Far Right’s Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Secessionism & Militias, Paranoia & Violence

I find it hard to comprehend the mindset of some rightwingers. I don’t disagree in principle with many of their values and ideas, but I always sense some hidden motive behind the rhetoric. It’s partly just that rightwingers are more prone to paranoid conspiracy theorizing than those on the left. I’m actually sympathetic to the paranoid state of mind. As they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

However, sometimes it seems that the far right has a self-enclosed, self-reinforcing, self-fulfilling way of seeing the world. For example, some rightwingers get all worked up over a talk show host telling them the Feds are going to take their guns away. So, they stock up on guns and start acting suspicious which attracts the attention of the police or FBI. It never ends well for the paranoid rightwinger.

This kind of rightwinger might even be correct about some of their fears, but there is something demented about their being prone towards aggressive self-defense which not unusually leads to self-destructive behaviors. This style of thinking isolates them and makes everyone who is different than them into a potential enemy.

Fear is fine, but fear-mongering just isn’t helpful for the fear-mongerer himself or for anyone else. I mean what benefit does someone like Glenn Beck gain from fear-mongering? To be cynical, many say it’s all just a show and so it comes down to profits. And profitable it is. Beck wasn’t rich before fear-mongering, but since beginning his extremist style of punditry he has become massively wealthy. If he actually believed the nation would collapse or the socialists were going to take over, then what would be the point of his amassing all that wealth?

One element behind my thoughts are the recent talk of secessionism. Even some Republican politicians have openly and directly encouraged secessionist attitudes. Do these politicians actually want a new Civil War? Unlike the first one, a second Civil War would probably be over in days or weeks. And if for some reason the army itself became split in it’s allegiances, we would experience a war that might be more destructive than any war fought in modern history. Could you imagine the country splitting in half with the respective military forces lobbing nukes at each other. It would make the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan look like Disneyland in comparison.

The specific issue that started this line of thought is that some rightwingers are seeking the establishment of state militias. I’m fine with the proposition in the abstract, but the motives seem a bit suspect. When I hear the proponents speak about it, there is a lot of talking around in circles and much that is implied.

It’s all very strange. At the bottom of it all, I sense that some rightwingers feel their being left in the dust of the 21st century and so their itching for a fight. I suppose that, going by the demographics, many of these rightwingers are out of step with where society is heading. It’s just a fact that America is becoming less dominated by whites, by fundamentalists, by the culture wars. A shift is happening in demographics right now that is unlike anything that has happened before in American history.

Ultimately, I wonder how many of these rightwingers take themselves seriously. Are they just posturing? Maybe most of them are just posturing, but definitely some rightwiners are working themselves up and some are seeking ways to organize. What will happen if and when they organize is another issue. But I have no doubts that the authorities (be they police, FBI or maybe even National Guard) will come down hard on some of these groups. Be prepared for the same violent confrontations and bombings we saw from the rightwing militia types in the ’90s. It will be interesting to watch it all play out.

It’s not that I necessarily trust the government more than the average conservative. I just trust the far right fear-mongering machine even less. It’s like these rightwingers have a narrative stuck in their head and their determined to play that narrative out to its inevitable conclusion. Of course, the authorities are more than willing to play their part as well. Personally, I’d prefer a different story to be played out on the national level.




Are Republicans Evil?

“When fascism comes to America, it will be draped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
 ~ Halford E. Luccock

There has recently been revealed scandal after scandal within the Republican party. The scandal involving the Bush administration and GITMO can only be interpreted as war crimes. If any politician ever was evil, it would either be Bush or one of his crony friends.

Now, there is yet another scandal involving Republicans. Is there no depth of depravity that rightwingers won’t descend to?

A Moral Fundamentalist! Oh My!

I came across this video. The guy apparently is a fundamentalist of some variety. I’m typically critical of fundamentalists because of their not unusual hypocritical behavior. I was surprised to hear this fundamentalist voicing criticisms of the hypocritical rightwing Christian leadership which has led us into unjust wars. He comes at it from his own Christian perspective, but what impressed me is that he was considering data that comes from views other than his own.

