Still Deranged and Confused

Yesterday I wrote about the futility of pegging extremists as purely “Right” or “Left.” I postulate that, just as an absolute moderate is neither Left nor Right, the closer one gets to absolute extremism the more the ideologies of “Left” and “Right” tend to blur.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the political beliefs of people like John Patrick Bedell (Pentagon shooter) and Joseph Stack (flew plane into IRS building) don’t neatly align with any one partisan group.

I also think that sometimes extremism becomes its own point; people who are psychologically hellbent on being extremists are not necessarily all that discriminating about the cause to which their extremism is committed. Whatever loose nuts and bolts are rattling around in an extremist’s psyche no doubt push him/her in one direction or another. But if the Great Cause were to suddenly disappear overnight, an extremist will have latched on to another Great Cause by suppertime.

However, that doesn’t mean external stimuli don’t play a part in pushing a person predisposed to extremism into becoming more extreme, to the point of becoming dangerous. There’s a progression from apathetic to interested to opinionated to obsessively opinionated to hair-on-fire enraged/paranoid to self-and-other destruction. Inflammatory rhetoric is something like a positive feedback loop that makes the extremism “progress” from one stage to the next.

And, while they refuse to admit it, right-wing rhetoric in the U.S. tends to be much more violent and much more oriented toward eliminating the opposition than left-wing rhetoric tends to be. And while the most extreme left-wing rhetoric generally is limited to off-the-beaten-track websites and fliers handed out at the occasional mass protest, the inflammatory right-wing rhetoric gets spewed out by national radio and television networks.

That said, I think the meme — justified or not — that John Patrick Bedell was mostly a Right-wing extremist seems to be the meme that has taken hold in mass media narratives. This has infuriated the rightie blogosphere, which is sputtering that the guy is a registered Democrat, for pete’s sake, so he must be a leftie. But if it’s true he is a devotee of Ludwig von Mises, then he’s staunchly pro-capitalist, which more or less puts him on the Right, per our current partisan configurations.

I mean, last week the Freepers decided that Joe Stack was a leftie because he appeared to be (although I’m not sure it’s clear) anti-capitalist. So by that standard, someone who is pro-capitalist must be a rightie. But no; the Freep are not claiming Bedell, either. Go figure.

But the pattern we keep running into is that somebody is inflamed enough by rhetoric to kill or attempt to kill somebody else in the name of the Cause, and afterward the leaders of the Cause issue statements saying it is so unfortunate that this happened, but they are not to blame because they don’t condone violence. They think websites with “wanted” posters on them don’t count.

Partisan violence is rare in the U.S., compared to some other places (i.e., Afghanistan; Somalia). But it also seems to come more from the Right than the Left. According to a story in the New York Times,

Between 1990 and 2009, there were about 120 attacks in the United States by far-right extremists that led to deaths, according to a study funded by the Department of Homeland Security and the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The number of incidents has hovered around three per year since 2002, down from an average of eight annually from 1990 to 2001 and a peak of 16 in 1999, according to the U.S. Extremist Crime Data Base.

About 45 percent of incidents were motivated by white supremacist, neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant or other racist ideologies, and 15 percent by extreme anti-government views, the top two categories, according to researchers Joshua D. Freilich of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York and Steven M. Chermak of Michigan State University.

I guess we have to admit to “eco-terrorism” as left-wing violence, but U.S. eco-extremists are more into destruction of property than homicide. I can think of some anti-military “protests” that resulted in minor property damage. Both sorts of “demonstrations” are stupid and counter-productive, IMO.

5 thoughts on “Still Deranged and Confused

  1. After all of that talk over the decades about “personal responsibility,” you’d think, maybe, just maybe, they all would, or at least ONE of them might accept some responsibility. In the word of the immortal John Belushi, “But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!…).
    Nothing is ever a conservative responsibility, unless it’s positive.
    It wasn’t Nixon who kept running the Vietnam War – it was the Democratic Congress.
    It wasn’t Reagan who ran up the national debt – it was the Democratic Congress.
    It wasn’t Bush I who presided over a recession – it was the Democratic Congress.
    It wasn’t conservative militia members who escalated violence in the ’90’s – it was the Liberal Media’s stilted reporting. And, ok, maybe it was a reaction to the Democratic Congress.
    It wasn’t Bush II who started a needless War, and ran an economy off a cliff. It was all Clinton’s doing. And, at the end – it was the Democratic Congress.

    So, why would anyone EVER expect conservatives to take responsibility for their groups action? Or even any action taken by an individual who is clearly alligned with them?
    It’s all about PERSONAL responsibility. As long as the “person” being assigned “personal” responsibility for a bad thing is a Liberal.
    All good things, however, are the Conservative Movements responsibility. Now, if I could just think of ONE good thing that they did, that theory might have some merit.

