White Terrorist ApologiaPosted: January 9, 2011 Filed under: Breaking News, John Birch Society in Charge, Surreality, The Media SUCKS, Violence against women | Tags: Jared Loughner, Juan Cole, libertarian and militia extremists, right wing apologia, White male terrorism 80 Comments
Professor Juan Cole has written a powerful piece on White Terrorism that explains why Tuscon shooter Jared Loughner’s shooting spree was a political act. Loughner was undoubtedly mentally ill. He was rejected by Army recruiting because of drug use. Disturbing accounts of his behavior while attending community college are now being reported by the press. He was clearly a ticking time bomb with access to high powered weapons. All of these, however, do not change the basic political nature of his closing diatribes on MySpace and on Youtube. The right wing is trying to use one cite of The Communist Manifesto as a favorite book to frame him as a leftie when evidence is becoming more clear that he was probably an extremist libertarian. The two most outspoken libertarians at the moment are Glenn Beck and Ron Paul. They are not leftist or Democratic. They are happily situated in the Right Wing of the Republican party.
Apologia for white terrorism is every where today and coming from the usual suspects. High among them is any media outlet with Rupert Murdoch financing and ownership. Remember all the right wing outrage over the Homeland Security report citing the possible increase in young, white male domestic terrorism?
(U//FOUO) The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.
I’ve included Glenn Beck’s reaction to the report. Listen to the characteristics he describes as harmless and considers patriotic, then think, hmmm, does this sound like the Tucson Shooter to you? Do you honestly believe that some young man starting to go over the edge to insanity can’t listen to this and feel empowered? Jerrod Loughner looks like the archetype for lone wolf extremist. The Feds are currently investigating his ties to Pro-White racist organizations. Specifically, the “American Renaissance”. Jerrod Loughner’s rants were parcel and part of the current Bircher Bunch’s diatribes against the Federal Government
Cole’s essay has some important points that should be persuasive.
Loughner was acting politically even if he is not all there. He is said to have called out the names of his victims, such as Roll and Gifford, as he fired. As usual, when white people do these things, the mass media doesn’t call it terrorism. (Update: A canny reader in comments pointed out that if a Muslim organization had put out a poster with American politicians in the cross-hairs, and one had gotten shot, there would have been hell to pay.)
It is irrelevant that Loughner may (at this point we can only say “may”) have been a liberal years earlier in high school. If so, he changed. And among the concerns that came to dominate him as he moved to the Right was the illegitimacy of the “Second Constitution” (the 14th Amendment, which bestows citizenship on all those born in the US, a provision right-wingers in Arizona are trying to overturn at the state level). Loughner also thought that Federal funding for his own community college was unconstitutional, and he was thrown out for becoming violent over the issue. Lately he ranted about the loss of the gold standard, a right wing theme. He obviously shared with the Arizona Right a fascination with firearms, and it is telling that a disturbed young man who had had brushes with the law was able to come by an automatic pistol. He is said to have used marijuana, but that says nothing about his politics; it could be consistent with a form of anti-government, right-wing Libertarianism. I don’t think we can take too seriously the list of books he said he liked, as a guide to his political thinking. They could just have been randomly pulled off some list of great books on the Web, since there is no coherence to the choices.
The right wing canard of the day is that Jared Loughner was a lone crazy. That’s backed up with a dose of the only thing that stood out on a list of his favorite books worth mentioning is “The Communist Manifesto”. Mein Kampf was there too, but hey that’s not relevant. No mention of the handgun pictured on the front of his MySpace page. Definitely no mention of the rants against the federal government or the diatribes on conspiracy surrounded currency in his bizarre YouTubes. The WSJ is on top of the trope production as is Fox News and anything within the grasp of the Murdoch Machine. Nope, it’s not the brand of libertarianism we promote. It’s a commie, liberal, leftie ideology! When was the last time you heard some on the left support personal arsenals, decry the use of currency from the Treasury, and rail against the Federal Government’s mind control? Nope, nothing to see here folks!
If they honestly believed that violent images and rhetoric doesn’t beget violent acts then they should have absolutely no trouble putting every imaginable act of real life violence–including war time massacres–on the TV at any hour of the day. There would be no need for a rating system at all. If the believe that, then they should also drop the idea that if any one show teens pornography and sex all day long, that’s not going to impact their behavior either. Then, they would have to deny the incredible amount of peer reviewed and published studies in psychology and sociology generals that say both of these things matter significantly. (I thought about putting up some kind of reading list on that here, but there are way too many cites.) Glenn Reynold’s op ed at the WSJ today is steeped in that sick, warped logic.
Lambert linked to something equally compelling at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. It’s called the Insurrectionism Timeline. This site outlines meme production and violent imagery and rhetoric coming from right wing sources. Those dates are followed closely by some violent act with political roots in the meme.
The site focuses on political rhetoric and the violence associated with the Supreme Court ruling on July 26, 2008 called District of Columbia v. Heller . They did not hold to a strict interpretation of second amendments rights with a narrow or historical definition of “citizen’s militias”. Basically, that decided that you had the right to be a militia of one. From then, you can follow rhetoric to the acts of violence committed by obviously mentally ill people. The rhetoric comes from Hollywood icons like Chuck Norris, Media bloviates like Glenn Beck, and politicians.