I’m so used to fundamentalists defending other fundamentalists at all costs. It’s quite refreshing to see this particular fundamentalist struggle with his own sense of morality. Could you imagine if Bush had struggled with his own morality to the degree this guy is doing in this video? If Bush had, so many vile atrocities would never have happened.

Response to Rightwing Misinformation

I’m involved in a discussion right now. I noticed the discussion because someone had linked to one of my blog posts here.

http://topix.net/forum/source/kdvr/TA3MUPB6NGSBEJ7QK/p4

One commenter responded to the commenter who linked to me. She was challenging his viewpoint, but all of her claims were either wrong or based on old data.

Becky wrote:
The only sheep here are the ones like you who actually believe the crap the liberal media and your precious president are shoving down your throat. […] I am curious you really think that dumb people are republicans. Our military is 75% republican so by your reasoning you think that 75% of our military is un-educated and from rural low income families?

Studies show the media isn’t dominated by liberals.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/black-and-white-and-read-all-over/

By the way, could you rightwingers please quit repeating your talking points that you learn by watching too much Fox News?
“shove it down our throats” “ram it through”
I think it was Jon Stewart that did a great humorous analysis of that particular talking point, but I found another video of Bill Maher which is hilarious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EadOO7mzkfc

Are Republicans dumb?

To be honest, studies show that conservativess on average have lower IQs than liberals.

http://spq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/73/1/33

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100224132655.htm

“Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa’s hypothesis. Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as “very liberal” have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as “very conservative” have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.”

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/26/liberals.atheists.sex.intelligence/index.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIavgRlX8Tc

http://www.vidoemo.com/yvideo.php?i=Z29RYWpOcWuRpY0czOXM&intelligence-iq-religious-atheist-democrat-republican=

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=368_1187885839

 

http://www.halfsigma.com/2006/06/democrats_may_n.html

“I previously wrote that Republicans are more intelligent than Democrats. It seems that may have been a hasty conclusion based on looking at the entire General Social Survey (GSS) dataset, and ignoring the trend. It seems that the Republicans used to be the more intelligent party, but that may no longer be true.”

According to Pew, liberals are the most well educated.

http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=949

The most well educated demographic are liberals (19% of registered voters, 59% Democratic, 40% Independent, socially liberal). Liberals are the fastest growing demographic, but they already represent the largest sector of the Democratic party and the largest sector of the entire population.

And liberals tend to be attracted to intellectual fields such as science.

http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=1549

56% of scientists perceive scientists as liberal.
52% identify as liberal including 14% as very liberal.
55% identify as Democrat, 6% identify as Republican, 32% idenitfy as Independent (w/ 81% of Independent scientists leaning towards Democrat).

“Majorities of scientists working in academia (60%), for non-profits (55%) and in government (52%) call themselves Democrats, as do nearly half of those working in private industry (47%).”

“A far smaller share of scientists (40%) than the public (57%) agrees with the statement when something is run by the government, it is usually inefficient and wasteful.”

“Scientists also are less likely… to say that business strikes a fair balance between profits and the public interest: Just 20% of scientists… compared with 37% of the public. And while 78% of scientists say that the government has a responsibility to care for those unable to care for themselves…”

Just 14% of scientists agree that we have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country. That compares with 41% of the public. Just a third of scientists but a majority of the public (53%) agrees that the best way to ensure peace is through military strength.”

83% of Americans believe in God.
33% of scientists believe in God.
82% of Americans have a religious affiliation.
48% of scientists have a religious affiliation

There is one last point in your comment. You claim the military is 75% Republican. What is your source for that data? Is it new or old data? I came across a report on studies that supposedly debunk this myth.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/jul/26/na-studies-debunk-military-myths/news-politics/

“New research on political opinions of U.S. service members suggests the stereotype of the military as uniformly conservative and Republican doesn’t hold true.

“Instead, the research portrays America’s troops as more moderate and less party-oriented than the population as a whole, and they are more likely to avoid the extreme ends of the conservative-to-liberal political spectrum.

“Younger enlisted personnel, the least-studied service members, mostly reflect their civilian peers. But at least one researcher says they also are much more likely to vote.”

