when I see your name in one of these threads, I see a cynical display of hasbara tactics: whoever doesn't strictly follow the Likudnik line, must be labeled an outrageous liar, if not an outright anti-Semite, smeared, and hopefully dragged into a flame war where everyone can be distracted from the substance and context of any argument involving Israel, no matter how peripheral?

It won't work.

There is no reason whatsoever, for me to lie, brazenly or shyly, about the subject matter here. If you disagree with any statement I make, why not present your argument without the smears, aspersions and name-calling? Oh, that's right, we all know why.

Here are the facts, which anyone can check upon with ease. You provided a link to wikipedia, that's supposed to refute this statement of mine, which, unlike you, I will quote in full context.

I responded to this statement from another poster:

"Russia was antisemitic under the Tsars and it stayed antisemitic under the Bolsheviks. Germany was antisemitic under the Kaiser and it stayed antisemitic under Hitler."

Did you note, how the poster made it sound as if there was zero change in official policy of anti-Semitism under the Tsars, and under the Bolsheviks? And how the very next statement brings up Germany and Kaiser and Hitler, as if there is any equivalence whatsoever that can be implied between the policies of Hitler against the Jews and the Bolsheviks even under the worst that Stalin had to offer the Jews?

So I responded like this:

This is arrant nonsense. Russia was anti-Semitic under the Tsars, and did not stay anti-Semitic under the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks were the adamantly opposed to anti-Semitism - it was part of their official program to overcome the prejudices and backwardness of the Tsarist ideology (though, perhaps some individual Bolsheviks were anti-Semitic - as in any movement, anywhere).

Now, you supplied a wikipedia link supposedly showing how I lied about this. Except the link exposes your claim as the lie, and confirms exactly what I said. Here's a quote from the very link you supplied:

"Continuing the policy of the Bolsheviks before the Revolution, Lenin and the Bolshevik Party strongly condemned the pogroms, including official denunciations in 1918 by the Council of People's Commissars. Opposition to the pogroms and to manifestations of Russian antisemitism in this era were complicated by both the official Bolshevik policy of assimilationism towards all national and religious minorities, and concerns about overemphasizing Jewish concerns for fear of exacerbating popular antisemitism, as the White forces were openly identifying the Bolshevik regime with Jews."

I urge anyone interested in the subject, to read that whole link - it is quite informative. Did you see the contrast between the official policies of pogroms from the Tsarist side, versus the strong condemnations and measures taken by Lenin? Did you note that this was no late development merely in response to the atrocities from all sides, but already a well-established position from before the revolution? Did you notice that I specifically acknowledged that there certainly were Bolsheviks who were anti-Semites (hardly surprising given the endemic Jew-hatred cultivated in the population for hundreds of years under the Tsars) though nothing on the scale like on the Tsarist White Russian or other forces during those chaotic times? The point was not that Bolsheviks were angels - but that a huge change was made in the official policies under the Bolsheviks. Your revisionism strikes me as very similar to certain right-wingers who love to point out that some of the anti-slavery figures in the Civil War actually held slaves at some point or another, thereby making a false equivalence between the South and North when it came to slavery. Those were brutal times - and hardly any aspect of life was all roses on any side. But given the context of the times, on this question at least (anti-Semitism) during that time, the Bolsheviks were on the good side. Where have I lied? I may be mistaken, but have I lied? And if I am mistaken, show me where - I have responded to you with text from your very link. There is plenty more such material, and I'll be happy to supply many, many more quotes and links. Here's another quote from your very link:

"Yet, according to Jewish historian Zvi Gitelman: "Never before in Russian history — and never subsequently has a government made such an effort to uproot and stamp out antisemitism"."

Further, Jews responded to this obvious difference with their deeds and their allegiance. That pretty much says it all, doesn't it. The proof is in the pudding - Jews joined the Communists in great numbers, and reached the highest levels of the power structure.

This policy persisted even under Stalin (at least initially), even during the darkest years of official purges - again, numerous quotes directly from your link:

"In his January 12, 1931 letter "Antisemitism: Reply to an Inquiry of the Jewish News Agency in the United States" Stalin officially condemned antisemitism[...]

Many Jews fell victim to the The Great Purges, although there is no evidence that Jews were specifically targeted by Stalin. A number of the most prominent victims of the Purges—Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev, to name a few—were ethnic Jews, but Stalin was just as brutal when acting against his real or imagined enemies who were not Jewish—e.g., Bukharin, Tukhachevsky, Kirov, and Ordzhonikidze. The number of prominent Jewish Old Bolsheviks killed in the purges reflects the fact that Jews were the largest group in the Central Committee after the Russians and that Jews had a high participation among the Bolsheviks.[...]

Some Stalinists survived notwithstanding their Jewish heritage.[...]

Beyond longstanding controversies, ranging from the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to anti-Zionism, the Soviet Union did grant official "equality of all citizens regardless of status, sex, race, religion, and nationality." The years before the Holocaust were an era of rapid change for Soviet Jews, leaving behind the dreadful poverty of the Pale of Settlement. Forty percent of the population in the former Pale left for large cities within the USSR.
Emphasis on education and movement from countryside shtetls to newly industrialized cities allowed many Soviet Jews to enjoy overall advances under Stalin and to become one of the most educated population groups in the world.[...]"


Here is what I said in my post regarding Stalin:

"With time, however, things turned somewhat - Stalin, who was growing increasingly paranoid toward the end of his reign, in a frenzy to eliminate any and all possible rivals, used vile anti-Semitism to eliminate powerful old-time Jewish Communists in positions of power, and then compounded that with absurd charges against Jews in general ("Jewish doctors plot etc."). Unquestionably, in later years, Communism turned toward persecution of Jews, though never anything on a scale of Nazis."

And I also wrote this, in response to the other poster and his Hitler statement:

"To even compare the Nazi treatment of Jews to Communist treatment of Jews is ignorance at its most extreme."

In view of the quote above, from you own link - where did I lie, or where was I even mistaken? Did I also not say that "unquestionably, in later years, Communism turned toward persecution of Jews, though never anything on a scale of Nazis?"

So where have I lied, or in any way downplayed anti-Semitism?

Again, I urge anyone to read the whole link - for educational reasons, if nothing else.

Point is, Krrrlson, that you are not interested in a rational discussion - you post not because you are looking for the truth or making sincere arguments. You post to smear, to flame, and to derail.

And I won't let you. I'll post extensively, with supporting links, calmly and rationally, as long as it takes - and I will never flame you. You may wish to poison the atmosphere here with smears, but all that happens, is that it makes you look bad - your tactics may work on LGF or such sites, but not here. Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.
posted by VikingSword at 11:30 PM on June 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


Krugman: And then there’s Rush Limbaugh. His rants today aren’t very different from his rants in 1993. But he occupies a different position in the scheme of things. Remember, during the Bush years Mr. Limbaugh became very much a political insider. Indeed, according to a recent Gallup survey, 10 percent of Republicans now consider him the “main person who speaks for the Republican Party today,” putting him in a three-way tie with Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich. So when Mr. Limbaugh peddles conspiracy theories — suggesting, for example, that fears over swine flu were being hyped “to get people to respond to government orders” — that’s a case of the conservative media establishment joining hands with the lunatic fringe.

