On Wednesday, according to news reports, James W. Von Brunn, a longtime belligerent racist and anti-Semite, walked into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and opened fire, murdering a security guard before he himself was shot and neutralized. Good people everywhere recognize the vicious criminality of his attack, and the particular insidiousness of his motivation to lash out where he did.
In reflecting on this tragedy, it is an appropriate time to contemplate the sanctity of innocent life, the horror that is unleashed by bigotry and intolerance, and the fragility of peaceful human relations. We should all be thankful that such hate-motivated violence is rarer in modern America than it has been in other places and times.
Unfortunately, many commentators have found a political, even partisan, lesson to be learned. They have said this vindicates the Department of Homeland Security document circulated earlier this year that warned against "right-wing extremists." Specifically, they have said that those who criticized the report were wrong all along.
But what were the criticisms? I recall no one arguing that anti-Semitic murderers were not criminals whose acts were horrific and uncivilized. There was no critic of the report, so far as I know, who complained that such antisocial elements as Ku Klux Klan members, Timothy McVeigh wannabes, and bigoted criminals, did not deserve the condemnation that all of civil society heaps upon them.
The problem with the report was that it painted all so-called "right-wing extremists" with an absurdly and obscenely broad brush. It lumped together the above violent agitators with peaceful political activists and recently returning veterans. It warned about people who are anti-government, anti-Federal Reserve, anti-gun control, anti-illegal immigration and anti-abortion.
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