06 August 2012

'Domestic Terrorism' in Wisconsin

Investigators on the scene at the Sikh temple where a gunman murdered six people and wounded more before the cops killed him knew what they had long before they told us. Based on what we've begun to learn about the shooter, the cops probably tagged him on sight as a "skinhead." That may be why they were so quick to designate yesterday's amoklauf an act of "domestic terrorism." It may also have been the choice of target; I suspect any attack on a house of worship would get that label. Shortly after the shooter's name was released, the Southern Poverty Law Center pounced with circumstantial evidence that the man was a white supremacist. As a bandleader, he gave an interview to a "white supremacist" website, recorded for a "white supremacist" label and made purchases from a "white supremacist" source. The interview cited contains no explicit white supremacist sentiments, however, and I haven't dug deep enough to discover whether the man himself declared hateful or violent feelings toward non-whites or Sikhs especially. A cautionary note is in order only to remind people that while it may turn out that the ex-soldier was a virulent hater, it doesn't yet follow that hate motivated his rampage. This isn't even necessarily the time to go into the usual (though still correct) rant against guns, since this person reportedly did his bloody work with a single handgun. What we have here is another sick and quite probably stupid person -- we're all waiting for the shoe to drop that signals that, like many idiots in September 2001, this guy mistook turbaned, bearded Sikhs for Muslims. Already, from what I can tell, conservatives are decrying a rush to judgment that would label the killer a "right winger," but there's always a rush to judgment in cases like these because so many of our political and religious factions are desperate to ensure that maniacs like the Wisconsin shooter aren't labelled one of them. The fact is, he is one of us -- he was a human being and an American. That means a little more introspection is in order for everyone whenever something like this happens.

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