Right-wing terrorists attacking U.S.

August 15, 2012


Can we finally say the thing we have not said so far?

Last week, a white supremacist shot up a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, killing six people and wounding three. It is considered likely that the shooter mistook the Sikhs, whose men wear beards and turbans, for Muslims. The massacre came a few weeks after a characteristically baseless charge by Michele Bachmann and several other conservative legislators that a Muslim aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ties to Islamic extremism.

The juxtaposition of those two events is emphatically not meant to suggest Bachmann somehow “caused” the Wisconsin rampage. No, the point is that we are looking for terror in all the wrong places. Or, perhaps more accurately, that we are not looking for it in all the right places.

In the almost 20 years since the first attack by Muslim extremists on the World Trade Center, the following things have happened: the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City leaves 168 dead and 500 injured; one person is killed, over 100 wounded, in a bombing at the Olympics in Atlanta; seven people are arrested for plotting to attack U.S. military bases; Dr. Barnett Slepian is shot and killed in Amherst, N.Y.; five people die in a shooting spree near Pittsburgh; the FBI arrests a man who tried to buy ingredients for sarin, the deadly nerve gas, from an undercover agent; Dr. George Tiller is shot and killed in Wichita, Kan.; a man and his daughter are killed in their home in Arivaca, Ariz.; a man flies a small plane into a building in Austin, killing himself and one other. And now, this.

These incidents and dozens more comprise a list maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center. What they all have in common is that they spring from motivations (i.e., opposition to taxation, government, immigrants, blacks, gays, abortion and Muslims) that more or less define modern, mainstream, conservatism. So yes, it is time to say the obvious thing no one seems to be saying:

America is under attack by right-wing terrorists.

And here, again, it is necessary to say what the point is not. Namely, it is not that conservatism equals terrorism. These criminals are fanatics, and fanaticism is restricted to no particular ideology. Ironically, that’s an argument to which conservatives often turn deaf ears when it is made on behalf of Muslims, but that doesn’t make it any less true — or applicable here

That said, what’s telling is that we won’t even call this what it is. When the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Weather Underground were committing violence in the 1970s, we were not slow in decrying left-wing terrorism and requiring progressives to disown it. When al-Qaida kills and maims, we are not shy about branding it Islamic terrorism and requiring moderate Muslims to disown it.

For some reason, though, we are reluctant to call right-wing terror by name. And you can forget requiring conservatives to distance themselves from it.

Rather than see a pattern that grows more glaring every day, we see a series of discrete events — this individual tragedy here, that one there, regrettable certainly, but surely not suggestive of any larger picture.

Maybe this is because the perpetrators of these crimes are overwhelmingly white Christian men and thus, invisible in a nation where danger is routinely defined as Them, not Us. Maybe it’s because media have become cowed and self-censoring, reflexively flinching from that which might bring accusations of anti-conservative bias.

Either way, one wonders how we can confront what we won’t even name. These plots hatched in the fetid backwaters of conservative paranoia ought to be called what they are. The blood of victims demands an honest accounting.

We have given them a dishonest silence instead.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on


Flap Doodle 1 year, 8 months ago

The folks on the sinister side of the aisle are trying everything to stave off the preference cascade.


Liberal 1 year, 8 months ago

"The irony is that Mr. Pitts is being attacked for calling for increased personal responsibility, generally thought to be a conservative value."

First of all he is not calling for increased personal responsibility, he is attacking white male Christians. He is calling a crime a terrorist act....who is inflaming this situation? This is pure propaganda designed to make a segment of society look like they are causing these attacks. Why don't we blame hollywood that keeps pumping out violent trash? We would except they donate too much money to democratic causes. But the truth of the matter is that Hollywood is not any more to blame then Judas Priest causing someones suicide.

All but OKC were individual acts and if Mr. Pitts were actually asking for people to have more personal responsibility than he would be attacking the individuals who did the acts.

It is funny that the left will call American nut jobs terrorists but will not call actual terrorists terrorists.

So it goes...


werekoala 1 year, 8 months ago

I doubt anyone will hear me at this point, but you Usual Suspects are exhaustively proving Mr. Pitts' point.

Surely, in your own personal lives, you sometimes have to work things out with another person with whom you very much disagree. And for the sake of your families, I hope you at least occasionally can settle differences without raised voices and hysteria.

No one (who is taken seriously) seriously suggests muzzling public discourse. That is a cure far worse than the disease.

But one's environment definitely influences one's behavior. We all know that a kid who grows up watching his dad beat his mom is much more likely to get in fights himself.