The line between black-helicopter believers and mainline Republicans used to be pretty clear. These days, not so much.
posted by bardic at 1:25 AM on June 12, 2009


The line between black-helicopter believers and mainline Republicans used to be pretty clear. These days, not so much.

It's no longer a barrier but more like a connecting wire.

Krugman essentially makes the case that right wing talkers such as Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reily etc. foment domestic terrorism.
posted by caddis at 4:39 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


[markkraft if you're making this argument in MeTa it doesn't also need to be in this thread - copypasting comments between MeFi & MeTa considered harmful - please everyone take the "fights with one user" to email or metatalk, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:50 AM on June 12, 2009


"It's no longer a barrier but more like a connecting wire."

Doors open, boys!
posted by markkraft at 5:55 AM on June 12, 2009


"Eight episodes of right-wing extremist violence in four and a half months. We haven't gone four weeks since February without some poor guy -- always with a long history of mental illness, usually with a record of military service and/or domestic violence, and invariably jacked up on a toxic cocktail of white male privilege; us-versus-them enemy seeking; fury at women, blacks and/or Jews; and a belief that the world as he knew it was ending unless he took up arms -- taking out his gun and offing innocent Americans in a suicidal bid for glory." (quote)
posted by jonp72 at 6:39 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


From a handwritten note found in von Brunn's car:

"You want my weapons -- this is how you'll get them. The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media."

Now, is it really such an improbable stretch to imagine that the relentless drumbeat coming from the "mainstream" Right wing punditry about Obama's imminent plans to "take away our guns" aren't feeding into the paranoia of guys like this?

I don't think it requires directly equating Rush, Hannity, Coulter, et al to von Brunn in order to argue that they still exert a dangerous influence. On the playground, those kids that started whisper campaigns and otherwise egged school bullies on to beat up unpopular kids, weren't bullies themselves, in the strictest sense. They didn't really care or even know whether the victim had called the bully a name behind his back or not. They had agendas of their own.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:08 AM on June 12, 2009


From a handwritten note found in von Brunn's car:

"You want my weapons -- this is how you'll get them. The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media."


I eagerly await the explanations from the same right-wing pundits who were calling von Brunn a lefty yesterday. "B-b-because y'see, people, this is how far the Democrat Socialists will go to make the right look bad - they'll even denounce their own president!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:11 AM on June 12, 2009


vincele, that was a fantastic contribution. I think there are a couple of points you miss, however, that make it feasible to consider "right wing" politics, ideology, activism, and terrorism as comprising a broad spectrum of specific incarnations, productive of a shifting network of alliances at both practical and philosophical levels. Sociopaths drawn toward one part of the "right wing" social formation often migrate within it, looking for a niche. Religion plays a complex role in all of this, as you correctly note, but it isn't quite as discrete a phenomenon as you then describe; in a profound sense, the far right in the US is made up of a series of interlocking cults, preaching variants of a "religion" of conspiracy and anxiety and hate, sometimes more and sometimes less articulated with conventionally religious discourses and symbols. We've seen ideas detach from identities and re-attach to others. For a broad swath of the right, however, a foundational premise is that some idealized "America" is in decline, whether this is biblically foretold (the last days crowd) or historically reversible or the result of some particular agency (Jews, the UN, aliens, the Illuminati, blah blah). The discourse of the far right commentariat is designed to stoke these beliefs by pointing to decontextualized signs of and tendentious arguments for the imminent threat of decline, infection, invasion, enclosure, pollution, subjugation, etc. This is often followed by the identification of specific enemies, of course, and therein lies much of the variation. But the reason Rush and Hannity and Beck their ilk do this is not because they believe in these things themselves (even if they do, as Beck perhaps does -- his flameout is coming) but because it serves their fucking paymasters' interests to stir the pot, to enrage people, to stoke fear of the other, to yield over their liberties and their *desire* for liberty. And just as people willingly do this out of fear, they create a self-fulfilling prophecy (here is where left and right wing extremism meet, by the way): a surveillance state, the disempowerment of ordinary people, a corrupt political process, a media environment polluted by private interests.

One needs to see this as a total ecology that includes Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs as well as sociopathic Identity preachers in Kalispell.

It's a cycle in American politics. And a symptom of a very sick political culture.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:00 AM on June 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


From a handwritten note found in von Brunn's car:

"You want my weapons -- this is how you'll get them. The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media."

Now, is it really such an improbable stretch to imagine that the relentless drumbeat coming from the "mainstream" Right wing punditry about Obama's imminent plans to "take away our guns" aren't feeding into the paranoia of guys like this?


von Brunn's note doesn't necessarily imply that a causality exists anywhere but in his own brain, however. After all, plenty of people listen to Right wing punditry and manage not to shoot up museums.

Also, consider: Charles Manson claimed that he was encouraged to commit his acts because of the lyrics to the song "Helter Skelter". Does that mean that Lennon/McCartney lyrics are about blood sacrifice?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:49 AM on June 12, 2009


a causality exists anywhere but in his own brain, however.

I'm not sure what distinction you're getting at here. When Glenn Beck says something like this on his show:
"Gun sales are going up through the roof.

. . . .

In the end, I think this is the problem. First, they came for the
banks.
I wasn't a banker. I didn't really care. I didn't stand up and
say anything.

Then they came for the AIG executives. Then they came for the car
companies
-- and I didn't say anything.

Until it gets down to you -- most people don't see they are coming for
you
at some point. You're on the list. Everybody's on the list.
How can anyone possibly interpret such statements as anything other than irresponsible and incendiary affirmations of the most paranoid extremist Right-wing beliefs about President Obama's intentions?

This isn't like Charles Manson twisting "Helter Skelter" around in his head to come up with some bizarre interpretation of the lyrics that in his mind prophecies a coming race war. This is either out and out incitement or dangerously irresponsible demagoguery. But either way, it can't be dismissed or compartmentalized away as irrelevant to recent tragedies like this.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:17 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, consider: Charles Manson claimed that he was encouraged to commit his acts because of the lyrics to the song "Helter Skelter".

No he didn't.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:22 AM on June 12, 2009


First, Mein Kampf fueled support for Hitler and the Nazi's rise to power.

Second, how exactly do you suggest anyone "act sooner" on the basis of these bad words? Our free speech rights ensure precisely that we can't act sooner on the basis of someone's words.


Well, my interest in German history is literary rather than political, but are you sure on the first point? It was my understanding that its ownership (I won't quite say 'readership') attended rather than preceded Hitler's rise, and only really spiked once he'd become chancellor; after this, of course, ownership was a matter of political compulsion. By all accounts Hitler was never as much a Thomas Paine (or even a Goebbels) as he was a brutal organizer and able calculator of crowds. Again, I'm looking at this bookishly. People don't usually read Little Red Books of their own volition, but merely collect them in accordance with political affinities or pressures.