  2. OMG!
    An actual, living, breathing example of conservatives having SOME sign of a conscience! A few are turning on Liz, the evil spawn of Ol’ Dick, for her actions against DoJ attorney’s.
    Quick, someone read this and very that I didn’t have an acid flashback 30+ years after I last did acid. But, I mean, I didn’t.
    I mean, I did, but I didn’t inhal…
    I didn’t swallo…
    OK, I did…
    Still, it was over 30 years ago!
    Can this be for real?

    • Never fear. Paul Mirengoff of Power Tools said,

      Reached on the phone, Mirengoff offered an even sharper rebuke, contrasting what Cheney is doing to the anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and, in some respects, finding it worse.

      “It could be worse than some of the assertions made by McCarthy, depending on some of the validity of those assertions,” Mirengoff said, explaining that at least McCarthy was correct in pinpointing individuals as communist sympathizers. “It is just baseless to suggest that [these DoJ officials] share al Qaeda values… they didn’t actually say it but I think it was a fair implication of what they were saying.”

      This cannot be repeated often enough: No individual targeted by Joe McCarthy was ever convicted of espionage or criminal subversion of any sort, nor has any subsequent documentation (including the Venona Papers) brought forth any evidence that any of them should have been convicted. A few of them admitted pro-Communist sympathies, but in the U.S. that’s not a crime. As to the often-stated belief that Joe McCarthy boldly stood up and warned an apathetic nation of Communist subversion in the U.S., the fact is that McCarthy made his famous “I have in my hand” speech after the Alger Hiss trial, after the USSR tested The Bomb, after Mao Zedong had taken over China, and very shortly after Klaus Fuchs was arrested for supplying nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, and also after U.S. intelligence services had quietly discovered and broken up most of the spy networks in Washington. In other words, a stampede of hysteria had already begun, and McCarthy deftly got in front of it and called himself a “leader.” But he didn’t personally do anything to make America safer from spies.

      So, never fear, the Tool is still wrong.

  3. I visit daily; I certainly DO NOT agree with MOST of what I read there, but he posts a lot of antiwar articles and things relating to natural health care and remedies which I find interesting.
    The stated mission of the site is anti-state, anti-war, pro market. I can’t wrap my head around the anti-state issue because the need for “the state” is obvious.
    The anti-war issue is obvious for me.We can’t continue endless war without serious problems and eventual failure.
    The pro-market idea is great, except that the market is corrupted by large multi-national corporations that have bought up everything. A free market can’t function any better when the big boys can buy out or simply squash the competition, or if the “evil “government regulates it to death.

    We lefties tend to be nice people;we don’t carry guns and quote scripture .Funny how several years ago “radical” was a term used for anti war protesters when it is far more radical to be pro war and advocate violence.I’m inclined to believe that flying a plane into an IRS building and shooting up the Pentagon is a wee bit “RADICAL”.

  4. maha,
    I know. I never doubted the Tool was wrong.
    It was just interesting to me that at least a few people from the right had the guts to challenge Dick’s daughter, because you know that he (or, IT!) had a hand in all of this. She’s never been anything more than Daddy’s bobo and puppet. And she’s Daddy’s girl, all right, from her sneer, to her projection, to her loose grasp, and dancing around, of anything that might be construed to be a fact.

    And I’m pretty knowledgeable about the McCarthy, Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers time period. Read quite a few book on that period. Mirengoff’s just spouting a meme that every conservative knows to be “true.” And in their minds, facts don’t have anything to do with the actual truth. Facts, as you know, have a notoriously Liberal bias.
    To tie that in to today, McCarthy found as many Communist’s in the State Department as George W. Bush did WMD’s in Iraq.
    Were there people who had once been Communist sympathizers in Washington, DC? Hell yes! There were many of them throughout the United States. But not one, as you said, was convicted of any wrong-doing. But, thanks to McCarthy, a lot of people lost their career’s, jobs, families, and, yes, even their lives.
    I still don’t know how he did it, but Bush couldn’t even find the WMD’s that he knew were there – even though WE GAVE THEM TO HIM!
    Hmmm… Maybe the weapons inspectors were right and Saddam got rid of them; or they just became chemically, or biologically inert over time.
    McCarthy paid, in some respects, for his actions. Bush never has. And he never will. At least not unless another country is willing to take him and Cheney to The Hague.
    Maybe Dick will hire Liz, his erstwhile daughter, to defend him. I’d recommend a real attorney. I don’t think the judges there will be as cowed by her presence as those in our Media.
    Maybe one of the DoJ attorney’s she accused will even volunteer to defend Dick. I’d support that. EVERY CRIMINAL deserves a good attorney. Even a War Criminal!
    But, who am I kidding. I’m just dreaming…

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