Deranged people will always exist, and there is sadly little a free society can do to restrain people who are "creepy" but have not yet done anything wrong. And most mentally ill people are no threat to anyone but themselves.

That said, we have to realize that inflamed rhetoric has an effect, and while shouting about traitors and sleeper cells and the impending death of America might be box office gold, it does have a real world effect, especially on suggestible minds.

So if we want our society to endure and outlast ourselves, we have to act like goddamn adults. That doesn't mean platitudes and fuzzy feelings, it means civility and an underlying bond between us. I may not approve of my brother's decision, but he is not my enemy, he is still family. In the same way, you and I may disagree on the appropriate top marginal tax rate, but that doesn't mean one of us is Hitler, we are still Americans.

The difficulty is that this is not something that can be solved with new laws or tax cuts. Fringe fanatics will only grow more shrill and get more air time, until we, the people, get sick of their apocalyptic rhetoric and get down to the business of solving our nation's problems.

It takes each of us saying, "hey, talking heads, take it down a notch." We have to demand adult speech from our leaders instead of childish platitudes. The irony is that Mr. Pitts is being attacked for calling for increased personal responsibility, generally thought to be a conservative value.

So it goes...


beatrice 1 year, 8 months ago

Oops, from the headline I just figured this was another story about Romney / Ryan.

Never mind.


75x55 1 year, 8 months ago


Someone stick a fork in Pitts - he's done.


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

Watch "2016" if y'all want to see what the complex, 'utterly' profound yet slightly nuanced Intellectual Flex is up to.


Lateralis 1 year, 8 months ago

Obama is the biggest terrorist of all. He sides with the opposition to carry out the foreign policy he wants without any consideration for what will happen down the road. Arab spring comes to mind. In time we'll be against those nations that made choices for themselves when they don't bend to our will. We'll call them terrorists and resume bombing innocent civilians.

Just who terrorist is works both ways. Our foreign policy kills our soldiers, innocent women and children, and the right of other nations to govern themselves. Terrorists carry out their agenda by force and intimidation.

We didn't like communism so we invaded communist countries. WMD's in Iraq...lets terrorize them. Sanctions and drones in Iran...terrorism. Support to the Syrian rebels which include Al Qaeda...terrorism.

We call them freedom fighters when they serve our purpose and terrorists when they don't.

Obama terrorizes our own citizens. The war on terror is now global and any US citizen can be held w/o charge, representation, presentation of evidence and judicial review.


Flap Doodle 1 year, 8 months ago

We can be glad that most of the terrorists on the sinister side of the aisle in America seem to be as incompetent as Bill Ayers buddies.


Liberty_One 1 year, 8 months ago

Of course the biggest killers of all were leftist-socialists like Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Clearly no group has a better claim to mass murder and terrorism than socialists.


Liberty275 1 year, 8 months ago

Bad timing Leonard.

"(AP) WASHINGTON - A man suspected of shooting and wounding a security guard in the lobby of a Christian lobbying group had been volunteering at a community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people."

Is he a left-wing terrorist or a freedom fighter?


camper 1 year, 8 months ago

We used to say "never again" when studying 20th century history. When I look at the right wing today I say to myself "This can happen again, right here, not overseas".


Fossick 1 year, 8 months ago

"a man flies a small plane into a building in Austin..."

Leaving a suicide note that ends, "The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed." Obviously right-wing terrorism.

Oh, Leonard. Find a way for today's FRC shooting to be the act of a Tea Party leader and we shall all sleep soundly in the throes of progressive bliss.


tange 1 year, 8 months ago

Odd, the assemblage of left and right wings which never is given to flight.


Mike Ford 1 year, 8 months ago

I love american dunces who calle themselves liberals sarcastically. You are oblivious to the fact that when said Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964 that white southern racist males left the Democratic Party in droves and waited for George Wallace and later Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to tie together religion, fascism, and patriotism to create the tea partiers and the current gop in the south still carrying on the states rights mantra of their racist Dixiecrat past leading back to Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, and George Wallace. Fox network must leave out the important parts to defend their nonsense. I grew up in MS and LA in the 1970's. I've seen these people in the flesh.


Liberal 1 year, 8 months ago

Who voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

The original House version Democrats 61% Republican 80% Cloture in the Senate Democrats 66% Republican 82% The Senate version Democrats 69% Republican 82% The Senate version, voted on by the House Democrats 63% Republican 80%

Who voted for the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

Senate: Democrats 73% Republicans 94% House: Democrats 78% Republicans 82%

Hmmmm...see a pattern here? Say didn't a Republican sign the emancipation proclamation?

