There Is Violence Here:
Oh, let's not be children here. Andrew Joseph Stack committed an act of terrorism yesterday in Austin as surely as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to on that Detroit-bound airplane two months ago, as surely as Timothy McVeigh did, as surely as the 9/11 hijackers did. Indeed, one way to view Stack is as a merging of McVeigh and Mohammed Atta.
For, truly, while they may be different in kind, in the specific grievances, are the things that drove Joe Stack to a suicide attack on the IRS different in tone from those that led Abdulmutallab onto his plane? A feeling of disempowerment that only great violence could overcome? A belief that the American way of life was debased? A hope that others will rise up through their sacrifice? Inspiration from groups and belief systems that advocate violence?
Why can we say Stack was driven insane, as if that abrogates the crime, but Mohammed Atta was not? If the Austin police had captured Stack, would they have discovered that he was inspired by websites that provoke retaliation against phantom enemies? Or by the recorded rantings of Glenn Beck, who said back in July 2009, "People don't trust the government, they go out and buy a gun"? (At this point, we need to be careful about Stack, for his beliefs straddle a line between teabagger jihadi and confused Marxist. Truly, you can expect the end of his suicide note to be quoted as a way of aligning him with liberals.)
There is violence here, in America. It is brewing, in many quarters, and it is fanned on by those who have no idea of its consequences and will not participate in its acts. But combine that urging forward with desperation, and it will end in more acts like Joe Stack's. Or Nidal Hasan's. Or Jim Adkisson's. Or Mohammed Atta's. The inarticulate rage of the deluded and despairing, fostered by those who benefit from the violence, is released in a barbaric yelp, an expression of the helpless hate that hate produces.