March 5, 2010

Once again, 1 man attacks a U.S. government building.

A few weeks ago Joseph Stack crashed a plane into an IRS building in Austin. Yesterday, John Patrick Bedell started shooting people at the Pentagon. What sort of person attacks a government building by himself? And let's distinguish Stack and Bedell from Timothy McVeigh, who blew up a government building years ago. Not only did McVeigh act in a different era — pre-9/11 — but McVeigh used a method that was designed to cause vast damage and to allow him to watch from a distance, unscathed. Stack and Bedell undertook ineffectual attacks that led — predictably — to their deaths.

So, should we make this easy and just consign Stack and Bedell to the dead psycho dustbin? But they attacked government buildings, so it was political. Yes, but a lot of crazy people rave incoherently about the government. That in itself doesn't make them part of a movement. Do they belong to the left or to the right? Is that a question that interests you? If it does, do you lean in the direction other than the one you feel like saying they lean? No one answers "no" to that last question, do they? And therefore... what?

49 comments:

rhhardin said...

They want to be in the news, the great organizer of social anxieties.

Pogo said...

"Pentagon Shooter: Anti-Bush Nut Case and 9/11 Truther"

He's from the left, and was not unlike Stack in beliefs.

Does it matter? No, nutjobs will always be nutjobs.

But the inflamed rhetoric coming from the left during the Bush years has had consequences.

The left has been engaging in anti-government and anti-corporate bombings and attacks since the 1960s.

I see it as more of the same.

The right ceded all but abortion and some nebulous 'values' issues to the left over the last 80 years, so it's only real violence has been about the former.

We live in a dangerous time. Wars over ideas are bloody. This one, I believe, has only just begun.

As the economy stagnates and the recession lingers, there will be more violence. Not out of poverty and theft, but from freedom versus socialism.

But I'm a pessimist.

Graham Powell said...

I think everyone has public reasons and private reasons for what they do. The Fort Hood shooter obviously was influenced by some public reasons (Muslim extremism), and without them, he may not have become a killer, however messed up he was.

Most of these people, though, their private reasons are much more important than whatever cause they espouse. They aren't so much inspired by the right or the left as they use it as an excuse.

Pogo said...

There seem to be more lone nutjobs over time, though. I wonder why?

Insty pointed out McCardle's post about students rioting over university cutbacks.

It refers to a Wapo College blog which notes:
"Around 5:45 a.m. about 60 protesters gathered near the school's main entrance and about 50 more gathered at the west entrance, effectively closing that entrance. By 6 a.m. campus police had begun to turn away cars from the main entrance, according to the school Web site.

At about 7 a.m. there was a report of a vehicle windshield smashed near campus and another campus employee who attempted to enter a campus entrance reported that protesters took photographs of the employee's vehicle and license plate, in an intimidating manner. There is also a report of a vehicle being denied the right to exit faculty and staff housing, the school reported.
"

When people don't get their free ponies, you can expect violence.

Anthony said...

Actually, if history is any guide, we will see an increase in LEFT wing violence.

After LBJ was elected in 1964, the left began to feel betrayed. SO they took it out violently.

In the same way I think the left will feel increasingly betrayed by a Gitmo opening, military trial convening, Predator attacking public option dropping President Obama.

Pastafarian said...

Althouse said: "...do you lean in the direction other than the one you feel like saying they lean?"

This is an interesting and challenging question; and I know that this sort of topic (whether any of us can really insulate our emotions and prejudices from our rational decision-making process) is one that interests Althouse quite a bit.

Short answer: No. I don't lean in the direction that these two seem to lean, from my probably prejudiced perspective. So I guess this advances Althouse's thesis.

Bedell, this latest lunatic, was a 9-11 truther, called the Iraq war "satanic", and was a froth-spittling anti-Bush fanatic.

But the fact that Bush wasn't really a conservative makes pigeon-holing Bedell based on this evidence problematic. Most antisemitism in the modern world seems to me to come from the left; but maybe Bedell was that now-rare right-wing antisemite, who thought that Bush the Neocon was a puppet with the Elders of Zion pulling the strings. (Cedarford, please don't take this as a cue to tell me how this is actually the case).

Still, (9-11 troother + anti-war + anti-Bush) = leftist in my book 95% of the time.

Now for Stack: Yes, he was going after the IRS, which has a conservative feel. But look at the very last lines of his crazy little suicide manifesto: He quotes the "Marxist crede", and then mockingly creates a "capitalist crede" with parallel construction, which seems to mean that he considers capitalism to be a bad thing.