I am so sick of the lies of the left. Example they say they want low cost housing in Lawrence, but what do they do, they put restrictions on people living under one roof. They obstruct any project that comes forward. They attack your freedom with smoking bans, they want to ban soda. They are the racist elitists that think you should not live in their town by saying they want you but making it impossible for you to afford to live there. They have never seen a tax that they didn't like unless it is a sales tax to pay for infrastructure.

The truth is that it was republicans that moved towards freeing the slaves. It was republicans who overwhelmingly voted for the civil rights and voting acts not the democrats.

They can not run on a record so all they do is lie, attack and lie some more. I can not wait until Ryan get's a hold of them. They as they say in the movies "Can't handle the truth".


Liberal 1 year, 8 months ago

What makes them right wing? Who were the hooded men in the south lynching people certainly was not the right wingers, they were all southern democrats.

Most of these nut jobs do not qualify as a terrorist as they have no political aim, they are not part of an organized body and they are acting as individuals. BTW are not the National Socialists, Socialists?....Maybe the name might give a hint to the answer, they are on the left.


tomatogrower 1 year, 8 months ago

This white supremacist was said to have complained that white men couldn't get promoted in the army. His problem is he didn't have the skills and education to get promoted, and wanted to blame it on others. I mean, he was stupid enough to think Sikhs and Muslims were the same. Maybe if he had gotten off his lazy behind, gotten an education, taken leadership classes, and sought out mental assistance for his other problems, he might have been a captain by now. But no, it's easier to get drunk and blame your lack of success on muslims and blacks. Wimp.


rockchalk1977 1 year, 8 months ago

Talk about extremists, the Obama campaign intended to make a racial appeal to black voters Tuesday, when VP Joe Biden told a Danville, Va., audience Republican policies would put them "back in chains." Biden's campaign speech took place in an historically African-American community where they used to have plantations. We have come to expect this kind of stupidity from Joe Biden, but he was working off a teleprompter. Pretty remarkable when you realize he is only a heart beat away!


Flap Doodle 1 year, 8 months ago

Maybe if the officials over at DHS weren't spending so much time playing grab-#ss, we'd all be safer.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Former DHS Analyst Daryl Johnson on How He Was Silenced for Warning of Far-Right Militants in U.S.

While many were shocked by the massacre at the Sikh temple, our guest, Daryl Johnson, had warned years ago that such an attack was imminent.

While working as a senior analyst in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2009, Johnson authored a report warning about the increasing dangers of violent right-wing extremism in the United States, sparking a political firestorm in the process.

Under pressure from Republican lawmakers and popular talk show hosts, DHS ultimately repudiated Johnson’s paper. Johnson drew his conclusion on his 15 years of experience studying domestic terrorist groups — particularly white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

"Leading up to this report … we received numerous accolades from law enforcement [and] intelligence officials, talking about the great work we were doing in the fight against domestic terrorism," Johnson says.

"And then in lieu of the political backlash, the Department not only decided to stop all of our work, but they also disbanded the unit, reassigned us to other areas within the office, and then made life increasingly difficult for us."

Johnson, now the owner of a private consultancy firm, has authored a new book, "Right Wing Resurgence: How a Domestic Terrorist Threat is Being Ignored."


Mixolydian 1 year, 8 months ago

Interesting that this article comes out the same day a shooter attacks and wounds a man at the conservative Family Reseach Council shouting his anger over their policies.


heygary 1 year, 8 months ago

Pitts is getting entirely too predictable. Time to cut him loose!


Gotland 1 year, 8 months ago

What did Mr. Pitts thinks about the beltway sniper? Islamic terrorist? Left wing terrorist? Black supremacist? Or just a nut.


tennesseerader 1 year, 8 months ago

Wade Page was a Neo-Nazi. The Nazis were national socialists and believed in government run businesses and minimal personal liberty. This sounds pretty leftest to me. I say Wade Page was a Left Wing Terrorist. I would even be willing to bet that he was probably a registered Democrat or Socialist if he voted at all.


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

Complex scientific 'genetic' consensus research needs to be 'initiated' on "Terrorists" to establish 'commonality' among their Genieness.

Tattoos of 'blueish' hues, shape to be determined, on subject's foreheads will alert normals of possible liberal future 'calamities.'

News Flash!!

FBI are investigating "domestic Terror Attack on conservative group in Washingtion DC

(from the source)

Details looming. Will Pitts and Flex comment?


geekin_topekan 1 year, 8 months ago

Another brilliant piece that clearly makes the rightwing uneasy.