[ . . . ]

“The perception of service members as heavily Republican and conservative is long-standing.

“A 1998 survey by political scientist Peter Feaver of Duke University and Richard Kohn of the University of North Carolina that focused only on officers augmented that stereotype, finding that officers called themselves “conservative” versus “liberal” by an 8-to-1 ratio and Republican instead of Democrat by roughly a 6-to-1 ratio. But Feaver said it was wrong to extend his findings to enlisted personnel. “It’s a lot more likely to be more true of a colonel than a private,” he said.

“Feaver said the military is somewhat more conservative and Republican-oriented than the general public, but also tends to shift along with broad trends in society and likely has become somewhat less conservative since he did his research. “There may be a return to the historical position of the military as more politically independent,” he said.”

Becky wrote:
Half of your statistics mean nothing unless you are stating that unmarried people with no belief in anything beyond life are smarter people. If that is your definition of smarter people then hell yeah I’d rather be stupid.[…] I work in a green company in a green industry started by (guess what) republicans not democrats. I run into more Republicans in our industry than democrats. And it is the leaders in this industry (that’s right all republicans) at the capital trying to pass legislation to help our environment and our economy (not using government funds for solar panels on gyms).[…] The highest age group that is democratic falls with 18-29 year olds. SO not a whole lot of life experience there-a lot of them believe anything the media tells them.

Liberals tend to be younger, but that isn’t simply that younger people are Liberal. Other research shows that Millennials are more Liberal than past generations at the same age. Liberals are the largest demographic in the Pew study and they’re the fastest growing which makes sense when you consider Millennials are the largest generation in US history. In general, the US population is becoming more liberal.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010…

Also, higher educated people tend to get married later and so there is a higher percentage of unmarried Liberals. On the positive side, Liberals (who tend to be atheists) have the lowest divorce rate and have the highest monogamous rate of any demographic.

I’m not surprised that most people in your industry are Republicans. First, your field is technological and Republicans are attracted to engineering. Second, Pew Enterprisers (equivalent to Neocons) have the highest percentage of business owners (but Liberals have the next highest percentage of business owners).

Yes, Liberals are young and all young people by definition have less life experience. Even so, they’re going to be Liberal as they age and gain experience. Once generations come of age, they don’t tend to change their ideologies for the rest of their lives. According to Strauss and Howe, the next generation will dominate the political landscape with their Liberalism.

Anyways, don’t mistake their youth for ignorance. They’re the more well educated than those older than them. Also, they follow the news closely and they tend to seek out multiple sources.

Shove it down! Ram it through!

Have you noticed how effectively conservatives use talking points? There has been plenty of videos analyzing the use of talking points by Fox News including management memos telling the hosts which talking points to use on any given day. It’s enough to make a person cynical, but it’s hard to become much more cynical at this point.

I was noting recently how some talking points are code words. Palin’s use of “real Americans” and “hockey mom” are code words for white Americans. The hockey mom was particularly interesting. First, it’s  sport that was originally popularized in Northern states which are predominantly white. Second, because of all the gear, it’s an expensive sport and so poor minority families couldn’t afford to pay for the gear.

There are tons of these talking points and code words. I’m sure people have written books analyzing them. I had one particular example in mind. I came across a discussion about health reform and a righwing commenter used the talking point about having the bill “shoved down our throat”. There are variations on it such as “rammed through”, but the phrasing doesn’t diverge much. It gets repeated by Republicans in Washington and it gets repeated on Fox News.

I was trying to find a specific video I had seen about it. Someone had put together a bunch of clips of this talking point. I can’t remember if the whole video was about Fox News, but at least part of it was. The video showed the Fox News reporters and hosts repeating the talking point over and over. Then the video showed a clip of Fox News version of a debate about health reform, but of course the debate only included conservatives. They invited some old people on to express their views and one old person repeated tha same talking point. Obviously, this old person had been watching a lot of Fox News and had picked up the phrase. That is how it works. Repeating a simple phrase enough times causes people to unconsciously take it in and start using it themselves. I’m sure that old person didn’t even know he was repeating a talking point. It’s the same principle as advertising. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and keep on repeating.

