City of Brass

City of Brass

James von Brunn, terrorist

The shooting at the Holocaust Museum yesterday was a chilling reminder that domestic terrorism is real, and was just the latest in a disturbing trend of increased political violence from right-wing extremists. What these fanatics have in common is a paranoia fueled by mainstream conservative rhetoric about liberal traitors, gun confiscation, and immigration hysteria. Conservatives have their head in the sand, squealing with outrage over the DHS report about the threat of right-wing violence, which concluded presciently:


Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

The tirades against all of these groups that routinely feature on mainstream conservative talk radio verge on incitement; it’s partly because of hyperventilating about liberals, Obama and the government that there’s an ammunition shortage right now as paranoid fringe self-styled patriots are racing to stock up for the all-out war they both fear and lust for. Meanwhile, the conservative Islamophobes have concluded (of course) that somehow von Brunn’s anti-Semitism is all Islam’s fault. (Here’s Jeffrey Goldberg with a sane but pointless rebuttal; also see my earlier post on the fallacy that Islam is inherently anti-Semitic).


The problem is that the conservative rhetoric and focus on muslims as the threat above all else has made us all less safe. Consider how astonishing it is that a man like von Brunn, who was jailed for attempting to violently storm the Federal Reserve building and has published books and essays promoting his radical views, was under no supervision. Meanwhile, the US government still retains the power it had under the previous Administration to take a (muslim) US citizen and dump them in prison without trial or evidence, indefinitely.

The greatest tragedy about von Brunner’s rampage is that he could have been stopped, but was ignored as a potential threat to public safety, not because of who he was, but because of who he wasn’t.


Related: Here’s the original 10-page report on rightwing extremism by the DHS (PDF). Also, my earlier post about the apologetics for George Tiller’s murder by conservatives; it’s worth noting that even “respectable, moderate” conservatives like Ross Douthat are blaming the victim. Note also to Ed Morrissey – no one is blaming “all conservatives” as a group for Tiller’s murder or the Holocaust Museum shooting. We are pointing out that right-wing rhetoric doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

  • Matthew

    The problem I see with your analysis is that he hates Jews, hates Bush (left wing), hates McCain(left wing), hates neo conservativism(left wing), believed in National Socialism(left wing), hated capitalism(left wing), was a collectivist(left wing).

  • Aziz

    Its pretty clumsy and pointlessly futile to try and paint von Brunn as a leftfwinger – he posted at Free Republic, not Democratic Underground after all. I think denial of his righ-wing origins is pointless because he does not reflect on the intellectual honesty of modern conservatism in any way.
    I know plenty of conservatives who have solid, conservative critiques of Bush, McCain, Israel, Neocons, and globalization. Start with Daniel Larison, the group over at League of Ordinary Gents, look at Rod Dreher and Ross Douthat, Frum, and many more from across the spectrum. I’ll grant you that Repblicanists (the type who are partisan beyond all reason – for example, the crew at RedState) are definitely pro-Bush, Israel, Neocons and globalization in a knee-jerk fashion.
    Your assertion that hating jews is exclusive to the left is risible.

  • hootie1fan

    Remember after 9/11 when people we ranting in favor of racial profiling because back then EVERYBODY knew that terrorists were all named something like Mohammed and looked like they came from the Middle East?
    I knew better. Besides the fact that too many can’t tell the difference between a person from Saudi Arabia, India, Puerto Rico, etc., there have always been homegrown “REAL AMERICANS” who were willing to kill other non-real Americans and those domestic terrorists look like you and me, can be young and old and just as capable of committing horrific deeds against the innocent.

  • Taha Raja

    I personally think the word terrorist is loosely used to represent any heinous crime including hate crimes.
    I personally see a disturbed person who went out on a rampage at a dusk of his life.
    Yes people were killed and yes Aziz points out like any criminals he should have been watched. But at the end of the day this was a criminal act and the person committed murder. Last I checked this is punishable by the most severest penalties under our laws.
    The rhetoric gets emotional and it clouds our judgement as we try to group people as “terrorists”. Fear starts controlling our decisions. Look “terrorism” as we define it today.
    I personally think these “terrorism” cases should be treated for the crime that was committed AND as a society we need to strive to educate people more and more to increase tolerance. That is the true way out of this mess not with guns.

  • Cynthia Gee

    Von Brunn IS a bonafide advocate of terrorism –he also has close ties to Battle of Baghdad dissident Captain Eric May, and it appears that May himself may have ties to Steve Reimink (the real owner of Von Brunn’s website), and to various Islamic groups:
    Now, get a load of THIS comment by Von Brunn, followed by May’s response, where Von Brunn called for a group of “five or six well equipped martyrs” to take action against our government:
    Re: Pravda Article – WTC and Bush
    james von brunn wrote:
    I’m of the opinion that only a military coup d’etat can save our once great Republic. And soon. However, a coup is doubtful as the military too has been infected by the Marxist/Liberal/Jew virus.
    Perhaps we must settle for a team of Special
    Forces, say six (6) well-equipped martyrs. Count me in.
    I’m most obliged at your praise, Mr. Von Brunn! Writers always have their vanities, even when they’re doing military missions. For what it’s worth, I called for a military coup d’etat on the night of July 28, 2005, when the Bush Boyz tried to blow up Texas City last time.
    You can find it in an article published shortly afterwards at or you can listen to it as I called for it, in the second of the two interviews at
    Again, thanks for the encouragement. I’m sure that you’ve endured the same kinds of frustrations that I have in the course of your infowar, whenever it began. I’d sure like to turn the Texas City Inquest into a public tribunal for the Jewish Zionists and the Bush Boyz who took their advice and used their media like (embedded) whores. Yours, CPTMAY

  • David has an interesting look at von Brunn’s cyberfootprint…the information he leaves behind on the internet. It includes some things I haven’t seen elsewhere, like his arrest for beating up a sheriff in Maryland, or his claim to have been a captain of a PT boat. There’s also a sort of movie-starish publicity photo of him from the 1960’s.
    Article is at:

  • al- Shamz

    Von Brunn was a sick man under the delusion of some paranoid fantasies such as blaming all our current woes on “the Jews” rather than, say ‘decadence’ or perhaps even ‘the bankers’. The world of instant gratification IRC chat and the mind-world that it creates certainly fed his paranoia. Hopefully the widow of the guard he murdered will sue for his estate. That being said, there was an element of truth to what he said, and if not, the paranoia couldn’t have been fed. That kernel of truth is that the Nazi death machine consisted solely of ’starvation camps’ and shootings, not the fabled gassings that we’ve been led to believe. Although no less horrific, maybe more so, if the facts were to be uncovered without the purile labelling of “holocaust denial” then perhaps such paranoiacs would be at last stopped in their tracks.

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