Here’s a good example from 2009 starting with the rhetoric spewed by Michelle Bachmann copying Sarah Palin’s lock and reload imagery.
March 21-22, 2009—Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) states that she wants residents of her state to be “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.”
April 4, 2009—Neo-Nazi Richard Poplawski shoots and kills three police officers responding to a 911 call to his home in Pittsburgh. His friend Edward Perkovic tells reporters that Poplawski feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on its way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.” Perkovic also commented that Poplawski carried out the shooting because “if anyone tried to take his firearms, he was gonna’ stand by what his forefathers told him to do.”
There are many more examples. Most of these people hold extremist libertarian or Neo-Nazi like views. They are white. They are male. They’re interested in militia activities. There is example after example of extreme violent rhetoric on this site.
April 19, 2009—The Oath Keepers, an anti-government group made up of current and former law enforcement and military personnel, holds its first “muster” in Lexington, Massachusetts, the site of the opening shots of the Revolutionary War. The groups’ members pledge to disobey ten different orders that they deem “unconstitutional” and “immoral,” the first of which reads, “We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.”
April 25, 2009—Joshua Cartwright, 28, a member of the Florida National Guard, shoots and kills two Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputies attempting to arrest him on a domestic abuse charge. Cartwright is killed in an enusing gun battle with police. Cartwright’s wife reports that he was “severely disturbed” that Barack Obama had been elected president. Okaloosa County Sheriff Edward Spooner states that Cartrwight was “interested in militia groups and weapons training.”
Read the rhetoric. Feel the rage. Look at the results.
June 3, 2009—Hal Turner, a New Jersey resident and white supremacist blogger/radio host, is arrested on charges of inciting injury after calling for the deaths of two Connecticut state legislators on his blog because they sponsored a bill that would have transferred financial power in Roman Catholic parishes from priests and bishops to lay members. “While filing a lawsuit is quaint and the ‘decent’ way to handle things,” he wrote, “we at TRN (Turner Radio Network) believe that being decent to a group of tyrannical scumbags is the wrong approach. It’s too soft. Thankfully, the Founding Fathers gave us the tools necessary to resolve tyranny: The Second Amendment. TRN advocates Catholics in Connecticut take up arms and put down this tyranny by force … If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they’re going to get uppity with us about this, I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down, too.”
June 10, 2009—James W. von Brunn, a convicted felon and a “hardcore Neo-Nazi,” walks into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and shoots and kills a security guard. Von Brunn believed that Western civilization was going to be replaced with a “ONE WORLD ILLUMINATI GOVERNMENT” that would “confiscate private weapons” in order to accomplish its goals.
June 24, 2009—Hal Turner, a New Jersey resident and white supremacist blogger/radio host, is arrested again after calling for the murder of three Republican-appointed jurists on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals who had issued a June 2 decision upholding handgun restrictions in Chicago. Writing on his blog, Turner says, “Let me be the first to say this plainly: these judges deserve to be killed,” and includes photographs, phone numbers, work addresses, and room numbers of the judges, as well as a map of Chicago’s federal courthouse which points out its “anti-truck bomb” pylons.
I skipped over a lot of the 2009 entries, didn’t get to 2010, and I’m stopping here because you should read the entire thing. It’s sickening and sick. The last entry to date is the Tuscon Grocery Store Shooter. The federal charges filed by the prosecutors contain a description of interesting evidence seized from the shooter’s home.
“I planned ahead” was found written on an envelope stored in a safe in Jared Lee Loughner ‘s Northwest Side residence, a federal complaint filed Sunday said.
The envelope bore handwriting stating “I planned ahead,” “My assassination” and “Giffords” and what appears to be Loughner’s signature, the complaint said.
An Aug. 30, 2007, letter from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords addressed to “Mr. Jared Loughney” at the address of Loughner’s residence was found also found in the safe.
The letter, on congressional stationary, thanked the recipient for attending a “Congress On Your Corner” event at the Foothills Mall.
The appalling amount of ass-covering behavior like site scrubbing and apologia just screams that a lot of these folks know there’s a link. The others will go along with the memes because they simply aren’t able to think for themselves. This is the same kind of apologia that came from the Right to Life movement when Dr. David Gunn was murdered. Yes, his death and right wing lunacy of his assassin are recorded on that time line too of right wing rhetoric followed by right wing violence..
You can’t whip up your people with violent rhetoric and imagery, then deny they could have a role in flipping a switch on some one experiencing a psychotic break. It creates an environment that says we accept violent ends. It creates an acceptance and an aura of hero around some one committing a violent act.
What if it were a Muslim that had put a site targeting congressional sites using rifle sites? What if it were a Muslim telling followers to ‘reload’? What if a Muslim student would’ve done weird things in a community college classroom in your neck of the woods? Would the FBI perk up prior to this many people getting killed? Or, are they just too busy right now combing through my Wikileaks tweets?
From June 10:
“As for me, Thursday means the end to week two of algebra class. It seems to be going by quickly, but then I do have three weeks to go so we’ll see how I feel by then. Class isn’t dull as we have a seriously disturbed student in the class, and they are trying to figure out how to get rid of him before he does something bad, but on the other hand, until he does something bad, you can’t do anything about him. Needless to say, I sit by the door.”