I think that particular video might have been from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, but for the life of me I couldn’t find the video. I was surprised that I couldn’t even find much discussion about that particular talking point. I just found some references to it in forum discussions and whatnot. I thought that strange. I felt like I was going mad and was glad to find even slight mentions about the talking point. I’d think it would get more media attention, but the media is in the business of spreading talking points and not in the business of analyzing them.

I did finally find one video that refers to it and it was actually another video I had previously watched. It’s Bill Maher and he is on a roll in this video. Maher can be a very funny guy. In this video, he is in top form. He only briefly talks about it around the halfway point (4:40), but it’s hilarious.

Rightwing Madness

I read many comments online. I always wonder why many rightwingers have a tendency to make extreme statements

Whenever they disagree with someone or something, they say things such as:

  • Obama is the Anti-Christ, a Muslim, a terrorist, a Nazi, Hitler, Stalin, etc.
  • Obama isn’t American. Show me his birth certificate.
  • I hope Obama gets assassinated.
  • Jim Wallis is Satan.
  • Liberals are Communists.
  • Dr. Tiller got what he deserved and Roeder is a hero.
  • Overthrow the government!
  • He is an FBI operative.
  • FEMA will put us in concentration camps.
  • Violent militia groups are just defending their rights.
  • America is a Christian nation and the Founding Fathers meant the govt to be a fundamentalist theocracy.

They’re particularly obsessed with their xenophobia. They constantly live in fear of fags, blacks, and immigrants. They’re blind to their own bigotry and love to allege reverse racism. They conflate beliefs and facts, rhetoric and logic. They think the opinions of anyone else is equal to or greater than the opinion of the consensus of experts. They think they have the right to their own ‘facts’. They just know they’re right and you’re wrong. They often see conspiracies all around them:

  • New World Order
  • Liberal Elites
  • Hidden Communist conspiracy
  • Jewish Cabal
  • Immigrant invasion
  • Black helicopters

It’s not that all conservatives think and act this way, but there is a surprising number who do. More importantly, mainstream conservatives apparently are afraid of their own fringe. Conservative politicians and media personalities rarely criticize the fringe and often instead fan the flames instead. When a Tea Party leader asked about the fringe, he agreed they existed in the party but he thought they had a rightful place in the movement. They welcome the fringe and help give the extremists a voice. It’s not surprising that this filters into the mindset of the average conservative and so that is why you see all these crazy rightwing comments all over the web.

I’m trying not to over-generalize here. I know there are intelligent and rational conservatives. There are some who will criticize the fringe sometimes. I give credit for Bill O’Reilly in that he will on occasion make attempts to distance himself from the crazies and he’ll even sometimes directly criticize them. I just wonder why the ‘normal’ conservatives tend to be so silent. Is it the same reason why average Muslims too rarely speak out against the violence and oppression of Muslim extremists? Is it fear to speak out or is there an element of complicit agreement?

There is always a way to rationalize away or ignore evidence to the contrary. The federal report about rightwing militias is a smear campaign, but when righwing militias start conspiring violence against the government it’s automatically assumed these groups have been innocently framed. ACORN and Climategate are liberal conspiracies and they must be destroyed. The conservative media goes batshit over it and gets the rest of the media to jump on the bandwagon. After organizations and reputations are destroyed, investigations conclude that all involved were innocent. The conservatives use lies and deceit to destroy their enemies, but they don’t care about the truth. Will ACORN and the CRU scientists get vindicated in the media? No, probably not. Scandals get attention, but innocent victims of rightwing hatred don’t make for entertaining news. So, the media waits to get carried away by the next ‘scandal’.

Why is it so rare than anyone gets held responsible for any of this kind of immoral behavior? Yes, Roder gets life in prison and the guy who slandered ACORN ended up in prison as well. But Dr. Tiller can’t be brought back to life and who knows how many women will die or suffer serious health conditions because there is now one less doctor to help them. ACORN is permanently villified in the public eye and the organization is no more. What about all the people that Dr. Tiller and ACORN helped? Why doesn’t the media obsess over the real victims?

