Another attempted terrorist attack to send down the memory hole

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, February 2, 2011 14:13 EDT
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Back online, and stoked about it! I’ve been interested in this story for a couple of days, but haven’t been able to blog about it: a man was arrested in Dearborn, Michigan for attempting to blow up a mosque, and this time there is no wriggling out of the fact that the would-be terrorist is a classic teabagger. Nor is there wriggling out of the fact that Dearborn has long been a town that wingnuts use for propaganda purposes. During the campaign, Sharron Angle claimed Dearborn was ruled by sharia law. In reality, it just has a lot of Muslim residents.

I’ve been too busy to read much these past couple of days, so maybe you can tell me how right wingers are trying to wriggle out of this. Mostly, it seems they don’t have to, since the mainstream media has decided to pretend there is no such thing as domestic terrorism, because every time you actually pay attention to instances of it, the whining and crying and lamentations of victimhood from the people who say the sorts of things that make would-be terrorists feel self-assured is so shrill. I did find Conor Friedersdorf—who I occasionally find cause to respect only to have something like this happen, which makes me lose it all—trotting out what appears to be the standard minimization line. He’s noting that the explosives weren’t that explosive-y—they were fireworks, basically—and that the guy was, sigh, “crazy”.

Both of these excuses are full-blown bullshit. It’s super duper great the guy didn’t have the wherewithal to get better explosives, but the next guy—or the last guy that attempted to attack the MLK Day parade—just has to get in touch with his local militia to get whatever he wants. Or he could skip the explosives and just buy a bunch of powerful guns and open fire on a crowd. To point to the fireworks is to imply there’s controls on what kind of access people in this mindset have to dangerous weapons, that’s just a lie, if only by implication. The “crazy” gambit is bullshit for a couple of reasons. The big one is the “So?” reason. So what if he’s crazy? That just makes it worse—people like Sharron Angle are out there, talking up paranoid fantasies, and they know there are crazy people out there who are going to take them seriously. The fact of “crazy” just means you have more, not less responsibility not to spout paranoid lies.

Also, I’m really concerned that “crazy” is getting defined down rapidly, from potential schizophrenia to a situation where someone who does something terrorism-related will get called “crazy” for pretty much anything, letting the right off the hook for their constant stream of paranoia. The problem with that is that mental illness is like the common cold—almost everyone has a touch of it—so they’ve created a neat little loophole where there is no such thing as a terrorist action, no matter how neatly it ties into paranoid wingnuttery, that will actually “count”. Hey, the guy felt blue after his divorce. That’s a history of depression, so ignore what he actually did and shake your head in rue that there’s nothing that can be done.

I read the article that Conor used to minimize right wing responsibility here, and it does nothing of the sort. While Roger Stockham had a long history of mental health problems, his history of acting out is mostly to completely related to being a patriarchal-minded, entitled wingnutty guy. He’s done it all: kidnapped his own child (which is the outer limit of the “fathers rights” assholery), harassed a woman that was at the VFW with him for having a black boyfriend (there’s probably more to that story, though who knows?), and tried to kill a bunch of people so he could blame it on Muslims. The man had a lifelong obsession with racist beliefs. Yet, he chose to act within a few months of anti-Muslim sentiment—especially by a politician in his area (his previous violence was all in the Nevada/California area) targeting Dearborn specifically—had reached a fever pitch in the run-up to the election. Coincidence? I’m skeptical.

I’m also fully expecting this one to go right down the memory hole.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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