From June 14:
“We have a mentally unstable person in the class that scares the living crap out of me. He is one of those whose picture you see on the news, after he has come into class with an automatic weapon. Everyone interviewed would say, Yeah, he was in my math class and he was really weird. I sit by the door with my purse handy. If you see it on the news one night, know that I got out fast…”
Would Pam Gellar be defending that use of that graphic if it was put up there been a black man affiliated with the New Black Panther Party ? Would Pam Gellar say it was the act of one crazy person if that shooter had been Muslim and the words lock and load had come from a political site sponsored by the Arab American League? How about if La Raza used language and pictures like that? Would all these folks be apologizing for the person running the PAC then? Would Pam Gellar believe that all of those people on the list are completely unrelated and isolated incidences if those graphics and that language was used by La Raza? The New Black Panther Party? The Arab American League? Does it matter that Sara hPac and the tea party sights all seem to share her angry, bigoted view of the world? Do you think all of this might be handled different if the student sitting in that class was a Muslim, or a black, or a Hispanic? What would the right wing say of this would’ve occurred after Barack Obama used the phrase “if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”? Think we’d be seeing the same conversation with same apologia from the right wing then?
obots are everywhere…you shouldn’t feed em in my opinion
So are Palbots and they’re likely to be locked and loaded. This isn’t about Obama. It’s about hyperbolic violent rhetoric and imagery from the right wing that empower and set off lone wolf shooters.
Breitbart bots are everywhere. They shouldn’t be egged on, encouraged, or excused.
Thanks for this post, dak. This country needs to have this conversation.
Jared Loughner, Alleged Shooter in Gabrielle Giffords Attack, Described by Classmate as "Left-Wing Pothead" – Phoenix News – Valley Fever
Saw this on Drudge…it goes along with that Communist Manifesto…
yeah, they want to create the story to their liking … doesn’t matter he also adored Hitler .
How many leftie potheads do you know that carry around GLOCKS except maybe the ones growing pot in the California Hills?
Some how that hippy looking teenager got to skin head young adult.
Hey you don’t need to be a leftie to grow pot, we got plenty of conservative country folk up in my neck of the woods growing weed too.;)
I guess there are a lot of libertarian potheads, aren’t there?
More than you would ever believe.
There used to be a saying ( still is?)
What’s a Libertarian?
A Republican that smokes pot.
Drudge? Of course they would like to paint him as a leftie.
Yeah, but this is a link to a Phoenix newspaper. Seems that there was a lot of tweeting going on today about his “left” tendencies. But the person who was doing the tweeting would not answer the papers request for comment.
I understand, that link made the rounds yesterday. But Dak has linked to stuff that is more recent. We need to see that in the past few years, he just really went off the deep end.
More at link.
I think that BostonBoomer thinks he may have developed schizophrenia. I think SwanSpirit alluded to this too. You just wonder how many friend and family member who could’ve seen some of this–btw, where is the family?–but didn’t seem to try to get him some mental health help. That’s now the missing piece I’d like to see.
Schizophrenia is my thought as well. I’ve been in contact with many in my life, and my brother-in-law is schizophrenic as well. The fixations and paranoia seem textbook schizophrenia. And yeah, where is the family? Did he still live at home, or had he moved out by the time he really went off the deep end?
Thanks for that link Bluelyon…I think that Loughner had spiraled down, and that Schizophrenia is definitely part of his issues.
I just saw this: Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » From Palin’s Facebook page
The thing that bothers me the most from all this, is that this little girl was killed. As I said on my morning post today, this young girl’s murder is so sad…I can’t even think of a more eloquent way to say it. I look at my own daughter, she is 12, and I think the loss this family feels is unimaginable.
Here’s something from Susie at C&L that’s worth a look: You can see the villagers at work on a talk show.
Will Sticks To The Village Narrative: It Was Only An ‘Unhinged’ Gunman. Gee, I Wonder What Unhinged Him?
That one line in Cole’s article bothers me — “He is said to have called out the names of his victims, such as Roll and Gifford, as he fired.” Who said? To whom did they say it? That line sounds exactly like the kind of grapevine-game thing that gets picked up and propagated, esp. in the aftermath of what had to be a very traumatic and disorienting experience for those there. It’s not even suggesting that whoever “said” it was at the shooting.
Had a prominent Muslim politician created a picture of Obama (or any US politician) with a target on it, would the same left-side people who are arguing so strongly against Palin also be arguing that violence is an inherent component of Muslimism? Unlikely.
Anyway, apologies in advance for a long comment and diversion to a bit of personal history:
For a very long time, the right-wing rage which we see now being turned against immigrants, “socialists”, Obama etc was channeled into anti-communist feeling during the cold war. Then the wall fell and for a while the same rage was turned in a number of directions, but did not really have a similar unifying focus. Or maybe it would be more accurate that for a while it didn’t have a coherent political agenda, or coherent political cover.
I worked for a while in the mid-nineties in a government office in a state which had a small but significant number of militia-type groups. Because of some of the work we did, we were occasionally the recipients of missives which sound very much like the shooter’s YouTube video. There were a number of additional themes, too, but his YT vid would not have been out of place in our In Box. One of the biggest was anti-government sentiment couched in terms of the illegitimacy of the government to enforce its laws over the senders, esp. the tax laws. I always thought it was slightly disjointed that the militia groups were associated with Republicans, since Republicans tend toward law & order, and acceptance of the regime and status quo where the militia where much the opposite.
