Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sticks and stones-- the sequel

Several days ago I published a post titled sticks and stones about the rising tide of violence from the far right.

And sure enough, today we had another such episode, a gunman who attacked the Holocaust Museum in Washington and killed a security guard.

The gunman is identified as James von Brunn, a well-known white supremicist who has claimed that the Federal Reserve is part of a conspiracy run by Jews to control the world's wealth. In 1981, von Brunn tried to arrest the entire Federal Reserve Board.
Besides denying the Holocaust, von Brunn is also a 'birther,' one who claims that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

The attack highlights the increasing willingness of those on the far right to use violence. And just as Scott Roeder, Dr. Tiller's murderer, was once an anti-tax protester, so too von Brunn has ties to several facets of the extreme right.

I've found that there is in fact a shadowland out there consisting of extreme anti-tax, anti-government fanatics who are also tied in with single issue fanatics (such as abortion and anti-immigration fanatics). Some, but not all are also white supremicists and members of other hate groups, but even among those who are not it is easy for conspiracy theories to gain a foothold (be it 'birthers,' who deny Obama is a U.S. citizen, 'truthers,' who think the government planned and carried out 9/11 or whatever.) They meet up through networking, and have clearinghouse websites like American Patriot Friends Network with links to whatever nutty right wing idea you are looking for.

Where possible they try to influence public policy by getting members ('true friends' as they call them) elected to public office. But increasingly they seem to be turning to violence-- and yes, they are almost always well-armed.

This is not to suggest that many, or even more than a small minority-- of conservatives who hold strong views on topics like taxation, immigration or abortion, are members of this shadowland (though the dividing line between conservatism and 'off the deep end' does at times seem like a very fine one.) But their numbers are hard to define (just like any such organization they seem to have a core of true believers, then layers of people they want to draw in but who may run the gamut from hardcore converts to casual contacts.) What we do know is that they are dangerous and becoming more so.

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