Anti-capitalist = leftist, 95% of the time. Now, in his case, I don't think that Stack had a very clear ideology. He just seemed to be in a self-righteous rage, looking for scapegoats upon whom he could blame his own failure.

And left or right, both of these guys were clearly nuts; so their actions don't really bring discredit to either left or right ideology.

traditionalguy said...

Pogo...I agree with you, and add that the economy may have "stagnated" from 2006 to 2008 but it has been in a death spiral since 2008. When all appears hopeless the Atheist/Materialist of the left only has his existentialist free will and therefore ends things himself. Their left wing cults have ideologically cut their minds off from belief in a loving Father God who has made promises to save you and to provide for you after you have suffered awhile. We are witnessing a failure of faith in God. The motto on our money is not in most men's hearts like it was in the 1930s Great Depression.

John said...

Leftists re-write history to fit their prejudices. They live by the axium "he who owns the past owns the future". Their willful ignorance of history quickly turns into conventional wisdom. Every leftist I know will tell you with firm conviction that the "Right" killed Kennedy. The fact that Oswald was a committed communist who once defected to the USSR and killed Kennedy out of anger over the treatment of Castro, are just facts that don't fit the narative and are forgotten.

The same will happen here. In six months, Garage or Morty will be on here listing this shooter as an example of "right wing terrorism". So it really doesn't matter what this guy believes. To leftists and by extension all of the media, all terrorists are rightwing.

Pogo said...

"To leftists and by extension all of the media, all terrorists are rightwing."

Yes, except for PETA and Greenpeace and 1960s radicals; but those are the good kind of terrorists.

The Drill SGT said...

Pogo said...
"Pentagon Shooter: Anti-Bush Nut Case and 9/11 Truther"


To be fair, there are a few right wing anti-bush nut cases and 9/11 truthers.

I agree that 99.99% are on the left of the bell curve, but there are a couple 5 standard deviations off on the right with belifes nearly the same.

Pogo said...

The ragged ends of ideologies tend to blur into an identical all-encompassing nihilistic rage.

spongeworthy said...

I can only speak for myself--oh, to Hell with that:

The Right seizes upon any evidence whatever and makes these lunatics out as Lefties. Why do evil wingers do this?

As a pre-emptive attack. As noted above, otherwise we forfeit the narrative to the Left, who cast McVeigh as a Christian terrorist, for example.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Haven't you ever been to the movies? If you're going to say "1 man", you also have to say "In a world..."

jayne_cobb said...

Pogo,

It's called Blair's Law:

"The ongoing process by which the world's multiple idiocies are becoming one giant, useless force"

jayne_cobb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
paul a'barge said...

It was political. And both of them were Liberals.

Just sayin' ...

Daniel Fielding said...

A bush Derangement Syndrome suffering, 9/11 truther, leftist idiot, who committed "suicide by cop". Ann's native town, where I now live, Ann Arbor, is full of people afflicted by the Bush Derangement Syndrome, and the 9/11 Truther Syndrome. But most Ann Arborites are too wimpy to act out. They just sit in coffeeshops, drink bad coffee, and vent their bile

master cylinder said...

Yeah, dont all you wingers hate Bush now?
Doesnt make him a lefty.

Big Mike said...

I think that this particular case is being overblown. It looks to me like a case of suicide by police, which is not exactly something new.

TRO said...

"But the inflamed rhetoric coming from the left during the Bush years has had consequences.

The left has been engaging in anti-government and anti-corporate bombings and attacks since the 1960s.

I see it as more of the same."

I see more of the same as well, but this time more anti-government rhetoric is coming from the right and it gets more personal (demonizing all government employees as though they all get a vote in Congress).

That it is coming from the right now is natural since our Prez is a leftist being followed by leftists, but at some point it's all just one big chorus of "the government is out to get us" that nut jobs like this play into.

John Lynch said...

At least he didn't kill anyone.

If people want to kill themselves, I believe they should do it in the privacy of their own homes. Leave us out of it.

Jerk.

Shanna said...

The ragged ends of ideologies tend to blur into an identical all-encompassing nihilistic rage.

This.

I wrote something on a friends facebook post about someone being an idiot because they were a truther and I got a long, long rant directed at me from someone I don't even know about Cheney and Bush how things were not as they seemed...god it was crazy.

edutcher said...

It may not be a movement, as such, but, clearly, something is afoot here. Unrequited BDS? Maybe, but it may also be dashed OWS (Obama Worship). Anthony's point In the same way I think the left will feel increasingly betrayed by ... President Obama crystallizes this. This is the worship of the Golden Calf, if you will; pinning one's hopes on the perfection of a given individual who, of necessity, falls short.