In any case, I was revolted and appalled by the whole thing and spent a great deal of time rolling my eyes in disgust at the stupidity and nonsensicality — most of the communications we got were hard to make sense of even if their premises had been true. I was remarking to a coworker on how odd I found it that most of the militia-type groups seems clustered in just one part of the state, and he commented that for a number of generations that area had been agricultural one populated by small farmers. But virtually all of them had lost their livings (which were fairly precarious to begin with) over time because of big agribusiness and there was a very high incidence of the government dunning them for back taxes they were no longer able to pay, or foreclosing on their properties. (this was long, long before Sarah Palin or the Tea Party, or YouTube for that matter). The area had no real industry or tourist attraction, meaning their economy couldn’t even be half-assedly replaced with crappy service jobs. Culturally, it had been area that had never been particularly well off, but did have a strong tradition of independence, and now (in their eyes), they had nothing and the government was taking away even their scraps.
In other words, they were the dispossessed, and the disposed of. Whatever sort of ideological focus the Cold War gave them was gone, they had little and could look forward only to having less. It was when I finally understood that — the light bulb went off — that their rage had a source — that things all made sense. I don’t mean made sense in that I suddenly agreed that stockpiling weapons and spouting all manner of hateful crap was ok or had a basis in fact, or was justifiable. But however odious the expression of it, the source of the rage was understandable.
First the Republicans and then Tea Party were able to channel all that rage to promote a political agenda which, ironically, just further disempowers the enraged and despairing while wearing the mantle of empowerment. The Tea Party much more so, and I think one reason why Sarah Palin is not exactly the beloved of the Republican power elite is that the they don’t control her or the rage anymore; that’s also why the Tea Party has gradually had more and more money pumped into it from ‘above’.
It may be purely a coincidence that the shooting happened in Arizona, but it also may not be; AZ has been awfully hard hit by foreclosures.
The one thing I definitely agreed with in this post of Stirling Newberry’s here:
It’s not just inconvenient, it goes directly against the mythology of the left that they have an exclusive claim on populism, and to admit that Palin’s popularity is in part as the visible face of a populist movement movement based on populist rage means also admitting that the source of that rage is understandable. (again, because I’ve taken so much crap elsewhere as a Palin-apologist I feel the need to point out again that just because I think the source of the rage is understandable doesn’t mean I agree with the particular political expression of it, because you know, I don’t).
Because now we’re all the dispossessed, and prospects are not encouraging. (Given where you live, dak, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about dispossession).
While the documentation of right-wing extremism (hell, even the word “extremism” doesn’t really capture it) as you’re doing here is important, just as important is to understand the source of the rage that’s fueling it. I think the hypocrisy of Republicans is much less important, because neither political party has clean hands on that score, and because the fact that they are often outrageously hypocritical is less important than how the content of their rhetoric (hypocritical or not) channels populist sentiment in very particular ways. The solution to populist rage won’t be found in disdaining its expression* or in pointing out its rhetorical failings but in addressing the source of the rage that fuels it.
I think we’re all so busy being appalled and horrified by the facilitation of violence by the right that we’re somewhat missing the larger picture of where the rage is coming from. (not that it’s not appalling and horrific). That’s where the solution lies. It’s very difficult to really explore that direction, though, because it means trying to emphthize with a group of people who are saying and doing the most hateful and appalling things.
* not saying you are the one being disdainful here.
Wow, that was a lot of wonderfully stated things. I went back and reread that Homeland Security report from 2009 and one of the things the points they made consistently was that it would be rooted in dislocation and bad economics times. That point was totally missed by the villagers at the time it came out. I remember they jumped on the ‘attack on veterans’ bad wagon. Populism has always had a two sided coin in our history. I’ve come from states where some of the most bombastic figures came from. Think Huey Long and William Jennings Bryant. Both of those were some really strange combination of politics too. Both came from periods where many people felt disassociated. I think the first of that probably showed up in supporters of “Old Hickory”. We’ve had a really weird history of them.
I think it’s only going to get worse, as the economy fails to improve. It’s not just that the economy is bad, but that there’s little prospect that we are on a course which will improve opportunities.
Slightly OT but I was just reading Connie Willis’ fictionalized account of the Blitz during WWII. People can endure amazing hardship as long as they have a sense that there is some purpose to it, and there’s some prospect that things will eventually get better. That situation can be incredibly galvanizing for good. But when, like that depressed area I was talking about, there is just no prospect for something better, people get desperate.
That’s really interesting about the Homeland Security Report. I’m not surprised the villagers missed it, since they are mostly economically secure, have secure futures (no matter which party is in power) and don’t generally evince a lot of empathy for those less fortunate than they.
Your article got me thinking of Oklahoma…..all that rage is being passed down to the younger generation, it’s what was called “community
depression” pretty much like a uncurable disease at this point.
Well stated Valhalla. There seem to be very few (among higher-profile commentators/bloggers) who get this (Chris Hedges is one).
And btw, I really like the new site format!
Thanks! We’re hoping it’s welcoming, easy to read, and professional looking. That’s what we’re going for anyway!
I call Loughner’s videos as disconnected gibberish, and there’s nothing like a diatribe. One of the videos, where he makes a personal appearance is outright weird. He talks about currency, and new currency, and treasury. I think it was more economics than political, but I can’t understand what he’s trying to communicate.
