On August 5, 2012, just before 10:30 in the morning, Wade Michael Page pulled up outside the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., took out his semi-automatic handgun and started killing worshipers. An Army veteran and an avid bass player in a neo-Nazi rock band, Page killed two Sikhs outside the house of worship and then made his way inside. There, he reloaded and killed four more, including the president of the temple who was shot while trying to tackle Page. Three more were critically wounded in the massacre.
When local police descended, Page opened fire and shot one officer nearly ten times. When the authorities returned fire and shot Page in the stomach, he took his 9mm pistol, pointed it at his own head, and pulled the trigger.
According to acquaintances, the 40-year-old killer hated blacks, Indians, Native Americans and Hispanics (he called non-whites “dirt people”), and was interested in joining the Ku Klux Klan. Immersed in the world of white power music, Page’s band rehearsed in front of a Nazi flag.
Note that back in August 2012, Fox News didn’t care very much about Wade Page and the wild gun shootout he unleashed in an act of domestic terror in the Milwaukee suburb, nor did Fox suggest the event was connected to a larger, more sinister terror trend. In fact, in the days that followed the gun massacre, there were just two passing references to Page during Fox’s primetime, one from Bill O’Reilly and one from Greta Van Susteren. No guests were asked to discuss the temple shooting, and after one day the story was completely forgotten.
In one rare occasion when the conversation did turn to Page’s motivations, Fox’s opinion hosts were quick to criticize the notion that he was a far-right extremist. (He clearly was.) On The Five, after co-host Bob Beckel referred to Page as “right-wing skinhead,” he was quickly shouted down by his colleagues. Co-host Andrea Tantaros stressed that the killing was an isolated event that didn’t have any larger implications. “How do you stop a lunatic?” she asked. “This is not a political issue.”
Fox’s guarded response to an extremist’s killing spree was striking, considering that in the wake of the Boston Marathon bomb attack Fox News has gone all in (again) with its war on Islam as the channel fights its latest bigoted chapter in the War on Terror. It’s striking as Fox tries to blame a larger community for the act of two madmen because it’s the same Fox News that often can’t find time to even comment, let alone report, on what’s become regular, and often deadly, right-wing extremist attacks in America.
From neo-Nazi killers like Page, to a string of abortion clinic bombings, as well as bloody assaults on law enforcement from anti-government insurrectionists, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to terrorize victims in the U.S. (“Fifty-six percent of domestic terrorist attacks and plots in the U.S. since 1995 have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists.”) But Fox News is not concerned. And Fox News does not try to affix collective blame.
It’s clear that Fox is only interested in covering and hyping a single part of the War on Terror; the part that targets Muslims and lets Fox wallow in stereotypes. The part that lets Fox accuse Obama of being “soft” on Islamic terrorists and perhaps sharing a radical allegiance. The part that lets Fox advocate for bugging mosques and eliminating other Constitutional rights, and lets it unleash a collection of anti-Islam crusaders onto the cable airwaves.
Most importantly, Fox covers a War on Terror that lets it uniformly blame Muslims.
Keep in mind though, there’s been no reported evidence that anyone in the Cambridge, Mass., Muslim community knew about, condoned or helped plan the bombing perpetrated by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In fact, it’s possible the bomber brothers told nobody of their plan because local Muslims would have reported them to the police, the way a local imam tipped off Canadian officials who made arrests this week and thwarted an alleged rail bombing plot. (And the way local Muslims in Virginia and New York have helped prevent terror plots.)
Fox’s ugly religious attacks represent a brazen display of bigotry and bullying. The hypocrisy is that Fox News routinely downplays acts of political, and religious, violence from far-right extremists, while making sure not to condemn those indirectly associated with them.
Such acts have been legion. During a robust period of political violence last decade, women’s health clinics were attacked in January, May, and September 2003, January and July 2004, January, May, and July 2005, as well as May and December 2007, according to the National Abortion Federation.
Then in 2009, five clinics in Florida were the target of acid attacks.
More recently, two antiabortion firebombings occurred in 2011. And last year a woman’s health clinic in Wisconsin was damaged when a homemade bomb was set off on the building’s windowsill.
Of course, in May 2009, antiabortion extremist Scott Roeder shot and killed Dr. George Tiller while he attended church in Wichita, Kan.
And then there are the right-wing hate extremists who have plotted attacks against the government and minorities. Below is a partial list of attacks, or planned attacks, unleashed by radicals in recent years. The descriptions are taken from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2012 report, “Terror From the Right: Plots, Conspiracies and Racist Rampages Since Oklahoma City.”
The right-wingers have been in full-on gloat mode since the capture of the Boston Marathon bombers — not because it turned out that they were right about the nature of the perpetrators (they weren’t), but because speculation that they might be right-wing extremists was wrong. Only wingnuts can convert a sigh of relief into an attack on their opponents.
