John Patrick Bedell: RIGHT Wing Extremist?!
It appears that a counterintuitive meme is spreading: John Patrick Bedell, who was killed while he opened fire at the Pentagon Metro stop, was a right-wing extemist.
So says Christian Science Monitor‘s Peter Grier, in a piece subtlety headlined “John Patrick Bedell: Did right-wing extremism lead to shooting?”
John Patrick Bedell, whom authorities identified as the gunman in the Pentagon shooting on Thursday, appears to have been a right-wing extremist with virulent antigovernment feelings.
If so, that would make the Pentagon shooting the second violent extremist attack on a federal building within the past month. On Feb. 18, Joseph Stack flew a small aircraft into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. Mr. Stack left behind a disjointed screed in which, among other things, he expressed his hatred of the government.
Details of Mr. Bedell’s case are still emerging. But writings by someone with his same name and birth date, posted on the Internet, express ill will toward the government and the armed forces and question whether Washington itself might have been behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Think Progress‘ Alex Seitz-Wald (“Pentagon Shooter Was Right-Wing, Anti-Government Terrorist“), TPM’s Zachary Roth (“Pentagon Shooter Worshipped Private Property Rights, Denounced Government ‘Schemes’ Like Public Education“), and C&L’s David Neiwert (“‘Lone wolf’ anti-government extremist opens fire at the Pentagon. But let’s not call it terrorism.”) dutifully pass the meme along.
The evidence is starting to look pretty persuasive, given other details that are emerging, that the Internet postings in question are indeed from the same J. Patrick Bedell. It’s true that Bedell harbored a bizarre array of political beliefs, some of which are from the extreme right, some from the extreme left, and some from an extreme libertarian/anarchist view. But, to the extent that his attack on the Pentagon was political — much less an act of terrorism — it was motivated by 9/11 Trutherism. That ain’t right-wing.
Naturally, this argument has roiled the blogosphere, largely along predictable lines.
- Michelle Malkin points out Bedell was a registered Democrat, hated Bush, etc.
- Whiskey Fire‘s Ther argues that Bedell’s anti-Vietnam and anti-Iraq War rants make him right-wing. No, really.
- Bruce McQuain says Bedell’s rants remind him of 1960s radicals like Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army.
- Jim Hoft contends “The Pentagon shooter is linked to several gay rights groups along with PETA, NPR, various drug legalization orgs, Greenpeace and Al Franken.”
- Melissa Clouthier charges, “It’s the Democrats that embrace that conspiracy theory…them and the Ron Paul folks..”
- Stacy McCain takes it all in stride in what one presumes is an ironic essay pinning the blame on Bedell’s use of marijuana and attendance at grad school.
- AllahPundit observes, “If there’s any silver lining in the very dark clouds created by Bedell and Joe Stack (and even the Kentucky census worker fiasco), it may be that partisans on both sides have necessarily become more cautious about trying to divine coherent motives from incoherent minds.”
- After venting against the Left and Right in a way unquotable on a family blog, Dennis the Peasant observes, “What seems clear is that Bedell was more disturbed than anything else. But since one of the newest games in town is to force the actions of obviously disturbed individuals into a useful political context, everyone ignores the obvious fact that sometimes it’s as simple as crazy people doing something crazy.”
- Writing from the left, Steve M. correctly notes the complicated nature of Bedell’s beliefs can’t reasonably characterized along any pole. Indeed, “It seems to me that a lot of the political violence we’re seeing lately is from people who are enraged, and have been for a long time, but who don’t quite feel represented by any of the groups who dominate our political debate.”
Also, I’d add, they were clinically insane. Ironically, left-leaning MSNBC (“Pentagon shooter had history of mental illness“) gets it right:
The California man who was killed in a shootout with Pentagon police had a history of mental illness and had become so erratic that his parents reached out to local authorities weeks ago with a warning that he was unstable and might have a gun, authorities said Friday.
It’s still unclear why John Patrick Bedell opened fire Thursday at the Pentagon entrance, wounding two police officers before he was fatally shot. The two officers were hospitalized briefly with minor injuries.
Bedell was diagnosed as bipolar, or manic depressive, and had been in and out of treatment programs for years. His psychiatrist, J. Michael Nelson, said Bedell tried to self-medicate with marijuana, inadvertently making his symptoms more pronounced.
Can we please stop with the political name-calling whenever one of these nuts goes off?
Look, we’re a big country. There are over 300 million of us. Almost everyone holds a position or two that’s way off the charts and a whole lot of people believe in 9/11 Trutherism, black helicopters, and all the rest. Less than a handful of those people are out trying to kill people. However stupid or loathesome a political view may be, the fact that some nut also holds it adds nothing to the counter-argument.