Here is the link to Lougner’s videos.
Nowhere I’ve seen anything that Loughner’s views were shaped or that he listened to the right wing people. Crazy people do crazy things, The man who was obsessed with Jodie Foster took a shot at Reagan. There was nothing political about it. Just crazy.
Oh, sheesh, now THAT’s an answer. We can have shoot out at the OK Corral! Couldn’t they just get security or police or something?
I heard about this today and thought, “Even if they do have pistols with them, what is the likelihood that they’d be able to get it unholstered in time to defend themselves if finding them in a situation like yesterday?”
not to mention a lot of times they’ll be facing an audience … do they all intend to become sharp shooters?
Pretty good if they practice.
What about the Fort Hood Mental Health officer (Nidal malik Hason) who killed 12 people and injured 31 people. Here he was on a military base, and you’d be thinking somebody could have brought him down before he killed more victims. But it didn’t happen that way.
If you want to look at mental illness and mental services look to him
as an example of why we don’t identify those who are ill until it is too late.
Also, severe mental illness is not an explanation for crime. The mentally ill do not commit violent crimes at rates higher than the general population and are more likely to be the victims of crimes than the perpetrators. A 2009 study found that increased risk of violence is associated with drug and alcohol use, whether or not one has schizophrenia. Here’s a good article from Slate about this:
Thank you for the link! That’s a very good point!
You are right. We don’t know that Loughner is mentally ill. It appears to be the case, but we don’t know. There’s lots of conjecture at this point. Loughner says he read many books:
Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver’s Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno.
It’s more reasonable to say that his views were shaped by those books more than by the right wing people.
Well, the stopped him so far from killing himself, so I imagine there going to try to get him in a place where they can actually put him in a trial.
Oh and there’s some more information coming from people he knew too.
To his friends, it had been a gradual alienation.
We lost the war on drugs…………and most cases drugs are guranteed to produce more mentally ill, and the vicious circle of violence in that lifestyle. The problem, we have is an unjust society, and an unfair justice in the courts. All across this country we now have more mentally ill who are in prisons as criminals. It’s no so much about their needs as patients, but our economic needs.
What do we expect, when people are unemployed, and not able to earn a living, and suffering, when they are hungry, they will go crazy. Recall Katrina, and the mental atmosphere in the aftermat of that event. How many of those people turned to drugs? The money that should have gone to housing, went elsewhere. Just like the money for
mentally ill, went to buildiing more prisons in California.
Marty Kaplan at HuffPo:
I understood the “Second amendment solution” to mean a revolution, which is what the Founding Fathers did when they defeated the British, but I guess I got it wrong.
By founding fathers, are you referring to those Dangerous White Terrorist Right Wing John Bircher Militia Gun Nut Loony Extremists who used violence to overthrow a democratic government? /snark
Uh, last time I checked they were all elected officials and mostly lawyers. Samuel Adams went to Harvard. They didn’t pick up arms against each other. They seceded and when they were invaded they took up arms. Don’t rewrite history.
I’m hardly rewriting history. They actually started things off by tarring and feathering tax collectors and burning their homes.
Update: Twitter is going to stand up for Freedom to follow and Freedom to READ TWEETS! Yippy!
Wow, I can’t believe I’m typing this, but–more power to Twitter!
The descriptions his friends give about him and the fact that he appears to have begun manifesting his delusions and fixations in his late teens to early 20’s is also a classic sign of schizophrenia. I watched a co-worker descend into her schizophrenia at right about that age. From the link:
OMG! A few of those things actually describe me, not enough to diagnose me, I don’t think.
Big, big difference between someone with some tendencies, and who knows they have them, and a schizophrenic. Have you ever known a schizophrenic? Thing is, they can often fool you. They aren’t delusional all the time.
Example: Back in the early ’90s I worked in a restaurant in Palo Alto, CA that got a lot of street people traffic. One fellow, who went by the name Euclid, made money by selling papers he’d written showing “connections” between seemingly unrelated events. This was one manifestation of his schizophrenia. But he’d come in to the restaurant, chat up the wait staff, etc, just like anyone else. One day we were chatting over a new pair of shoes he’d bought at Payless. During our chat, Bob, another regular customer, got up, left the counter and paid for his tea. As he was leaving the restaurant, Euclid turned to me, and as lucidly as can be said, “He’s been following me since 1968.”
Well I strongly agree with Dak’s comment “hyperbolic violent rhetoric and imagery from the right wing that empower and set off lone wolf shooters.”
But, for the sake of intellectual honesty, I’m going to argue with a number of the specific points in here. Hopefully that doesn’t make me a white terrorist apologist. And sorry for the length.
1. From Juan Cole’s post:
“And among the concerns that came to dominate him as he moved to the Right was the illegitimacy of the ‘Second Constitution’ (the 14th Amendment, which bestows citizenship on all those born in the US, a provision right-wingers in Arizona are trying to overturn at the state level).”
It’s not at all clear that this is a correct or intellectually honest read on Loughner.
For a bit of discussion of this, see here.
It seems that all that Cole’s claim is based on is the following text from one of Loughner’s videos:
“final reading of the second constitution of the United States, I can not trust the government because of ratifications: Check the government is implied spirit and to subject them to the people brainwashed by controlling grammar.”