As for the second point, what about the cool European response to German militarization? Mein Kampf was an unmistakable declaration of war on Europe. I just can't imagine that a person familiar with its contents could think of Hitler doing other than he did. It's like the mens rea to a million acts of murder, a piece of evidence crucial to weighing the soul.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:25 AM on June 12, 2009


How can anyone possibly interpret such statements as anything other than irresponsible and incendiary affirmations of the most paranoid extremist Right-wing beliefs about President Obama's intentions?

These sorts of godwins are not qualitatively different from the remarks one might have found about Bush on DailyKos. They may have been more justified in the latter case, but are alike in taking a certain dramatic license and a certain low road. This has been the timbre and pitch of political discourse since 2001.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:34 AM on June 12, 2009


Although Hitler originally wrote this book mostly for the followers of national socialism, it grew in popularity. From the royalties, Hitler was able to afford a Mercedes while still imprisoned.

Well, he sold plenty of copies before he took power, that's for sure.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:36 AM on June 12, 2009


Yes, I think he sold around 250k copies in the eight years before he became chancellor, and around 10 million after.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:40 AM on June 12, 2009


This has been the timbre and pitch of political discourse since 2001.

No. It started much further back, in the 90s, with the Right's vendetta against Clinton, and has been pretty much ongoing ever since the current crop of "mainstream" Right-wing pundits and pols crawled out from under their rocks.

These guys literally meant to stage a "Conservative Revolution," and considered a key part of that mission appealing to these fascist-leaning hate groups. I always recommend David Brock's Blinded by the Right for one insider's take on "Movement" conservative politics, and how it festered, fueled by irrational resentments and personal animosities, with a steady flow of cash from billionaires on the lunatic fringe and the Reverend Sun Moon.

The discourse has been poisoned ever since it was deliberately poisoned to divide the electorate during the Republican power grab led by Limbaugh and Gingrich during the Clinton years.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:47 AM on June 12, 2009


Yes, I think he sold around 250k copies in the eight years before he became chancellor, and around 10 million after.

Even today, 240,000 copies is no small potatoes for a self-published book, you know.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:48 AM on June 12, 2009


True, but remember that he was already a national 'celebrity,' having turned his trial into a photo-op.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:57 AM on June 12, 2009


>This has been the timbre and pitch of political discourse since 2001.

No. It started much further back, in the 90s, with the Right's vendetta against Clinton, and has been pretty much ongoing ever since the current crop of "mainstream" Right-wing pundits and pols crawled out from under their rocks.


Hell, why stop there? Why not go all the way back to Grover Cleveland's first campaign, when his opponent James Blaine tried to slam him for fathering an illegitimate child?

Or even further, back to when Martin Van Buren was running for re-election and his opponents composed the following ditty:

"Who moves at Satan's beck and nod?
Who fears not man, who fears not God?
Who would his friends, his country sell,
Do other deeds too base to tell,
Deserves the lowest place in Hell?
Van Buren!"

Seriously, political discourse has always been kind of fucked up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:01 AM on June 12, 2009


There were quite a lot of rather rude political cartoons in the eighteenth century, for instance.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:07 AM on June 12, 2009


The current situation, in which the mainstream right winks and nods and grins at right-wing terrorists, is rather different and noncontinuous with that. Rancor isn't new, but mainstream figures stopping barely short of endorsing terrorism and insurrection is part of the new trend.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:09 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


but mainstream figures stopping barely short of endorsing terrorism and insurrection is part of the new trend.

Unless you count the period leading up to the Civil War.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:13 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Says it all, saul, says it all.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:16 AM on June 12, 2009


Rancor isn't new, but mainstream figures stopping barely short of endorsing terrorism and insurrection is part of the new trend.

You don't think Van Buren's opponents accusing him of treason was insurrectionist?

...Right. Let me go ahead and make my claim here.

I honestly don't think that political discourse has proportionally changed -- nor have acts of violence like this. What has changed, though, are the sheer numbers of people in this country, and the communication of national news. We've always had serial killings, school shootings, hate crimes, etc. -- what we haven't always had is a national news media that could instantly tell people in Kansas what was happening in Alaska and vice versa. So maybe it's not that we're seeing an upswing in violence -- maybe we're just seeing an upswing in seeing the violence when it happens.

Same too with the political discourse. Every time there is a huge scandal and a cause-de-celebre, everyone is up in arms about how it's never happened before....and then a little while later forgets all about it and then something else just like it happens and everyone is again up in arms about how it's never happened before...

Mind, I'm not saying that lone nuts don't use political discourse to justify their actions. I'm only saying that it's not a new thing for them to be doing so -- it was ever thus. And there has been so much of this kind of discourse that the fact that we don't see more such violence tells me that maybe it's not the discourse causing it after all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on June 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


You don't think Van Buren's opponents accusing him of treason was insurrectionist?

Accusations of treason are not in and of themselves insurrectionist, though they may be part of an insurrectionist propaganda.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:43 AM on June 12, 2009


Actively inciting listeners to take up arms against government officials, as an internet radio host and associate of Sean Hannity's was recently arrested for doing, is a whole different kettle of fish than tough political talk in my mind, though.

And when a sitting congressperson uses rhetoric like this:
"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing."
It starts to seem hard to avoid concluding there really is a campaign of deliberate provocation underway.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:08 AM on June 12, 2009


"The current situation, in which the mainstream right winks and nods and grins at right-wing terrorists, is rather different and noncontinuous with that. Rancor isn't new, but mainstream figures stopping barely short of endorsing terrorism and insurrection is part of the new trend."

New to you. It's been deemed indecorous for most of the 20th century, but the Empress is right—political campaigns and speeches throughout the 1800s were often little more than getting your supporters drunk enough to kill the other guy's. Andrew Jackson's supporters beat Adams men with hickory sticks. During the Reconstruction, political terror was a sanctioned tactic from both parties.

"And when a sitting congressperson uses rhetoric like this:

"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing."

It starts to seem hard to avoid concluding there really is a campaign of deliberate provocation underway.
"

Y'know, back when Bush was president, there was not a little foment amongst lefties that own guns and know how to use them. And I know that I've mentioned Jefferson's Tree of Liberty from time to time. It's now more a part of the American character to rattle sabers for revolution than to actually go through with it, but it's not something that's confined to the right. They're just manifestly dumber about it. (And the reason it will never work on a large scale is that folks understand the advantages of having a stable government—relative security and prosperity—and thus have no real interest in revolution.)

But I'm also a guy who defends Black Panthers and "insurgents" in Iraq. There are times when political violence makes sense. I just find all this vapors and fantods about rhetorical violence kind of silly—very much the equivalent of the moral panic over video games and television "causing" violence.

I don't deny that there are stupid, ugly things said by members of the right-wing media establishment, and I don't deny that they have an effect. But looking to nail Beck or the idiot from Minnesota over this tragedy seems fairly gauche to me.
posted by klangklangston at 12:14 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


But looking to nail Beck or the idiot from Minnesota over this tragedy seems fairly gauche to me.

Funny, it still seems pretty droite to me.

