Progressives around the country can breathe a little easier today: James Adkisson has been sentenced to life behind bars for the deaths of Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger, the Unitarian Universalist martyrs who died during his assault on their church in Knoxville, TN last July.
Many of us intuited at the time that Adkisson's rampage was exactly the kind of rancid fruit that would inevitably take root in an American countryside thickly composted with two decades of hate radio bullshit, freshly turned and watered with growing middle-class frustration over the failing economy. That suspicion that was verified in the days that followed, when police searched Adkisson's apartment and found it filled with books and newsletters penned by Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and other right-wing hate talkers.
But Monday, Adkisson told us himself -- in his own words -- just how central right-wing eliminationism was in driving him to his shooting spree. Shortly after he was sentenced Monday, he released a four-page handwritten "manifesto" -- which he'd intended to be his suicide note -- to the Knoxville News (the full .pdf can be downloaded here). In it, he unleashes the full measure of his hatred for liberals -- and encourages other would-be right-wing warriors to take up arms and follow him into battle.
Some choice excerpts:
"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.
Among Adkisson's ranting was a clear statement: "This was an act of political protest." Which means that it was, by definition and his own admission, an act of domestic terrorism.
Our radio hate talkers incited a man to commit an act of terrorism. Just sit a minute and take that in. And the next time you hear them foaming on about how liberals are "soft on terrorism," reflect on the fact that they'd better hope to hell we don't get any more serious about it -- because if we do, their asses are going to be the first ones in the dockets.
“Go kill liberals…” See, there’s the thing. Since this terrible incident involves domestic terrorism by someone who obviously subscribed to some very conservative thinking (i.e., all liberals are evil and should be killed), then no one wants to admit that’s terrorism. That would be admitting several things at once. One thing they would have to admit is that many people on the fringes of the conservative point of view are absolutely insane and view killing as a very reasonable response to liberals. Another is that some terrorists intent on doing bodily harm to citizens of the United States of America come from America! They are not scary Arabs or Latinos. They are, in many cases, white Anglo-Saxon Christians. Or at least they believe they are Christians. I am not sure the Jesus I envision would endorse this concept. They are also people who firmly believe that they are true “patriots”, whatever that means these days. Finally, people would have to admit that many people and organizations in our mainstream media are complicit in this terrible tragedy. Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc. etc. all had a hand in opening Pandora’s Box. It’s going to be a bitch to get it closed again.
Therefore, no one is really going to ever call this what it really was, which is domestic terrorism, even though this “Shooter’s Manifesto” flat out admits that is what drove this guy to do what he did. He hated liberals and thinks we should all die. But there will not be a story or article in the “serious” media about this. It’s just something that cannot be talked about. It must be dismissed. Ignored. This is the same blind eye that lets people pretend that blowing up family planning clinics or shooting doctors who perform legal abortions is either somehow heroic and patriotic or some outlaying nutcase that doesn’t merit any more than a couple of seconds of consideration. Ditto for the right wing “militias” who are armed to the teeth, waiting for a target to become available. No one, ever, is going to admit that this is going on, that terrorism can come in the form of right wing conservative insanity.
Just contemplate, for a moment, the reaction of the media if this shooter had been a liberal and had gone into some Baptist church in Oklahoma or Alabama, killed several of the worshippers present and left behind a “manifesto” that decried the evil of conservatives and a belief that conservatives should be killed?
How long before someone takes a real shot at President Obama? All that hatred and vitriol has to find release somewhere. And all this not even three months into Obama’s presidency. What might this all look like in about a year from now? Can these lunatics get even more wound up than they are now?