The problem is that all they’re really doing is attempting, yet again, to whitewash away the very real existence of violent extremists on their own side.
Leading the charge is William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, who published a post over the weekend titled"Add Boston Marathon Bombing to pile of Failed Eliminationist Narratives":
Yet there was a theory behind the madness, the Eliminationist Narrative created by Dave Neiwart of Crooks and Liars about an “eliminationist” radical right seeking to dehumanize and eliminate political opposition. It was a play on the over-used narrative of Richard Hofstadter’s “paranoid style” in American politics.
The Eliminationist Narrative was aided and abetted by an abuse of the term “right-wing” to include groups who are the opposite of conservatism and the Tea Party movement.
In the case of Sparkman, the accusations were just Another Failed Eliminationist Narrative. And the Eliminationist Narrative would fail time and time again:
The Cabby Stabber
The “killer” of Bill Sparkman
The Fort Hood Shooter
The IRS Plane Crasher
The Pentagon Shooter
We can now add the Boston Marathon Bombing to the pile. The wild speculation that there was a Tea Party or “right-wing” connection proved false.
Of course, it would always help if people like Jacobson managed to review the posts of the people he’s attacking — since neither I nor anyone at Crooks and Liars ever speculated in print that the perps were white right-wing extremists. Others did, however — and frankly, we discussed it among ourselves. But we knew that it was irresponsible to speculate publicly until we knew more, and so we waited — unlike a few progressives, and even many, many more conservatives. (More about that in a moment.)
The fact, however, is that the speculation about right-wing extremism’s potential role was entirely rational, considering that in the past four years, there have been nearly 70 acts of domestic terrorism committed by right-wing extremists in the United States, compared to just over 30 such acts committed by Islamist extremists here. (I have prepared a report on this that Mother Jones will be publishing soon.)
Trust me on this, Mr. Jacobson, as a person who has attended their gatherings and spent time observing their ideology up close and personally: There is nothing remotely left-wing, or anything other than right wing, about the ideology promoted by people like the Aryan Nations and the Ku Klux Klan and American Renaissance and a whole bevy of other hate groups out there operating in America today. The notion that they are not from the political right is simply risible.
It just depends where on the very real spectrum of right-wing thought each happens to fall. You see, the reason they call these people right wing extremists is that they begin with simple, perhaps even mainstream, conservative positions and extend them to their most outrageous and illogical extreme.
Conservatives are, for instance, skeptical of the power of the federal government to intervene in civil-rights matters; right-wing extremists believe it has no such power whatsoever, but it has been usurped by a Jewish conspiracy that is imposing its will on white people.
Conservatives are skeptical of internationalism and entities like the United Nations. Right-wing extremists believe the U.N. represents a diabolical plot to overthrow American sovereignty and impose totalitarian rule.
Conservatives believe that abortion is murder of a living being and oppose its use on demand. Right-wing extremists believe that this justifies committing murder and various violent crimes in order to prevent it.
Conservatives believe affirmative action is a form of reverse discrimination. Right-wing extremists believe it is part of a plot to oppress white people.
Conservatives oppose taxation, and tax increases in particular, on principle. Right-wing extremists believe that the IRS is an illegitimate institution imposed on the body politic by the aforementioned Jewish conspiracy.
Conservatives oppose increased immigration on principle and illegal immigration as a matter of law enforcement, and believe the borders should be secure. Right-wing extremists believe that Mexicans are coming here as part of an “Aztlan” conspiracy to retake the Southwest for Mexico, and that we should start shooting border crossers on sight.
You get the idea.
Moreover, the claim that right-wing extremists have nothing to do with the Tea Party is just flatly risible. I have two simple words regarding that claim: Oath Keepers.
But the conspiracist Oath Keepers are hardly the only extremist element that has been absorbed within the ranks of the Tea Party. The list is long, but it’s headed up by the Minutemen who have become Tea Party leaders. Moreover, as I explored in an investigative piece for AlterNet, the movement became a functional extension of the Patriot/militia movement in many precincts, especially in rural areas, away from the television crews.
Jacobson’s limitations on what constitutes “right wing” are not only ahistorical, afactual, and fully at odds with reality, they’re also predictably self-serving. So it’s not surprising that, given his criteria, even his list of “failed eliminationist narratives” is fatally flawed.
Most of the examples he provides, notably the Bill Sparkman episode, were never discussed by me or by anyone at C&L as instances of right-wing violence, because we never considered them such. However, there are three cases here that we did indeed describe as involving right-wing extremists. And you know what? We still do.