Since when has it been an effective strategy for opposing intolerance to view every occasion that by its very nature might naturally and justifiably rally opposition to agents of intolerance as an opportunity for talking ourselves into a state of disinterested, morally ambivalent paralysis?

I don't carry about "nailing" anyone. I'm just tired of pretending this shit is just "same shit, different day" all the time when it's not. This is uglier. And we have to confront it, stridently--I don't mean through legal channels, but through social ones, and through public discourse.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:40 PM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Von Brunn as a 'Lone Wolf': Killers act alone, but these are not 'isolated incidents'
posted by homunculus at 1:02 PM on June 12, 2009


Or let me put it another way, klang:

I can see how it might legitimately be viewed as gauche to use the occasion of the tragedy at the holocaust in a calculated attempt to score partisan political points. That is, if you assume that I and others here who've expressed similar views, don't really believe that Beck, Hannity, et al are deliberately or irresponsibly inciting the more hateful and paranoid elements on the Right to violence, then yes, it's gauche. Using this kind of tragedy to gain political advantage for not reason other than to gain the advantage is not just tacky, it's evil.

But if, on the other hand, you more charitably assume that I really do believe (even if you disagree) that the tone of the rhetoric coming from the mainstream Right is contributing to the recent surge in hate crime and intolerance, and in fact, directly contributed to the tragic death of Stephen Johns, then wouldn't I understandably have a moral obligation to speak out about it? There's nothing gauche about it.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:05 PM on June 12, 2009


I want to hear more about the fact that von Brunn had transferred control of his website domain to someone else (someone else who seems to have white supremacist ties) only a little over a week before his assault on the museum. Who was this guy Reimink? Did von Brunn tell him anything in advance about why he wanted him to assume control of the domain name?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:09 PM on June 12, 2009


"the tragedy at the holocaust" --> "the tragedy at the Holocaust Museum"
"not reason" --> "no reason"

sigh... time for a break.

posted by saulgoodman at 1:12 PM on June 12, 2009


Y'know, back when Bush was president, there was not a little foment amongst lefties

That wasn't because they were incited by a Bizarro Glenn Beck, though. Bush pissed people off all by himself.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:24 PM on June 12, 2009


(Actually, come to think of it, Regular Glenn Beck whipped up my personal Bush hate-on more than any Lefty ever could.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:26 PM on June 12, 2009


"Since when has it been an effective strategy for opposing intolerance to view every occasion that by its very nature might naturally and justifiably rally opposition to agents of intolerance as an opportunity for talking ourselves into a state of disinterested, morally ambivalent paralysis?"

That posits a false dichotomy—either we assume that Von Brunn was incited, and direct evidence seems to be lacking, by these people and therefore condemn them, or we talk ourselves into a "state of disinterested, morally ambivalent paralysis."

But there's nothing that stops folks who oppose that rhetoric from decrying that rhetoric on its face, without having to resort to specious claims of causation. Indeed, you can even ask folks who make such claims whether they support Von Brunn, forcing them to disavow their language, without arguing that they caused or contributed to Von Brunn's murderous actions. If their words are ugly, their words are ugly on their own merits. What I'm objecting to isn't noting the similarity, it's the argument of cause.

"I don't carry about "nailing" anyone. I'm just tired of pretending this shit is just "same shit, different day" all the time when it's not. This is uglier. And we have to confront it, stridently--I don't mean through legal channels, but through social ones, and through public discourse."

And you're frankly wrong. Father Coughlin was promoting bloody revolution over the New Deal, and his tirades were significantly uglier—openly anti-Semitic, openly fascist. So yes, of course, confront, but to argue that this is a new or significantly more dangerous threat is to overstate the danger the same way that the Bush administration overstated the danger of foreign terrorism.

"But if, on the other hand, you more charitably assume that I really do believe (even if you disagree) that the tone of the rhetoric coming from the mainstream Right is contributing to the recent surge in hate crime and intolerance, and in fact, directly contributed to the tragic death of Stephen Johns, then wouldn't I understandably have a moral obligation to speak out about it? There's nothing gauche about it."

Two things—First, while I'm willing to grant you the sincerity of your beliefs out of good faith, I have no way of knowing, so I wouldn't use that as a metric for whether or not your rhetoric was tacky. Second, as I would also have to grant (as good faith) the sincerity of right-wing mouthpieces, I can still say that I find sincere moral claims tacky. Hell, I can even say that I'm not unsympathetic to anti-Zionists, but I found markkraft's attempt to shoehorn them into the conversation incredibly gauche, even as I would never say that I don't believe his interest is sincere.
posted by klangklangston at 2:07 PM on June 12, 2009


A more succinct representation of my views, re: right wing hate:

I think the difference is more quantitative than qualitative, especially within the media context of the last 20 or so years.
posted by klangklangston at 2:08 PM on June 12, 2009


And you're frankly wrong.

Respectfully: Sez you.

From where I sit, you're the one who's frankly wrong.

But we could go round and round about it, because there's no standard of evidence that would persuade either you or me. (Even if a correlation between more heated rhetoric and an uptick in hateful acts could be established, you could rightly argue for a non-causal relationship; we'd still be at an impasse).

So I have to go with my gut, and you have to go with yours. And I'm pretty sure I have the bigger gut, so I feel pretty confident about my choice.

Father Coughlin was promoting bloody revolution over the New Deal, and his tirades were significantly uglier—openly anti-Semitic, openly fascist.

Maybe not coincidentally, there was a failed attempt to stage a coup around the same time (warning: a self link, but for convenience not self promotion).
posted by saulgoodman at 2:24 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


A beautiful statement from Erik von Braunn, James's son.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:53 PM on June 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


And that's why criticizing any aspect of Israeli government policy makes you an anti-semite.

Straw man corpse cleanup in aisle 1.


Krrrlson, why is it that when I see your name in one of these threads, I see a cynical display of hasbara tactics: whoever doesn't strictly follow the Likudnik line, must be labeled an outrageous liar, if not an outright anti-Semite, smeared, and hopefully dragged into a flame war where everyone can be distracted from the substance and context of any argument involving Israel, no matter how peripheral?

Sort of how you and your cronies/puppetmasters have dragged Israel into this thread? "Hasbara tactics?" "Likudnik line?" Nice try, mujahid.

I suppose I should have expected you to dishonestly cherry-pick the Wikipedia article, so I'm going to quote your idiotic statement yet again:

This is arrant nonsense. Russia was anti-Semitic under the Tsars, and did not stay anti-Semitic under the Bolsheviks.

Then my statement:

After a brief and ineffective attempt to refocus the hatred of the general population from the Jews to the Bolsheviks' opposition (during which time the pogroms continued and Jewish religious practice was all but eliminated), things went right back to normal.

