Posted by: The moderator | February 18, 2010

Conservative terrorism?

I never thought I’d see this day. A man flew off in a plane from Georgetown Municipal Airport in Texas and crashed it into an IRS building in Austin. He left a suicide note on his website, railing against the government. It’s pretty clear this guy didn’t want to pay his taxes. Of course, this happened after he set his home on fire with his family inside.

My alma mater is in Georgetown, a sleepy little community on the outskirts of Austin. They’re pretty old-fashioned in Georgetown, but it tends to be a very happy place for families and retirees. Both Georgetown and neighboring Round Rock tend to be fairly conservative, with the Tea Party activists gaining many supporters. That’s in contrast to the heavily Democratic city of Austin, known for being the “weird” blue spot in the middle of a red state. The pilot, Joseph Andrew Stack, lived in north Austin, the half-way point between these two cultures.

The details of this plane crash are still unfolding so it’s a little too early to make definitive judgments about the pilot, but we do know from law enforcement and the FAA that this was an intentional act. I strongly feel this has some connection to the recent anti-tax, anti-government movement that has been blazing through our country. Some of the perspectives about taxation are justified as our deficit continues to balloon out of control for the eighth straight year, but most of the uproar by the Tea Party activists has been ridiculous. Republican politicians and pundits have only fanned the flames of a growing hatred of government, taxes, Obama, and those “damned liberals.” It is that hatred that might lead an already unstable person to fly a plane into a building.

Have we seen an instance of conservative or libertarian terrorism? Remember that before 9/11, the worst modern instance of terrorism this nation had seen was the Oklahoma City Bombing, conducted by an American, Timothy McVeigh. In the past few years, we’ve forgotten that our own people can become terrorists, fueled by hatred that doesn’t have to stem from a religious perspective. We’ve been so busy fighting terror abroad and singling out Muslims that we forgot to worry about our own people.

Building hatred among your own people for political reasons, such as things as insignificant as tax rates, only leads people to perform atrocities like this. I have no say in the matter, but I hope both Republicans and Democrats look at this incident and realize that their extreme rhetoric causes real damage.

Update 5:30pm: Stack lived in north Austin, not San Marcos as was reported earlier



  1. I’ve never known such a vehement hatred against a president of either party. Its a disgrace after a fair democratic election.

    Despite a terrible distrust of Bush, democrats took a deep breath and realised that the country has spoken and needs to be run.

    The Tea Party movement hints as an intrinsic racism embedded within the US at worst, and a entrenched hatred of socialism at best. Hatred has no place in governance, and the republican party would do well to distance themselves from this group immediately.

    If this act is as you say, and it does appear to be, then it is without doubt an evil act.

    One that both parties should be ashamed of, because of their lack of ability to talk without using such disgraceful flamable language. These people are supposed to be responsible elected representatives.

    Hi-jacking governance through constant fillibustering and rallying against a president before he was even in office, is more like treason than democracy.

    If it helps change the rhetoric then maybe this terrible act has had some worth, but whatever the worth, it will not be worth the cost of even one innocent life.

    Over taxes for God’s sake!

  2. Did you read this guy’s final written words? This guy is elaborating on deep-seated mainstream frustrations with life in this country. Yes, Congress works for the interests of rich people. The healthcare system sucks. Elections are a joke. This country is not as free as people are programmed to believe. Don’t tell me those are exclusively conservative views.

    I’ve been reading comments on the CNN report you link to. I think a lot of those people who write him off as a baby who couldn’t cope with life understand on some level that his and their frustrations are one in the same. They’re too afraid to admit this so they bash this guy for having the courage to take it to the next level. Think what you want to think about him. To do something like this requires courage. Not cowardice. Remember how the 9/11 highjackers were mocked as cowards? Let’s see YOU see your death coming closer and closer and having multiple opportunities to turn around and yet still follow things through to the end. History is made by people of courage. Not sissies who like to walk arm-in-arm singing “We Shall Overcome”.

    This country is so brainwashed with pacifist nonsense, it makes you wonder whether the Revolutionary War would have been fought if the colonists thought things like “violence never solves any problems. It just makes them worse.”

    This guy is just a blip on the radar screen. An outlier. While the vast majority share his views, he had what it took to take it to the next level. I doubt 99% (including me) would have the nerve to throw any future away for what we believed to be right.

    Wake up America. Start addressing these problems or people like Joseph Andrew Stack will end up being the central tendency and not outliers. Wanna live in a wartorn country? Didn’t think so.

