Blaming Conservative Media for Killings, Take Two

First Paul Krugman, now Judith Warner recites left-wing talking points accusing Limbaugh, Beck and Bill O'Reilly of "stoking the flames of violence."

Online columnist Judith Warner's Friday entry, "The Wages of Hate," linked the George Tiller murder and Holocaust Museum murder to talk show hosts Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

Warner's column should not to be confused with the totally different Friday column by Paul Krugman, "The Big Hate," which linked the George Tiller murder and Holocaust Museum murder to talk show hosts Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

Of course, Warner and Krugman cover the exact same ground that was plowed by the left-wing blog sites that both columnists clearly frequent.

It is all too familiar.

A lone gunman takes a life in a hate crime. Law enforcement officials describe him as acting alone.

But he's not alone - not in spirit, at least.

Like Scott Roeder, the man charged in the shooting of the Wichita, Kan., doctor George Tiller nearly two weeks ago, James von Brunn, the white supremacist charged with killing a guard in an attempted shooting rampage at the Holocaust museum in Washington on Wednesday, doesn't have any current, overt links to extremist groups. Yet his violent hatred - of Jews, blacks, the government - echoes throughout the universe of right-wing extremists, who just a few years ago hailed and revered him as a "White Racialist Treasure."


White supremacist groups are vastly expanding. And right-wing TV rhetoric, thoughtless in its cruelty and ratings-hungry demagoguery, is helping feed the paranoia and rage that for some Americans now bubbles just beneath the surface.

Like Krugman, Warner also latched on to a discredited report from the Dept. of Homeland Security and made some leaps to link racist outrage against Obama to the Holocaust Museum shooting.

"Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda," the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported this past April....As was the case with increasing clinic vandalism and verbally violent protest, it was only a matter of time before this racially motivated destruction and intimidation turned to physical violence. And there's one additional, highly disturbing parallel between von Brunn's intended white supremacist shooting rampage and Scott Roeder's "pro-life" killing of George Tiller: In both cases, at least some of the core beliefs of extremists were echoed, albeit in more socially acceptable language, by right wing news commentators.

Using that incredibly strained standard, conservatives could make the argument that Obama encouraged the Holocaust Museum killing by palling around with and refusing to condemn his anti-Semitic former pastor Jeremiah Wright (recently back in the news for saying of the president, "Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me"). Warner concluded by accusing Beck and Limbaugh of "stoking the flames" of violence.

You can't accuse Beck or Limbaugh of inciting violence. But they almost certainly do stoke the flames. They may give people who are just about to go over the edge - the sort of "guy that could not take it anymore" as one poster on the white supremacist forum, described von Brunn - some sort of validation for their rage.