Friday, March 05, 2010


I actually don't think it's appropriate to define John Patrick Bedell as purely right-wing, which is how the Christian Science Monitor seems to want to define him, as does Think Progress. But he's not left-wing either, even if, as Michele Malkin says, he was a registered Democrat, and even though he was (in Patterico's words) an "anti-Bush nut case and 9/11 truther."

Obviously, as we see from the Texas gubernatorial field, 9/11 trutherism shows up on the right as well as the left. And yeah, Bedell was angry at George W. Bush -- but his economic philosophy was Ludwig von Mises libertarianism, and in one of his pet causes, attempting to expose what he believed was a cover-up in the death of Colonel James Sabow in 1991 (allegedly because Sabow was prepared to accuse the military of drug-smuggling going back to the 1980s), Bedell had an ally of sorts in right-wing GOP congressman Duncan Hunter, who sought an investigation of the case.

It seems to me that a lot of the political violence we're seeing lately is from people who are enraged, and have been for a long time, but who don't quite feel represented by any of the groups who dominate our political debate. Joe Stack was like that. Hell, I'd even throw in neo-Nazi James von Brunn, whom I still regard as a right-winger, but who did have some economic theories that weren't right-wing, and who was put off by philo-Semitism anywhere it appeared on the political spectrum.

My question is, why does it seem that people who've been angry for a long time, as all of these guys were (von Brunn, I think, has been angry longer than I've been alive, and I'm 50), suddenly turning violent now?

I think it's the atmosphere in the country.

Now, you might say it's the endless recession, but I don't think any of these guys had a recent reversal of fortune -- Stack, for instance, seemed to have been struggling through good times as well as bad. I think it's more the tone of the rhetoric out there, especially the radical, hateful, revolutionary rhetoric that's showing up in mainstream media outlets.

Maybe tea party and Bunning-style GOP rage, broadcast through the powerful Fox and talk radio loudspeakers, isn't making teabaggers violent (they think they'll win soon and everything will be hunky-dory), and it isn't making moderates and liberals and lefties violent (to varying extents, we're all still hoping some good comes out of Washington or out of progressive activism pressuring Washington, even if our hopes are fading), but it's making people who are off-the-charts wacko more and more inclined to politicized violence. Maybe people who are already riled up are getting even more riled up by the tone of the rhetoric, but, since they don't feel they have a dog in the fight, they just go even crazier, and seek bloodshed.

It's just a theory, but I wish the most overheated folks out there -- the vast majority of whom I think are on the right -- would ponder it.

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