The Lone Gunman– A Continuing Drama

As of this writing we don’t know what spark ignited homicide in the mind of the latest famous shooter. This is happening near the campus of Texas A&M, but when all is sorted out, may have nothing at all to do with the college–may have no connection with anything we consider rational.

These days I am reminded of a book by journalist Jessica Stern called, ‘Terror in the Name of God’.

Jessica Stern interviews men and women willing to kill for a cause, Muslims, Christians and Jews across the globe. One of her interviewees is Bob Lokey, an American antiabortion activist–

“What fraction of the antiabortion movement supports killing abortion providers, what you call defensive action? I ask
“A small core would actually carry it out in my view” he says. “But one hundred percent of the people I talk to believe the things I says about it. I sometimes ask people, ‘Do you believe America needs a civil war?’ and everybody I talk to about that says yes. And I talk to a lot of people. A civil war would be pretty violent. Most people that I know and that I talk to would agree with me on this–it’s just that they’re not as vocal as I am.”

Bob Lokey names as an inspiration Paul Hill, who shot and killed Dr. John Britton, and his security escort, James Barrett, a retired air force lieutenant colonel. What is the motive?

“Individual operatives can have their own reasons for turning to terrorism unrelated to the group’s goals. “Individuals are drawn to terrorism in order to commit terrorist violence.” Jerrold Post argues. They feel “psychologically compelled” to commit violent acts, and the political objectives they espouse are only a rationalization.”

Wade Michael Page committed mass murder of his fellow Americans as they peaceably assembled for worship. It may be that he was a missile that misfired– an angry armed man whose suicide mission failed to inspire the masses. An unstable fellow-traveler whose regrettable action is to be deplored. The racists he hung out with are not canonizing him, more like distancing. S..t happens.

But if you believe that in the social ecology nothing persists that fails to serve some purpose, this from Politico raises some questions…

By TOMER OVADIA | 8/13/12 4:50 PM EDT

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Monday defended gun rights as police investigated a deadly shooting near Texas A&M University, saying firearms issues should be addressed by states and that he doesn’t think “taking guns away from law-abiding citizens” would make the country after.

“When it gets back to this issue of taking guns away from law abiding citizens and somehow know that’s going to make our country safer, it’s just I don’t agree with that,” Perry, who noted he didn’t have all the details of the shootings, said on Fox News while sitting next to Florida Governor Rick Scott.

“I think most people in Texas certainly don’t agree with that, and that is a state-by-state issue, frankly, that should be decided in the states and not again a rush to Washington, D.C., to centralize the decision-making, and them to decide what is in the best interest for the citizens of Florida or for Texas,” Perry continued. “That’s for the people of these states to decide.”

Perry also said people should be able to own guns so that they can defend themselves.

One of the dead was a law enforcement officer on duty, but the Governor is not wasting any breath on regrets.

More fear= more gun sales= more fear= more gun sales. It’s an ill wind blows nobody good.

“But What Do You Do?”– Take Off the Hoods!

I just finished a biography of J.Frank Norris called ‘The Shooting Salvationist’ by David R. Stokes. Norris was America’s first megachurch media star in the 1920’s, but his reputation dimmed somewhat when he succumbed to compassion fatigue. Instead of counseling a troubled soul who came to his office he shot the man dead.

Texas in the 1920’s was Klan Kountry. Like many other politically connected men of ambition; Norris enjoyed a friendly relationship with the fraternal terrorist organization. They shared common enemies– Catholics and saloon owners, and the Klan never bothered anyone who mattered.

So, speaking of people who matter, why in the 21st Century am I ragging on Pat Robertson? He’s so old he’s almost cute, in an evil gnome kind of way.

Well, like the elderly Rupert Murdoch, he sits on top of a media empire. Pat Robertson’s 700 Club broadcasts it’s own version of the news across America and the world. If my informal survey of what’s on TV when I make nurse visits is any indicator, Christian Broadcasting Network has a large following, and they vote. That’s why politicians take Robertson seriously.

For the Left, he’s always good for an outrageous sound byte, like this explanation for the murderous attack on the Sikh Temple…

“What is it?” the TV preacher wondered. “Is it satanic? Is it some spiritual thing, people who are atheists, they hate God, they hate the expression of God? And they are angry with the world, angry with themselves, angry with society and they take it out on innocent people who are worshiping God.”

“And whether it’s a Sikh temple or a Baptist church or a Catholic church or a Muslim mosque, whatever it is, I just abhor this kind of violence, and it’s the the kind of thing that we should do something about,” he added. “But what do you do? Well, you talk about the love of God and hope it has some impact.”