I suspect the phrase “second constitution” has idiosyncratic meaning to Loughner. On top of that, among legal scholars the term can be used to refer either 1. the Articles of Confederation, or 2 the 14th Amendment. Moreover, the 14th Amendment has five sections covering a lot of different things. And if Loughner was indeed referring to the 14th amendment, as opposed to the words “second constitution” having idiosyncratic meaning for him, there are parts of it that seem much more likely to have been his focus (given other things he says in the videos) than a concern with birthright citizenship.
2. Cole: “Loughner also thought that Federal funding for his own community college was unconstitutional”
Take a look at the Loughner video that this claim is based on, and decide for yourself if this specific reading is well-supported.
Cole: “and he was thrown out for becoming violent over the issue.”
This really is a distortion of the statement from Pima Community College. Though the video I linked was a factor in the suspension, it says absolutely nothing about him “becoming violent over the issue”.
3. Cole: “Lately he ranted about the loss of the gold standard, a right wing theme.”
Well, this one may have some merit.
Loughner: “No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!
No! I won’t trust in God!”
But then again, I haven’t really heard right-wingers talk about silver. And Loughner seems to have some strange obsession with creating his own currency:
“Every human who’s mentally capable is always able to be treasure of their new currency.
If you create one new currency then you’re able to create a second new currency.
If you’re able to create a second new currency then you’re able to create third new currency.
You create one new currency.
Thus, you’re able to create a third currency.
You’re a treasurer for a new currency, listener?
You create and distribute your new currency, listener?
You don’t allow the government to control your grammar structure, listener?”
An AP article says that Loughner “worried that governments were maneuvering to create a unified monetary system (‘a New World Order currency’ one friend said) so that social elites and bureaucrats could control the rest of the world.”
This is along the lines of a common JBS theme. So this claim of Cole’s may have merit.
4. Apparently he was “left” (or at least left-libertarian) three years ago, based on interviews with a women who was a friend of his.
But at that point he had already expressed hostility (or at least dislike) of Giffords:
“He was a political radical & met Giffords once before in ’07, asked her a question & he told me she was ‘stupid & unintelligent’” [Also, see the AP article for more detail on this].
and it sounds like he was already starting to become extreme or grandiose:
“liberal in wanting to change the way the world was run, we both wanted to. He took it to an extreme I never would’ve.”
and was obsessesed with some kind of date prophecy:
“As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.”
I’ll also note that the AP article linked above says “He believed the U.S. government was behind 9/11”. I have to say that the vast majority of the 9/11 “Truther” nuttery I’ve seen has come from the left. I’ve encountered a bunch of them over the years (in person and online) – though there are occasional conservatives among them, it’s really predominantly a “lefty” phenomenon. And having read that he was a Truther – I’m left wondering if entry into this belief system was critical in shaping the trajectory that his mad beliefs took. To my mind, it would help explain the migration from left-liberal to Giffords shooter (has anyone here dealt with Truthers? – for the most part, fanatical nuts – there’s no reasoning with them, and deeply distrustful of government).
5. The news stories that the SarahPAC image was deleted in response to this event have apparently been retracted (e.g. see here and here.
6. The purported link to the “American Renaissance” group was an investigative possibility raised in the early hours within the Department of Homeland Security. At this point, I’ve yet to see any further reports supporting an affiliation. For what it’s worth, an American Renaissance spokesman said that Loughner never subscribed to American Renaissance publications and that there are no indications that he ever attended American Renaissance functions. The group has not held functions in Arizona; all such events have been on the east coast.
From the Christian Science Monitor: “Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League, is skeptical about any hard connection between Loughner and American Renaissance. ‘The fans of American Renaissance tend to be older and they tend to be intellectuals or pseudo-intellectuals,’ says Mr. Pitcavage. ‘Based on the limited nature of [Loughner’s] internet footprint suggesting his thoughts and beliefs, there’s nothing to lead one to think he would lean that way. It’s perplexing to us that there is a notion of a substantial connection’.”
So, I think the rhetoric of the right-wingnuts is a problem. It may have contributed in Loughner’s case – but I’ve not yet seen much good evidence of that. Though their activity and language does help normalize paranoia of government (which Loughner had) and talk of violence. I also wonder about the Truther contribution to the shape his madness took. And the opposition to sane gun laws (i.e. coming predominantly from the right) obviously contributed to allowing this event to happen (with Arizona as an epicenter of wacko gun culture).
BTW – In terms of Loughner’s specific mental illness, I’m also thinking schizophrenia (having dealt with quite a few schizophrenics over the years – including a housemate in her 20’s, who seemed fine when she moved in, but then began a slow descent).
This kid seemed to like the cafeteria plan of radical ideology. He was driven by whacked still seem like the bircher branch of the libertarians to me. The gold/silver stuff. The Federal government is evil and warping my mind. He’s not off the intellectual branch of those guys though or Ayn Rand would–at the very least–have made his book list.
Has any one yet read anything about a family or foster care or some relatives some where? I find missing information a bit odd. Still, they have him in custody so they must be medicating him to some degree of communicativeness by now although he’s got the best in town to defend his kind of crime spree. That will make it interesting too.
The unabomber lawyer is representing him.
Ayn Rand is pretty far off the branch of mainstream libertarianism, or at least her followers are. Only people I’ve ever heard advocate wiping out the Middle East in the name of individual rights.
