The Washington Post is not prone to Onion-style headlines but I still started to smile when I read what had to be a joke of some sort: A neo-Nazi with explosives and a framed photo of Timothy McVeigh is not a threat, judge rules. I started to read the article expecting a weird, "not everything is how it seems" story. After all, on its face, the story appears insane. Who could possibly look at this person and think, "Eh, he looked alright to me"?
But that's exactly what happened. I love The Onion but even they would have had a hard time making up a more absurd story:
Brandon Russell is capable of making a bomb — and he admitted doing so.
Officials believe he also participated in neo-Nazi chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and blow up places.
Investigators found guns, ammunition and white supremacist propaganda in his bedroom, court records say. A framed photograph of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was on his dresser.
That would be bad enough but Russell also had the equipment to make a bomb, including the explosive materials. Oh, and he belongs to a cheery group of friendly people:
Russell admitted to detectives that he’s a white nationalist, and that he’s a member of a neo-Nazi group called Atom Waffen, German for “atomic weapon.” The Southern Poverty Law Center lists it as a hate group.
Right now, you're thinking this is a person who should not be allowed outside of a padded cell much less be free to roam the streets. But let's make this story even more ridiculous. One of his three former roommates killed the other two (something Russell does not seem to have been directly involved in) which is how the police came to find out about his penchant for stockpiling weapons of mass murder. After the police questioned him, he went out and bought two rifles and a whole lot of ammunition and the police decided that maybe, just maybe, they should remove an obvious danger to the public.
And after all of that happened, that's when a judge decided it'd be OK to let a ticking time bomb loose:
McCoun, the federal judge, said in the ruling that Russell’s purchase of the rifles and ammunition is concerning, but he did not believe it was enough to deny his request for a bond. Russell, a member of the Florida National Guard, also does not have any arrests or criminal history, and relatives have agreed to allow him to stay with them as he waits for trial. There’s also no evidence that Russell used or planned to use the explosive he created, the judge wrote.
"No evidence" except, of course, for the online promises of mass murder, bomb-making materials, a lot of weapons, and his idolization of a man whose only claim to fame is blowing up a building and killing 168 people including 19 children. But, hey, other than all that, he seems like a stable person. Maybe he can babysit the judge's grandchildren?
This isn't even a race thing. We all know that a New Black Panther caught in similar circumstances would be lucky to live long enough to even reach the judge, much less be allowed to walk free. That's a given. But a radicalized liberal would be cooling his or her heels in a prison cell right now, deemed too dangerous to be let out on bail. Your politics matter when it comes to law enforcement and we can no longer ignore the pass right wing ideology gets in America.
In a country that is seriously talking about Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization and increasingly turning peaceful liberal protest into a criminal offense, we throw enormous temper tantrums when someone points out that the right is incredibly violent and getting worse. The left is held to stringent standards of behavior while the right is held to none at all.
The "liberal" media shoulders much of the blame for this as they refuse to label right wing terrorists as terrorists or even really discuss right wing violence as anything other than a series of "isolated incidents." Two years ago, Dylann Roof walked into a church and killed 9 unarmed black people with the specific, stated intent to start a race war. He still is not considered a terrorist by the press. During the Obama administration, dozens of right wingers committed acts of violence based on their ideology. Anti-LGBT violence. Anti-Latino violence. Anti-black violence. A lot of it was called a hate crime but almost none of it is considered terrorism and discussion about political ideology were almost entirely absent despite being a key motivating factor. The chances of this trend reversing itself under Jeff Sessions' white supremacy DOJ are nonexistent especially since he plans to gut the Civil Rights division. I guess now right wingers can't even commit hate crimes, never mind terrorism.
With Donald Trump ramping up hatred from the Bully Pulpit and not-so-slowly legitimizing white nationalism, the pace of right wing violence will only accelerate. The police are keeping a close eye on Russell, so we may have dodged several hundred bullets this time, but if we continue to treat right wing extremism as a bunch of "isolated incidents" instead of the growing threat it is, we're just begging for the next OKC bombing. In this hyperpartisan atmosphere, with Fox News, AM Hate Radio and the right wing websites spewing hate every minute of every day, 19 children dead at the hands of a rabid neo-Nazi won't be enough to cool off the hate speech like it did in the 90s.
There are 512 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
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