Thursday, June 11, 2009

Right Wing?

Yesterday a white supremacist named James Wenneker von Brunn entered the Holocaust Museum and started shooting. The museum was prepared for such an action and the guards responded quickly although one of them died while stopping von Brunn.

Coming on the heals of the shooting of a doctor who specialized in 3rd trimester abortions, many people are seeing a pattern of violence by right-wing extremists. Some go so far as to blame conservative pundits for these actions. How valid are these complaints?

First, we should recognize that at least four violent actions have happened or nearly happened in the last few weeks. In one of these, a Muslim-convert shot someone at an army recruiting station. In a second near-incident, the FBI arrested a group of Muslims that planned to attack Jews. Clearly, these were not right-wing attacks inspired by conservatives. If anything, they were inspired by people on the left such as Michael Moore who compared the Iraqi insurgents to the American Minutemen.

So that's two our of four eliminated straight off. That's not much of a pattern.

The shooting of the abortion doctor hits closer to home since many conservatives share the killer's belief that abortion is murder. Regardless, the accused killer,
Scott Roeder, has a long history of violent anti-abortion activity. It is silly to say that conservatives motivated him since he held his beliefs before they came on the air and has always been considerably more reactionary than any on-air personality.

Then there is von Brunn. He is being labeled as right-wing in major news stories. The Washington Post made a point of identifying a fellow white supremacist who knew von Brunn as a former Reagan official. Then there is the Nazi connection. Von Brunn is on record as saying that we supported the wrong side in WWII. So does that make him a member of the right?

Michael Rowe of the Huffington Post doesn't even have to think about it.

Obama's citizenship was reportedly also something of an obsession for von Brunn, and likely very much on his mind when he walked into the museum and opened fire to make a statement about what "his" America ought to look like. I have no trouble imagining which radio stations he listened to, or which pundits best represented his baseline political ideology. And why.

If Rowe bothered to do any research into von Brunn's beliefs he would be disappointed. Yes, von Brunn worried about Obama's ancestry. He worried about a lot of things. He was so worried about the Federal Reserve system that he tried to kidnap it's head in 1981. He was sure that Christianity and capitalism were both Jewish plots designed to corrupt Aryan values. He was also a socialist and a 9-11 Truther. These are views that are far closer to Rosie O'Donnell than Ann Coulter.

Over the last couple of decades, anti-semitism, especially anti-Zionism, has become a staple of the left, not the right. But it is unfair to attribute any of von Brunn's views to on-air personalities. He was far more extreme than any of them and he has held his views for decades.

For an honest assessment of von Brunn's beliefs, see this article which quotes extensively from von Brunn's own writings. It is clear from this that he stands so far outside the mainstream American views that he is in a class by himself.

Michael Rowe worries that the right no longer has any shame but he shows a disturbing lack of it himself by attacks like this one.

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