She’s still trendy back east and with older libertarians. Really, that label is a mixed bag of people. A lot of it depends on where you live.
Right now they are looking at him based on his background which includes him being a young, white male, his past records with the law, his educational level, his use of drugs/alcohol, his connections to other groups and organizations. And you bet that the FBI are in the homes of his families and his friends gathering up information.
Post hoc … ergo propter hoc.
Which I say in reply to the ridiculous horsecrap put out by the gun-grabbers. Are we really supposed to believe that a specific incident of slightly militant rhetoric reliably caused someone to go kooky-wa-wa in each of these cases? What about all of the cases where slightly militant rhetoric didn’t cause anything? What about the cases where violence wasn’t preceded by slightly militant rhetoric?
Aren’t you the one who’s into checking facts and making sure that correlations aren’t totally spurious, as these probably are?
There’s enough evidence in studies that violence in media, games, etc. actually does beget crime. The guy that shot Dr. Gunn demanded his laywers not take the insanity route and gave a diatribe at his court and why he’d done the right thing. The proof is in the court papers. The only one we can’t really say for certain is the NAZI that stormed the holocaust museum because he died prematurely, but he left a pretty good internet trail. I don’t expect Penn Jillette, Chuck Norris, or Ted Nugent to do any ‘kooky-wa-way’ things because they are successful and rich. Never, EVER underestimate the impact of feeling helpless, powerless, and unable to sustain yourself through a descent living. Remember all the white guy that shot the Korean grocer? It’s the guys that think their owed something but can’t get near it that break. They get attracted to over the top angry people with stupid, easy answers. Like energies attract.
Whether violence rhetoric begets violent actions isn’t the question. The question is whether the rhetoric quoted beget the actions mentioned, which seems unlikely. It’s more likely that someone told him off in traffic and that got him started than that he just happened to be watching the news or listening to talk radio at just a certain point in time so that he heard one piece of mildly violent rhetoric that started him off on some plan to do people in.
I mean, really, this stuff isn’t exactly Radio Rwanda telling people to “clean out the roaches.”
In other words, the government has pushed and pushed and pushed people into a corner with claims to essentially unlimited authority to force their lives to conform to someone’s Good Idea and some people are going to push back, often in violent, chaotic, and destructive ways.
Where were these blog entries searching out the nature of violence when cops executed that guy on a subway, or in any other case whatsoever? Is it only murder when it happens to one of our Overlords, and just something mildly regrettable when it happens to a peon?
I don’t mean to insult you, but I don’t think anyone has done a better job of smearing everyone who could possibly disagree with them in one smooth swipe than this since John Roy Carlson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Roy_Carlson) quoted leaders of America First! next to leaders of Nazi groups with 3 or 4 members in _Under Cover_.
I mean, American Renaissance next to Glenn Beck next to John Birchers (the few dozen of them who remain) next to Ron Paul next to Mein Kampf? Really? REALLY? I sure hope you’re joking, because this is almost laughable.
For instance, Ron Paul is comfortably seated in the right wing of the Republican party? You mean the same Ron Paul that the GOP has worked for years to get rid of, who saw entire answers edited out of some of his debates on FOX when they were rebroadcast, the same Ron Paul that many state GOP parties actively conspired to screw over in the 2008 primaries? The same Ron Paul who happens to be mentioned next to the same Glenn Beck who once called him and his fans TERRORISTS?
You’re good on the Obama v Clinton stuff, but you might want to do some reading and research on the turgid waters of “right wing” politics, or at least try to filter out bad arguments like the one I went after above.
The right wing of the republican part is diverse, but they are still the right wing of the Republican party. The Birchers/Beck consider themselves the keepers of the libertarian flame. I’m sure Allan Greenspan and Mises Institute thinks their brand is best. Certain Paul and his unique take on it thinks HIS brand is. It’s a big bowl of granola. Lots of fruit, flakes and nuts; kind’ve like some of the leftover left too. They’re not in the same league as the hate groups like American Renaissance, etc. but I can guarantee that none of them vote for Democratic candidates. You’re looking too closely into the microscope. A paramecium is not an amoeba either but they swim in the same drop of gunk.
Well, I’d hardly say that virtually the only elected official in this country who wouldn’t have Julian Assange hung outright or vote to bomb Iran if he got a large enough envelope full of 100s is swimming in anything less than a golden bowl of Ambrosial Nectar. 😉
Yes. Ron Paul has is good and his bad quirks. He’s still not the standard bearer though. Mike Gravel and Bob Barr are strange bedfellows too. That’s why that party never takes off. It’s got some broad ideas, but the specifics never get ironed out. The Greens are consistent but no one agrees with them. They almost have the opposite problem. Bunch of folks will call themselves libertarians but then if you sit them down, they’ll all have different buttons they want pushed. They like pot now, but they’ve gone off the deep end on abortion rights. How on earth can you say you support the government out of every one’s lives and then put your nose in the most personal decision some one could make … Like I said, big bowl of granola!
Nothing that I’ve read says what Loughner thought of the 2010 elections or of what Rush, Beck or Palin think. Here is an article that may explain why. Loughner is not interested in what the right wing or the lefties believe.
AP: Shooting suspect’s nihilism rose with isolation
1) He’d be a field day for a semiologist.
