As many have heard, or in some caseswere forced to learn firsthand while stuck in traffic, a ten minute exchange of gunfire between police and a suspect wearing a bullet-proof vest shut down I-580 for most of Sunday. The shooter was pulled over under suspicion of intoxication, and opened fire before police could even approach.
According to several news sources the shooter, Byron Williams, is a recently released unemployed felon from Tuolumne County who was upset with ‘the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items”. The drive was thankfully caught before reaching whatever destination he planned to rain bullets upon, as enough ammunition was found in the vehicle to ‘kill at least 50 people.”
According to a SFGate article the shotgun, assault rifle, and handgun Byron had in his vehicle are all the licensed property of his mother who kept the guns because she believes “eventually[….]we’re going to be caught up in a revolution.” In addition to the weaponry in his car a white three-ring binder labeled “California” was retrieved from Williams truck. Though the contents of the binder have not be disclosed some sources are saying it contains a list of some kind, and may be of interest to the FBI who have been called in to help determine where Williams was heading before police pulled him over.
In short a down and out parolee from a historically conservative county, upset with the Liberal Agenda™, gathered up enough guns and ammo to blast away fifty innocent people and was only stopped from wreaking havoc due to his poor driving skills and diligent Highway Patrol.
Due to the nature of the crime, a number of people have begun the open-season speculation over motives, with one author speculating over the shooters involvement with the Tea Party movement. The similiarty between this event and others like it is bound to elicit this sort of response – One can’t help but be reminded of the 2008 Unitarian Universalist church shooting, in which Jim Adkisson targeted members of the “liberal movement”, owing to his belief liberals “were ruining the country.”
On fair examination of the facts, however, this claim falls through.. sort of.
Anthrax laden envelope mailed by Bruce Edwards Ivins
It is true that crazed or crazy conservatives do seem to represent a majority of domestic terrorists in the US: Oklahoma City Bombing, the UU church shooting, the Hutaree 9, Holocaust Museum shooting, 2001 Anthrax attacks. All big events that are easily called to mind whenever some lunatic with a grudge against the government ends up in the news, and all committed by conservatives (though not all for specifically conservative reasons).
However these are but a small sample of a vast library of terror and violence, mostly small-scale, that can be found in this country. The computer engineer who flew his private aircraft into the Austin, Texas IRS offices did so while decrying the Bush Administration and government regulations which he felt led to his financial problems. Luke Helder, the “Midwest Pipe Bomber” was a trying to garner media attention in order to promote Astral Projection and other New Age nonsense. In 2008 several Santa Cruz researchers had their houses broken into or firebombed by Animal Rights activists. The Unabomber’s campaign was bult upon a sort of neo-luddite anarchsim and the Earth Liberation Front has admitted to or been associated with several multi-million dollar instances of vandalism and firebombings, hoping to remove the profit incentive behind ecological expansion.
The Symbionese Liberation Army, Weather Underground, Black Liberation Army, Anarchists inciting local riots; all violent groups, all decidedly not conservative. Some are leftist, some purely anti-government, and in Kaczynski’s case, one that is vehemently anti-left yet shares no real traits with political conservatism.
This is part of the difference between conservative domestic terror and its competitors in the market of fear. We can identify a conservative terrorist because they exist as a group type, they share traits, have information networks, have outlets in semi-mainstream press.
Jim David Adkisson opens fire on a church and rants to police about how liberals deserve to die so police search his home and discover the shooter is a fan of Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Titles like “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” and “Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism” give some clues as to their place in the political spectrum.
When Luke Helder plants eighteen pipe-bombs in mailboxes across the country, who were his inspirational figures? What radio program did he turn on for his daily intake of astrological predictions and discussion of astral projection?
When Ted Kaczynski went crazy, he confided in fellow anarchist and luddite John Zerzan, an obscure north-western figure who at one time hosted Anarchy Radio, broadcast from the local college radio.
Scott Roeder had the ear of prominent members of Operation Rescue, the high-profile anti-abortion organization known throughout the country. The media he consumed at home had an nationally known television figure calling his eventual target “Tiller the Baby Killer”
Left-wing, or “liberal” terror exists, that’s a fact.
What does not exist is a liberal version of Right Wing rhetoric. The closest liberal folks have as counter to the conservative trifecta of Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and Michael Savage is Ira Glass, Neal Conan and Click & Clack the Tappet Brothers.
While we don’t know if Byron Williams was a Tea Party sympathizer, and claiming he was is at this point petty political nonsense, we do know that what apparently set him off is typical Tea Party stuff. “Liberals are going forcibly take from those who have and give it to those who have not, they want so badly to kill babies. We need to overthrow this tyranical government. We need to defend the Republic and our liberty against these liberals.”
The closest thing to a liberal stereotype of conservatives is the view that all conservatives believe things like those just written. (They don’t, of course, just the ones at FreeRepublic.com where I pulled those phrases.)
When Sean Hannity jokes about his audience being “Tim McVeigh wannabes” he may see humor, but snyone who sees the undercurrent of violence formed within the beliefs that dominate his genre of political nepotism has a right to worry. Those “wannabes” do exist, and creating an environment they thrive in will and has resulted in increased violence, as yesterday’s shoot-out proves.
[Note to readers: I’ve not discussed instances of terror motivated by Jihad or similar sympathies owing to their non-domestic origin. These acts of violence appear to make up the majority of overall attacks]