Monday, July 28, 2008

Killing liberals

I've been in the Unitarian-Universalist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, that was desecrated by shotgun blasts and blood and untimely death yesterday. It was a long time ago in an earlier building further west on Kingston Pike, and it was for meetings of the Sierra Club, not for services.

I don't know any of the dead or wounded who have been named so far, but if I still lived in Knoxville I probably would, since liberals are rare (and wonderful) there. Beyond the sympathy I have for them as kindred spirits, though, they were just people in church on Sunday morning, and I'd feel it a tragedy no matter what church David Adkisson had defiled.

The political context of this attack, however, leaves me angry and bitter. Already, in comments here and there on the web, the non-Christianity (or, really, post-Christianness) of the TVUUC is coming in for criticism, as if that matters at all. So, I'll try to keep my self-control, as the assaulted congregation has somehow managed to do.

The shooter picked out that church, came there intent on murder-suicide, and did his evil deeds in order to kill liberals. And one of his reasons was that his food stamps were running out! Another was that his care at the VA hadn't been good enough - I guess he didn't read the Washington Post to get a clear idea who has neglected that. In the end, killing those tolerant of gays was his crazed mandate.

I have expressed before the fear that armed wingnuts would violently reject liberal electoral victories. Conservatives have ridiculed me for this. Let me be clear: Adkisson is a nut, not necessarily a conservative in any coherent way (not that most conservatives are coherent), but he is not representative of conservatism or conservatives.

What Adkisson probably has done is bathe in the baptismal font of hatred and bile that is the wingnut commentariat. When Ann Coulter talks about killing people, even guilty ones, to scare liberals, when Jesse Helms "jokes" about assassination of the sitting President, when Michael Savage advocates hanging for lawyers at Guantánamo and hints at the murder of Barack Obama, when Michael Graham fantasizes about whacking the Clintons, when Bill O'Reilly countenances the destruction of San Francisco, and so forth, you can't really blame a liberal like me for worrying a bit about our adversaries and a few of their fringe hangers on who are both nuts and armed.

There are a couple of other, more positive things, that I notice from this story. Despite the lack of any dogma in UU that guarantees a reward from God in heaven, the unarmed congregation both sacrificed for the greater good and subdued the attacker quickly and courageously. They didn't dither or cower the way conservatives have claimed they would. Instead, they moved to save what they could of what they love.

Update: CNN obtusely headlines its story on Adkisson's motives with the least interesting motive, "Church shooting suspect angry over job search, police say." Why would that be?

Update: David Neiwert's classic post on eliminationist rhetoric.

Update: More from CNN, with motive mentioned only once.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

TY for pointing out larger context and ironies of hating "librul" values.

Is "killing liberals" a more salient phrase (due to Coulter et al) than "killing conservatives"? I mean are there any liberal mass-shooters targeting little fundie churches? And also, i mean, killing those who derive it just flows out of the conservative worldview and hence makes the phrase salient in ways that are alien to a liberal worldview.

Clara the Lady Wolf said...

Thank you for this excellent post. My sincere thanks.