Blogosphere Debates if Bedell is Right or Left Extremist
After John Patrick Bedell was killed this week in a shoot-out with police at the Pentagon, it was revealed that the 36 year old engineering student from California had left behind a ranting anti-government Internet manifesto, and conservative commentators were quick to react defensively, as in the Joe Stack incident in Austin, Texas.
Big Journalism's - the conservative watchdog group - headline ran, “Don’t Believe the MSM: John Patrick Bedell, the Pentagon Shooter, was no Right-Winger,” on Friday evening.
“Media Rush to Blame Right-Wing,” ran another from Townhall.com.
Main stream media had highlighted Internet rants and an audio manifesto in which Bedell had harshly criticized the U.S. government. Many felt certain that Bedell’s complaints about “far-reaching violation of property rights” sounded like a reverberation of CPAC or Libertarian ideology.
Yet that Bedell had registered to vote as a Democrat and believed the W Bush Administration had been behind the 9-11 bombings seem to mark him as coming from the Left, a reasonable argument runs.
The fact is, the extreme right and left both harbor mistrust of Bush and Obama, of centralized power in Washington, of far-flung wars and corporate interest. In the Jeffersonian ideal, right and left fringe unite.
In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning law enforcement officials that “the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn — including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit — could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities.".
The department also issued a report on the threat of leftwing extremists, for the same reasons, but this has gone largely unnoticed.
Left and right , when at the extremes, will meet and overlap. A radical right manifesto written in the early 1990s criticizing George Bush Senior had so much in common with the Left, that a professor and editor said the two might both use it as their manifesto.
Michelangelo Signorile's "Queer Manifesto" had all the earmarks of a Libertarian Ron Paul litany.
The Obama Birthers and Tea Party Populist groups have features linking them with 1960s civil rights era radicals, according to David Brooks of the New York Times. Anyone who has read Nietzsche can apply him to Left and Right causes, and this is the case also with Foucault and Baudrillard.
Erickson was among those who asserted that it is the left that should be forced to answer for the attacks by Bedell and Stack, the software developer who last month crashed his plane into the Austin offices of the Internal Revenue Service, leaving behind a suicide note raging against the IRS and the Obama bailout of the auto industry.
“First the guy in Austin and now the Pentagon shooter,” Erickson tweeted Friday. “Why are leftwing nuts trying to kill more than babies, their usual target?”
Conservatives highlighted Stack’s criticisms of Congress for failing to reform the healthcare system, and his channeling of Marxism.
Yet, Stephen Spruiell of the conservative National Review predicted “There is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that we are T-minus fifteen seconds from Mr. Joseph Andrew Stack being renamed ‘The Tea-Bag Terrorist!’ or some such by the media and his crime being laid at the feet of the Right.”
The moniker didn’t catch on, though some media outlets and liberal commentators did make the link between Stack’s rhetoric and that of the populist conservative tea party movement.
There was a similar effort on the right to demonstrate that James von Brunn, the white supremacist charged with killing a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June, had ideological links to the left and, as such, should not be labeled a “right wing extremist.”
Though his white supremacist views fit under the rubric of right-wing extremism, he also despised Bush and neo-conservatives, while his embrace of both the Truther and Birther conspiracy theories put him far into the fringe that Avlon describes as the “fright wing.”
While Avlon stressed that each strain of extremism has its own characteristics, he said the more endemic problem for the right is that overall, “the fringe has been blurring with the base,” while many Republican politicians and conservative leaders have done little to condemn it.
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