  3. OMG & LOL – tell me you’re kidding! You must get all of your news from CNN if you think tea partiers are terrorists. They are simply regular folks who want the government to stop spending the PEOPLE’S money like drunken sailors for special interests. Have you taken a look at where the bailout money – your money- has gone? BTW -tax rates are hardly insignificant. Low tax rates can power the economy, while high tax rates kill economic expansion and burden families. This crash is about one man who apparently has had it with the IRS – was probably being harrassed by the IRS, as so many are, while he sits and watches a White House full of tax cheaters and evaders who get away with it because they’re high-ranking Dems. Frustrating maybe? Not everyone handles their stress as well as they should. But, to put this on the tea party movement is absurd!

    • I wonder if you were as outraged when Bush was in office and created 99% of the problems Obama is dealing with.

      • Equally outraged. But, Obama is creating many more problems, and yes anger, by trying to force a socialist agenda on this country that clearly the majority of the country does not want. But, that’s beside the point. It’s absurd to take one disturbed man’s “vengence” (have you read his manifesto? He’s had problems for years) and blame it on a movement. It’s poor thinking. We have a long tradition in this country of questioning gov’t. It’s what has kept us free. And up until the Obama administration, journalists led the charge. However, most journalists are now abdicating that role and labeling anyone who doesn’t buy what the gov’t is selling as unpatriotic. That’s what’s really fanning the flames…

  4. Thanks for posting; just visited Georgetown and hadn’t heard this on conventional news.

  5. What Sue said! I found out about this incident via twitter and the tweet said, “lets see how long its takes to blame this on the tea party.” And guess f’ing what? You just did it. Pathetic post – how did I even end up on this ‘blog’?

  6. your full of it! This guys suicide note shows his political views are all over the place!

  7. US Federal criminal code. 18 U.S.C. §2331 defines terrorism as:

    …activities that involve violent… or life-threatening acts… that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State and… appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping….”

    this is a clear cut act of terrorism, though whether or not it as categorically treated as such in the news media and wider public discourse will likely be an issue marred by the politics of mistrust, xenophobia and partisanship. What should we learn? You hit it right on the head: keep fanning the flames and sooner or later the blaze will grow out of control.

    • Sounds like U.S. foreign policy to me 😉

  8. if lowly animals tend to get more aggressive when pinned in a corner, how much more a man trapped in desperation provided by the same organization you invested your trust on.

    we may see this people acting crazy, out of their mind but if we put ourselves in their shoes, see the color of the world in their perspective, gaze their family in their eyes maybe we’d do the same…

    if you really look at it, the freedom provided in the americas is but an illusion. yes, you are free to do whatever you want, for as long as, i would emphasize the “condition”, these things are within the parameters the administration approves.
    the best illustration i could enlighten you would be like a dog in the yard. the dog can do whatever it is he wants, run around, dig holes, eat, not eat;jump, bark.. all these things he can do. but he cant go out of the yard… a huge fence is makes sure he doesnt. limited freedom.

  9. The irony of all this is that American pay so little to the IRS, it’s a joke. He whines and whines in that poorly written diatribe about all the trouble he has, but if he had to pay all his life what Germans do in income taxes, mandatory pension dues, healthcare fees, unemployment insurance fees, a 19% sales tax, gasoline at 8 bucks a gallon, he’d probably have exploded ages ago.

    Either that or he’d have grown up and faced life like a man.

    • Living life as a slave to a system of control is hardly living life like a man.

      • It’s all about attitude. You can blame others for your problems, say the IRS or the government or some imaginary system of control is ruining your life, or you can change your life for the better by accepting that nobody is to blame for the mess you’re in but yourself.

        Or did Americans forget that there’s such a thing as free will? Aren’t you supposed to be the most free society on Earth?

  10. This guy a Conservative Terrorist?…..What a stretch!…..he wanted government healthcare……….He had a big time problem paying taxes…hated God and The Church….and the #1 reason he wasn’t a Conservative: The dude moved to Austin!

    • Actually, he only said the healthcare system was broken, not in need of the government he despised. He railed against the organization of the Catholic Church, not God in particular.

    • And living in Austin doesnt make you a liberal!

  11. Wow, what a way to protest. I don’t think its fair to call this “conservatism”. I don’t see how you make the connection? Looks to me like your using this awful tragic incident as a political ploy for a liberal agenda.

    It is not right that the government can get away with their huge bailouts and spending sprees at taxpayers expense. I say enough! Were are we getting the money to pay for the healthcare bill? The answer… They are going to rape us for every penny we own unless we put up a fight!


    Im sorry about this tragic incident and sorry for the mans poor family.

    “A man without direction is the most dangerous of them all”- Ayne Rand

    • I love that in the US you assume money means freedom. It really doesn’t.
      Freedom is not reliant on how much money you have. Freedom is something far more intangible.

      No-one has freedom when only one person owns almost all of the media outlets.
      No-one has freedom when the richest person in the room has the loudest say.

