Posted by: The moderator | February 19, 2010

Death and taxes

I’m glad so many people voiced their ideas regarding my previous post, both support, opposition, and indifferent. The idea that this was a case of domestic terrorism has certainly become a major debate today. Michael LaBossiere discusses whether it’s terrorism with an evenhanded view of both sides. Those who oppose the idea that it was terrorism typically see Stack as a crazy man acting alone. Terrorism has never been limited to large, well-organized groups of people who were emotionally stable.  The Oklahoma City Bombing was carried out by Timothy McVeigh and one accomplice, but we called it terrorism in the 1990s. Charles Bishop, an American with al-Qaeda sympathies acted alone when he crashed his plane into a Bank of America office building in 2002. That was terrorism too.

The folks at the much-maligned Fox News have actually pondered the domestic terrorism idea with a great deal of civility and balance (not something I usually say). Fox even referred to the Department of Homeland Security’s recent report on Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. The report warned against “the potential emergence of terrorist groups or ‘lone wolf extremists'” with a variety of grievances toward the government and individuals who support a different stance on economic or social issues.

Stack was a distraught man, but it is clear from his suicide note that he was fueled by hatred and a variety of ideological arguments. Some contend that he is not a “true” conservative. I’m reminded that the term “conservative” is really an adjective, not a noun. You can hold conservative views on a variety of issues while also agreeing with the opposing side on a few issues. The important thing is that the defining argument of Stack’s attack on the IRS building was a severe anti-government, anti-tax message. That same message has been echoing around the country for months, fueled by partisan politicians speaking in front of masses of Tea Party activists. Even the conservative blog Little Green Footballs acknowledges how ridiculously spiteful the rhetoric at these Tea Parties has become. Not all Tea Partiers are like Stack and not all conservatives are about to explode into violence. However, the angry, vitriolic rhetoric that these events produce gives the few already unstable people in this country the courage to commit violence like what we saw yesterday.

Benjamin Franklin said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Joseph Stack wanted to send the political message that he would rather avoid one by hastening the other.

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