And then the article:

In August 1919 Jewish properties, including synagogues, were seized and many Jewish communities were dissolved. The anti-religious laws against all expressions of religion and religious education were being taken out on the Jewish population, just like on other religious groups. Many Rabbis and other religious officials were forced to resign from their posts under the threat of violent persecution. This type of persecution continued on into the 1920s.
...
The chaotic years of World War I, the February and October Revolutions, and the Civil War were fertile ground for the antisemitism that was endemic to tsarist Russia. During the World War, Jews were often accused of sympathizing with Germany and often persecuted.
...
Pogroms were unleashed throughout the Russian Civil War, perpetrated by virtually every competing faction, from anarchists, to Polish and Ukrainian nationalists to the Red and White Armies.
...
A former official Soviet historian (turned staunch anti-communist), Volkogonov claims that Lenin was aware of pogroms carried out by units of the Red Army during the war with Poland, particularly those carried out by Semyon Budyonny's troops [18], though the whole issue was effectively ignored. Volkogonov writes that "While condemning anti-Semitism in general, Lenin was unable to analyze, let alone eradicate, its prevalence in Soviet society".[19] Likewise, the hostility of the Soviet regime towards all religion made no exception for Judaism, and the 1921 campaign against religion saw the seizure of many synagogues...


Yeah, anti-Semitism was stamped out by the Bolsheviks all right. I don't even need to mention what happened under Stalin -- not "towards the end of his reign," either, but during a very large part of it. Now everyone here can judge for himself whose summary was more accurate, mine or yours.

You may wish to poison the atmosphere here with smears, but all that happens, is that it makes you look bad - your tactics may work on LGF or such sites, but not here. Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

Tell everyone whose sockpuppet you really are?
posted by Krrrlson at 5:50 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


for those in here who are still beating the dead horse into its very last shreds and picking the finest of nits over tangential matters:

I think everyone would do well to read Erik von Braunn's statement linked to above. It is one of the most eloquent and heartrending examples of grace and dignity under duress that I have ever read, and I think it would give everyone a much-needed dose of perspective.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am not really sure where VikingSword is coming from, but Antisemitism was awful in the USSR, just truly dreadful. It wasn't Nazi Germany, but it was blatant and accepted (and don't go quoting how things were against official policy, official policy would seem to be democratic rather than despotic, and then the reality was so different)
posted by caddis at 6:53 PM on June 12, 2009


It is indeed, practically worthy of an FPP itself. It will not get one, however, because I think the mods are still twitching in their sleep over the catastrophe that was this thread.

I'd like to thank ABC Online for once again proving the tactlessness of auto-splitting things up into pages, when they would best be served on a single sheet.
posted by graventy at 7:00 PM on June 12, 2009


Fourcheesemac: I guess in classifying these groups I try to adhere as closely to their own terms as they do. They see a wide gap between themselves and other right-wing Christians whose beliefs accommodate multicultural interaction.

For instance, the Duggars, the white Missouri (?) family with 18 and counting kids, is quite controversial among WN. One side praises them for bringing more white children into the world, while the other worries because their brand of evangelicalism seems to embrace interracial marriage.

Racial purity, rather than religious or political ideology trumps all their concerns. They all embrace the "14 words". There are two versions: 1) "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." 2) "Because the beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the earth."

Beyond that, not much holds extremists together. Perhaps you are right and I need to think more broadly about these categories. For my research on Japan, indentures and prostitutes I try to respect as much as possible the categories used by my subjects. And I've tried to do that with the nutjob racialist right. I think you're suggesting a different approach and you've given me a lot to think about. I'm also pretty sure some of what you said went over my head too. Cheers
posted by vincele at 8:18 PM on June 12, 2009


I am not really sure where VikingSword is coming from, but Antisemitism was awful in the USSR, just truly dreadful.
My understanding is similar to VikingSword's (as I commented above). Looking the question up yesterday found myself reading parts of a book by the Prof. Zvi Gitelman both I and VikingSword quoted ("Never before in Russian history — and never subsequently has a government made such an effort to uproot and stamp out anti-Semitism"). Reading around about Prof. Gitelman, seems he's highly respected as a historian of the era and from what I could gather from the passages of his book I read, it really isn't just a case of a simple continuance of earlier Russian anti-Semitism (not all sweetness and liberation either, of course).
posted by Abiezer at 8:59 PM on June 12, 2009


Tell everyone whose sockpuppet you really are?

Does anyone else read this and think of Scientologists screaming "What are your crimes?!" at protestors?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:42 PM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Tell everyone whose sockpuppet you really are?

OMG! It's Lenin's Ghost, isn't it?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:46 PM on June 12, 2009


Sort of how you and your cronies/puppetmasters have dragged Israel into this thread? "Hasbara tactics?" "Likudnik line?" Nice try, mujahid.

Let me adjust my turban, and flick away my flowing beard, so I can see the keyboard. OK. Regarding Israel - that's how you made me a target: I commented in an Israeli thread, and from then on, you latched on and followed me into every thread that deals with Jewish issues, launching incessant personal attacks. That's how. I pointed it out, because I've seen you do that to other posters.

Tell everyone whose sockpuppet you really are?

Personal attacks, innuendo, smears? Check!

Bad luck for you - a month ago, Matt personally comped me a free membership, because I don't do paypal. As such, I can hardly have sockpuppet accounts, now can I? Or are "my puppetmasters" too cheap to pony up $5 so I can wreak havoc and destruction in the Middle East? Oh, and I am such a seekrit "mujahid" with an army of IDs that just yesterday I introduced myself in person to Matt at a mefi-meet in LA, plus to a crowd of other mefites, and I even uploaded pictures from the event - I guess my cover is blown!

Next time, you should make your charges a bit stickier, because as it is, they fall apart in still air, let alone in the gentlest breeze of examination.

But I guess that's the whole point of your distraction tactics, isn't it - to flame and attack, not to illuminate. So you know what I'm going to do? That's right, discuss the actual issues - smile!

Let us take a look at your quotes from wikipedia, and see how they bear out your claims.

"In August 1919 Jewish properties, including synagogues, were seized and many Jewish communities were dissolved. The anti-religious laws against all expressions of religion and religious education were being taken out on the Jewish population, just like on other religious groups. Many Rabbis and other religious officials were forced to resign from their posts under the threat of violent persecution. This type of persecution continued on into the 1920s.

...

Likewise, the hostility of the Soviet regime towards all religion made no exception for Judaism, and the 1921 campaign against religion saw the seizure of many synagogues..."


This in your view, is proof of Bolshevik anti-Semitism in practice? Really, you're not even trying. Bolsheviks were brutal ideologues who established a totalitarian dictatorship. Their ideology was explicitly anti-religious and against private property. So yes, they suppressed all religion, and did not make an exception for Judaism. Is that your evidence of anti-Semitism? Or is it proof that they treated Jews no differently from all the other people they repressed? The Bolsheviks were not gentle liberals. They were brutal dictators. So yes, oppression was part of their SOP - but they applied their brutality evenly. They were opposed to private property and church property, so yes, they seized synagogues - but they also seized churches, monasteries, temples, mosques, and other houses of worship. They did not specifically target Jews here. As your very quote above says "Jewish population, just like [...] other religious groups", and "hostility of the Soviet regime towards all religion made no exception for Judaism"

Nobody ever claimed that the Bolsheviks were gentle democratic humanitarians. The claim was that they were not specifically anti-Semitic (with individual exceptions, as always, anywhere). So of course, they seized properties, and suppressed religion, including Judaism.

