Wednesday, June 10, 2009

White Supremacist Opens Fire at Holocaust Museum in Washington

There are reports streaming in to all the news outlets stating that James W. von Brunn, an 89 year-old white supremacist, walked into Washington's Holocaust Museum and opened fire injuring two. From the Times article I linked to above:

Von Brunn, who claims on his own website to have been a decorated PT-boat captain and lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II, has written a book entitled ‘Kill the Best Gentiles!” According to its preface, its purpose it “to present WHITE YOUTH” with factual information to explain that an “age old CONSPIRACY does exist to destroy Western Civilisation.”

Von Brunn also has a Wikipedia user profile in which he champions the virtues of Western culture and the practice of eugenics. In another article he claims that Holocaust history is destroying Western civilization.


In 1981, von Brunn entered the Federal Reserve in Washington with a shotgun to make a citizens arrest, he later said, to protest about high interest rates. He was sentenced to 11 years in jail.

On his website, he claims he was convicted by a “Negro jury, Jew /Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal.”

While details are still emerging my thoughts once again are turned toward the Department of Homeland Security report that was released a few months ago and outlined the possibility of a rise in right-wing extremist violence. Again, not that all conservatives or people who hold right-wing viewpoints are extremists who want to commit violent acts, but with the election of President Obama we have seen rhetoric that began during the campaign escalate into a very angry opposition. An opposition that is angered by policies and fueled by rhetoric that we must stop Obama at all costs in order to save our Democracy from Fascism.

On a somewhat related note, I was recently criticized in the comments section of a recent post for writing, "to an almost obsessive degree", on an instance of right-wing terrorism (the death of Dr. Tiller) while ignoring "a left-wing political murder". This "left-wing political murder" that this poster referred to was this incident:

Muslim convert charged with fatally shooting an American soldier at a military recruiting center said Tuesday that he doesn't consider the killing a murder because U.S. military action in the Middle East made the killing justified.

"I do feel I'm not guilty," Abdulhakim Muhammad told The Associated Press in a collect call from the Pulaski County jail. "I don't think it was murder, because murder is when a person kills another person without justified reason."

Obviously my lack of posting on that story does not mean that don't find that shooting any less disturbing, it is very disturbing and should also be labeled as domestic terrorism. What I don't accept is the broad labeling of this as a "left-wing" incident. Are there members on the fringe of the left that demonize military recruiters? Yes. Is there a left-wing movement that advocated violence on military recruiters that Muhammad was a part of? No. In fact, much of what we know in this story paints Muhammad as an American who was converted to radical Islam while he spent time in a prison in Yemen. Scott Roeder, however, has a much different background that includes participation with radical right-wing anti-abortion groups and various offenses for damaging abortion clinics.

There are also two other differences. There is no one that I am aware of on the left, who is attempting to justify the murder of the military recruiters. No one is saying that justice was served or that people were saved because of this shooting. Secondly, there was not a presence of cable television hosts who continually targeted these military recruiters as "killers" or suggesting that they ran a "death mill". There was no talk of "stopping" these recruiters and mentioning that anyone who didn't stop them would have blood on their hands.

While both of these scenarios are domestic terrorism, there are notable differences that complicate these scenarios more than putting them in neat little boxes of "right-wing terrorism" and "left-wing terrorism".


trey said...

Chris, I think me labeling the Army recruiter murder as a 'left wing incident' is in keeping with your approving tone at the end of your 'Reactions to Murder of Tiller' post when you state the Dept. of Homeland Sec. also regards as right wing extremists 'individuals that are dedicated to a single issue'. I know its probably wrong of me to ask that the left be held to the same standards as the right but seeing as the Army recruiter killer almost breaks into an anti-war chant in the AP quote you provided, I'm going to assume thats why he did it so he would thus be considered a left wing extremist and thus his murderous act was a left wing incident. I'm not sure what importance the associations of the two separate killers were if they both acted alone. It don't take a group effort to shoot a guy with a gun. Maybe it will turn out the abortionist killer was aided in his murder (or the Army recruiter killer, for that matter)but its just speculation until some evidence turns up and also there hasn't been an abortion doctor killed for some time so you may be hyping this rash of extremism angle a bit. In fact, the only recent group effort in domestic terrorism that has come to light was the black Muslims who were caught trying to bomb a synagogue in New York about a month ago. Call me old fashioned but my hunch is they tend to side with the left in politics.

trey said...