The Taliban (Ronnie's investment) stands for no women's rights, dictating who you devote yourself to, anti-freedom FROM religion, zero tolerance for opposing pov's.

We get 3 hour-long preachers on a.m. radio and 24 hours of propagated TV with an enormous coach potato following (no reading involved). Say it loud over and over, just like N. korea, maybe it will come true. Truth requires no such thing-just why Air America failed. no audience because truth speaks for itself.


jayhawklawrence 1 year, 8 months ago

There is too much hate mongering coming from the right wing and too much misinformation. I don't know how they can expect this not to make Americans upset.

That being said, the lock step way that left wing Democrats jump on the anti-gun wagon is very disappointing and I think stupid for a variety of reasons.

Americans are not going to let a government they do not trust come and take their guns away because some mad man went berserk somewhere.


meggers 1 year, 8 months ago

The Texas shooter was a Tea Party kind of guy:

'And so the year ended, but not before he had liked both Bristol and Sarah Palin, pistol-makers Beretta, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party Patriots, and a group battling for repeal of Obamacare. (He later shifted his presidential allegiance to Michelle Bachmann; coincidentally, the cop he killed shared that last name.'


Agnostick 1 year, 8 months ago

Out of the examples that Pitts references, only two of them would I consider authentic terrorist-style incidents: The Olympic Park bombing by Eric Robert Rudolph, and the assassination of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder. Both had help and assistance from people who believed in their cause.

Rudolph received lots of praise, and possibly food, clothing, and shelter while he was on the run throughout Appalachia.

Scott Roeder was similarly praised for his act, and assisted by a known anti-abortion terrorist, Cheryl Sullenger. Sullenger's phone number was found on the dashboard of the car Roeder was driving immediately before and after the shooting.


notajayhawk 1 year, 8 months ago

"Can we finally say the thing we have not said so far?"

You mean that being white, conservative, and/or Christian is akin to being Hitler/Khadaffi/Satan?

Have you ever written a column where you HAVEN'T said that, Lenny?


Gotland 1 year, 8 months ago

Ironically the left is only political group actually enacting racist laws. This is a shameless tactic of the left. Accuse you political opponents of doing exactly what you are doing and do it first and very loudly.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 8 months ago

And some of them are running for office. Some have been elected in Kansas. Nuff said.


Getaroom 1 year, 8 months ago

Wonderful article Pitts, just look at what a flurry it stirred up!! It even aroused Liberty_One to write an astute and intellectual critique of what he thinks you really said, without really saying anything specific! And even better - it was branded propaganda.

Great going Mr. Pitts, you were spot on once again!

When Conservatism joins together with Extremism what do you find - Terrorism perhaps? Looking for terrorists in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood within the Whitehouse, where there are none is at a minimum paranoid and Michele Bachmann fits that to a T! But better to look right into the face of home grown terror, in the form of skin heads in the military. Well, at least they are hiding in plain sight and being trained as professional killers by our own military, where we can keep an eye on them - right? "You betcha", home grown angst right here in America. The hypocrisy is ripe for the picking.
Thanks Leonard, for all the cannon fodder!


Gotland 1 year, 8 months ago

Pitt’s takes great glee in incidents like this. That is the evil in carnet. The farthest right is anarchy. Racism and nativism is separate from the political spectrum. Those that believe in more government control are just as capable of racism. But never miss an opportunity to demonize those who simply want smaller government.


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

I see what "hedshrinker" and "obsevant" are posting about.

'Looky' what this "right wing nutcase" site is trying to 'pretend' happened.

Pitts and Flex need to 'do' more to save New America. Flex should send lil' Joe Biden to Virginia...or is it North Carolina... and lay some 'bidenisms' on the "Right-wing "put you in chains" or something.


Claude_Hopper 1 year, 8 months ago

I think Pitts for sure jumped the shark with this one.


Liberty_One 1 year, 8 months ago

This is a masterpiece of propaganda-style writing by Pitts. Notice how non-specific he is about who exactly is to blame; who this "them" is. He mentions Bachmann at the beginning but immediately denies any accusations against her causing anything, but yet he puts the word "caused" in scare quotes as if he means to wink at the reader and imply that he thinks she really did cause something.

He never quotes anything anyone says and gives only the Bachmann example, but he makes lots of accusations and broad generalizations. He also leaves a lot for the reader to put together in his own head. This is the true genius of the article. By use of suggestion and only hinting at what he wants the reader to think, he craftily guides the reader towards conclusions without coming out directly and saying them. This is highly effective because for the unwary reader it is likely that they feel they came to those conclusions on their own rather than that they were subtly put there by Pitts.