"The chaotic years of World War I, the February and October Revolutions, and the Civil War were fertile ground for the antisemitism that was endemic to tsarist Russia. During the World War, Jews were often accused of sympathizing with Germany and often persecuted.

...

Pogroms were unleashed throughout the Russian Civil War, perpetrated by virtually every competing faction, from anarchists, to Polish and Ukrainian nationalists to the Red and White Armies.


Antisemitism that was endemic to TSARIST RUSSIA - right. TSARIST (i.e. right wing, reactionary). The whole population was indoctrinated in hatred against Jews for generations - the "persecuted" refers here to all perpetrators across the spectrum, not just Bolsheviks, though, if you note, the Bolsheviks were the least guilty of such conduct against Jews (though again, I noted that too - there were some unquestionably anti-Semitic Bolsheviks). The difference was not only that the Bolsheviks were guilty of the least such attacks (according to the link, their units were at the smallest group of perpetrators at 8.5%), but that in face of such endemic hatred in the population, they took strong measures to officially condemn and uproot anti-Semitism. Did they succeed 100%? Of course not. Was it all flowers and honey for blacks after the Civil War? Of course not - that was impossible in those times, and is still not fully possible today (!) - but who in their right mind would therefore equate the South with the North when it came to the treatment of blacks?? Actually, I take that back - we know who would - certain right wing propagandists.

And by the way, the treatment of blacks OR FOR THAT MATTER OF JEWS IN AMERICA compared to the brutal Soviets? Interesting question! How many Jews were there officially in the U.S. government (or blacks!) before WWII? Or for that matter after WWII? Funny, because Jews were overrepresented (compared to their numbers in the population) - at the highest reaches of Soviet power! From your link "Jews were the largest group in the Central Committee after the Russians" Hmm. Again, can one say that about the U.S. EVEN TODAY?? Either for Jews, or for African-Americans? Anti-Semitism was widespread at top U.S. universities, social clubs and so on right until shortly after WWII - compare that to Jews under the Bolsheviks during that period. Hmm. Now compare how far the Bolsheviks had to travel given a population steeped for centuries in anti-Semitism - the enormity of the task of uprooting such an evil, compared to the much shorter and easier task in the U.S. The Bolsheviks did a lot - not perfect by any means, but look where they started.

A former official Soviet historian (turned staunch anti-communist), Volkogonov claims that Lenin was aware of pogroms carried out by units of the Red Army during the war with Poland, particularly those carried out by Semyon Budyonny's troops [18], though the whole issue was effectively ignored. Volkogonov writes that "While condemning anti-Semitism in general, Lenin was unable to analyze, let alone eradicate, its prevalence in Soviet society"

A former official Soviet historian? Turned staunch anti-communist? Claims? And his heaviest accusation is that Lenin was unable to eradicate anti-Semitism? OK.

As linked now repeatedly, here is a JEWISH historian, highly respected - Zvi Gitelman - who has an entirely different claim: "Never before in Russian history — and never subsequently has a government made such an effort to uproot and stamp out antisemitism"

I think we can see who has more credibility. But never mind historians and their claims. How about the evidence that is irrefutable - large numbers of Jews voluntarily joining the Bolsheviks, and attaining the highest reaches of power. Does this sound like something that might have happened under the Tsars? My entire claim was precisely this - that it is arrant nonsense to claim that anti-Semitism was the same under the Tsars as under the Bolsheviks. ARRANT NONSENSE.

You say:

"I don't even need to mention what happened under Stalin -- not "towards the end of his reign," either, but during a very large part of it."

Why not mention it - it is in fact right in your link:

The years before the Holocaust were an era of rapid change for Soviet Jews, leaving behind the dreadful poverty of the Pale of Settlement. Forty percent of the population in the former Pale left for large cities within the USSR. Emphasis on education and movement from countryside shtetls to newly industrialized cities allowed many Soviet Jews to enjoy overall advances under Stalin and to become one of the most educated population groups in the world.

Game, set, match. Never before had Jews had such opportunities to move en masse from the outcast backwaters of vicious Tsarist oppression to move into the cities of equality and become UNDER STALIN "one of the most educated population groups in the world". IN. THE. WORLD.

In fact, to this day, Israel is reaping the benefits of this movement. Some of the most highly educated Jewish immigrants to Israel come from the former Soviet Union.

Again, does it mean it was all roses? Hardly. The Soviets were brutal dictators, destroying lives left and right, Jews included. Here's Stalin in his later paranoid period - your link again:

"Many Jews fell victim to the The Great Purges, although there is no evidence that Jews were specifically targeted by Stalin."

Your. Link.

Even so, I clearly stated, that Stalin did employ anti-Semitic tactics, especially later, during the "doctors plot" time. So by no means am I absolving him of vile anti-Semitism.

And I also clearly stated that:

Unquestionably, in later years, Communism turned toward persecution of Jews, though never anything on a scale of Nazis.

What was the original question here? It was not that somehow Soviets were angels wrt. antisemitism. Rather, that their anti-Jewish attacks were never part of their ideological DNA, but rather a result of complex forces including geopolitical rivalry vis a vis Israel, endemic anti-Semitism of the population etc.

If we are to say that the right must face the worst manifestation of that movement - Nazism. Then the left must do the same with Communism. And if one compares the two - BOTH MONSTROUS SYSTEMS - on the specific question of anti-Semitism and racism in general, it was part of the right extremist NAZI DNA - but it was never part of the extremist COMMUNIST DNA.

From your link:

"Beyond longstanding controversies, ranging from the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to anti-Zionism, the Soviet Union did grant official "equality of all citizens regardless of status, sex, race, religion, and nationality."

However flawed - often badly - in practice, it was never part of the DNA of even the most extreme leftists, i.e. Communists. It most definitely was the very DNA of the most extreme rightists - Nazis.

That was my point. I hope this exchange was educational! I remain, ever at your service, ready with more rational arguments. Have a great day!
posted by VikingSword at 11:06 PM on June 12, 2009 [17 favorites]


I thought I found a gummi bear on the floor but when I bent down to pick it up my pants ripped. How embarrassing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:14 PM on June 12, 2009


VikingSword, I think that's just about the most comprehensive- and least vitriolic- smackdown I've seen in the Blue. Bravo.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:50 AM on June 13, 2009


Facts. You can prove anything with facts.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:12 AM on June 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


VIkingSword, for the win.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:04 AM on June 13, 2009


So the Bolsheviks allied with the Jews in the early days of the empire, passed laws, and even took steps to reduce anti-Semitism, but that does not change the fact that from Stalin on, when threats such as the White Guard had dissipated and power had been consolidated persecution of those who were other, including the Jews, became more accepted, even officially. It's actions that matter, not words. Clearly the state looked the other way in the face of anti-Semitism. By the 1960s the USSR had become the major center of Jewish persecution. President Carter helped greatly by convincing the Soviets to open the door to Israel for the Jews. Even then the Refuseniks were persecuted even more severely for their temerity in deigning to leave. Most were fired immediately, making amassing the money needed to pay the bribes to get out even more difficult. Lack of an official state policy of anti-Semitism does not mean that anti-Semitism was not rampant. Talk to some of the Jews who managed to emigrate from the USSR in those days and see how lovely they were treated.
posted by caddis at 5:47 AM on June 13, 2009


caddis, I never maintained that Soviets didn't ever use anti-Semitism. What I objected to, was the the claim that anti-Semitism under the Tsars, where it was part of official ideology and laws, was anything like, not even remotely, under the Soviets. I also maintained that it was not part of the Communist ideology (unlike the Nazi and extreme right wing).