We realize, for instance, that the post-shooting narrative favored pretending that Jared Lee Loughner was somehow not a terrorist because he was mentally ill (a claim they for some reason do not make when it comes to Nidal Hasan, the mentally ill gunman in the Fort Hood shooting rampage). They also found other mitigating factors, such as Loughner’s youthful liberalism, to claim that he was not a right-wing extremist, despite the obvious liberal-ness of his targets. However, none of that can overcome the reality that at the time he acted, Loughner was carrying out what he saw as a mission on behalf of his now-adopted right-wing beliefs involving a global monetary conspiracy. He was indeed a right-wing extremist, and other experts on the subject who have examined the record have reached the same conclusion.
Similarly, we found that the IRS plane bomber was indeed a terrorist, and that he was acting on behalf of the very same extremist anti-tax ideology we described above. And the Pentagon shooter, John Patrick Bedell, was acting out on his beliefs derived from Alex Jones’s conspiracy theories — and Jones, despite many efforts to pretend otherwise, is clearly a classic right-wing conspiracy theorist and extremist from the old John Birch mold.
Yes, we recognize very much that there is a significant difference between mainstream conservatives and right-wing extremists, as we’ve outlined above — but those differences, frankly, keep diminishing, and the ideological distances keep shrinking.
We would love nothing more than to report that conservatives were bravely standing up against extremists on the right and doing their part as citizens to bring an end to their toxic contributions to our society. Believe me, as a onetime moderate Republican from a conservative state, I would love nothing more than to see mainstream conservatives stand up against right-wing extremism, as they once did in the 1980s when Idaho became one of the first states to pass a hate-crimes law.
But those days are long gone. There are still a handful of thoughtful and decent conservatives remaining who will stand up to confront this problem, but they are tiny in number and nil in influence. Instead, conservatism is dominated by the likes of Michelle Malkin and Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Beck and William Jacobson (not to mention nearly everyone at Fox News), who instead of taking the problem of right-wing extremism seriously, dismiss its presence, downplay its influence and spread, and otherwise look the other way while viciously attacking anyone with the nerve to point it out.
Conservatives have instead made a cottage industry out of whitewashing away their extremists, most notably when decrying any efforts by law enforcement to confront the issue, and this latest effort in the wake of the Boston bombing is just the latest chapter.
In the meantime, of course, the tide is rising as the number of extremist groups in America reaches record proportions. And mainstream conservatives are aiding and abetting them — first by pretending that they don’t exist while attacking anyone who points out that they do, and second by silently giving them a warm embrace into the ranks of the Tea Party. It bodes ill for us all.
Ever since the massacres in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, it’s been repeated like some surreal requiem: The reason mass gun violence keeps happening is because the United States is full of places that ban guns.
Second Amendment activists have long floated this theme, and now lawmakers across the nationare using it too. During a recent floor debate in the Colorado Legislature, Republican state Rep. Carole Murray put it this way: “Most of the mass killings that we talk about have been effected in gun-free zones. So when you have a gun-free zone, it’s like saying, ‘Come and get me.’”
The argument claims to explain both the motive behind mass shootings and how they play out. The killers deliberately choose sites where firearms are forbidden, gun-rights advocates say, and because there are no weapons, no “good guy with a gun" will be on hand to stop the crime.
With its overtones of fear and heroism, the argument makes for slick sound bites. But here’s the problem: Both its underlying assumptions are contradicted by data. Not only is there zero evidence to support them, our in-depth investigation of America’s mass shootings indicates they are just plain wrong.
Among the 62 mass shootings over the last 30 years that we studied, not a single case includes evidence that the killer chose to target a place because it banned guns. To the contrary, in many of the cases there was clearly another motive for the choice of location. For example, 20 were workplace shootings, most of which involved perpetrators who felt wronged by employers and colleagues. Last September, when a troubled man working at a sign manufacturer in Minneapolis was told he would be let go, he pulled out a 9mm Glock and killed six people and injured another before putting a bullet in his own head. Similar tragedies unfolded at a beer distributor in Connecticut in 2010 and at a plastics factory in Kentucky in 2008.
Or consider the 12 school shootings we documented, in which all but one of the killers had personal ties to the school they struck. FBI investigators learned from one witness, for example, that the mass shooter in Newtown had long been fixated on Sandy Hook Elementary School, which he’d once attended.
Or take the man who opened fire in suburban Milwaukee last August: Are we to believe that a white supremacist targeted the Sikh temple there not because it was filled with members of a religious minority he despised, but because it was a place that allegedly* banned firearms?
True security in our schools and other designated gun-free places may require more. Forbidding firearms alone clearly won’t keep violence away—not least because of how easily bad guys can get their hands on guns. Nearly 80 percent of the mass shooters we documentedobtained their weapons legally.
Indeed, America is anything but gun free. We now have more than 300 million firearms in private hands. In the last four years, nearly 100 state laws have loosened restrictions on them. To varying degrees, every state except Illinois now allows guns to be carried in public.