Pitts even is aware enough to catch himself before he makes it too obvious what he's doing by trying to retract the implied statements he's been making: "it is necessary to say what the point is is not that conservatism equals terrorism." This is precisely the point of the piece, however. Here he is nodding at the reader, telling us that he can't come out and directly say what he wants to say, but we are meant to understand this line is just to cover himself.

This is truly a genius piece of propaganda and it should be studied by students so that they can learn the techniques used here and thus be wary of this in their own lives.


observant 1 year, 8 months ago

Going to be interesting day here. Every right wing nutcase will be posting here defending their rights to be a right wing terrorist, after all their "god" told them so. After all their god is their preacher, Fox News and the druggie.


msezdsit 1 year, 8 months ago

"America is under attack by right-wing terrorists."

While these radical right wing murderers are just that, the somewhat lesser versions are the right wing radicals that are ever so slowly taking over our state government and have literally shut down congress by terrorizing people with their rhetoric and threats. Bachman is a good example and the notion that we could just fly over and shoot immigrants like a wild pig shoot is a local example. They are a coup d'état that is vying to take over our country with their guns safely concealed away just incase they need to use them on you. It will swing back and we will take our country back but it is just a matter of how much damage these radical right wing extremest cause before their carnage is stopped.


hedshrinker 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, we've managed to hear fr the usual libertarian and right wing commentators; on the other hand, I think Pitts called it like it is; the nature of most terrorism whether it comes from right, left or other political persuasions is that the actual acts of violence are typically carried out by unhinged, isolated people who have been inspired by the outrageous rhetoric of leaders who then can claim free speech and plausible deniability. Our dilemma is how to create a civil discourse which stops demonizing the Other and creates a safer world which allows for expression of different opinions but focuses on collaboration and community rather than scorched earth/ ethnic cleansing style solutions. Certainly a tall task if the nasty disparaging tone of many commentators on this board is any example, where writers like Pitts routinely are excoriated for supposedly divisive views.


jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

It seems to me that there are often indications that these folks are likely to become dangerous, and somehow we don't do anything about it until it's too late.

One recent shooter was described after the fact as a "ticking time bomb" by his stepfather.

The movie theater guy had been seen by a psychologist at his school and she was so concerned she notified the school's "threat assessment" organization, or something like that.

If I remember right, there were similar indications about the Virginia Tech shooter.

Why aren't we doing more to prevent these sorts of tragedies, given that there's information available like that?


Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 8 months ago

Hey Leonard, how about doing a story on Black on Black violence in Chicago. How about the tie ins to the New Black Panther Party?


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 8 months ago

It's a good thing Erik Holder is 'arming' Mexican Bandits "fast and furiously" to 'combat' the "Right-Wing Terrorists"

“The legal definition of terrorism is two or more acts of violence intended to change the policy of the government by scaring the population or by scaring the government,”

The shooter, Wade Michael Page, appears to have been “a disgruntled nut job who hated Muslims, didn’t know the difference between Sikhs and Muslims, and thought by killing the Sikhs, he was somehow going to eliminate the Muslim population. It was an absurd way of thinking, but not domestic terrorism.”


On the other hand, the Ft. Hood shooter who killed members of the military in the place where they work while condemning the behavior of the government would constitute an act of domestic terrorism, although the government has not described it as such. Asked why this would be the case, the Judge explained that “there is a political ramification to calling something terrorism. It scares people; we look at it more closely.”

(from the source) 'appears' Pitts' and Genies like him, is trying to "scares people."

So who is the "Terrorists" Pitts? Is it 'you' and your pals?


Flap Doodle 1 year, 8 months ago

Does anyone recall if das lennypitts spoke out when Minister King Samir Shabazz was telling his followers to kill some cracker babies?


jaywalker 1 year, 8 months ago

"Maybe it’s because media have become cowed and self-censoring, reflexively flinching from that which might bring accusations of anti-conservative bias."

That's a rib tickler there, that is.

"Either way, one wonders how we can confront what we won’t even name."

Like Jimmy the Saint said, give it a name. Can't see that making it any easier to "confront." You're talking about a bunch of anonymous acts of violence by a bunch of whackado's. Unless their profile includes membership in a known hate-group or they've exhibited extreme mental problems that have already involved the police, these people aren't going to be on anyone's radar. Even if they have been on someone's radar, it would seem nearly impossible to keep tabs on them unless there's a proven imminent threat. Horrible situation for sure, but giving it a "name" ain't changin' jack.


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