It is important to note, that a lot of the persecution of Jews in Soviet times was politically based, rather than springing from anti-Semitism (though again, an element of that existed, certainly on an individual basis). The Soviets originally were some of the earliest supporters of Israel - the Soviet Union provided crucial diplomatic support for the establishment of Israel, it was official policy; early Zionists were frequently leftists if not outright Communists (look the Kibbutz movement for example). With time, Israeli leaders realized that the U.S. is in a much better position to provide long term support for Israel - and so they turned away from the Soviets. The U.S. eagerly stepped into the role, and the Soviets then switched support to the Arab states - it was a grand geopolitical change of alliances. This set the dynamic for the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union - it was political, not so much anti-Semitic (though again, elements of it existed). Understandably, many Jews in the Soviet Union felt sympathy for Israel (though by no means all), and that contributed to the paranoia of the Soviets, with ugly accusations of double loyalty (this age old canard is also hardly a Soviet invention). Finally, the Soviets used the Jews in their country as bargaining chips and pawns in their game against the West (hence the back and forth and deals with Carter) - again, not so much anti-Semitism (though elements of that existed), but cynical political games. Did Jews often have a terrible time under the Soviets - YES. Was it always anti-Semitism? NO. And my position was, that unlike the Right, anti-Semitism was never a part of the Left's, even extreme left's ideology.

Communism, including Soviet Communism has a lot of crimes to answer for. Official anti-Semitism though, is not one of them. On the questions of racism, anti-Semitism, or the position of women, Soviets were remarkably progressive (but hardly perfect) - though always subject to the vagaries of politics, general oppression and brutality of the times. To see this, one only needs to look at this simple fact: since the fall of the Soviets, racism has exploded in Russia. Neo-Nazi gangs of the worst kind sprung up - unthinkable in Soviet times. This is like a perfect experiment. Massive racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny under the Tsars. Then the period of Communism - monumental progress on these questions (never perfect, though). Communism falls - and immediately we have a rise in racism and ethnic hatred. Pretty telling.

I'll say it again - anti-Semitism is mostly a right-wing affair.
posted by VikingSword at 9:58 AM on June 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Off, you and your "knowing things".
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on June 13, 2009


OK, I don't really disagree with that. However, I am a bit less willing to give the Soviets the benefit of the doubt on the politically based nature of their oppression rather than an indifference to existing anti-Semitism, not that the two aren't perfectly compatible. When you are politically oppressing someone you are far less likely to protect them from anti-Semitism in their environment, from the local beaurocrats, or even from more powerful elements of the government. I also agree that much of the oppression, the closing of synagogues and the like, had as much to do with political oppression as anything. I also see your point about the Tsars vs. the early Soviets. I hadn't really read all the hullabaloo which lead up to one of your comments that taken alone seemed to me to be excusing oppression of the Jews on political grounds, as if the Soviets were bad but they were bad to everybody so the Jews shouldn't take it personally. Anyway, it sucked to be a Jew under the Tsars, it was better under the Soviets until around WWII era when it got pretty bad, and now, it is even worse, although not as bad as the Tsars. I guess that is why my town is filled with Russian Jews, and they like it here much better than Russia or the USSR.
posted by caddis at 1:21 PM on June 13, 2009


caddis, I never maintained that Soviets didn't ever use anti-Semitism. What I objected to, was the the claim that anti-Semitism under the Tsars, where it was part of official ideology and laws, was anything like, not even remotely, under the Soviets.

Please get off your high horse. You might as well say that German antisemitic policies under the Kaiser were not "anything like, not even remotely" those of the Nazis - I did make both associations, but you only seem to have an emotional investment in the Bolsheviks. I was talking about the history of antisemitism in particular countries persisting despite regime change. If you want to claim that the Bolsheviks danced Hava Nagila while handing out latkes, go ahead; I have no interest in debating this very irrelevant claim. Russia is culturally antisemitic today and it was culturally antisemitic under the Tsars. This isn't the fault of the Bolsheviks, but it's interesting that seventy years of the New Soviet Man did not manage to eradicate it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:01 PM on June 13, 2009


VikingSword, I think that's just about the most comprehensive- and least vitriolic- smackdown I've seen in the Blue. Bravo.

Fap-fap-fap-fap-fap-fap-fap.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:03 PM on June 13, 2009


Joe, VikingSword, c'mon.

Anti-Semitism in Russia is a complex and broad topic. While Lenin spoke publicly against it, the Bolsheviks used it as a rhetorical tactic against the Mensheviks. That can be simultaneously true with the fact that the Bolshevik government made a conscious effort to stamp out the Tsarist-style anti-Semitism (which was overt and virulent), and that it rapidly reappeared in Stalinism.

I mean, think about how you'd describe a relationship between Bolshevism and the Soviets—Lenin made an effort to empower some, and used working class communes as a rhetorical tool to advance Bolshevism. But he also violently put down Soviets who stepped outside of Bolshevik control. While my Russian politics class only glancingly touched on anti-Semitism (especially since it was focused on the Putin transition), I wouldn't doubt a lot of internal inconsistency regarding the treatment of Jews, even as I think that the larger point of "left-wing" folks being less anti-Semitic over the course of the 20th century to be true.

I mean, I'm an admin on a local news board (now an emeritus) that frequently deals with anti-Zionists. These are left-wing folks, but there's unmistakable anti-Semitism from several of the cohort that we regularly have to delete (and Christ, the only things they seem to be good at are hating Jews and getting past IP bans). But would I characterize the left as anti-Semitic because of the excesses of anti-Zionists? No. Would I even characterize anti-Zionists as anti-Semitic, as is a common rhetorical tactic? No. These are leftists arguing with other leftists and using horrible, evil language.

(I do, as a side note, find it amusing that there because my name is vaguely Jewish-y, I'm a tool of the ZOG imperialist censors who want to Holocaust Arabs, whereas here, I'm more likely to be accused of being anti-Semitic because of my general criticism towards Israeli politicians.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:22 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can an individual Bolshevik, or klangklangston's lefty anti-Zionist be an anti-Semite? Of course, and I've said that repeatedly. No individual of any group is immune - you can be Jewish, and an anti-Semite... bah, Karl Marx himself was both the original Communist and a Jew and an anti-Semite. But that's not the salient point. You can have individuals of any ideology who contradict in action what they profess in words. An anti-Semitic Bolshevik. A pro-Jewish Nazi who'd risk his own life to save Jews. However, does the existence of Schindler change the inextricable anti-Semitism of the Nazis? Does the existence of a Jew hating Bolshevik contradict the inextricable nature of Communist ideology of equality of all races and sexes? Does the existence of a meat-eating vegan contradict the meatless ideology of Veganism?