2) We should be careful with the ad-hoc diagnoses. Insinuating that everyone who disagrees with you has schizophrenia had a long history in the Soviet Union, and I’d hate to see a trend like that get started here, even if it did get started with a legitimate case.
I don’t know if the guy disagrees with me, but he speaks in a kind of word salad, which is a symptom of schizophrenia. He is also at the age when people typically develop the disease, but obviously there is no way we can know for sure if he has it.
Nevertheless, his behavior suggests that he is psychotic, and my opinion has nothing to do with his political views. From the news stories I’ve read, his behavior has been out of control for at least a couple of years, and the descriptions by people who were dealing with him suggest psychosis. That could be from Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, or something else. All I know for sure is that he is a very sick young man.
I don’t see the analogy to the Soviet Union, since he isn’t a political prisoner. He publically shot 19 people and killed several of them. That’s what he’s locked up for, not his severe communication problems, paranoia, and delusions. I do hope his lawyer will make sure he gets a good psychiatric evaluation in prison.
Oh yea, I don’t disagree that he’s probably off his rocker. What I’m saying is that stuff like this could easily be used to tar everyone who disagrees with the political mainstream by implying that they’re crazy.
That link’s included up top.
You know , I wonder if he even read all of those books he refers to. When I first started reading about him and all his “opinions” that he has posted online, I just got this impression that he just put those books as his favorites…sort of randomly. Almost like when he was clicking on one title, he then just clicked on other “suggested” titles. (you know how those social networks will offer other choices or suggestions when you add a favorite to your profile) I may be wrong, but I just feel that way. I did not feel this for other people that went “postal”…like the one that took Discovery Channel hostage last year, or the VT shooter….I felt that they really read those books and treatise they obsessed about. This Loughner dude (and I use that term dude specifically) seems to me like a hipster…a hipster that suffers from Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, paranoia (and all the other stuff that Boston Boomer mentioned) But that is my own opinion…so take it for what it is worth…
From another blog:
“In the recent Arizona murders, the two men who apprehended the shooter were not unarmed. They were both on network news this morning, and one of them said,’I carry a firearm, so I wasn’t really afraid’ (to tackle the shooter and hold him until the police finally showed up). He probably saved quite a few lives by doing this, and may not have had the nerve to do it had he not been carrying a firearm.”
Can we please not link here to absolute creeps like Lew Rockwell?
mablue @ 3:11:
One of the great things about knowing him personally is that I can tell you that those articles are absolute horsecrap. Especially the Kirchick article. Kirchick even caught flak from the Catoite types for writing that smear job. Of course, he had his own motives.
You know that about 240 of those news letters were published, that each one was about ten pages long, and that totals up to about 2,400 pages?
Did you ever stop to consider that those five or so incriminating quotes were pulled from ~2,400 pages of text written by god-knows-whom, and that the most incriminating of these supposed quotes are written in plaintext in the articles where they are supposedly cited while only mildly incriminating ones like saying more carjackings happen in urban neighborhoods (true) and that carjackers are animals (an insult to the animals of the world) are scanned from the letters? Could that perhaps be … because those things were never said?
Was the middle aged woman who knocked the second clip from his hand (before the men jumped him) carrying a gun?
The accounts I’ve seen indicate that she grabbed the clip after he was pinned to the ground.
At any rate, it’s TOTALLY irrelevant whether she did it before or after. The fact is that had someone not been armed, he would have been free to keep killing until all his clips were empty – no doubt the police, would have been busy looking busy and “setting up a perimeter” until he killed himself, as they did in a number of other major shooting incidents.
Naw, I’m just pointing out that courage doesn’t have to come from holding a gun. It can come from anything and be from anyone, even a gunless middle-aged woman, who was probably very scared but acted anyway. Kind of like that woman in Florida who beat that shooter at the city council meeting over the head, while everyone else froze.
I read that the woman knocked the second clip from him and then was hurt, thrown to the ground, whatever. The third clip had some sort of problem. That’s when the guys jumped him, perhaps unafraid because they had guns, perhaps not.
B Kilpatrick wrote:
Actually, some of it is. You might want to watch this Bill Moyers special. It will take you about 19 minutes.
I can’t believe the number of women and a few men that I’m reading who are saying that Palin’s rhetoric and imagery is not a problem. They’re getting worse than Obama supporters. They’re totally going down the rabbit hole in the same way. They want Sarah Palin to be something she simply isn’t. She uses ALL the code words that right wingers use that are nods and winks . She’s a right wing extremist along the lines of Huckabee, Issa, Pence, etc. The fact she has a vagina does not mean you give her an automatic pass. There are obots, and teabots and definitely Palbots. Just like I’m lost friends to hopey changey wishfulness about Obama and I’m loosing friends who want to transfer their Hillary fan status to Sarah Palin. I have to say, Hillary would be appalled. She spoke out against the use of violent and sexist frames against Palin. She was clear that was where she drew the line.
No politician should use violent frames or images. No politician should get a pass if what they’re doing is out of bounds.
Despite the rhetoric, there was A LOT more tension in the days just before the election.
Votermom wrote a piece at corrente about how political parties use strategic hate managementback in September. I think that’s a pretty apt description of the situation.
oh, thanks for the link, dak. 🙂
It’s a stunning frame votermom. Really. And your post was prescient and deserves recognition.