I know that, in response, rightwingers will argue that leftwingers are just as bad. They’ll point out a couple examples they once saw in the news. That is fair in that there are extremists of all ideological varieties, but there is a difference that makes a difference. First, I doubt people toting guns and screaming racial slurs wouldn’t feel very welcomed at most liberal protest and I could imagine the politically correct police asking them to leave. Second, the loony left doesn’t get a platform from the “liberal media” in the way that loony right gets a platform from conservative media such as Fox News. All news have agendas, but Fox News takes it to a new level of outright political spin and propaganda. I’m not sure why a media corporation would want to fan the flames of rightwing fear and hatred. I suppose it must be serving some purpose of theirs or of the GOP.

There seems to be a different attitude between the left and the right. On the left, different opinions are embraced as long as they’re respectful. On the right, different opinions aren’t embraced, but as long as your remain within the in-group ideology it doesn’t matter if you voice your opinions respecfully. In fact, rightwingers seem to pride themselves on being disrespectful. Anger, hatred and bigotry are seen as strengthening and consolidating the group. It’s the us vs them attitude. As long as the disrespectful message is directed outside of the group at the enemy, it doesn’t matter what a rightwinger says or how they say it.

Part of why I bring all this up is because I’ve noticed how it’s changed me. I feel unable to let it just roll of me. I’ve never called George W. Bush the Anti-Christ or Glenn Beck the devil, but it has become more common for me to call someone an asshole when someone is being offensive or aggressive, when someone is acting righteous or bigoted. I’ve learned to respond this way because some people don’t seem to understand how mean-spirited their comments are until you confront them in a forceful manner. Why should I respect the opinion of someone who claims Roeder is a hero for committing murder and terrorism? If they want to say they’re against abortion fine, but there is no excuse for what Roeder did. What Roeder did goes against everything our country stands for. Why should liberals try to be understanding towards such hatred and violence? Why shouldn’t stand up for the rights of everyone? For that matter, why shouldn’t it be expected that conservatives should stand up for the rights of everyone?

This isn’t just about my being a liberal. What rightwing extremists are doing and what mainstream conservatives are (implicitly or explicitly) supporting is stupid just from the perspective of strategy. They’re turning a whole generation of youth against the conservative movement. All the shootings and militias are just going to deservedly bring down hard the hammer of the law. In their fear of the government, they’re forcing the hand of the govenment. It’s as if they want a war. The culture war has failed. So, what they couldn’t accomplish through politics they’ll now try to accomplish through violence. I don’t what strategy would work for conservatives trying to get their message out, but what they’re doing right now is not working. Yes, it feels empowering to rant and rave, to fear-monger and use hate speech, to brandish guns at political gatherings. But this sense of empowering is just reactionary, just a shortterm gain. Conservatives were successful in the past because they took the longterm view, but they seem to have forgotten the lesson of their past success.

If you’re a Christian and you don’t like another Christian’s views, don’t call them the Anti-Christ or the Devil. If you’re a libertaraian and you don’t like Democrats being in power, don’t call Obama Hitler or a Commie. If you’re worried about our employment or your economic security, don’t attack immigrants and blame the poor. If you want to make a difference, reach out to others and not just to the small group of people who are just like you.

I realize I’m offering you liberal advice. But guess what? The world has become a liberal place. We no longer live at a time when white Christians monopolize all power. We no longer live at a time when minorities, immigrants and the poor knew their place. It’s just a fact of life. Accept it or not, but the world isn’t going to return to simpler times. Anyways, your idealizing of the past is just a fantasy. It’s time to stop fighting the inevitable. Change happens and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You either join in and work together or else you become obsolete. It’s your choice.

When Obama voices bipartisan values, I don’t know if he actually means it or not. However, people voted him into office because they believed in the message. The young generation that voted Obama into office doesn’t want partisan bickering, doesn’t want angry ranting and fear-mongering. The young generation looks for what we all share in common and they don’t care about parties, they don’t even care about the Tea Party. Many liberals and many conservatives as well were inspired by Obama’s message of hope and change. This is what people want. Obama was voted in by a majority of Americans. He may not be living up to his speeches, but the point is that people want to believe in the vision he spoke of.

