In the wake of the killings at the Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Bob Schieffer on the CBS evening news wondered what the killer’s motive possibly could be.
And in today’s Des Moines Register, a headline over a front-page column said we had to stop this cycle of “retribution.”
Motive? Retribution? Is the press that clueless? A white supremacist guns down people and we wonder about his motive? A lunatic kills people at worship and we cast it as an act of revenge for 9/11?
Those news media responses called to my mind two recent postings on this site by Dan Froomkin and Gil Cranberg. They wondered why the press and others accepted the arguments that recent efforts to block voting by minorities and the poor were simply needed efforts to protect the integrity the ballot.
Likewise, I wondered about the quest for a motive or counseling against taking revenge in the Wisconsin atrocity.
Good night, we have a violent society increasingly fueled by bigotry and racism, and we wonder about supposed motives and revenge?
What also crossed my mind was whether the press was obsessed with motives and explanations for civil rights murders in the 1960s and lynchings before and after that. When folks like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered in Neshoba County, Miss., in 1964,
did we wonder about a motive? When Viola Liuzzo was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan at the end of the Selma Voting Rights march in Alabama, who wondered about the motive?
We have hate-filled people with ready access to combat weapons and we wonder about motives?
The press routinely quotes those opposed to sane gun-control laws as saying tougher laws will not keep guns away from all the crazies. But here’s a scoop for the press: Laws against burglary don’t stop all burglars. But those laws speak to public concerns, public policy and the need for lawful statements of sanity about what we expect from one another — and we should be able to expect that our neighbor does not stock his home with weapons designed for one purpose: killing other people.
Enough of the soap box. Here’s a bit of history, still being reenacted.
The feds and others have been well aware of the domestic terror threat from the right wing crazies for 30 or 40 years or more.
When my brother was in the FBI 25 or 30 years ago, he said the right was far more difficult to monitor than the left when it came to terrorism. The far left would have meetings and take votes as to how many favored whatever disruption was proposed on the agenda or suggested from the floor. Who knows? Maybe the Department of Justice could subpoena the minutes of a meeting.
The terrorism from the right, on the other hand, came from guys who, at their meetings, stoked up mutual grievances and decided to go out and do something about it. (Without taking a vote.)
Instead of pondering motives of the domestic terrorists, the press would be better served to report what’s going on and confront the lunatics and those who abet them.