The violent side of extremism

I have this question, how does robbing a bank make a political statement? Republished this morning in the Spokesman-Review, an Associated Press article by one Jeff Barnard who described a criminal act by a father and son in Woodburn, Oregon in a news story titled “Suspects strongly anti-government.” Found on page A6—Northwest section—22 November 2010.

The details were, that the criminal suspects Bruce and Joshua Turnidge expressed utter hatred of the government, wanted to “take power back” from the government, the father in particular fantasized setting up an anti-government militia, and the son wanted to “rob a bank” to keep his bio-diesel business afloat.  The consequences were, that they planted a bomb in a Woodburn, Oregon bank that ultimately killed two police officers and maimed a third.  The incident occurred a month after Obama was elected to the presidency, which would have meant December 2008.  And the rationale for planting that bomb was because the Turnidges “feared” the loss of freedom and their guns.

One more note then before I go on to explore the extremist politics that lies behind this sort of act, the defense attorneys for these two men, one of them argued that if one of the two dead officers state police bomb technician Bill Hakim had not thought the bomb to be a hoax and tried to take it apart it wouldn’t have blown up.  His life, and that of Woodburn police Lt. Tom Tennant were lost as a consequence of the explosion.  Police Chief Scott Russell lost a leg.  Oh, and if these “anti-government” radicals had simply obeyed the law, none of those cops would have died nor would the third one have lost his leg.  At least Mr. Barnard did not refer to both perpetrators as “conservative.”  At least not that I could tell in the republished article.

What was just as repugnant about the two criminal suspects and their willingness to destroy property and take life, was their willingness to see convicted terrorist Timothy McVeigh as a hero for killing men, women and children at the federal building in Oklahoma City back in 1995.  It is what I call truly tragic.  It is also exactly why acts of terrorism (which this was) aren’t specific to religion (Muslim), region (Middle East), or skin color (the Black Panthers among others were also terrorists).  Referring to my prior post regarding the “invasive” pat downs and scanners at various airports that passengers in the age of Obama now protest so much.  What if a father/son terrorist team such as the Turnidges had boarded a plane that any of my readers happened to be on, carrying a bomb.  There were no “invasive” pat downs.  The TSA could not use the “humiliation” causing and “dignity” reducing scanners because of all the political protests about them.  White “Christian” terrorists such as the Turnidges out of hatred of the federal government proceed to make a political statement on board your plane…  And blow you and everyone else to kingdom come.  Yes, if the cops were “faulted” by the defense attorney for “exploding the bomb” that killed them.  The Turnidges could cheer the murderous behavior of Timothy McVeigh.  Then yes, this article should serve as a sobering reminder that terrorism did not come to an abrupt end with the exit from the U.S. Presidency of one George W. Bush.  And because of the Turnidges, it isn’t possible to “profile” them.  Terrorism continues to be a very real danger both on the home front and internationally.

I quite frankly wonder why home grown terrorism doesn’t get more press?  Or serve to sober up the (as they are called these days) the “anti-government” Ayn Randians who exploit their contempt for government only when the Democrats are in charge.  Ayn Randians such as Krauthammer or Charen.  Krauthammer after all (and soon after Kathleen Parker) found yet another reason to fulminate against that “all intrusive government” by way of TSA inspections of people boarding airplanes.  Such intense inspections became to both columnists a violation of civil liberties.  Yeah, Ms Parker in particular is a journalist, is there some kind of problem with her doing some very real research that dangerous radicals aren’t only to be found in the Middle East having  names starting with Ahmed?  On the national political scene, the Turnidges would get little press.  After all, being “anti-government” is generally acceptable politics.  (You could also say of Al Qaeda terrorists and their sympathizers that they are anti-government too.  Anti-our government.  Anti-our friends and allies.)  But what is the difference between merely being against a government that has “too much power” and using it as an excuse to kill people?  I’d have to say, whether we speak of the Turnidges or McVeigh, it is a very thin line.  The choice between being law abiding or a criminal of a most heinous sort.  Quite frankly, I would hope that most “Ayn Randians” are law abiding.  And that, as with the rest of society, only a very small percentage willfully use Ms. Rand’s fictional society as an excuse to truly cause mayhem, death and destruction.  But it does say, quite frankly, that “conservatism” isn’t about the commission of truly terrible crimes.  Nor should such a label justify people such as the Turnidges who commit such crimes.

There is no question that the Turnidges demonstrated a lot of ignorance about how government works in a Democratic society.  Precisely, read carefully the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The final clause involves bringing the redress of grievances before government.  In short, the first amendment already informs government that it may not act unilaterally as it sees fit to merely pass this law or that without some input from the electorate themselves.  Government, in short, is only as big as the people who elect it want it to be.  And if the Turnidges had understood that, would they have been as inclined to plant a bomb in a bank and kill some cops?  How about people who go out and vote GOP on the mistaken notion that their vote “would reduce the size of government?”  There are learned scholars (some of whom have appeared on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) who duly inform the reading public that even the GOP have increased the size of government.  Quite literally, it merely depends on the party and the well-heeled special interest exactly whom government will favor most.  Blowing up a bank and killing some cops won’t change that.

But because of their activities; there is a good chance that both Turnidges ultimately being convicted for aggravated murder; will lose both guns and freedom as a consequence of due process of law.  Something to think about.

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