The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Don’t associate extreme actions with mainstream ideologies

    I’m tired of political commentators, advocates and pundits blaming conservatives or liberals for extremist acts of violence. Someone who flies his airplane into a building with an IRS office is not representative of the majority of right-wing people or Tea Partiers. The logic’s pretty straightforward, but some chattering chumps can’t seem to get it.
    The New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich wrote on Feb. 27 that Sarah Palin, Ron Paul and Glenn Beck “have a consistent ideology, and that ideology plays to the lock-and-load nutcases out there, not just to the peaceable (if riled up) populist conservatives also attracted to Tea Partyism.”
    In his piece, he goes on to imply that Glenn Beck’s wacky political views and emotionally-charged diatribes and the Tea Party are partially responsible for extremist right-wing violence, like Andrew Joseph Stack III’s Feb. 18 murder-suicide in which Stack flew his plane into a building in Austin, Texas, that housed an IRS office, killing one employee.
    Politico reports that right-wing commentators and bloggers are trying to counter certain accusations in the media that John Patrick Bedell, who was killed in a shoot-out with police officers at the Pentagon March 4, was influenced by the right. Most of the conservative’s frustration seems to be the result of a Christian Science Monitor report which labeled Bedell a “right-wing extremist” even though he was a registered Democrat.
    That fact prompted a well-known conservative blogger, Erick Erickson of RedState.com, to post a rather accusatory statement on Twitter: “First the guy in Austin and now the Pentagon shooter. Why are leftwing nuts trying to kill more than babies, their usual target?”
    So, liberal columnist Frank Rich and conservative blogger Erick Erickson are both, in effect, blaming the other side for this year’s cases of extremist violence. Both should stop. It’s illogical and only adds fuel to the fire.
    Rich says that since Tea Partiers hate the government, it is their types who perform terrorist acts. That is illogical, because someone hating the government doesn’t mean he or she is violent, causes violence or condones violence.
    Otherwise, The Reflector columnist David Breland is partially to blame for these recent acts of terror. In a Jan. 15 op-ed piece, Breland cursed the U.S. Congress and accused lawmakers short of theft, arguing that they gorge on their own power and fail to pass substantial laws. He even warned that if lawmakers pushed enough, “eventually some people out there will get close enough to the edge and they’ll push back.”
    Oh, no! Breland is not the nice co-worker and friend I thought he was. He condones terrorism, because surely his “push back” comment refers to political extremists like Stack and Bedell. Who knows? Maybe one of those two men were travelling through Starkville one day, picked up The Reflector an MSU student threw on the ground, read Breland’s piece and was inspired to kill.
    This twisted logic, a result of na’ve ideology, is nothing new. Last year, Keith Olbermann, the liberal MSNBC pundit and Edward R. Murrow wannabe, blamed the assassination of George Tiller, the notorious partial-birth abortion doctor, on Fox News. Of course, it was Bill O’Reilly and the evil right-wingers’ strong stance against abortion that influenced anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder to kill Tiller.
    The truth is, any political statement a commentator makes could influence certain people to go so far as murder, but those people are crazy anyway. There is nothing anyone can do about it. All we should be doing is denouncing extremism, not scoring political points off of tragedies.
    Matt Watson is a graduate student majoring in Spanish. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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    Don’t associate extreme actions with mainstream ideologies