The investigations have barely begun into the two now infamous recent tragedies involving right wing violence. Time will tell, but here is my best bet as to what they’ll ultimately conclude: both Scott Roeder, who killed Dr. George Tiller, and James Von Brunn, who opened fire at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, were acting alone. There were no grand conspiracies, no grassy knolls or magic bullets: just two pathetic losers, each nursing a grudge — or a pile of them — against the world.
Who needs a conspiracy when you have a human time bomb with a short fuse?
Roeder has been busy calling reporters from jail, something that’s no doubt deeply troubling to the victim’s family, though a gold mine for future prosecutors. He apparently boasted to one of these reporters that a veritable army of other right wing fanatics remains out there poised to strike, something that would suggest an ongoing conspiracy. Maybe so, but my guess is it’s just a lot of big talk from a small man.
But to doubt the likelihood that conspiracies were involved in these specific crimes, is not to question the existence of other wrongdoers. They’re out there alright, spewing poison on the sets of Fox News and preaching hate on right wing talk radio: the “intellectual” leaders of the far right may not have conspired with these two specific human time bombs — but they almost certainly helped inspire them to action. And try as they may, there’s no way they’re going to be able to beat that rap in the court of public opinion if the violence continues.
After all of the years these far right entrepreneurs have been buying and selling hatred — anger and bigotry commercialized like so many tons of pork bellies — it’s finally turned around to bite them. As the old standby of science fiction stories goes, they’ve stirred forces beyond their control. And, as a result, the survival of their entire pathetic movement now lies in the balance.
I have to wonder: are they smart enough to see it?
Through their words, they’ve started a thousand time bombs ticking, two of which have just gone off. How many more explosions are still to come? And just how quickly will the American people turn on the keyboard warriors and political hacks who incite them? My guess is the blowback won’t take long — not if there’s more violence.
And then, of course, there is the ultimate nightmare in this story. We have the nation’s first African American president. That by itself would be enough to cause the Von Brunn’s of the nation to hate him. Add to that the long litany of right wing nonsense about Barack Obama being un-American, a terrorist, a secret Muslim, a socialist — and we have the perfect recipe to cause an unstable mind, a time bomb, to explode.
What if one of them were to get through? It would, of course, be one of the greatest tragedies in the country’s history — sending the nation and much of the world into mourning. But it would also be Armageddon for the conservative movement, turning the nation angrily against them for a generation.
Do they even see this? Do they understand how much they have on the line? And will they now finally dial back the hatred — if just a little, if just for a time?
If not for common decency and for the sake of their country, then out of self-interest, will they at long last stop: stop before someone else has to die.