It is said that one is measured by the nature of one's enemies. It would do well for reasonable Americans to remember this truism in the wake of this morning's Rightist terrorist attack on a Holocaust museum, the latest confirmed case in a long string right-wing terrorism in the United States. These acts of Rightist terror, as they did under the Clinton Administration, have increased under the Obama Administration as powerless bigots increasingly feel marginalized in civil society and that violence is the only option with which to achieve their political ends.
Many on the Right have criticized the seemingly incongruous reaction of the media and the Left in general to the Islamist terrorist Arkansas recruiter killings vis-a-vis the Righist terrorist murder of Dr. George Tiller. The disparity of the reaction cannot be denied. It can be easily explained: abortion is an incredibly hot-button issue in America, and the terrorist act of killing Dr. Tiller had more profound implications than the terrorist killings in Arkansas: after all, the recruiting station remains open for business, but the closure of Dr. Tiller's clinic is discouraging proof that sometimes, terrorism does work in achieving its ends.
But it is important not to shy away from either terrorist act. These acts are peas in a pod. They are not separate faces of terrorism, but two sides of the same terrorist coin.
Both Rightist and Islamist terrorist acts are equally evil, and equally newsworthy. Both are the desperate actions actions of individuals who feel falsely oppressed and powerless in a society that is leaving them and their bigoted, violent ideologies in the dust. But are ideologies of victimhood, predicated on the notion that only through violent martyrdom can the world's wrongs be rectified, and the cleansing apocalypse be brought to pass in the service of iron-fisted theocratic rule. Anyone who has read Neiwert's Eliminationists cannot help but be struck by the similarities between the teachings of the far Right, and the equally violent, chiliastic teachings of violent Islamist jihad. Both sides blame liberal "moral decay" and inclusive, multicultural respect for persons regardless of race, religion, gender for their plight. Rightist author Jonah Goldberg completes the circle: his book Liberal Fascism actually blames liberals for 9/11, under the premise that if we were not so friendly to women's right and LGBT equality, that the Islamists would not feel so violently upset with America.
Indeed, the similarities between Rightism and Islamism are striking. Like feuding members of an inter-denominational war, they appear on their surface to reserve their greatest anger for one another. But their real war is against progressive secular society, for which each side retains an enduring, searing shared hatred.
Both are deeply misogynist and anti-abortion, seeing women as objects to be controlled rather than equal citizens in society.
Both are deeply homophobic, killing gays when given the opportunity.
Both are deeply anti-Semitic over the long course of their histories. The temporary alliance of Rightists in the United States with neoconservative, pro-Israel lobbies in the shared interest of anti-Muslim warfare does not negate the long history of virulent anti-Semitism on the Right--an anti-semitism on full display in this morning's shooting.
Both are deeply theocratic, with the abiding belief that true moral order may only be imposed on society through religion allied with governmental power.
Both are deeply authoritarian, convinced of the necessity to levy increasingly harsh penalties for increasingly minor crimes in the name of "law and order."
Both are deeply violent, with a long history of terrorist acts.
Both are deeply opposed to gun control of any kind, feeling that the safest societies are those in which children walk the streets armed to the teeth.
Both advocate deeply aggressive and eliminationist foreign policy.
Both thrive on stoking a perception of continual victimhood by nefarious forces, in a desperate attempt to explain the failures of their own ideologies domestically, and to direct the anger of their most alienated citizens outward to engage in acts of terror.
Both societies, when allowed to rule as they wish, produce massive income inequalities and economic injustice.
The similarities are endless.