It’s hardly been 24 hours since James Von Brunn allegedly walked into the Holocaust Museum and shot museum guard Stephen Johns. But already conservatives from Rush Limbaugh to Red State have started advancing their latest up-is-down meme: Von Brunn — a white supremacist consumed by hatred of Jews and blacks, who has called for President Obama to release his birth certificate — isn’t really a right-winger — in fact, he’s a lefty.
Let’s count off the examples:Yesterday, a guest from the “Ayn Rand Institute” argued to Fox News’s Glenn Beck that because Von Brunn is a racist, he must of course be “a phenomenon of the left.” In response, Beck accepted that logic, and wondered: “How did it happen that you look at people that are Nazis and you say that those are right wing? It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever!”
Yes, it’s totally baffling.
Not to be outdone, Rush Limbaugh too declared Von Brunn “has more in common with the marchers and protesters we see at left-wing rallies,” according to video just aired on MSNBC.
But it’s conservative bloggers that have really taken this idea and run with it, though. Yesterday, Eric Erickson of Red State tweeted:
holocaust shooter, like left wing bloggers hates Bush, Israel, the war, Christains, capitalism. the list goes on and on.
On his site, Erickson wrote:
It is the leftists like Kos’s acolytes that perpetuate anti-Semitism under the guise of “if only we wouldn’t defend Israel this wouldn’t happen.” Nazism, like Communism, and the neo-nazis disease that stems from the former, share the common foundation of socialism that these same leftists now agitate for.
Kos and the lunatic gunman today and the lunatic gunman who killed Pvt. Long share more in common that the rest of us — their world view is centered on contempt for what this nation stands for and are consumed with an abiding hatred of George W. Bush and the “neocons.”
And Michelle Malkin — playing defense after blowing a gasket about that DHS report warning of right-wing extremist, only to see the report’s predictions borne out over the last week — declares, “Shooter wasn’t “left” or “right,” just plain loony,” while linking approvingly to another writer who says no, he was a lefty.
Malkin also points to the fact that police found the address of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine in Von Brunn’s car — the implication somehow being, we suppose, that it’s impossible to be a right-winger if you also hate magazines that advocate a neoconservative foreign policy.
So what does that leave us with? A lunatic who killed an abortion doctor (and was vigorously condemned by conservatives for doing so), and an 88-year-old white supremacist of the Nazi bent (which somehow makes him a right-wing savage — a paradox Jonah has written a book about) who killed a guard with a shotgun at the Holocaust Museum.
That is not a wave of domestic terrorism, much less right-wing extremism.
Right. Nothing to do with right-wing extremism. How silly of us.
Late Update: Reader JD points out that conservatives are indulging here in what’s known as the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, advanced by the British philosopher Antony Flew, by redefining the meaning of a term in order to make a desired assertion about it true.
In Thinking About Thinking, Or: Do I Sincerely Want To Be Right?, Flew, an Englishman, wrote, a bit xenophobically:
Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the “Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again.” Hamish is shocked and declares that “No Scotsman would do such a thing.” The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this time finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, “No true Scotsman would do such a thing.”