The Importance of Un-Ringing the Von Brunn Perceptional Bell

Holocaust Museum shooter, characterized as a right-wing extremist, is hardly that

Ah, yes. To continue where we left off at this time yesterday, news outlets are continuing to characterized Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn as a “right-wing extremist.” The problem, however, is that all of them are wrong.

Ben Smith over at has found out that The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine run by Fox News contributors Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, was the likely target for von Brunn. FBI agents visted the office and asked if officials there had received any threats — apparently, the address for the publication’s offices was found in the vehicle double-parked and abandoned by the 89-year-old madman at the National Holocaust Museum, only about a mile away.

Von Brunn had ranted for years about “neo-cons,” and among those on the left who also rant about “neo-cons”–inside and out of the mainstream press=-The Weekly Standard is widely considered a neoconservative publication. Perhaps von Brunn was headed there, only to find another target. I don’t know.

Point being, von Brunn may have hated Jews, but he also hated conservatives. Von Brunn allied himself with the Nazis, a radical leftist movement. He also bought into the theory that the September 11, 2001 attacks were an inside job, a popular conspiracy theory among those on the left. Apparently, according to Smith’s piece, he also may have believed that Barack Obama was not an American citizen, a theory which, taken independently from all of the anti-semitism and hate, is shared by many who read America’s Right.

The lesson here should be that characterizing people doesn’t work. This past fall, I spent a great deal of time analyzing one of the citizenship-related lawsuits in particular. While I said many times that I could by no means whatsoever attest to the veracity of the claims, I followed the suit nonetheless because I found the constitutional aspects interesting. I followed the suit because I work in the court in which everything was filed and therefore enjoyed better access than anyone else (it was because of that access that I was able to break the story on the suit in the first place). But as the process went along, what I thought was an interesting constitutional question and a justifiable desire to see public officials vetted became a virtual lynching, became for many less driven by the law and more driven by identity politics. Many e-mails I received had nothing to do with the Constitution or the presidency. Many of the comments I rejected from this site had nothing to do with any of the legal questions, regardless of how outlandish or lacking in anything but circumstantial evidence. At one point, it became too much and I tried my best to warn everyone of the dangers of Obama Derangement Syndrome. Soon thereafter, I abandoned the citizenship controversy for good. I don’t think I even mentioned it again until yesterday.

But that’s also where the dangers of characterizing people comes into play. Throughout the e-mails, throughout the comments, never once did I feel as though any of the people sending them were on the verge of snapping or acting out violently. Yes, they were frustrated. Yes, they were at times obscene. Yes, the language they used offended me, someone who doesn’t easily become offended. But at no point whatsoever was there any worry on my part that violence would come from it. I was worried about political difficulties, that the people who had become consumed with perceived unanswered questions would become the right-leaning equivalent of the Code Pink crowd, that chants of “HE’S A USURPER” would replace “BUSH LIED AND PEOPLE DIED,” and that people like myself who spends so much time trying to point out specific policy-based problems with the Obama administration would be met with the same rolled eyes that conservatives displayed toward the Bush-hating left.

Why is this important? Because in the wake of this horrible killing at the National Holocaust Museum, the media and the American political left has rushed to microphones everywhere to blame this on so-called “right-wing extremists.” They’re excited about it, much in the same way that Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi would rush to a microphone to denounce former President Bush’s actions in Iraq after a particularly deadly day for American troops. They see room for a political win in Officer Johns’ death. And, so far, they’re succeeding.

Not once have we seen, until Ben Smith’s article was posted a few hours ago, James von Brunn characterized as anything but a right-wing extremist. And, yes, he shared opinions with those who lean to the right — but just as much, if not more, he shared hatreds and prejudice and ideology of many who reside firmly on the political left.

Ben Smith is absolutely right in writing that “the substance of [von Brunn's] views . . . are too far on the fringe to fit into conventional political classification.” But he has been classified. And for the sake of an American people at the end of a whip held by an administration which thrives on crisis, manufactured or otherwise, it is imperative that we do everything we can to unring this bell.



  1. Anonymous says:

    He was a right wing nut just like the rest of you on this site.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dude the Nazi's were not leftist, they openly fought Communists while they were rising to power. They had Communists in their death camps. they hated the Soviet Union. Unless you are trying to say that Communists are conservative? You can get a real history book at the library for no cost!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I'm just wondering when the crazed lunatic radical Muslim jihadist American traitor terrorist who shot and killed the soldier outside of the reserve office will be treated with the same deserved scrutiny?

  4. elspeth62 says:

    Jeff, you're too kind!

    To Anonymous @ 3:58 pm:

    How can you say that?

    Please find out more about us on this site before you make such statements. Thanks!


  5. Rix says:

    Hating Jews is not a distinctive mark of a right wing extremist. In fact, quite a few Palestinians would be mighty offended if someone called them conservatives. But of course, hating and murdering Jewish settlers is alright with the [anti-]American MSM; it's the Democrat-voting Jews that are sacred.

  6. Anonymous says:

    >>Dude the Nazi's were not leftist, they openly fought Communists while they were rising to power. They had Communists in their death camps. they hated the Soviet Union. Unless you are trying to say that Communists are conservative? You can get a real history book at the library for no cost!

    let me translate this comment for the poster:

    "duhhhhhhh…..if a socialist shoots a socialist, he can't be a socialist because a socialist wouldn't shoot another socialist, ergo you are wrong Jeff"


    Nazism, officially National Socialism[1][2][3][4] (German: Nationalsozialismus), refers to the ideology and practices of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party under Adolf Hitler, and the policies adopted by the dictatorial government of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945.[5][6][7][8]

  7. Ken says:

    @Anonymous 4:09

    Just because the Nazis fought Communists does not mean they cannot be left of center. It is entirely possible for two nations led by similar political philosophies to fight each other. Wars are fought over interests much more than over ideology.