Quinnipiac Poll on Tea Party

I just came across this:

National US Poll on the Tea Party
Quinnipiac University

 I was amused by this statement by Peter A. Brown:

“They are less educated but more interested in politics than the average Joe and Jane Six-Pack and are not in a traditional sense swing voters.”

That is what scares me. Not exactly a good combination of factors.

Brown then went on to say:

“The Tea Party could be a Republican dream – or a GOP nightmare. Members could be a boon to the GOP if they are energized to support Republican candidates. But if the Tea Party were to run its own candidates for office, any votes its candidate received would to a very great extent be coming from the GOP column,”

This also scares me. The Tea Party has the Republican party by the balls. Any Republican politician who steps out of line will be iced. For that reason, no Republican is going to criticize the hate speech and threats of violence. The Republicans are almost as scared as the Democrats when it comes to this group.

The specific details are interesting:

  • 74 percent are Republicans or independent voters leaning Republican;
  • 16 percent are Democrats or independent voters leaning Democratic;
  • 5 percent are solidly independent;
  • 45 percent are men;
  • 55 percent are women;
  • 88 percent are white;
  • 77 percent voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008;
  • 15 percent voted for President Barack Obama.
  • But not too surprising. Tea Party protesters are white Republicans. What is a bit surprising is that women have a slight majority. As I recall, women tend to show higher numbers in liberal movements than in conservative movements. The only explanation I could think of is that conservative women are more likely to be stay-at-home mothers and so have maybe it’s easier for them to involve themselves in protests. But the majority is fairly small and so is probably not significant. I wonder how it compares to the female/male ratio in the demographic of the population that Tea Party protesters orginate from.

    In general, I don’t know how this data compares to national statistics of the American public. This group is obviously a minority as only 13% of the population identifies with the Tea Party movement. Obama won the popular vote and yet he barely got any votes from Tea Partiers. I’ve heard that the Tea Party movement is found all over the US, but I’m willing to be it’s mostly concentrated in specific areas. In particular, most of the ideological rhetoric that appeals to Tea Partiers has been coming out of states such as Texas and South Carolina.

    Attack on the IRS: Rightwing Terrorism?

    Here is my appraisal of Joe Stack’s plane attack on the IRS building.  I’ve only begun to look at in more detail.  I’ve watched some news reports and read some of the details in the suicide note.  My tentative conclusions stated here might change based on further research or they might not.

    Was the kamikaze pilot a rightwing terroritst?  Well, let’s break it down.

    Was he a terrorist? That is a complex question.  There are many definitions that I’ve seen.  By some official definitions, he would be categorized as a terrorist.  By other official definitions, he wouldn’t be categorized as a terrorist.  So, I’m going to simplify it with more specific questions.

    Did he copy the actions of those deemed terrorists?  Yes.  The method wasn’t original.  Obviously, his actions remind everyone of 9/11.  It probably was even intentional that he copied the method of terrorists.  This guy, like the 9/11 terrorists, both perceived the US government as corrupt.  In protesting this perceived corrupt governmenet, this guy, like the 9/11 terrorists, attacked a symbol of the economic power of the US government.  He used a similar violent method to make a similar statement of violent protest.

    Did he cause terror?  Yes, most definitely yes.  The people in that building were terrorized.  IRS workers across the country now will go to work everyday in a state of fear.  This is similar to how, since the killing of Dr. Tiller, family planning doctors will go to work everyday in fear or else out of fear quit their jobs and not go to work at all.  Terrorism is effective in that it causes terror… that is why it’s called terrorism.

    Did he intened to cause terror?  Probably.  HIs act of protest was intentionally violent and violence causes terror.  It’s probably safe to assume that he understood that his causing violence would cause terror.  I don’t know if he intended terror per se.  He may not have thought of himself as a terrorist, but he did intend retribution.  His purpose seemed to be to cause suffering on those he deemed to have caused his own suffering.  The intention of terror seems implied in both the note and the act.  It’s hard to know his precise intentions, but that is equally true of the 9/11 terrorists.  We aren’t reluctant to call Muslims terrorists even when they leave no note about their intentions.

