GOP has selective memory when police are killed
Remember Jerad and Amanda Miller? In June of 2014, they were among the Tea Party, anti-government followers of scofflaw and tax cheat Cliven Bundy on his Nevada ranch, who refused to pay his cattle grazing fees. The Millers, who had an online history on social media of white supremacy and militia movements, decided to start their own “revolution” and shot and killed two police officers as they ate lunch at a pizza restaurant in Las Vegas, then shot a shopper at a nearby Wal-Mart. Jerad was shot by police, and Amanda shot herself.
Don’t remember them? How about Richard Andrew Poplawski? He was a white supremacist who often ranted against the government on social media who shot five police officers in a four-hour standoff in Pittsburgh in 2009. Three officers died, and two were wounded. Poplalwski was tried and convicted.
No? How about Gordon Kahl? He was a member of the anti-government “sovereign citizens” movement. In 1983, he shot and killed two federal marshals in North Dakota, then fled to Arkansas, where he holed up with fellow sympathizers and shot an Arkansas sheriff, who later died. Kahl was killed in a shootout with police.
Still not ringing a bell? Surely you remember Eric Frein, who shot and killed a Pennsylvania state trooper and wounded another in September 2014. The right-wing, anti-government survivalist led police on a seven-week manhunt before he was captured.
I could go on and on about right-wing, anti-government activists who killed not only police officers but innocent bystanders. In 2008, Jim David Adkisson shot and killed two people in a Tennessee church and wounded two more. He said he got his ideas about who to kill — Democrats, liberals, African Americans, and gays — from conservative author Bernard Goldberg’s book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. Adkisson is serving a life sentence. In 2012, white supremacist and neo-Nazi Wade Michael Page killed six worshipers at a Sikh Temple near Milwaukee. Page shot himself in the head.
Many of these stories got fleeting news coverage, and were mentioned barely at all in right-wing media. You didn’t hear Democratic politicians exploiting these killings as examples of the dangers of right-wing thinking and hyped media coverage. Yet when Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and killed two officers as they sat in a patrol car in Brooklyn, well, it seemed to be everyone’s fault but the shooter.
To be sure, Brinsley posted on Instagram about his intention to kill cops. But he also shot an ex-girlfriend earlier in the day. And his social media postings were nowhere near as numerous as those by the cop killers named above.
Fox News couldn’t get enough of Cliven Bundy when the assault rifle-carrying militia members flooded his ranch — he was a “patriot” who got screen time all day long, especially by blowhard Sean Hannity. Fox only stopped coverage when Bundy revealed his racism. Just a guess here, but his racism paled in comparison to two followers killing two police officers.
Even bigger blowhard Bill O’Reilly, another Fox stalwart, cut his vacation short to “demand” the resignation of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for his supposed “role” in stirring up sentiment against the police. Numerous Republican officials past and present blamed the killing on de Blasio, President Obama, and Attorney General Eric Holder for stoking “anti-police hatred,” even though the three men went out of their way to avoid any such language in any public statement and instead praised the police. Funny, I don’t remember similar criticism about Tea Party politicians and their anti-government rhetoric when one of the right-wing loonies takes out a cop.
Individuals sometimes do horrific things. They get warped ideas and kill people. They can be influenced and emboldened by the hyper, sensationalized words of others. But they, ultimately, are the ones responsible for their actions, and to blame a mayor, a president, an attorney general, or those protesting peacefully against police brutality is wrong and exploitative.
But it’s Christmas Eve. Maybe the Ghost of Elections Yet to Come will visit some Republicans tonight and warn them what’s in store for them if they don’t change their lying ways.
Nah, they’ll probably just pass more voter suppression laws and scare some more people about Ebola.