    Logic. Try it sometime.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It doesn't surprise me that the media is reporting false news again. I gave up on them months ago.
    In the last month I have been too busy to post comments although I do try to read some blogs and stay in touch. A young couple from my church just had a beautiful baby girl that was born prematurely. She weighed one pound seven ounces. She was 11 3/4inches long and after one full day of oxygen she began breathing on her own. She is even able to suck her bottle and is gaining weight. When I look at this little miracle God has created, I can't for the life of me understand how some people still support abortion.
    My oldest Son was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer a couple of weeks ago. He has had two surgeries and will be having a radioactive iodine treatment soon. He is only 33 years old, married and has two little boys. My husband died 1 1/2 years ago from cancer so this has been very hard for me and my family. Please keep him in your prayers.
    This shooter had a history of extremism and was full of hatred. I feel sorry for the guard's family. He was a Father, somebody's son, probably had other siblings and his life ended because of a heart that was filled with hate. I am praying for Stephen Tyrone Johns' family. Don't forget his name.


  9. Anonymous says:

    Would the commentor ("Anonymous at 3:58 PM) who stated that "he was a right-wing nut just like the rest of you on this site" provide some background on why, in your humble opinion, the person who shot the guard at he museum was in any way like those who regularly write and comment on America's Right?

    Otherwise, I, and probably all of the others who have great respect for Jeff and his blog site, will rightfully conclude that you are simply another ignorant bigot who is probably a lot closer, mentally, to the shooter than anyone who normally visits here.

    Old Bob

  10. Jackie Smith says:

    Did you all know that this murderer had Bill O'Reilly on his hate list….I believe he was a left-wing extremist if you all are going to label people. I think he was a racist myself and really didn't like anyone!!! Enough with the labels already…call it like it is….he is a MURDERER!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    OLD BOB, Thank-you for your answear. We could be disappointed, frustated, worry for our Country, for our children's future. But, WE DON'T HATE. Somethimes, I feel guilty, thinking about the economical and financial disaster, we are living to our children and grandchildren. How they will judge us, as cowards, helpless or a dose of indifference about what we will leave behind. This are giving me slepless nights as a parent and mother.

  12. Anonymous says:

    So, okay then…Anon says he was a right-wing nut like us, huh? Hmmm…what does that make the guy who shot our soldier in the name of Allah, jihad, terrorism, etc.? Would that make him a left-wing extremist nut, or just a plain ol nut?

    It is correct that this maniac who did it was indeed a leftist-type thinker. He hated conservatives, Anon. Educate yourself before you open that mouth so full of hypocrisy. Too scared to admit the truth, most of you…

    BTW…good one Old Bob…very good…

  13. Anonymous says:


    I coincide with a previous opinion, "you are too kind".

    You raise a viable point in the article concerning the political ideology. And, a lot of respondents missed the "ideology" point.

    World War II had nothing to do with political ideology…it had everything to do with TYRANNY. The action of the shooter at the Holocaust Museum is entirely different.

    If asked, most people would comment on James Earl Ray's (Dr. King's assasin)political affiliation as "right-wing". But, on the contrary, they were affiliated with the same political Party…how odd, people with identical political affiliations killing each other. So, the "Germans fighting the Russians" scenario is of a similar nature. Germany's (Hitler's) political stance just happened to be slightly more motivated…world domination…than Russia's. Yet, like Mr. Ray's, twisted viewpoint, the Russians were people that stood in the way of "progress".

    Political ideology's range. Conservative, contrary to popular belief…instilled by the liberally biased current events coordinators (news media), does not equate to "right-wing" extremist, in every situation. I consider myself a conservative, I am a concealed weapons licensee, I hate no one and believe the only thing that needs to be distributed is my work ethic…nothing else. Does that make me a bigot or a racist. No, it means my fiscal and social beliefs are different than others. But, I don't shout people-down that differ from my opinion, I don't shoot people that see things adversely…so I assume, using logic from a previous 'comment' I must not be a Conservative…using that comment, I could make an argument that I am actually "left-wing" in my political view.

    Mr. Von Brunn's political ideology is extremely "left-wing"…yes, there are 'nuts' in every political affiliation, so be careful how you portray "every person within a group" as equal.

    Thanks Jeff, you do an outstanding job and a tremendous service.

    Keep it coming…

  14. Anonymous says:

    I believe the man was a "Truther" – the wacko far left theorists.

    The Nazis were the Nationalist "Socialist" party. Ergo leftist totalitarian types.

    Lefties should get their flavors straight.

    Then again, hatred is hatred … and we sure do see that coming from all the lefty media idols and the blogs these days. Even after they get what they want they still remain angry – preview of what hell will be like! Oh, forgot … they want COMPLETE control. Then they won't have anyone left to fight but each other. Won't that be sick to watch!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Darwin-loving museum shooter hated Bible, Christians

    James von Brunn, the man who allegedly shot and killed a guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., was a Darwin-lover who hated the Bible and Christians, and defies media efforts to classify him as a stereotypical "right-winger," according to reports based on analysis of his writings.

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