    To me, determining it was terrorism is simple.  It was an act that intentionally caused terror.  Terrorism is as terrorism does.  I, however, understand why others don’t consider it terrorism.  Joe Stack wasn’t a part of a terrorist group.  My response to that is terrorism isn’t limited to collective action.  Also, an argument can be made that this act of violence resonates with other recent acts of violence that were motivated by fear and hatred of government.  The same atmosphere of fear-mongering about the government (Beck being the most extreme example) contributes to people on the edge going whole hog over the edge (Beck about sends me over the edge on occasion).  Violent speech doesn’t directly cause violent action, but it makes it more likely.  The political polarization in general creates a mood of conflict that impacts the entire country (not just Beckheads and Tea Partiers).

    More interesting to me is determining the ideology that motivated this particular act of violence.  My most specific interest is in wondering if there is a connection to the other acts of violence from this past year.  A lot of the violence recently has seemed correlated to a particular worldview of social and/or fiscal conservatism.  So…

    Was he rightwinger?  At first, I thought yes.  I guess it depends on how rightwing is defined, but it can’t be denied he espoused at least some of what is typically labelled as rightwing ideology.  His criticisms of the IRS resonate with fiscal conservatism and would be right at home on a sign carried in a Tea Party protest.  That said, I haven’t heard of any evidence that he was a part of the Tea Party movement or any other specific movements.  He did belong to a group at one time that discussed tax law.  The important point is whether he became extreme in his viewpoint simply through his own experience or by being influenced by others.  Besides movements or groups, I’d like to know what news sources he read and if there were any place on the web where he regularly commented.

    I’ve only skimmed his letter, but the conclusion at the end does create a bit of uncertainty about his actual criticism and the ideology that motivated it.

    The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according
    to his need.

    The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each
    according to his greed.

    Before I looked at the letter, someone mentioned his statement about communism but didn’t offer the specific quote.  I assumed it was the typical rightwinger preaching of anti-conmmunism.  I was clearly wrong.  I still don’t know what it means.

    (Note: It’s unclear that Stack was a communist or was even basing his argument on communism. Comparative statements like the one Stack made have a varied history. One writer at Newsweek thinks it probably originated from Henry Fairlie who considered himself a conservative, but of course conservatives disagree with this connection because they don’t think Fairlie was a real conservative as he didn’t worship Reagan.)

    Conservatives are fond of saying that liberals who turn to conservativsm have been “mugged by reality”.  However, Joe Stack seems to have been a man who tried to make it in the world of capitalism (the pillar of modern conservatism) and was mugged by reality.  Stack came to an interesting conclusion.  It wasn’t simply the IRS that was at fault.  Apparently, he was arguing that big government and big business were to blame (and he shared the blame with big religion as well).  That isn’t exactly rightwinger or leftwinger.  That is more in the territory of between libertarianism and anarchism.

    I’m still a bit confused.  I heard Joe Stack was a small business owner.  Many small business owners are Republican or Libertarian (even when socially liberal).  Mr. Stack very well might’ve been a conservative at one time.  Maybe his protest was against the conservative ideal of free market capitalism which he thought had failed him… just a theory but it could explain a lot.  Despite the ideology, Republican politcians aren’t any more likely to help the small business owner than are Democratic politicians and so it’s understandable that a small business owner might become dissatisfied with mainstream conservatism.  He seemed to be embittered about the whole system and the IRS was just a symbolic target.  He wasn’t attacking anyone in particular.  He attacked a building… a building that symbolized the institution of the IRS, of the government, of the entire socio-political system.

    Okay.  I was definitely wrong in thinking he was just a rightwing extremist, but he isn’t a leftwing extremist either.  So, what is he?  The problem is that our language is limited when it comes to labelling the ideologies of people.  I’ll have to read more of the letter to see if I can determine his views.  My suspicion is that he was a libertarian who started leaning socialist as the system failed to help him.  If so, does his letter portray him as more of a socialist libertarian or a libertarian socialist?  And was he actually a proponent of communism or simply using communist ideology as a convenient criticism of capitalist ideology?