All of which raises an obvious question: If more guns in more places is a solution to the bloodshed, then why did we just witness the worst year for mass shootings in recent history?
h/t: Mother Jones
The American Family Association’s Buster Wilson has been warning for the last few weeks that Presidnet Obama is getting ready to confiscate guns en masse. When Obama announced his twenty-three executive actions yesterday, gun groups largely shrugged them off, but not Wilson. In his latest effort to stoke fear, he’s warning that the Obama administration may take guns away from pastors and radio talk show hosts like himself who denounce homosexuality:Wilson: What if the Attorney General, and listen the reason I say this might happen is because if you remember the first report put out by the Director of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, when the President became President of the United States, she put out a paper talking about the people who are the categories of people who might be homegrown terrorists. In that list she put people who believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ, people who believe in pro-life issues, people who don’t believe in having illegal aliens here, they put a lot of good, decent categories of people in that paper. Well here’s what number four says, the Attorney General can put who he wants to on the list of people who are too dangerous to get guns. What if he decides radio talk show hosts who don’t believe in gay marriage, they’re dangerous, so they shouldn’t get guns; what about pastors who preach against abortion and homosexuality, they’re too dangerous get guns; that could happen.
Not only did Wilson clearly distort the plain wording of the executive actions, but he also grossly misrepresented the DHS report on right-wing terrorism.
He said that the DHS report tacked “good, decent” people “who believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ, people who believe in pro-life issues, people who don’t believe in having illegal aliens here.”
The 2009 report [PDF], which concentrates on racist and anti-government militias, only mentions abortion in a single footnote as an example of how violent actions can be driven by a single issue, such as the bombings of clinics or the murder of abortion doctors. The only references to the Second Coming or Christianity are to the racist, anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement – whose members have engaged in violence – and a note about how End Times and doomsday prophesies have in the past radicalized certain individuals or groups.
As for immigration, the DHS only addresses the connection between anti-immigrant militarism and hate crimes against Hispanics, like violent border vigilantes, not political activism on illegal immigration.
The author of the report, Daryl Johnson, is actually an anti-choice, Mormon gun owner and a Republican. His warnings were prescient – right-wing extremists recently committed a massacre in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a shooting at the Holocaust Museum.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
December 11, 2012. On Tuesday, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts killed 2 people and himself with a stolen rifle in Clackamas Town Center, Oregon. His motive is unknown.
September 27, 2012. Five were shot to death by 36-year-old Andrew Engeldinger at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, MN. Three others were wounded. Engeldinger went on a rampage after losing his job, ultimately killing himself.
August 5, 2012. Six Sikh temple members were killed when 40-year-old US Army veteran Wade Michael Page opened fire in a gurdara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Four others were injured, and Page killed himself.
July 20, 2012. During the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO, 24-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58. Holmes was arrested outside the theater.
May 29, 2012. Ian Stawicki opened fire on Cafe Racer Espresso in Seattle, WA, killing 5 and himself after a citywide manhunt.
April 6, 2012. Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, shot 5 black men in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in racially motivated shooting spree. Three died.
April 2, 2012. A former student, 43-year-old One L. Goh killed 7 people at Oikos University, a Korean Christian college in Oakland, CA. The shooting was the sixth-deadliest school massacre in the US and the deadliest attack on a school since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
See our timeline since 1999 HERE.
BREAKING: Sikh Temple shooter Page died of self-inflicted gunshot wound
FBI rep: Evidence indicates after being shot in stomach by officer, Page died of self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head - via broadcast— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) August 8, 2012
On today’s program, Bryan Fischer weighed in on the shooting at a Sikh temple over the weekend where a racist neo-Nazi murdered six people and injured several others. Fischer declared that the shooter was obviously a liberal because he was a Nazi who didn’t like Herman Cain … and everyone knows that the Nazis were liberals just as liberals and Democrats have always been “the party of racism” and responsible for slavery and the Ku Klux Klan:
From the 08.07.2012 edition of AFR’s Focal Point:
Fact: The Sikh Temple shooter (Wade Michael Page) was certainly NOT a “Liberal,” but a far-right neo-Nazi who was in two bands that had racist skinhead overtones.
The man who allegedly murdered six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee yesterday, identified in media reports as Wade Michael Page, was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.
In 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center has found that Page also attempted to purchase goods from the neo-Nazi National Alliance, then America’s most important hate group.
A shooting took place Sunday morning at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and other local media outlets.
According to the Journal-Sentinel, between eight and 20 people have been shot and “Oak Creek police, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies have responded.”
H/T: TPM LiveWire
Leave it to Rep. Trent Franks (R-Az.) to turn this Sikh temple shooting into a pro-life issue.
You think this is because we don’t respect life in this country? You know who else was quote-unquote pro-life? The guy who shot and killed Dr. George Tiller in a church.