I just finished reading the disturbing “manifesto” (pdf) of the domestic terrorist who shot up the UU church in Knoxville, TN last year. He clearly intended for the document to be his suicide note, expecting to die at the hands of police after his “generous” contribution to the greater good of American society — namely, killing liberals.
Included is a rant against the UU church itself, calling it a cult, a “collection of sickos, weirdos, and homos” that is the wellspring of ultra-liberalism in this country. He goes on to explain that he really wanted to kill all the Democrats in Congress, and everyone in charge of the media, but knowing he wouldn’t be able to reach them, he decided to go after the “everyday” liberals who support them. In his own words, this was an act of political protest — making it, as Sara Robinson had pointed out to her, an act of terrorism.
At the time of the shooting, it was discovered that this man, James Adkisson, had books in his house by the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Bernard Goldberg. He even mentions Goldberg in his ranting manifesto, saying that he really wanted to kill the 100 people listed in Goldberg’s book (titled, of course, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is #37).) Note: I’m not giving any links to his work because I refuse to add to their popularity, but a quick Google search should find it easily.
David Neiwert, also at Orcinus, has written at length about the eliminationist rhetoric of the right wing in this country, and Sara Robinson alludes to it in her essay linked above. Now, freedom of speech is pretty much an absolute for me, and owning books is certainly no proof that one agrees with what’s in them (and even agreeing with them doesn’t necessarily lead to acting on their words.) But in this case, someone did, and left behind clear evidence of his sources of inspiration. Not only that, his “manifesto” is also a call to action for others to do as he did, and in this political and economic climate it’s very likely that someone will.
The point I’m very slowly getting to is that this isn’t just about the UU Church or the Democratic Party; it concerns us, too — witches, magicians, etc. And I’m not assuming that everyone reading this blog is a self-described liberal, because that actually doesn’t matter. Whatever your political views, in the eyes of people like this, you are a liberal. After all, Adkisson made that assumption about everyone in the Knoxville church.
Think of the language used to describe those who practice magic, or even those who simply choose not to follow the Christian god. Eliminationist talk targeting witches even has Biblical backing, and for people who believe in a world dominated by spirits locked in a battle of good versus evil — which describes a staggeringly large number of influential conservative Christians these days — we are clearly placed on the “evil” side. So if James Adkisson and his ilk think the UU Church is a collection of “sickos, weirdos and homos” who deserve to die, what must they think of us?
That last link, to an article on the Talk To Action blog, brings me back to the issue I allude to in the title of this post, namely the rhetoric of “spiritual warfare.” This is a topic I’ve been doing a lot of research on, and I plan to tackle it in more detail going forward. I believe that what it really is, is church-sanctioned magic that has a very real effect even beyond its contribution to eliminationist talk about witches and magic-workers. But that’s for another time.
As a final note, please don’t mistake my tone in this post as hysterical fear-mongering — I’m well aware that, thankfully, people unstable enough to become the next James Adkisson are rare. They’re just not rare enough. And it pays to be aware of what’s being said, and counter it, because sometimes words lead to actions, especially the more that those words go unchallenged.