      The rest of the world pays taxes and according the the World Health Authority report in 2007 (they produce one every 5 years) most other western world nations with a nationalised healthcare plan have a better system and pay less money for the priviledge that the US.

      Try the excel spreadsheet, to see the actual data. Check out how the US compares to the UK. God knows how much Fox News in particular have enjoyed bashing the NHS. Go Check out the figures yourself instead of listening to right wing diatribe and speculation.

  12. Nice post. Glad it was featured; it’s great to find a moderate blog. I like that your post both started and ended intelligently…it didn’t disintegrate into a big pile of vitriol. Well done.

  13. Terrible post. It’s unfair of you to use this incident as a way to propel your liberal viewpoint. Not to mention, pretty judgemental. Apparently, us tea party people are not the ones brainwashed. What news media do you follow? Most of the news media has become Obama’s lapdog.

    • I favor neither liberals nor conservatives. Take a look at my previous posts to see how I skewer both parties (and the media) when they go overboard. The only axe I have to grind is with people who jump to the political extremes and fuel hatred of public figures in order to spread their message.

  14. […] act of apparent frustration, vengeance and insanity.  But, what amazed me the most was reading a blog post that tried to blame the Tea Party movement for “fanning the flames” of a growing hatred […]

    • Thank you for the well-reasoned response. I agree with you that the government throws money away on the worst things and that an overgrown entitlement system like the ones in several European countries would cripple the United States. I also agree that the mainstream media has fawned over Obama, although they have started being more critical recently as the honeymoon ended and his poll numbers sunk.

      What I don’t buy is that the Tea Parties are a mainstream grassroots revolution. They may have started small in Seattle, but today’s Tea Parties are funded and advertised by the political establishment, primarily Republicans. The daily mailings I get from local candidates for the upcoming Republican primaries in Texas treat the Tea Parties as a marketing slogan, printing “Tea Party Approved” on all their campaign literature. You link to Michelle Malkin as if she’s a more independent and reliable source than the biased mainstream media, but Malkin is an ultra partisan political insider and very invested in the success of this movement she helped to engineer.

      Furthermore, the original goals of the Tea Parties (keeping taxes at a reasonably low level) have taken a back seat to partisan attacks on the character of public figures, distortions of the terms “fascist” and “socialist,” and an uncivil mass of people with a variety of grievances against the government that are not entirely tax-related. As more and more politicians stand in front of the Tea Party crowds and attempt to add their own two cents (often paid to do so like Sarah Palin), the movement has gotten more and more uncivil. It isn’t just about the taxes anymore. It’s devolved into hatred of the government in general and Obama in particular.

  15. What an excellent piece. I really do think people need to cut down the rhetoric, policy disagreements are fine but outright lies, built on selling fear are dangerous to any democracy.

    There are always extremists in any group, but playing to their fears can only bring danger to everyone. Obama is no “Marxist”, unless you are rich taxes have not increased, the Senate Health care reform does not propose a death panel, there are no bogeymen on every street wanting to kill all Americans.

    Innocent people died today, in some ways that includes the pilot. Please people, cut down on the rhetoric and debate the points honestly.

    Well done for getting showcased.

  16. Don’t forget about abortion clinic bombings (and there was a murder in a church in Kansas in 2009 of a doctor who performed abortions), which I’d also consider conservative terrorism.

  17. Basically your post says this:

    If everyone stops saying mean things and using mean words, we will all be nice and things will not be bad. But — the Tea Party people are saying mean things, so they are bad people and things are bad.

    Grow up.

    The world is a little more complex than that. There are nut-jobs in every movement and sometimes they’re hard to spot. That doesn’t mean you scale back the rhetoric for the 99.8% of us who are sane.

  18. Truly this man could not see all that he had in relation to the rest of the world. Despite a messed up government and tax system, we’ve still managed to do it better than the majority of the world. He would have run a plane into the tax headquarters of most other countries long before he did in this country.

  19. A typical conservative approach is to oppose current government efforts through legislative blocks.

    Anyone who kills his family and himself is mentally ill.

  20. An excellent presentation of the events of the day and of highlighting some of the problems with which we Americans are dealing. “Building hatred among your own people for political reasons, such as things as insignificant as tax rates, only leads people to perform atrocities like this. I have no say in the matter, but I hope both Republicans and Democrats look at this incident and realize that their extreme rhetoric causes real damage.” We need to look across the aisles & have productive discussions and open minds in ways to guide our country. Anger, lies & fear are counterproductive. What has happened to compromise and collegiality?

  21. […] a criminal act rather than a terrorist attack. However, some have contended that this is a case ofconservative terrorism. While this incident is a terrible one, it does raise the issue of what counts as […]

  22. Wonderful post, I like your impressive blog, found you on FP.

    Please visit my interesting training blog.

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