Barry was supposed to be a lightworker (whatever the Hell that is) and the Rapture is a little late. Anthony's point about LBJ is thus on the money - the Lefties didn't like the idea of spending the money earmarked for the Great Society on an anti-Communist war. In similar fashion, they didn't like money taken from the budget to destroy Al Qaeda (any war against America is a good war, after all). Barry was supposed to end that.

And now he's going to pay.

bagoh20 said...

We need to start developing a cultural hero type who when he feels crazy, victimized and angry at those around him, he goes to the edge of a volcano and jumps in. This "Taxi Driver" shit of killing a bunch of people on the way out needs to be portrayed as cowardly and the method of the poorly endowed. Somebody make a movie.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yeah, dont all you wingers hate Bush now?
Doesnt make him a lefty."

I listened to one of the audio rants. It was right wing... about property rights.

Daniel said...

And let's distinguish Stack and Bedell from Timothy McVeigh, who blew up a government building years ago. Not only did McVeigh act in a different era — pre-9/11 — but McVeigh used a method that was designed to cause vast damage and to allow him to watch from a distance, unscathed. Stack and Bedell undertook ineffectual attacks that led — predictably — to their deaths.

Huh?

Let's break this down, Althouse style.

And let's distinguish Stack and Bedell from Timothy McVeigh, who blew up a government building years ago.

Why is that something essential we need to do?

Not only did McVeigh act in a different era — pre-9/11 —

You know who else acted in the "pre-9/11" era? The 9/11 terrorists. Are we really saying that domestic terrorism started or changed somehow with 9/11? Are the '92 WTC bombers different than the 9/11 terrorists other than because they failed? Is it totally not cool to be a domestic terrorist now because you might get lumped in with Osama? And let's say this is somehow a different era. Wouldn't that make what Stack and Bedell did worse?

McVeigh used a method that was designed to cause vast damage and to allow him to watch from a distance, unscathed.

So it's more honorable or something to be a suicide bomber? Or you're more creepy if you like to watch?

Stack and Bedell undertook ineffectual attacks

Stack killed a person and injured others (and Bedell shot two security guards, thankfully they're ok). I really don't like your definition of ineffectual.

attacks that led — predictably — to their deaths.

Once again, suicide bombers undertake attacks that lead directly to their deaths. Not sure what the point here is.

The questions you ask in the rest of the post are interesting and worth discussing. But I think your first paragraphs is just so... wrong.

former law student said...

He's from the left

At least the Right is quick to disavow him as one of their own. As if no Tea Partier could be a 9/11 truther (*cough* Debra Medina *cough*).

But let's look at some facts:

Which ideology is more likely to feel entitled to carry concealed firearms?

Which ideology is more likely to contribute biographies of generals and admirals to Wikipedia?

Which ideology is more likely to want to rehabilitate the memory of a colonel who flew 200 missions in Vietnam?

I submit this guy's more likely to be a freeper than anything else.

former law student said...

Why is that something essential we need to do?

What makes a white, American, man attack US government buildings? What's similar and what's different among different WAM attackers? Will this happen again?

Daniel said...

What makes a white, American, man attack US government buildings? What's similar and what's different among different WAM attackers? Will this happen again?

If we're comparing and contrasting for greater understanding, fine. But the word was "distinguishing", with the implication that McVeigh was fundamentally different on the basis of the points raised in the rest of the paragraph. If I misread that, fine, but I don't think I did.

bagoh20 said...

But since the left doesn't really believe what they say, aren't we all right wingers?

Ever notice that relatively few people emigrate from here to a more socialist country. Why isn't Sweden overrun with American liberals sneaking in. Even next door Canada has their liberals of any means moving here. I think people show their true beliefs with their actions, not their words and moving is the ultimate vote of what values you really treasure. Even within America, most are moving from the most socialist states to the less so.

AllenS said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I listened to one of the audio rants. It was right wing... about property rights"

I don't understand what could be considered right wing about property rights. What would the alternative, left wing be concerning property rights?

t-man said...

If Harry Reid himself were to shoot up the entrance to the Pentagon, the first line in MSM news stories would be:

"A Mormon man, known to speak often with Republican Senators, opened fire on the Pentagon today."

former law student said...

What would the alternative, left wing be concerning property rights?

Socialism! Redistribution of wealth! Prioritizing the needs of the many over the needs of the individual.

Joe M. said...

