Back to the future

It’s been a while so allow me to remind you of these posts before getting to the subject of this post:

  1. Conservative declares the need to learn lessons and tactics from the Taliban in resistance to current administration
  2. Hyper-partisan media which legitimately considers the question of whether the government is planning on building concentration camps for ‘undesirables’
  3. Domestic economic situation (same link as above) in which people are blaming their current problems on the government
  4. Increased rhetoric about the need for violent revolution (usually covered with a fig leaf of deniability) and the occasional conversion from rhetoric to action.

So, should we really be surprised when a crazed dude with a persecution complex decides to make a political statement by flying a plane into a federal building?  Check out his suicide note.  It makes about as much sense as the jihadists final words.

Now, I’m not saying that Stack was in any way affiliated with any political party but as I wrote so long ago:

I wonder what, if any, impact this level of rhetoric will have over time when combined with serious financial distress and charges of the imposition of a socialist government.  After all, the Oklahoma City bombing was a response to concerns about Federal intrusion and events at Waco, Texas.  If the level of vitriol is this high now, where does it have to go? If, in fact, you do believe that America is being destroyed Twittering your outrage seems a bit weak.

I’m not even saying that Stack can neatly be pigeon-holed in the left-right spectrum we (and I include myself) too frequently pigeon hole every freakin’ thing in the universe.  In that regards, allow me to briefly retract my previous statements classifying this sort of stuff as ‘right wing terrorism’.

I do think the mainstream right flirts with this sort of anti-government ideology much more than the left does.  But let’s face it, these groups and individuals often regard traditional republicanism (of Bush 41 say) as just as evil as anything the Democrats do.

The right however can’t absolve itself of the responsibility in things like this.  The mainstream Left disliked Bush/Cheney intensely but I think you’d be hard put to find any who regularly used imagery of violent revolution.  The left’s rhetoric was generally confined to the now cliched, tired and superficial comparisons with Hitler (for which I think the American public is now pretty immune to – just like the term ‘liberal’ which has had to be ratcheted up to ‘socialist’ to gin up base).  The Right -mainstream and establishment – has reveled in conspiracy theories (he’s not American!  he’s a crypto-Muslim! he wants to destroy America!) and decided a return to power can be had by riding this tiger.  They’re betting they can do this and tame the beast once they’re in control but I’m not nearly so optimistic.  Of course, that assumes they’re cynically engaging in this sort of behavior and don’t actually believe it themselves.

Is it terrorism?  I think it pretty clearly is.  Politically motivated violence that is designed to create a change of policy and targeting a larger audience than just the victim.  What if this was a Muslim dude who wrote the same exact manifesto?  Would we be hearing calls from the right demanding we revoke all pilot’s licenses from Muslims?  Is there any doubt that this would be called terrorism in that case?

Media reports I’ve seen indicate that Stack isn’t a member of a group but that, again, misses the point.  The primary characteristic of this…movement(?)…ever since the mid-90s is leaderless resistance.  It’s all about people or very small groups taking independent action in the hopes of sparking a wider revolution.

Buckle up.  It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

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2 responses to “Back to the future

  1. …or then again, he could just be the nutjob that his note suggests. Nutjobs go further back in history than terrorists…

    After all, he had debt. He owned a house. He owned a plane. He COULD have sold the house and the plane to put towards the debt. When you look a bit further into how he got into the debt (I don’t have to pay taxes because the Constitution does say I have to), the nutjob theory looks better and better…

  2. Of course, there’s a very fine and porous line between terrorist and nutjob.

    Nidal Hasan and the underwear bomber were both apparently social misfits who’s problem solving skills seemed about on par with Mr. Stack.

    Likewise, the Unabomber is a disturbed guy yet considered a terrorist.

    You could make the argument that the very act of terrorism is an indicator of mental illness.

    So, I’m not sure there’s a real distinction there provided their actions are “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.” After all, there’s nothing saying that terrorists have to have a coherent ideology or set of grievances. They can be crazy (or stupid) and terrorists.

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