Concerning the two other points you mentioned: 1.) Bill O'Reilly is in the business of providing controversy as entertainment. I'm not a fan of his and it seems you aren't either but I doubt he ever advocated murder. If he did, you might have something. 2.)This is a country of 300,000,000. I'm sure if you look hard enough you can find someone on the left who says the murder of the recruiters was justified. Why am I being asked to explain some random dudes opinion just because he sounds like he might vote for right-wing candidates? I haven't had a chance to hear much talk on the Army recruiter incident but I remember hearing after 9/11 many people on WDBZ, the Buzz of Cincinnati,saying the US deserved it. So am I thus right in assuming everyone on the left hates America.

Chris Johnson said...


I don't ever remember the anti-war movement advocating the murder of military recruiters like Abdulhakim Muhammed did in the AP quote which I provided. You say you are going to "assume" that he committed this crime because his quote sounded "almost like an anti-war chant" and therefore it is a left-wing crime. Come on now. It is reported that he has ties to radical Islamic groups but I have yet to see a report that he was a member or connected to any domestic anti-war organizations that advocated taking this kind of action against military recruiters.

What say that you are not sure of the importance level of the associations of either killer, but the associations give insight into the actions and beliefs held by individuals. Look at Roeder, he is part of a segment of the anti-aboriton movement that has a long history of intimidation, vandalism, and the targeting of doctors who perform these medical procedures. He also has ties to white supremicist groups who, as I am sure you are aware, have a long and complex history that has evolved over time. Associations and active membership to groups that promote this type of behavior is very important and relevant to this discussion. Just because he acted alone and was the only shooter does not make his associations and connection to these movements irrelevant.

In your second post we agree with your first point...that we are both not fans of Bill O'Reilly. Yes, I am sure that controversy results in viewership for O'Reilly, but he is a columnist and a news commentator, offering his opinion and analysis to millions of Americans. Using terminology that Tiller runs a "death mill", "executes babies", and should be stopped (for performing lawful acts mind you) can certainly be viewed as problematic. There are clips in some of my other posts about that as well.

As to the second point of your second post, yes, I am sure that in a country of 300 million people you would be able to find some people who would justify the killing of the military recruiters. My point is that there are no anti-war organizations or well-known "left-wing" groups who have made statements that act to provide some level of justification for the shooting in Alabama like there have been for the Tiller killing. You are not being asked to explain some "random dudes opinion because it sounds like he might vote for right wing candidates" I stated before, his connections to right-wing organizations is important in order to fully put this shooting into context, otherwise, we wouldn't learn anything if we treated this as some isolated case of a guy going nuts.

Your generalization at the end of your second post is silly. You want to know if you can conclude that everyone on the left hates America because after 9/11 you claim to have heard people on the radio saying that America deserved it. What does this have to do with anything? I am not claiming that everyone on the right is violent and wants to shoot up an abortion clinic. Remember in my intial post when I specifically stated that?

trey said...

Chris, here's my logic better laid out. One, if not the, main point of your original post is "what I don't accept is the broad labeling of this as a 'left-wing' incident". Yet you say at the end of your initial post on the abortionist murder in a approving tone 'it may be time to revisit this report (the Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism)' The section of the report you approvingly cite defines right-wing extremism as including not just racist or hate GROUPS. "It may include groups or INDIVIDUALS dedicated to a SINGLE ISSUE, such as opposition to abortion, or immigration." So obviously by applying this definion you approve of to both sides would mean the INDIVIDUAL who cites his fierce opposition to the wars America is currently engaged with in the Middle East as his motivation (anti-Middle East war being as identified with the left in politics as anti-immigration with the right)would mean he would be viewed as a left-wing extremist.