Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What Terrorists Read

Sunday morning in Knoxville, a man named Jim David Adkisson walked into a Unitarian worship space during a children's performance on Annie and started shooting.  He killed two people, and was evidently prepared to kill many more.  

Clearly, Adkisson is deranged.  But before we dismiss him as "just a madman," let's also make note of his own reasons for committing this crime, which were expressly religious and political.  According to the police, Adkisson chose the Unitarian community "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed." It was also expressly terroristic, in the sense that it was not an effort to kill his perceived enemies (America's political leaders) but rather to intimidate those who support them: He said that "that because he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement he would then target those that had voted them in office."

In other words, like the Shiite militias in Iraq, Adkisson used a combination of religious and political factors to choose the target for his terrorist attack.

What inspires a terrorist? Religion and politics, of course; a sense of personal alienation; but also, the persuasion of charismatic public figures. In the Middle East, it is the mullahs. And in Adkisson's home, investigators found these three books: Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor; Michael Savage's Liberalism is a Mental Disorder; and Sean Hannity's Let Freedom Ring:  Winning the War of Liberty Over Liberalism.  At least one reader did not take the subtitle to be a metaphor.

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