The question isn't really interesting, because neither of these guys belonged to the "left" or "right." Rather, they inhabit the place where left&right meet on the fringes of crazy: anarcho-libertarianism.

(That's the best description I can come up with for this ideological craziness, but it may be inaccurate or insufficient. Can one of yall come up with a better term?)

Joe M. said...

Bagoh20:
We need to start developing a cultural hero type who when he feels crazy, victimized and angry at those around him, he goes to the edge of a volcano and jumps in. This "Taxi Driver" shit of killing a bunch of people on the way out needs to be portrayed as cowardly and the method of the poorly endowed. Somebody make a movie.

Haha. True, though.

Joe M. said...

And is it just me, or has the comment section here become a lot more crazy in the last few months?

Joe M. said...

I long for the relatively restrained and thoughtful times of 2007-08.

joan said...

Daniel, I agree with you.

I question the Althouse assertion that these attacks were ineffectual.

In what sense were they ineffectual?

People were injured and killed, in Stack case a building was partially blown up.

I feel effected by these attacks.

Do you think others inclined to political violence are "effected" by these exemplars?

If the casualties were greater in number, would that move these acts into the "effectual" column of political violence?

The 1993 attack on the WTC killed six human beings. Effectual or ineffectual?

Also, of what relevance is the fact that these attacks were suicidal?

LYNNDH said...

I might have missed it in the comments but I think you all have it wrong. He was TeaBaggers, don't you know. Had to be.

joan said...

The interest in assigning placements on political spectrums to these individuals is fascinating but also, problematic. There is a better word for this than problematic, but it's the best I can come up with.

I'll propose a questionable metaphor: When splinters splinter, they become more numerous and sharper. More deadly.

Not looking forward to this.

Sigivald said...

Pogo: You can be a 9/11 truther and anti-Bush nutcase without being a Lefty, though.

(I mean, yeah, it's pretty common, but it's not universal. Seems in my experience that trutherism has a wide spread... it might even be more prevalent on the loony-Libertarian fringe than the loony-Left.)

Look at the LaRouchies, or the weirder end of Lew Rockwell's crowd, for instance.

(And to answer Ann's question, it sure looks like the Austin dude was "left", and thus current dude might be anything. Arguendo, let's call him a deranged libertarian.

So, yes, I'm going to say (equally arguendo) that some nutcase was on "my side" in terms of general ideologicaly worldview.

Nutcase knows no political boundaries.)

Penny said...

"So, should we make this easy and just consign Stack and Bedell to the dead psycho dustbin?"

Yes.

William said...

All these madmen are a blur of conflicting ideologies and neuroses, but they can be existentially defined by the targets that they chose. If they shoot up a social service office, I'm going with right winger. If they aim for the Pentagon or a recruiting office. I'm thinking leftist. But the wish to politicize homicidal maniacs is more an example of the madness of politics than the politics of madness.

PatCA said...

I thought Obama was going to cure all this hate! It ain't quite the Age of Aquarius yet, is it?

themightypuck said...

After listening to the guy I'd have to say he sure ain't a classic lefty. Mostly he's a paranoid libertarian. He's against fiat currency and big government.

Joshua said...

Joan: Also, of what relevance is the fact that these attacks were suicidal?

1) For starters, suicide terrorism used to be almost the exclusive domain of Islamic supremacist types. The very fact that we now have non-Muslim Americans who are also willing to martyr themselves to fight the government is a new and unexpected development, and it raises a number of unsettling questions, not the least of which being: How many others like Stack and Bedell are out there? And, how much more dangerous can they become when they start to organize?

2) It's a hell of a lot harder to stop a terrorist who is willing to die carrying out his attack than one who is not so determined to succeed at it. Stack and Bedell merely "discovered" what Islamic terrorists have known for generations.

3) Having been killed, Stack and Bedell can not be interrogated further. This may not be much of a concern with apparently "lone wolves" like these, but again, what about when they start organizing?

Penny said...

Joshua, before you worry too much about the mentally impaired loners organizing, let me refer you to what rhhardin said out of the box.

"They want to be in the news, the great organizer of social anxieties."

bagoh20 said...

So the ideology of crazy people is important? Doesn't being crazy, mean what you think about the world does not make sense and therefore could be just about anything. These are crazy individuals not popular movements. Even if they chose a valid, ethical, reasonable ideology; they would still find some crazy way to pervert it into craziness, that's their job as crazies.

Penny said...

"So the ideology of crazy people is important?"

No.

Although, these days, it all too often seems that way as the left and right duke out their own kind of "crazy".