    His ‘communist’ statement, especially in context of his anti-government sentiments, isn’t that far off from what some anarchists preach.  Anarchism tends to be socialist if it focuses on the worker class and tends to be capitalist if it focuses on the owner class.  I assume he was being critical of our corporatocracy, but he may not have been against ‘capitalism’ as defined by some anarchist-leaning libertarians.  I don’t know if it ultimately matters.  I’m just curious if he was critical of our present capitalist system because he wished a true capitalist system would replace it or because he thought the entire basis of capitalism was faulty.  There is a big difference between the two.

    Let me add one further question.

    Does Joe Stack’s violent act discredit the message of protest and criticism?  No.  This is no different than the fact that the 9/11 terrorists didn’t discredit all Muslims around the world.  Every group has extremists, but it should be pointed out that certain groups are more prone to violent extremism than others.  Those who criticize the government for reasons of anti-taxation (and right to bear arms) tend to be more violent in their protests than environmentalists for whatever reason.  This often seems like a right/left divide (similar to pro-lifers being more violent than pro-choicers), but in this case no particular ideological movement can be blamed and discredited. 

    I’m very critical of big government.  I think the taxation system is unfair.  And I’m certainly not a rightwinger.  This incident is sad because violence is rarely inspiring but more importantly it’s sad because the criticisms themselves get discredited in the mainstream media.  The Tea Party itself will become less credible simply for being ideologically similar to Joe Stack’s criticisms.  But criticisms of the government in general, from both the left and the right, get put in the light of extremism because of this act of terrorism.  Violence isn’t an effective method in getting people to take your message seriously.  Such acts of violence only justifies the government becoming more oppressive in maintaining order.

    It’s actually more interesting that he didn’t turn out to be just a typical Tea Party protester.  And I’m glad it’s forcing the media to come to terms with the true political complexity of the American public.  All of this fits into my recent research into different movements and ideologies. 

    Despite the GOP and Fox News trying to take control, the Tea Party isn’t a simple rightwing movement.  It includes a fairly wide range of people and interests (although still too narrow to be a truly populist movement).  And if you look at the origins of the Tea Party, you discover Ron Paul followers which touches upon the libertarian party.  Libertarians and independents have been behind all of the diverse protest movements/groups: Peace Protests, Truthers, Birthers.  Et Cetera.  There are white supremacists mixed in here, but there also those who geninely believe in freedom and civil rights for all.  There are militia secessionists involved in many of these protests, but most protesters don’t want violence and many in fact are pacifists.  The media can’t understand this kind of complexity.  Every movement has to be categorized as left or right.  Peace protesters were leftwingers because Republicans said so, and Tea Partiers are rightwing because Democrats say so.  There are ideological differences in these movements, but there also is much crossover.  Ron Paul libertarians were participated in the peace protests and now they’ve participate in the Tea Party protests. 

    Joe Stack is even more difficult to categorize than the libertarians.  His complaints is a sampling of the entire range of criticism.  As an extremist, he comes off as a middle-of-the-road average American with gripes against the wealthy and powerful elite.

    Here are some interesting articles, blogs, and videos about the topic (or of related topics):

    http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2010/02/18/ac.mattinlgy.stack.pkg.cnn

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-the-nerd-ferraro/open-letter-to-joe-stack_b_468422.html

    http://derekhawkins.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/yes-its-terrorism/

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2010/02/19/terrorism/index.html

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/233860

    http://open.salon.com/blog/sacrob/2010/02/18/was_joe_stack_going_socialist

    http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/82387-muslim-group-wants-government-to-call-austin-plane-attack-terrorism

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/louis-klarevas/terrorism-in-texas-why-th_b_469522.html?just_reloaded=1

    http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/huh-when-attempting-blow-federal-bui

    http://www.news8austin.com/content/your_news/default.asp?ArID=267401

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/glenn-beck-responds-to-austin-plane-crash-god-doesnt-send-killers/

    http://www.americablog.com/2010/02/scott-brown-links-guy-crashing-plain.html

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/02/a_scary_tea_party.html