On Wednesday, a gunman with a rifle opened fire on people at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. A security guard was killed and the suspect, 88-year-old James von Brunn, a white supremacist previously sent to prison for trying to kidnap the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, was shot and is now hospitalized. Assuming he recovers, Brunn will be charged with murder. By any decent person’s understanding, the crime was senseless and hateful, ‘hate’ being the apparent prime motive.
A predictable flood of left-wing media has used this crime to claim that Brunn represents a valid and significant threat, that conservative political opinions lead to extremism and hate.
Dan Gainor wrote a pretty comprehensive summary of just how hypocritical the left-leaning media and blogs are being about Brunn.
Some conservative pundits have been claiming that the crime demonstrates that leftist politics are the source of Brunn’s hate, or at least a major reason why he returned to violence.
AJ Strata posted a very intelligent article on Wednesday, noting that this not an ordinary Left-wing or Right-wing supporter, or even a fanatic, but a flat-out evil man whose politics are frankly irrelevant to the matter, except that political dialogue in the U.S. has become even more polarized and hysterical.
It turns out that von Brunn was not merely a white supremacist and anti-Semite, he also despised President Bush and Senator McCain, and considered 9-11 to be a government conspiracy. He is no conservative, and he is no liberal. Anyone claiming such is ignorant, a liar, or worse.
In short, Brunn appears to be both insane and violent, no more a valid example of considered political opinion than Charles Manson or Ted Bundy. James von Brunn is solitary example of corrosive hatred, and while I must agree that there are others out there who hold similar beliefs or who consider murder a reasonable response to conditions or leaders they dislike.
This brings me to the murder of Dr. George Tiller. The man accused of that crime is Scott Roeder, who allegedly justifies the murder of Tiller on Dr. Tiller’s abortion of unborn babies. A similar cacophony of anger has occurred between Left and Right on this incident as well, some on the left claiming that Tiller’s murder demonstrates that abortion opponents do not really value life and do not condemn violence against abortion providers whose actions are legal and, to the mind of the Left, important and necessary. Some on the right claim that the outrage over the death of a man who made a fortune through the deaths of countless innocents proves the hypocrisy of the Left’s claim to compassion. Both extremes insult the majority of Americans, who would not condone killing either babies or doctors, whatever their politics.
I am not about to pretend that Democrats and Republicans have similar opinions on the major issues, let alone the same ones. But neither am I willing to agree to the broad brush condemnation of millions of intelligent, mature individuals, simply because they have a different perspective and want to pursue different policies than I do. Also, in my experience I have seldom found any large group that was a proper fit for me in all respects. I am a republican and a conservative (small 'r', small ‘c’) yes, though that is partly in default to the fact that the democrats have abandoned all of those principles that – before 1964 – would have attracted me. I also know from personal experience that it can be painful to take exception to certain expected positions – I was once cut from a prominent national blog for not agreeing to promote the site owner’s specific positions on every political issue. I have strong opinions, but respect the law and the Constitution, as written. It seems to me that the leadership in our political parties, like the political factions which chase contributions and viewers/readers/voters, seeks only to provoke and outrage, counting on strong negative attacks rather than offering real solutions. And what solutions are proposed, far too often are merely demands and political payback to cronies, cynically couched as leadership or crisis response. Consensus exists in the dictionary, but never in the Congress.
Stephen Johns did not die for a political cause. He died defending innocent people, doing his job. What happened at the Holocaust Memorial Museum should outrage both Republicans and Democrats, because a good and decent man died because of the hatred in an indecent man’s heart. Dr. Tiller’s murder should outrage both Republicans and Democrats alike, not because of Dr. Tiller’s beliefs or actions, but because the law was ignored and a man took it upon himself to kill another man because of the hatred he had against him. William Long did not die because of his political beliefs, or anything that could rationally be construed as a crime or moral offense. He died because another man acted in hatred, hatred against America and hatred against her defenders.
There are real and important differences between differing political parties and there are many political viewpoints and opinions. These differences should be discussed candidly and civilly, using the blessing of a free and functioning democratic republic to decide the nation’s course and actions. But all decent people should all be able to agree that hatred and violence against other citizens is abhorrent, and is not the result of any mainstream political party. These crimes were not born from either Democrat or Republican policies or candidates, and it is petty and false to pretend they were. The spirit which moves a man to murder someone is not concerned with how they voted or who is in office. Even political assassins are often unconcerned with the politics of their victims. John Hinckley shot President Reagan for reasons that made sense only to him, and which had nothing to do with his politics. Lee Harvey Oswald is on record as saying he liked and admired the Kennedies. There simply comes a point where it is necessary to realize that insanity does not operate in ways that rational people can explain, and it serves no one to try to attack the beliefs of tens of millions of people for the actions of one or a few madmen. It insults the victims to do so, as well.