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Opening Arguments

Group think

A bitter white supremacist has killed a guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and we all need to take steps to make sure something like that doesn't happen again. So we have to reach out to the moderates in the white community -- those who think affirmative action is wrong, those misguided souls who still think judging people on merit alone isn't racist, those who pretend to have philosophical arguments against Sonia Sotomayor -- so that the extremists can see no harm is meant to them, and they will come back into the fold.

Oh, wait. I got confused there for a moment. It's militant Islamic extremist terrorists we treat that way:

In his speech in Cairo Thursday, Obama listed confronting "violent extremism" as the top priority in addressing tensions between the U.S. and Muslims. He urged the Islamic world to reject radical ideologies and promised to work aggressively to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also said the U.S. does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement in the West Bank and endorsed a Palestinian state.

[. . .]

Obama may have managed to "plant the seed of doubt in some minds," said Robert Malley, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank. "There was enough ... that represented openings for those who wanted openings."

For extremist killers in this country, especially if it is known or suspected that they might be on the political right, there is an entirely different way that we're supposed to move beyond individual culpability and bring in the group:

The killing of George Tiller, the abortion doctor in Wichita, Kan., and the attack on the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington yesterday have raised questions yet again about the role that extremist propaganda sites play in inciting violence among some militant believers. In both cases, the suspect arrested was well-known among fringe “communities” on the Web.

Most legal scholars and many experts on extremist violence in the U.S. oppose reining in of such sites, or restrictions on extremist speech generally. Should the United States consider tighter restrictions on hate speech?

So let's review: Islamic terrorists -- reach out to those who might have some positive influence on the extremists, so they don't think we're all a bunch of yahoos who blame the whole group for a few sick individuals; homegrown terrorists -- use it as an excuse to display your moral superiority and try to make those who disagree with you shut up. Got it?

I know whereof I speak, since I have blood on my own hands:

Your cowardly editorial June 4 asserts that anti-abortion rhetoric had nothing to do with the murder of Dr. George Tiller. This is transparently false.

[. . .]

Words have consequences. Words influence the actions of the people who hear them. If they didn't, you wouldn't write editorials. This act of violence was predictable.

The News-Sentinel is not entirely innocent in this affair.

Your columns and editorials are routinely over the top regarding the entirely legal business of abortion.

As it happens, I was on vacation and somebody else wrote that particular cowardly editorial. That doesn't mean I didn't feel the guilt for having helped perpetuate such an awful crime. After all, I have written in the pages of The News-Sentinel that "abortion is almost always the wrong decision at the wrong time for the wrong reason," and I've even said that Roe v. Wade was terrible because it cut off the debate on abortion that was taking place in state legislatures. What a thoughtless bastard I was. How could I not have known I was planting the seeds of murder in some wacko's mind?