My heart goes out to those innocent people hurt and killed in this afternoon’s shooting at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. I can neither imagine the realization that an armed madman is in your midst, nor can I comprehend the mentality it takes to commit such violent acts.
So far, we’ve learned that the gunman was James Von Brunn, an 89-year-old white supremacist and former World War II PT-boat captain who had a history of denying the Holocaust and overtly showing hatred toward Jews. Von Brunn, by all accounts, acted by himself.
Already, the issue is being politicized. At about 3:30 p.m., Fox News Channel’s Shepard Smith attributed the shooting to the “hate” which has emerged in America following the election of our first black president. There are still people out there who question his citizenship, there are still people out there who believe that he is a Muslim, Smith said, “and this has to stop.”
Smith also mentioned that, because Von Brunn was a PT boat captain in World War II and because he is a white supremacist, and also given the nature of the killing of abortionist George Tiller nearly two weeks ago, the Department of Homeland Security was justified in warning people, through an assessment released only a few months ago, to keep an eye on returning veterans in particular as possible “right-wing extremists.”
First, this shooting has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Barack Obama, with Barack Obama’s race, or Barack Obama’s national origin. Nothing. Yes, I think the citizenship issue has been perverted by the conspiratorial fringe of the American political right. Yes, I think the allegations that Obama is a Muslim are ridiculous. But it doesn’t matter — this was a bitter, hateful, prejudiced old man who allowed his hate to manifest and ruthlessly killed one man and injured others. This man hates Jews. He had a Web site showing his hate for Jews. He hated Jews long before Barack Obama took his place behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office; leave the president out of it.
Second, this by no means validates Janet Napolitano’s boneheaded DHS assessment. Yes, the people included in the assessment can become radicalized by a down economy. Yes, white supremacists by their very nature can be considered more likely to act out violently. But because this man served on a boat 65 years ago and, since then, has shown his hate and prejudice by no means is an indictment of all returning military veterans as possible extremists, just like the killer of abortionist George Tiller should not be an indictment of all people who feel adamantly about the sanctity of unborn life. After all, another group included in the assessment were those who were concerned about the expansion of government — I fit that profile, yet I would never, ever consider acting violently because of it.
Let’s keep the discourse where it belongs — security, the eradication of hate, and prayers needed for the family of the 39-year-old security guard killed in the attack.