Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Right wing talk radio and TV motivated Adkisson to "kill Liberals"

Remember James Adkisson? He's the recently laid off 58 year-old man who Walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee one sunny Sunday morning last July with a rifle and started trying to kill as many Untarians as he could before the police killed him. He murdered two before the other members grabbed and subdued him. He has just been (properly) sentenced to life without parole.

The news vaguely mentioned something about his idea as being out to kill Liberals, and the discovery that his house was filled with books by Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and other right-wing hate talkers. It seemed reasonably clear that his was a hate crime, aimed at Liberals and instigated by right wing pundits on radio and TV. But the press never presented more evidence than just rumors of his speech claiming to be after "Liberals and Democrats."

Well, wonder no more. Now that he has been tried and convicted and sentenced, he has posted his pronouncement (a pdf file) explaining very clearly, lucidly and literately, why he did it. It is also presented in very clear hand printing. I assume from the letter itself that he didn't want people who read it to have trouble with his handwriting, and he was given to access to a word processor. He wen to considerable pains to make himself clear.

Here, courtesy of Sara Robinson, are some choice quoted:
"Know this if nothing else: This was a hate crime. I hate the damn left-wing liberals. There is a vast left-wing conspiracy in this country & these liberals are working together to attack every decent & honorable institution in the nation, trying to turn this country into a communist state. Shame on them....

"This was a symbolic killing. Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I know those people were inaccessible to me. I couldn't get to the generals & high ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chickenshit liberals that vote in these traitorous people. Someone had to get the ball rolling. I volunteered. I hope others do the same. It's the only way we can rid America of this cancerous pestilence."

"I thought I'd do something good for this Country Kill Democrats til the cops kill me....Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is to kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather. I'd like to encourage other like minded people to do what I've done. If life aint worth living anymore don't just kill yourself. do something for your Country before you go. Go Kill Liberals."
This is what O'Reilly, Limbaugh and the other representatives on talk radio and Fox News have been demanding their followers to do. Their excuse on radio is that it is just "entertainment." It's clear that Adkinson did not consider it entertainment. How many other right-wing nutcases are out there who are having personal or career problems and see that "entertainment" as guidance on what to do to cure "society?"

Sara also suggest what Liberals and Democrats (as well as minorities and gays) are going to have to learn from this:
Progressives should take three lessons away from Knoxville:

One: We are no longer safe, not even in our own houses of worship. It's ironic that progressives—the subgroup of Americans who were most determined not to abandon reason and succumb to overblown fears of Islamic terrorism in the wake of 9/11—now have good, serious reasons to fear real domestic terrorism against themselves.

Two: A significant part of this country's media infrastructure is thoroughly devoted to inciting people to commit horrific acts of violence against us—and now, we know for a fact that people are acting on those incitements. It's time to start taking this far more seriously. What goes out across our airwaves these days isn't all that different from what went out over Radio Rwanda a decade ago, spurring that country to genocide. At this point, it's only a difference of degree.

Three: The right wing has, as usual, grossly underestimated our courage and our commitment. The members of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist quickly and effectively disarmed and captured this man within seconds after he opened fire. Adkisson expected fear; what we got was determined resistance. It's why he's still alive today, and why more UUs aren't dead by his hand. The TVUUA congregation should be our enduring example of liberal grace under fire.

Adkisson's "manifesto" should end any doubts we ever had about how virulent and dangerous hate talk is, or whether or not that talk will eventually translate into action.
Sara's right. The right wing conservative windbags really are initiating a shooting war in this country. Conservatives and hard line members of their audiences to the right wing propaganda those propagandists are peddling feel aggrieved because fewer and fewer people are buying the failed conservative ideology and so they want to go out and kill someone.

Adkisson is just one, very extreme, example. Now he has told us why. There is no longer any room for doubt. He doesn't appear insane. He has simply been misled.

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