Joseph Stack burned down his house and then flew his small plane into the local IRS office building, after having left a ‘manifesto‘ which is really an incoherent cry of rage.

I’m hearing things from reliable sources that suggest that what we’re seeing is more the fallout from the collapse of a life – a broken marriage, failed businesses – than a passionate blow by some antigovernment ideologue. I’d carefully watch the news tomorrow on this before taking a position…

…and this ties into David Niewert, who is anxious to tie this into his “big truth” about Angry White People.

Because we have a problem; we are growing muckers, who individually may just decide to go shoot someone, or a cop or four, or people in an airport. Or they may get together with a few others – in a kind of crazy underground cell – and blow up a building.

Or fly their small plane into one.

And some of these muckers are bound by ideology…white nationalist, black nationalist, salafist…and they tend to find each other (the Internet is very good for that).

And so we have a problem in our society – in our world.

It goes back to the roots of what I’ve talked about for some time – my big idea, I guess – about Bad Philosophy. Until we find beliefs that can mend hearts, I fear that we are in for a lot of this…

8 thoughts on “Austin”

  1. I couldn’t understand why Niewert was belaboring this stupid point, until the last paragraph:

    Which is funny, for a network that made a big deal about the Obama administration’s supposed softness on terrorism.

    Okay, so this is meager revenge for the fact that Obama was criticized for his response to the Fort Hood and Christmas Bomber incidents. Unless we insist that Stack was a terrorist and not a psycho who committed murder-suicide out of despair, then we have no business criticizing those hardened terror-fighters in the White House.

    Of course, if Stack was a terrorist, I would have to ask what kind of terrorist, given that his last farewell to this mortal coil was a Marxist slogan. Niewert ignores that, assuming as he does that “domestic” means “right-wing”.

  2. Really Glen, why play this game?

    He was nuts, why does it matter if he’s right, left, or butters his bread downside up? The man was clearly nuts, and acted on that.

    But AL is right: we have a bigger problem. These fanatics (be it right/left/other) are becoming annoyingly frequent as of late. It’s good time to start looking at why…

    Is it rage espoused from/against parties?
    Is it a society which allows people to become estranged?

    It’s likely to be a combination of things (and the answer is not going to be found in any letter). This looks like it’s going to happen more and more frequently, and we better be prepared.

  3. bq. “Is it rage espoused from/against parties?
    Is it a society which allows people to become estranged?”

    Or is it a statistical artefact of large numbers of people, in a media society, and lots of necessary toys that can be turned to destructive purposes. Really, a van, access to gas stations, a bunch of containers, and rag/rope would get you about the same as yon plane. Might even be better. What are you going to do, ban vans and gas stations?

    Now, Terrorists with state, religious, or other organized sponsors can be cut sharply down to size. Ditto organized crime, especially as those 2 categories continue to expand their overlap.

    Individual crack-ups, not so much.

    As we’ve seen with many Muslim “independent” terrorists, and many a Marxist terrorist too, if you preach hate and violence, that does bias the crack-up odds in a dangerous way. You can’t ban their sources of ideas, but once a society gets serious, it can make them much less respectable, diminish the number and prestige of such sources, and make use of the handy signaling factor inherent in such conversions.

    If you’re the IRS, though, you’re not so much immune to all that, as you’ve superseded it with a bigger problem. It’s like being a particularly disliked celebrity, but add direct and personal impact on the life of almost every American adult. So it doesn’t surprise me that in the mucker violence sweepstakes, they play way more tickets (if your life is collapsing, issues with the IRS do correlate), and lose the anti-lottery once in a while.

    Not sure what you do about that. An organizational culture of politeness might not be the worst idea ever, as if one lived in a society where everyone carried a weapon. But the odds will never be zero, and in fact are likely to always be higher than, say, the Department of Agriculture.

  4. Patterico says “Joe Stack was a terrorist.”: “To commit suicidal violence to make a political point. That’s terrorism, folks.”

    Obviously that definition needs some work – terrorists commit murderous violence, with suicide being optional. Buddhist monks who set themselves on fire to make a political point are not terrorists.

    Still, I just think Patterico is wrong. There’s more to terrorism than a “political point”, and almost any act of violence can be given a political rationalization.

    Terrorism seeks to serve a larger eschatological purpose; a movement which lives on whether the terrorist lives or dies. “To Hell with everybody, I’ll show you!” does not qualify. Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist; Charles Whitman was not.

  5. When a guy burns down his own house before running into your building, t’s safe to assume that the main point is personal.

  6. Predictably, a lot of the chattering noise is by people who want to advance their own agenda, which I find more than a little disgusting.

    I’ve already heard the, “This isn’t considered a terrorist attack because white guys are never considered terrorists,” which in addition to being flatly false is also a not-very-sly accusation that everyone is comfortably racist.

    I’ve the smug tea party links, usually slickly deniable: “Well, he wasn’t a teabagger, but, you know, this is what I expect out of them.”

    I’m waiting for the “Obama is soft on terrorism,” line, but I haven’t actually seen it yet. (Unlike the I-have-no-evidence-but-I’ll-use-it-anyway approach with the Tea Party smear above, though, I’ll actually be pleased to be wrong, instead of bitter that the universe has not conformed to my worst expectations.)

    My opinion? It meets the textbook definition of terrorism, probably more by accident than design. So be it. Life is messy, and arguing to get an even better definition of terrorism would probably cost more than treating this as it should, by the Patriot Act, be treated.

  7. marcus, I’m just not across the line with you; I don’t think it’s terrorism, because on a basic level it wasn’t attached to any coherent movement or ideology; it was just an explosion of rage and self-hatred – meaning it meets the classic definition of “mucker.”

    Terrorists have some measure of those things as well…but beyond that they have an attachment to something bigger. That attachment – sane or insane – is the differentiator to me.

    I’ll do a post and expand on this…

  8. A.L., I think there is room for reasonable people to disagree, especially on this case. I’m not really far over the line myself, which is why I say it’s a technicality.

    I’ll wait for your larger post to explain my reasoning.

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