By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Close to home

Eighth-graders from Danvers as well as Swampscott were inside the Holocaust Museum in Washington earlier today when a white supremacist pulled out a gun, began shooting and killed a security officer. The Salem News and the Danvers Herald both report that none of the students were injured.

Two years ago, our daughter was on that annual trip and I was a chaperone. I’d been to the museum several years before that to do research for “Little People,” my book on dwarfism. What happened today was a horrifying event.

We’ve now had three terrorist murders in the United States in the past few weeks — abortion doctor George Tiller, assassinated by a prolife extremist; Army recruiter William Long, gunned down by an apparent Muslim convert enraged by U.S. policy; and now this. What is going on?

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20 Comments

  1. lkcape

    The Liberal agenda.

  2. An Astute Observer

    It's all Bush's fault.

  3. lkcape

    Actually, it is Al Gore's fault.He reinvented himself right out of a slam-dunk!

  4. Brad

    What do you mean "What's going on?"Dan, drive about eight blocks southeast of your office at NU and people are getting shot and killed every goddamn week.Pardon my white liberal guilt/outrage, but it's a big pet peeve of mine when suddenly people are shocked (yes, shocked I say!) that WHITE people are being killed…but nobody seems to think much when black people, or hispanic people, or pretty much anyone but white people, are killed all the time."If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." This country hasn't paid ANY attention for thirty years. Is it so surprising that it takes supposedly "extreme" events to make it impossible to ignore?

  5. cavard

    Brad, with all due respect, I'm sure Dan believes violence outside NU is just as important. But IMO, I don't think that's the point of his post. Maybe it's because domestic terrorism (or more loosely, violence motivated by hate) is on the rise. There's been three incidences back-to-back-to-back. Why is there an increase in this kind of violence by U.S. citizens aimed at achieving political ends?

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Brad: What cavard said. Sheesh. I think it's possible to express distress over politically motivated assassinations without having to bow down to the fact that terrible things happen every day.

  7. Peter Porcupine

    Brad – in point of fact, wasn't the guard who was killed black?DK – I would sugget that the word you want is ideological, rather than political. There is no indication that politics was involved; rather, long standing anti-Semitism.

  8. Bill H.

    As for "what is going on here," there is at least one common thread running through the murders of William Long, George Tiller and Stephen Johns. That is that their assailants were all lunatics with easy access to guns.

  9. Steve

    Although I find myself in agreement with PP here, the apocalypse refuses to come!Unlike the assassin of Dr. Tiller, egged on for years by Operation Rescue and Fox News talkers, I wouldn't put this murder at the doorstep of the right.No one on the TV, right or left, is calling for the murder of Jews or Blacks, which seemed to be the motivation of this particular crazy. I wouldn't put neo-Naziism on the political spectrum at all. The fact that this guy was a fellow traveler with right-wing Obama birth certificate conspiracy nuts is just coincidental.

  10. Brad

    I think it's possible to express distress over politically motivated assassinations without having to bow down to the fact that terrible things happen every day.Tell that to the families of people of any color (even white) who've had a loved one murdered by gun violence. I think you'll find they disagree; when it's YOUR friend/parent/child/associate who's been killed…it doesn't really matter too much why they were killed; the pain and anguish tend to be just as strong.I pointed out the racial aspect because…while there's no direct road there, there's a superhighway of indirect connections. Especially in Boston, where as long as 80-90% of the murders keep happening in "black" Roxbury or Dorchester, then the rest of the good white folx don't really seem to mind.And to really twist the knife, I don't have access to a Lexis-Nexis account (and yes, that's a not-so-subtle challenge) but I'll wager that you could find three OTHER murders in the US in the past month that were also for, ultimately, "political" or "ideological" reasons…but for whatever reason the mainstream media never really picked up on them.In other words, the only reason people are asking "What's going on?" is because the news decided to make them ask it.

  11. Bill H.

    Brad, I hear what you are saying but I think that, while all people are created equal, all news stories are not. The three murders perpetrated by haters over the past few weeks garner more attention because they targeted high profile causes (abortion rights) or places (recruiting station and the Holocaust Museum). Every murder, regardless of race affects all of us, but the almost self-congratulatory demeanor of the crazy fringe is truly scary and very newsworthy.

