Another victim of the non-existent right-wing terrorist threat

Like the killer of George Tiller, the guy who murdered a guard at the Holocaust Museum was a known right-wing whacko with a criminal history.

Another murder committed by just the sort of right-wing nutcase that DHS report said we ought to pay attention to.

Three questions:

1. Would Steven Tyrone Johns still be alive if the FBI and BATFE had done more surveillance and undercover penetration of right-wing extremist groups? Would George Tiller?

A. Hard to say. Both of the killers had prior convictions, and in Tiller’s case had also been identified recently as having committed a federal crime (a violate of the Free Access to Clinics Act). The Holocaust museum shooter had been sending out emails to a list saying things like “It’s time to kill all the Jews.”

Of course any given effort might have missed them, and might miss the next killer. But more effort is probably more likely to succeed than less effort.

It was a federal crime for von Brunn, as a convicted felon, to have a firearm. It would have been illegal fo a licensed gun dealer to sell him a firearm without checking his background. But any private party could lawfully make the sale. Maybe that law needs to change?

2. Should Blue Blogistan kick the crap out of buffoons like Ed Morrissey and Michelle Malkin for claiming that vigilance against right-wing extremism amounted to “smear[ing] half the country” and that the report was a “hit job” and a “sweeping indictment of conservatives”?

A. Why not?

3. Should the Democrats shamelessly exploit this tragedy to make Republicans on Capitol Hill (e.g., Imhofe, Coburn, Vitter, Brownback, DeMint , Burr, and Murkowski pay a price for having called that report “absurd and offensive”?

A. You betcha.

I suggest a resolution: (1) Denouncing domestic terrorism in general and the killings of Tiller and Johns in particular; (2) Commending DHS for being alert to the threat; and (3) asking all federal law enforcement agencies to take the necessary steps to detect and prevent such plots. The wingnuts are free to vote against it.

Update I see Malkin says that “the shooter wasn’t ‘left’ or ‘right,’ just plain loony.” Nice try. Try again.

Does the name Willis Carto ring a bell? Of course he was a loon, but it was a specifically right-wing form of looniness. Yes, the racist/populist/laisser faire “shut down the Federal Reserve” right hates the neocons, but it’s still obviously part of the right. Van Brunn, a Freeper and a Birther, would have felt at home at a Ron Paul rally or a meeting of the Alaska Independence Party. Von Brunn’s hatred of Jews is no longer fashionable since the wingnuts decided to make us honorary whites, but his beliefs that blacks are genetically inferior based on IQ tests and his fear that a decreasingly-white nation is a threat to American civilization wouldn’t be out of place in the National Review.

Does this taint every Republican or every conservative? No more than Bill Ayers taints liberalism. What taints some of them is their disinterest in doing anything about the violent lunatics who inhabit the right fringe.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com