The argument people like Joe in Australia make, is that if individual Bolsheviks are anti-Semites, and it is widespread enough in a population, it makes no difference what the overall ideology is. That's a fair argument - but it is also wrong. I've already given tons of cites and quotes in my other posts above about the enormous progress Jews as a people en masse made under the Communists, so I won't repeat that again. But I'll point out that it happened under Stalin - the surge to the cities from the ghetto of the Tsarist pale of settlement (40% of the population!), to become one of the most educated ethnic groups in the world, and in essential positions of power. These are concrete results, indisputable. Jews were overrepresented given their numbers, in the highest reaches of power - the largest group in the Central Committee after the Russians. And unlike the tokenism of the U.S. where a rare black or Jew (back in the day) would be made the Deputy of The Dancing Ballerinas, under the Soviets, Jews held positions of real power, including being heads of the security services, the most terrifying levers of power. That is real. The consequences were real. And klangklangston - no, anti-Semitism did not "rapidly reapper under Stalin" - it reappered only toward the very end of Stalin's life, when he was in full paranoid mode.

The extremes of the Left (Communists) and the Right (Nazis) shared a lot - if you read "position on freedom of speech, political opposition, exercise of power by the state, widespread and murderous repression, massive security apparatus" - you wouldn't know which one in particular that was about, since it applied to both. HOWEVER, if you read "intrinsic and central anti-Semitism and racism" - you'd know immediately it was about the Nazis. AND if you read "equality based on race, sex, and origin" - you'd know immediately it was about the Communists, and could not be about the Nazis.

Central features of the ideology are the same world over, or they become a different movement. The are indeed defining characteristics. ONE defining characteristic of the extreme right, is anti-Semitism. Everywhere. The Nazis in Britain are anti-Semitic, so too in Russia, in France, in the U.S. - everywhere. You may have individual members of the KKK who are pro-black, but the KKK is a racist organization. You can have a Schindler, but the Nazis are anti-Semites. Same for the extreme Left - Communists. ONE defining characteristic is "equality of races, ethnic groups, sexes" - that's true everywhere too, even if individual Bolsheviks or Communists in the U.S. contradict that.

There are consequences to ideology, even if individual members contradict it - Jews fare badly under such right-wing ideologies, meat consumption drops in groups of vegans, Jews fare much, much better under ideologies which emphasize equality of all racial and ethnic groups.

If the right-wing ideology that employs the blood libel proclaimed by the Church, claiming "they killed Christ", whether in the West, or East (Orthodox), Catholic or Protestant, is promulgated for centuries, you as an individual may oppose anti-Semitism, but you know you are going against the official teachings. That counts. If it seems like Jesus himself is telling you through church officials, as orthodox dogma - it is much harder to oppose. If Hitler himself tells you that Jews are the greatest evil - that counts, never mind the Schindler here or there. If the orthodox ideology of Communism and it's central texts tell you ethnic hatred and anti-Semitism is wrong, it counts. If their god-equivalent, Lenin (they embalmed him for official worship) says unequivocally and repeatedly that anti-Semitism is contradictory to Communism, it counts. If the godhead-cult-of-personality-Stalin does the same (as he did) - it counts. Individuals can always be found who will buck the central teachings, but the overall impact is what's central.

To bring this long thread around to the original topic - ideology counts very much indeed. A right-wing extremist anywhere in the world, can point to Hitler's writings to support his anti-Semitism, or Tsarist "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", or other right-wing screeds. Schindler cannot. And so Schindler will be rare, and the overall impact of Nazism or right-wingers will be horrific for Jews - whether the American Nazi Party here, the KKK, the hundreds of right-wing Jew hating, race-baiting groups, or Le Pen in France, or the BNP in Britain or anywhere. And so too for the extreme left - Communists. If it's the various Communist parties here, or in Russia, or in China, or in India, or anywhere - no member can point to writings of Communist orthodoxy to support his anti-Semitism, quite the contrary - and so, Jews will do a world better under such circumstances.

Here is the key point. Consequences. Note that even the most extreme left wing terror groups don't target Jews. The Red Brigades, or groups in Germany, or here in the states (Weathermen) - no attacks against Jews. You don't read about a Communist, no matter how extreme, or terrorist, bursting into a Holocaust Museum, or a Jewish day-care center, or Synagogue. You regularly read that about right-wing hate groups and individuals doing it (by the way, von Brunn had many sympathizers, a little ecosystem of loosely connected right-wing hate groups, and made money distributing anti-Semitic screeds). Ideology counts.

I'll say it again - anti-Semitism is intrinsic to the extreme right wing, and has consequences, individuals notwithstanding. It was never a feature of the Left, including the extreme left - quite the opposite - and that too has consequences, individuals notwithstanding.
posted by VikingSword at 8:23 AM on June 14, 2009


When your country defines Jewish persecution after WWII, does it really matter whether there exists an official anti-Semitic ideology? By definition your government is then anti-Semitic by its deeds. Your motivations really are irrelevant, except in semantic pissing contests. The Soviets were the World's worst oppressors of the Jews of the Jews in the days after WWII.
posted by caddis at 7:17 PM on June 14, 2009


How in the hell did this thread turn into a Commies V. Nazis battle royal for the title of History's worst anti-Semites? (Rhetorical question. Please don't answer that.)
posted by saulgoodman at 7:32 AM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Neo-Nazis are in the Army now: Why the U.S. military is ignoring its own regulations and permitting white supremacists to join its ranks.
posted by homunculus at 9:50 AM on June 16, 2009


To be fair, to join up with the armed forces in the middle of this current Oriental adventure, you have to be either poor, stupid or xenophobic. White Supremicists are all three.
posted by klangklangston at 9:54 AM on June 16, 2009


FBI: Child porn on accused museum shooter computer

I have a theory that (in general) the lower a person's self-esteem, the shittier their behavior towards other people. This guy, a pro-life, "Christian" right-winger with a child-porn predilection must have been all kinds of self-loathing. Self-loathing and irrational hatred of others feed off each other.

So which came first, the pedophilia or the over-compensation of "family values"?
posted by LordSludge at 7:04 AM on June 19, 2009


Oh, I have been told quite plainly that this IS a lefty place. I would never ever consider it the lefty equivalent of Neonazi sites, but I most certainly do see it as a mostly leftwing site, just as some other sites are known as right wing.

I would say that the Metafilter userbase isn't so much left-wing per se as much as intelligent and well-informed, although there's certainly some overlap between the two.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:17 PM on June 24, 2009


FBI Arrests White Supremacist Blogger Hal Turner For Threatening To Kill Federal Judges
posted by homunculus at 6:44 PM on June 24, 2009


Hal Turner in a mugshot. What a thing of beauty that is.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:17 PM on June 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


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