by Max Brantley
Somebody commented on the blog the other day that he saw little difference in news value between the shooting of a fast-food restaurant employee in a Little Rock robbery and the white supremacist's killing of a Holocaust Museum guard en route to who knows what else.
Judith Warner in NY Times offers some thoughts on the significance of the museum shooter today.
And though he’s an outlier — disturbed, deranged, disavowed now by many who share his core views — his actions really can’t be viewed in isolation. As was the case with Tiller’s murder, which followed months of escalating harassment and intimidation at abortion clinics, von Brunn’s attack on the Holocaust museum has to be viewed as an extreme manifestation of a moment when racist, anti-Semitic agitation is rapidly percolating. White supremacist groups are vastly expanding. And right-wing TV rhetoric, thoughtless in its cruelty and ratings-hungry demagoguery, is helping feed the paranoia and rage that for some Americans now bubbles just beneath the surface.
Hate group membership had been expanding steadily over the course of the past decade — fueled largely by anti-immigrant sentiment. But after Barack Obama’s election, it spiked. The day after the election, the computer servers of two major white supremacist groups crashed, because their traffic went through the roof, Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks right-wing extremists and hate groups, told me this week.
Paul Krugman makes the same point today, referring again to the conservative-hated Homeland Security internal report that said right-wing extremism is also a danger to our safety. He talks, too, about the incitement of the conservative media. He doesn't blame Fox, Limbaugh, etc. for directly inciting violence.
But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.
And they've only just begun.