Yes, we abhor this kind of thing…

Whether they burn crosses on your lawn or a pile of leaves it’s untidy and ruins the grass.

Whether they spray a swastika on a synagogue or a tagger’s initials it’s graffiti vandalism, how deplorable.

Whether it’s a terrorist symbol or a gauche fashion statement, a white hood is not something a minister should wear in church.

“But what do you do?” Robertson asks after blurring distinctions and making a false equivalence.

Any gathering, for worship, music or politics, could suffer a mass shooting, especially with guns so cheap and available. But this attack on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin was carried out by a man who was active in hate groups and had his intentions tatooed all over his body. He was a crime waiting to happen.

It doesn’t let you off the hook if you wear you hood backwards and claim you don’t see.

Robertson is giving talking points to an audience of millions. Stuff happens. Atheists are terrible people so all crimes must be the fault of atheists. Or the devil. And what do you do anyway? Talk about the love of God. Don’t call out sin when some of your best friends might take offense. There’s nothing we can do about this poor old world. Let’s move on and unite against our real enemies, the feminists, gays, atheists.

Hey, a revolving enemies list is nothing new. J. Frank Norris got quite chummy with the Catholic Church in his later years when they found a common enemy in the Red Menace (that’s Communism, not the Republican Party.)

Are any of the megavangelists going to come out powerfully against hate, against prejudice, against the hostility to immigrants, to those who are different from the majority. Will Evangelicals confront the sad history of the Klan, enabled by too many Christian Churches? It wasn’t a question mark they burned, after all.

Fortunately, the secular law of the United States does recognize organized crime and will pursue this vicious murder of innocent people in their place of worship– will investigate the collaborators in the crime. Church members, and everyone who wants to exercise the right to peaceably assemble should be grateful that there is something we can do.

Massachusetts, What Have You Elected?

Joe Stack, by his own standard, was a failure…

He slammed his plane into the building – the last, desperate move by a man overwhelmed by personal and business failures, trying to strike out at enemies all around him.
“Nothing changes unless there is a body count,” he wrote.

He planned his blaze of glory for the beginning of the work day, when offices would be full, but he only took one life and left one man badly burned in the hospital. Not enough pain and devastation to set a record.

And pretty sad by Oklahoma City standards…

It is estimated that 646 people were inside the building when the bomb exploded.[83] By the end of the day of the bombing, twenty were confirmed dead, including six children, and over one hundred injured.[84] The toll eventually reached 168 confirmed dead, not including an unmatched leg that could have belonged to a possible, unidentified 169th victim.[2] Most of the deaths resulted from the collapse of the building, rather than the bomb blast.[85] Those killed included 163 who were in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, one person in the Athenian Building, one woman in a parking lot across the street, a man and woman in the Oklahoma Water Resources building, and a rescue worker struck on the head by debris.[86]
The victims ranged in age from three months to seventy-three

In 1995 President Clinton made a statement recognizing the sacrifice of the federal workers. He said, “They served their country, and they served well.”

I told my friend, who is a civil servant, and I saw tears come to her eyes.

So far it seems likely that Joe Stack was an angry, isolated man suffering from suicidal depression. But he did not strike out randomly. He followed a script written by terrorists domestic and foreign and left a manifesto on the internet.

So now is a time for leaders to condemn this attack on Americans– targeted because they are working for our government. This is a test of patriotism. This is a test of character for politicians elected for being ‘anti’ the government they campaigned to be part of. This is a time to remember Vernon Hunter, murdered while he was working for us, murdered by a man who never looked him in the face. It’s a time to think of all the other people injured and terrorized. This is a time for eloquent words that powerfully condemn violent acts and the demagogues and opportunists who encourage and enable them.

This is Senator Scott Brown…

Scott Brown: Well, it’s certainly tragic and I feel for the families and obviously being affected by it. And I don’t know if it’s related, but I can just sense, not only in my election, but since being here in Washington, people are frustrated. They want transparency, they want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things that are affecting their daily lives. So I’m not sure there’s a connection, I certainly hope not. But we need to things better.

Massachusetts, you elected an empty suit. Weak and vague at best, appeasing the more violent wing with a covert endorsement at worst.

This is the Senator who will hold outsize influence in votes that will affect health care, employment and the environment. This is a man who can not even talk straight when a domestic terrorist attacks his fellow Americans. Don’t expect him to stand up for you.

MORE: A 28-year-old Iraq War veteran risked his life to rescue people from the fire.

AND YET MORE: Daily Kos contrasts the timid silence of the right wing commentators with the kinds of things they say when the terrorist is not a white, male Christian.