"How could this be happening in America in the 21st century?"
"Yes, we know anti-semitism and racism still lingers, but haven't we become tolerant of each other now?"
*Why can't we stop the violence and just deal with each other with respect? We're all Americans, aren't we?"
As Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and columnist Eugene Robinson notes, we are living at a time when much of this type of violence and hatred is rare. But it still happens. And when Janet Napolitano warned us that "lone wolf extremists" were the most dangerous domestic terrorists, Republicans cried foul, ignoring facts and analysis, accusing the Obama administration of picking on conservatives. But Robinson not only provides the politics behind this nonsense; he poses and ponders the questions:
What happens when a right-wing crazies hear speech from the likes of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh or Fox tv talk show host Sean Hannity?
What happens if the crazies hearing this Anti-Sotomayor, anti-Obama, anti-government speech don't get it that the hate speech filled with half-truths and distortions are little more than fiery rhetoric to rev up the right-wing political base but take the hate speech to be true, swallowing it whole? Check him out:
The Lone Wolves Among Us
By Eugene Robinson
We are blessed to live at a time when violent acts of hatred based on race, ethnicity or religion have become rare, at least in this country. As the act of terrorism committed Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum should remind us, though, rare doesn’t mean nonexistent.
James W. von Brunn, the 88-year-old white supremacist who allegedly took a rifle into the museum and killed security guard Stephen Johns, is more than a bitter, demented old man. He is a known figure in the domestic hate industry, a venom-spewing polemicist whose Web site offered readers the chance to download the opening chapters of his racist, anti-Semitic tome for free—and to buy the rest of the book for the bargain price of 10 bucks.
Apparently, there weren’t enough takers. The Washington Post reported Thursday that acquaintances say von Brunn had become virtually destitute and was complaining that “someone in Washington” had cut his Social Security benefits as punishment for his political views. His recent e-mail blasts were apocalyptic. “It’s time to kill all the Jews,” said one.
It’s easy to surmise that von Brunn, a rabid Holocaust denier, could have chosen the Holocaust museum as a target because he thought it would offer the opportunity to kill Jews. His writings show that he also hates black people with great passion, however, so perhaps he took some measure of sick satisfaction in allegedly gunning down the 39-year-old Johns, an African-American.
In April, a prescient Department of Homeland Security memo predicted that the election of the first African-American president and the advent of economic hard times could worsen the threat from “right-wing extremist groups.” In particular, the memo warned of an increase in anti-Semitic activity by extremists who buy into the whole Jewish-banker-secret-cabal paranoid fantasy—and would blame “the Jews” for engineering the global financial crisis, just as they blame “the Jews” for everything.
For days, some conservative commentators tried mightily to paint the memo as an underhanded attempt by the Obama administration to smear its honorable critics by equating “right wing” with “terrorism.” It made no difference to these loudmouths that the number of hate groups around the country has increased by more than 50 percent since 2000, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. It didn’t matter that the memo was backed up by solid intelligence and analysis. For these infotainers, the point isn’t to illuminate a subject by putting it in the light but to blast it with heat.
And it wasn’t just the Sean Hannitys, Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world who pretended to be outraged. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele accused the administration of trying “to segment out Americans who dissent from this administration, to segment out conservatives in this country who have a different philosophy or view from this administration, and labeling them as terrorists.” Steele seems to have decided that telling the truth isn’t nearly as important as the high-temperature exercise known as “firing up the base.”
The thing is, though, that words have consequences.
Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.