Here’s a no-brainer for you: Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell was anti-government. We know this because A) he attacked the government B) he left rambling writings on the Internet stating his hatred for the government (hence the attack) and C) he didn’t shoot-up a coffee bar (despite the help that would have provided anti-open carry lobbyists). Here’s another incontrovertible fact: Bedell was not well. Put all of these together and you have an obvious connection between Bedell and the Tea Party movement and the Republican party. Apparently so. “Under increased scrutiny for the rampant anti-government rhetoric of the Tea Party movement, along with its often violent imagery and open talk of insurrection, right-wingers seemed anxious, even frantic, to hold up the Pentagon killer as proof that they weren’t responsible for — or connected with — every political act of vigilante violence that makes headlines these days,” Media Matters‘ Eric Boelert writes (and links with gay abandon). “But as more details emerge about the incident, the far-right bloggers may wish they hadn’t shone a spotlight on the disturbing Pentagon story. If anything, as we learn more about the anti-government rantings and writings of Bedell, this madman attack looks an awful lot like a string of other “lone wolf” attacks, such as the recent kamikaze pilot who flew his plane into an IRS office in Austin.” In other words, American citizens can’t be anti-government without encouraging, indeed, advocating and practicing violence. IGW.
They’re attacks that appear to be fueled by an almost pathological hatred for the U.S. government — the same open hatred that right-wing bloggers, AM talk radio hosts, Fox News’ lineup of anti-government prophets, and Tea Party leaders have been frantically fueling for the last year; pushing radical propaganda and warning of America’s permanent, democratic demise under President Obama.
As I noted last year when the first red flags were raised about the specter of anti-government violence, what the GOP Noise Machine is doing today is embracing, and mainstreaming, the same kind of hate rhetoric and doomsday conspiratorial talk that flourished on the far-right fringes during the ’90s. (Think Waco and black helicopters.) And legitimizing that kind of talk is dangerous.
I get it. Anti-government sentiment is the hatred that dare not speak its name. The irony of that position is pretty spectacular. By asserting that the “mainstreaming” of “alarmist” antipathy towards Washington “might also be goading some crazies into action,” Boelert is mainstreaming anti-alarmist antipathy, risking goading some crazies into action. You know; in theory.
Or is it OK to talk about the anti-government sentiment sweeping America as long as you don’t legitimize it? Then again, which media outlet came even close to “legitimizing” the attack? Never mind. Boelert says the right wing is trying to characterize Bedell’s mission as a left wing plot, which highlights the fact that it’s a right wing plot.
Sorry, right-wingers, but you fostered this toxic environment. You’re the ones who rally around Rush Limbaugh when he calls the president of the United States a Nazi. You’re the ones who cheer when Glenn Beck compares our commander in chief to a dangerous, Hitler-like tyrant who wants to “take your gun away one way or another.”
. . . . You cultivated this poisonous, arm-yourself-against-the-government hysteria — and now you own it. You have to deal with increasingly predictable, and at times deadly consequences.
The obvious point of Beolert’s diatribe: de-legitimize (there’s that word again) opposition to Big Government by connecting it to horrific violence / domestic terrorism. The only problem with that strategy: Beolert has to repeat the philosophical basis of the unconscionable attack. I guess he’s hoping that Americans are too stupid to separate good politics from bad people. For example, Boelert quotes the following Bedell post to prove how the California native—and by extension anyone who shares his beliefs—are homicidal maniacs.
When the government can control how private property is used, and especially when the government controls the monetary system that is use to exchange private property, the government has the mechanisms and the motivation to control individuals to the smallest detail.
When governments are able to confiscate the resources of their citizens to fund schemes that need only be justified by lies and deception enormous disasters can result.
The imperative to defend the freedom of conscience must lead us to eliminate the role of the government in education and leave parents and communities free to raise their children as they see fit.
Who’s doing more to perpetuate the idea that Bedell was a “freedom fighter”: the right wing media or the left? Boelert is not alert to that possibility. As he approaches the end of his polemic, prevaricate he must. Such is the way of intellectuals who use supposition and innuendo as their main rhetorical weapons. But Boelert’s blindness to the Tea Party movement’s pro-American stance creates the ultimate irony: his final point does more to help the conservatives that his liberal friends.
For the record, I’m not suggesting that Bedell was a dedicated Glenn Beck fan, or that Rush Limbaugh made him do it. I think the specifics of this case are too muddled for those kinds of conclusions. But the idea that panicked right-wing bloggers can turn Bedell into a tree-hugging Greenpeace activist is ludicrous. The allegation doesn’t withstand scrutiny, simply because dangerous, anti-government rhetoric is not part of today’s liberal dialogue.
It is however, a proud cornerstone of the conservative one.