  12. Aaron Read

    I dunno, Bill…I think Brad might be onto something here. I live out in Canandaigua now and we just had a Columbine-style killing at Canandaigua Academy barely a month ago. Fortunately (if you can call it that) the kid only killed himself at the last minute (in the school bathroom with a shotgun…yeeep) but he had the guns and bombs to kill dozens of people if he wanted to. Yesterday another kid at the same school was arrested right before he was about to go on a killing spree in the school as well……whoops, while writing this, word came out that this was more a "cry for help" situation. Apparently the homemade bomb the police confiscated was nowhere near as powerful as originally thought. Okay, that sort-of undercuts my theory.Still, though…how many people outside our region heard about the first Canandaigua Academy killing? I don't remember seeing much on the national front…even though you say "Columbine" and people still flinch, and the anniversary wasn't very long ago, either. It totally could've been played up on a national scale.

  13. Cleary Squared

    @Bill H: […]the almost self-congratulatory demeanor of the crazy fringe is truly scary and very newsworthy.Very true – the crazy fringes of the left right are attempting to see who can make the news quicker and display their ideologies in record time.Their frustration in doing it through normal means failed to garner enough attention; the only way that the public knows about these killings and the agendas/prejudices behind them is through extreme violence. Yet, we're too busy watching tabloid TV and listening to happy pill music to even bother to notice the dark underbelly that pervades just underground.It may very well get worse before it gets better; once one lunatic gets his 15 minutes of fame, there's always that oneupmanship that follows, and increases exponentially so.I agree with Brad…it seems that the amount of publicity in these shootings and the help in solving the crime and getting the perps is inversely proportional to where you live.

  14. bostonmediawatch

    "And to really twist the knife, I don't have access to a Lexis-Nexis account (and yes, that's a not-so-subtle challenge) but I'll wager that you could find three OTHER murders in the US in the past month that were also for, ultimately, "political" or "ideological" reasons…but for whatever reason the mainstream media never really picked up on them."So what?"In other words, the only reason people are asking "What's going on?" is because the news decided to make them ask it."Add your invisible 3 to the 3 that got notoriety, and you have 6. Or substitute them, and you still have 3.Is that less likely to cause people to think there's a trend, or the media to declare one?When atheists start bombing churches, then you'll know it's on.

  15. Brad

    Well I don't quite know about bombing specifically, but Stalin and Pol Pot certainly were atheists and certainly were razing churches by all means fair and foul (usually with churchgoers still inside).Perhaps it's a little unfair to bring historical examples into the debate, but they do have a place…even if it's just to explain why it's so unlikely that atheists would bomb churches in modern times; being compared to Stalin is not exactly flattering.

  16. cavard

    I'm not saying that context or Brad's ideas for stories aren't important. I'm just saying stories have parameters. The line needs to be drawn somewhere. Violence outside Northeastern University was not the point of Dan's post. To push Brad's "at least as important" story into Dan's story would be to suggest that this story should not be taken seriously or considered until these others are. I see the left do this all the time on all kinds of issues, the need to hierarchicalize every discussion or story. That's the impression I'm getting. I came from the "it's not a valid report/story unless you talk about x, y, and z" school. I've learned the hard way that there needs to be boundaries. Does that make sense?

  17. bostonmediawatch

    You think atheists don't bomb churches because they're afraid somebody will compare them to Stalin?That's all that's holding them back?

  18. Brad

    Touche, but I'm talking about the flip side: deeply religious martyrs kill in part because previous martyrs are glorified. The whole "72 virgins" phenomena.Other than some REALLY fringe groups, I don't think anyone out there is glorifying Stalin or Pol Pot; they're pretty universally reviled.Interestingly, I'm no student of history, but I did know that Stalin was known for being an atheist. Until I looked it up, I couldn't remember if Hitler, on the other hand, was an atheist or not. According to Wikipedia, he was raised Roman Catholic and allegedly remained so until his death…but he wasn't really practicing, and it seemed to be more a outreach of his hatred for Judaism (the concept that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus) if anything at all.Now certainly lots of people glorify Hitler. I wonder if they still would as much, or more so, if he had been more publicly identified as an atheist?Oh crap…I just violated Godwin's Law! 🙂

  19. Nial Liszt

    **(Hitler)…was raised Roman Catholic and allegedly remained so until his death…but he wasn't really practicing**Gee, ya think?

  20. Al

    what's lunacy is you hear people on the right claiming that the nazi who gunned down the guard at the Holocaust Museum isn't necessarily part of the right. Considering he was a "freeper" and also involved with the far-right Liberty Lobby, I'd say it's a stretch to say he wasn't right-wing.

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