The tragic killing of a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington on Wednesday, combined with the murder of abortionist George Tiller in Wichita last week, has got various liberal and media commentators asking: is right-wing terrorism on the rise??? For instance, Daniel Burke of the Religion News Service suggests that the Homeland Security report that caused such an uproar in the spring was right after all:
The shooting at the Holocaust Museum on Thursday, after the murder of Dr. Tiller two weeks ago, makes clear that U.S. Department of Homeland Security knew whereof it spoke when it warned, last April, about a rising tide of right-wing extremism. People got po’d about the report, but it seems to have been on target.
Given the vague terms in which the report was couched, it was a virtual certainty that something would happen that would be said to be what DHS was talking about. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite makes the same point at “On Faith,” and puts her foot in it at the same time:
Conservative America ridiculed the Department of Homeland Security when it issued a report just two months ago that warned right-wing extremism was likely to rise in this country due to economic and political changes. The report was aptly titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” In it, the DHS specifically talked about the “potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”
In April, Rush Limbaugh specifically derided the DHS report, intoning “There is not one instance they can cite as evidence where any of these right-wing groups have done anything.”
Limbaugh is now proved wrong and the DHS proved to be right, frighteningly right.
BZZZZ! That’s wrong, but thank you for playing. Limbaugh mentioned “groups,” while the Tiller murderer and the Holocaust Museum killer both acted alone. In that regard, they were just like most other Ameicans who commit murder.
Then there’s Paul Krugman of The New York Times, an economist turned op-ed gasbag:
Back in April, there was a huge fuss over an internal report by the Department of Homeland Security warning that current conditions resemble those in the early 1990s — a time marked by an upsurge of right-wing extremism that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Conservatives were outraged. The chairman of the Republican National Committee denounced the report as an attempt to “segment out conservatives in this country who have a different philosophy or view from this administration” and label them as terrorists.
But with the murder of Dr. George Tiller by an anti-abortion fanatic, closely followed by a shooting by a white supremacist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the analysis looks prescient.
And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.
At this point, one can’t help but ask: if the Tiller and Holocaust museum murders mean that we can now tar all “mainstream conservativism” with the label of “terrorist,” does that mean we can now call all American Muslims the same thing? What none of the writers of these pieces seemed to remember is that while Tiller was being killed, and a lunatic was charging into the Holocaust Museum (and venting his rage at Fox News on paper), two Army recruiters were being shot and one killed in Arkansas by a Muslim bent on punishing the army for its actions in the Middle East. And a few weeks ago, four American Muslims were found with (fake) explosives and arrested on charges of preparing to blow up two New York synagogues. Interestingly enough, there has been nothing like the outrage directed (rightly) at the Tiller and Holocaust Museum killers directed at the Arkansas shooter–the White House, which issued a statement of outrage within hours of the Tiller murder, took almost a week to say anything at all about the dead Army recruiter, and then did so in muted tones.
My point isn’t that the Tiller and Holocaust Museum murders aren’t horrible injustices. It’s that they are hardly indicative of any kind of trend among conservatives, any more than the Arkansas shootings and New York plot are indicative of any kind of trend toward violence among Muslims as a whole. The people using the tragic events in Wichita and Washington to demonize their political opponents ought to be ashamed of themselves.