Leave it to Fred Phelps and his rabidly anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) to provide the most heinous response to this weekend’s shooting in Tucson that left six people dead and 14 others wounded, most notably U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
In a flyer posted to the WBC website, the group, whose members plan to picket the funerals of those murdered, writes, “God appointed this rod for your sins! God sent the shooter!” The flyer continues, “Your federal judge is dead and your (f---promoting, baby-killing, proud-sinner) Congresswoman fights for her life. God is avenging Himself on this rebellious house! WBC prays for your destruction -- more shooters, more dead carcasses piling up, young, old, leader and commoner -- all. Your doom is upon you!”
Blatant support for the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, also came from Bostjan Avsec, who put up a facebook page “FREE Jared Loughner NOW!!!!” Avsec, who describes himself as a “nationalist by right of my European ancestors,” ascribes Loughner’s actions to having “found himself like [sic] entire Arizona in what was just yesterday a predominately white habitat to what is today non English Mexican/black/Jewish terror state!!!!”
A posting on the shootings at the neo-Nazi White Revolution’s website is nearly as poisonous. Under the headline “Another Jew-related Mass Murder,” Giffords is described as a “Jewess feminist” whose “Jewish roots run deep.” The post alleges that Jews are prone to mass murder and speculates that Loughner was Jewish as well. “Amy Bishop, a Jewish biology professor at the University of Alabama, shot three persons to death less than a year ago,” the site reminds its neo-Nazi supporters.
At Stormfront.org, the largest white nationalist forum on the web, a massive thread is devoted to this weekend’s events. Several of the posters were as uncharitable as White Revolution and the WBC. “Never in the history of mankind [sic] a revolution unfolded without bloodshed. I'd say the Turner Diaries describes it best for us,” wrote GodonEarth, referring to the infamous novel that inspired Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 attack in Oklahoma City and which includes harrowing scenes of mass murders of Jews and others opposed to a racially pure White America.
Though some expressed regret over the deaths this weekend, many others proposed the notion that the attack was part of some kind of plot to take away the rights of white nationalists. “I fear that the dopes in DC will try to ban guns now, and it'll lead up to the balkenization [sic] of this once great country. (It was great b4 the damn jews got into power),” wrote kscottwyatt.
Similarly, Wsternm3542 added, “We are headed towards a hard time here and in other places on the net and in our lives. This government is going to do whatever is necessary to maintain control … The Government doesn't like being kicked around, and if you think in this forum you have the stones to take them on, good luck, many a better man has gone to the gallows for less and turned in for a song in the ensuing interrogations that inevitably will follow.” Arch77X added, “Unfortunately, [Loughner] will be used to label us all murderers just like Timothy McVeigh. He may even be a plant, he was supposedly US military.”
Others on the radical right made the argument that “the Left,” whatever that might mean, would now move to take away their rights. The rabidly anti-immigrant hate site AmericanPatrol.com is headlined today, “Exploiting a Tragedy, The Left Will Stop at Nothing.” The site alleges that progressives, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), will use the “shooting as a means of silencing anyone who speaks out against illegal immigration.” On the anti-immigrant hate site Vdare.com, a posting by Alexander Hart reads, “the Left did not wait until the bodies were hauled off to start using the attack to suppress the free speech of their ideological opponents.”
A similar sentiment was found at Infowars.com, a rabidly antigovernment website run by conspiracymonger Alex Jones: “the establishment has hastily exploited yesterday’s tragic shooting in Tucson to demonize conservatives, libertarians and gun owners while ordering Americans to ‘tone down the rhetoric,’ which is nothing more than a euphemism for stifling dissent and coercing people to roll over on Obamacare, bailouts and whatever big government is preparing to unleash next.” Even Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who spoke out strongly against hateful and rabidly antigovernment political rhetoric in the wake of the shootings, came under fire. For example, Matt Barber, an anti-gay ideologue and director of cultural affairs for the Liberty Counsel, tweeted, “Pima Co Sheriff should be fired for shamelessly politicizing this horrible tragedy.”
One member of the radical right, Jared Taylor of the racist group American Renaissance, has more reason to react to the events of the weekend than most. Taylor, whose group was tied to the shooter by a leaked DHS memo that also described his organization wrongly as anti-Semitic, made it forcefully clear in a posting to his website Monday that his group had nothing to do with Loughner. Taylor told the SPLC today, “I am in drop-jawed amazement at this.” He said he searched all of Loughner’s material for a link to American Renaissance “and there is nothing about [American Renaissance] or about race or immigration,” the favored topics of his organization.