There is, of course, no excuse for hatred. It’s the elemental root of evil in our world. Some have long argued that hate has a role in focusing a fight, whether it be toe to toe or a war. But those who’ve fought and shed blood know all too well that hatred usually becomes a burden and usurps the true reason for the fight in the first place. (Assuming the reason isn’t hatred in the first place.) As said in the Dhammapada:
Victory gives rise to hate,
those defeated lie in pain,
happily rest the Peaceful
Hatred loves generalities. Saying something like “liberals are evil” or similar is a generality that thrives on hatred. And, it’s an amazingly popular sentiment amongst many conservatives. One they see no problem with apparently. The eliminationist movement is alive and well in their world.
Thus, a lot of conservative bloggers are making excuses for the nutjob who shot and killed two people and wounded seven in a liberal minded Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. It’s all the same approach, a variation on “the attacker was attacking a Christian church, not a gay or liberal establishment.” Sister Toldjah, who is too biased and obviously deceitful to post my comments to his post, goes for the “liberals kill people too” approach. Professor Glenn goes for the “he attacked Christians approach” and Instaputz hands him his head. (Instaputz has more here.) And, cause I like to save the worst for last: The ever incorrect Bob Owens, who’s site motto is: “Because liberalism is a persistent vegetative state” also goes the parsing route:
While many in the political blogosphere will no doubt focus on the fact that Adkisson said he hated liberals and gays, the fact of the matter is that the didn’t target a gay club or local progressive political groups, he specifically targeted a church. He did so after expressing beliefs to neighbors in the past that he had an abiding anger against Christianity, an anger that appears rooted in his childhood. The church appears to have been targeted because it embodied at least three things this pathetic human being hated, not just the one or two things I know certain critics will single out as they view the world through their own warped prisms. (emphasis added)
So, let’s see what the local police have to say through their “warped prism”:
And, we know from local news that the church in question was indeed a “liberal church” with a sign outside that says “gays welcome”:
Owen said Adkisson specifically targeted the church for its beliefs, rather than a particular member of the congregation.
“It appears that church had received some publicity regarding its liberal stance,” the chief said. The church has a “gays welcome” sign and regularly runs announcements in the News Sentinel about meetings of the Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays meetings at the church.
Owen said Adkisson’s stated hatred of the liberal movement was not necessarily connected to any hostility toward Christianity or religion per say, but rather the political advocacy of the church.
The church’s Web site states that it has worked for “desegregation, racial harmony, fair wages, women’s rights and gay rights” since the 1950s. Current ministries involve emergency aid for the needy, school tutoring and support for the homeless, as well as a cafe that provides a gathering place for gay and lesbian high-schoolers. (emphasis addded)
Note that sentence directly above in bold. Ah. So, Sister Toldjah and Gleen Reynolds and Bob Owens and are wrong. At least they’re consistent.
But wait, it gets worse. Apparently, the murderer was a fan of a number of right wing extremists such as Michael Savage, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity:
Adkisson targeted the church, Still wrote in the document obtained by WBIR-TV, Channel 10, “because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country’s hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets.”
Adkisson told Still that “he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office.”
Adkisson told officers he left the house unlocked for them because “he expected to be killed during the assault.”
Inside the house, officers found “Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder” by radio talk show host Michael Savage, “Let Freedom Ring” by talk show host Sean Hannity, and “The O’Reilly Factor,” by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly.
The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday’s mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of “the liberal movement,” and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.
Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his “hatred of the liberal movement,” Owen said. “Liberals in general, as well as gays.”
Dave Neiwert has the definitive post on this issue, he explains it all with much more intelligence and historical perspective than I:
Right-wingers love to “joke” about mowing down, rounding up, and otherwise “wiping out” all things liberal. It’s become a standard feature of conservative-movement rhetoric. And whenever anyone calls them on it, they have a standard response: “Aw, c’mon — it’s just a joke!”
In reality, of course, rhetoric like this has historically played a critical role in some of the ugliest episodes in American history, as well as thousands of little acts of xenophobic brutality: functionally speaking, it gives violent — and frequently unstable — actors permission to act on these impulses. People like this always believe they’re standing up for what “real Americans” think — and the jokes tell them that this is so.
This was a violent attack on liberals. It was inspired by years of wingnuts talking about how much they hate liberals and wish they could do something about them. This man did. But watch the people who have been telling these “jokes” run away from any culpability for it.