James von Brunn, Yet Another Guy With a Gun Making the Rules

Sometimes words are more than just words. Especially when those listening have their finger on the trigger of a gun.
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James von Brunn is the most recent addition to the list, in the words of National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre, of "guys with the guns who make the rules."

Before him, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, arrested for shooting two soldiers, killing one, outside an Arkansas military recruitment center. Before him, Eric Roeder, accused of shooting and killing Dr. George Tiller. Who next remains to be seen. But according to those who watch the various bands that comprise the spectrum of violent extremism in the United States, it'll be all too soon.

LaPierre's head-bobbing apologists (see comments below) will always find a way to rationalize his statements -- except for those who view the NRA as a sell-out and favor more 'hard core' groups like Gun Owners of America and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership -- while condemning those who act based on a literal interpretation of his words. As one of von Brunn's fellow white separatists (an important distinction in the hate crowd) told the Washington Post, "The responsible white separatist community condemns this....It makes us look bad."

Yet experts who watch and understand this dark corner of American society warn of the validating role played by those who cater to the fears of their followers with little concern for those who embrace volatile words to justify violent actions. As Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates wrote yesterday following the shooting:

Apocalyptic aggression is fueled by right-wing pundits who demonize scapegoated groups and individuals in our society, implying that it is urgent to stop them from wrecking the nation. Some angry people in their audience already believe conspiracy theories in which the same scapegoats are portrayed as subversive, destructive, or evil. Add in aggressive apocalyptic ideas that suggest time is running out and quick action mandatory and you have a perfect storm of mobilized resentment threatening to rain bigotry and violence across the United States.

What historian Richard Hofstadter famously described as the "paranoid style" in American political rhetoric can quickly move far beyond the conscious intent of those who practice it.

Sometimes words are more than just words. Especially when those listening have their finger on the trigger of a gun.

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