It shows how warped the Cheney-Bush administration's "war on terrorism" has been when the press tippy-toe about around calling an overt terrorist attack by a violent rightwing radical "terrorism". But the Knoxville shooting on Sunday was an act of terrorism. Hayes Hickman and Don Jacobs report on his political predilections in Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity on accused shooter's reading list Knoxnews.com 07/28/08.
The man arrested for the terrorist attack on a Unitarian church, Jim David Adkisson, left a 4-page manifesto in his car. Hickman and Jacobs report:
Adkisson targeted the church, Still wrote in the document obtained by WBIR-TV, Channel 10, "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets." ...
Inside the house, officers found "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly.
The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday's mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of "the liberal movement," and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.
Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his "hatred of the liberal movement," Owen said. "Liberals in general, as well as gays." ...
The church has a "gays welcome" sign and regularly runs announcements in the News Sentinel about meetings of the Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays meetings at the church. (my emphasis)
There are definite ethical and legal problems with blaming the hate-mongers for this action, instead of the guy who pulled the trigger. And given the situation, it seems pretty clear that Adkisson was the shooter. I don't want to see terrorist killers get off from any legal consequences by being able to argue in court, "I read a book by Bill O'Reilly and it drove me crazy and I couldn't help myself."
But let's not kid ourselves about the way OxyContin-style hate-mongering helps create the poisonous atmosphere in which people convince themselves it's okay to do something like this. It was that fine specimen of white Christian manhood, Newt Gingrich, who as the leader of the House Republicans conducted himself in the manner described by Joe Conason in Big Lies (2003):
A central theme of his propaganda lexicon was the "breakdown in public manners and morals" he blamed on liberalism. He recommended that when Republicans discussed themselves and their party's values, they should use words such as moral, crusade, and family. When they talked about Democrats, he urged them to emphasize terms like decay, sick, liberal, permissive attitude, antifamily, and bizarre.
As he drove the Republicans toward their takeover of Congress, the portly firebrand plugged his movement's morality with evangelistic fervor. "You have absolutely, in the abstract, a cultural civil war going on," he told US News & World Report in 1992. "A nihilistic hedonism and secular belief pattern is by definition involved in a religious war with a spiritual system." ...
Gingrich kept a safe distance from his friends' dirtiest tricks, but he didn't hesitate to launch broad smears of the Democrats. Just days before the 1994 election that made him House Speaker, he spoke up about the drowning of her two children by a young South Carolina woman named Susan Smith. "I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things," he said. "The only way you get change is to vote Republican. That's the message for the last three days." In other words, liberal Democrats were somehow responsible for the Smith children's terrible death.
Conason goes on to explain that Smith was actually the stepdaughter of a Republican stockbroker, a member of the South Carolina Republican Party's Executive Committee, who had begun having sex with Smith when she was 15, continuing up until the week before her killing her children. But Gingrich was happy to blame "the liberals" and our alleged cultural decadence for that crime. Will he blame O'Reilly, Michael Savage and Sean Hannity for the murders in that Knoxville church this past Sunday? Of course he won't.
But there were real victims to this terrorist hate crime:
Adkisson is accused of killing two people and injuring seven others. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Greg McKendry, 60. Also killed in the shooting was Linda Kraeger, 61, who was visiting the church from Westside Unitarian Universalist Church.
Injured were Joe Barnhart, 76, and Jack Barnhart, 69, who are brothers; Betty Barnhart, 71; Linda Chavez, 41; John Worth Jr., 68; Tammy Sommers, 38; and Allison Lee, 42. Jack and Joe Barnhart are brothers, and Jack and Betty Barnhart are married.