A heavily criticized Department of Homeland Security Report on right-wing extremism that was released in April warned precisely of the type of violent anti-Semitic activity that occurred at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
The political right (including rush Limbaugh and RNC Chair Michael Steele) criticized the DHS report and demanded that DHS Secretary Napolitano apologize. The report was seen as an attack on Republicans and conservatives.
Meanwhile elements of the report have manifested in the killings of George Tiller and Stephen Johns by individuals with ties to right-wing extremists - exactly the ties that the DHS report warned of in its report.
So while some were playing at politics, two domestic terrorists struck with lethal violence. Forcing the Obama Administration to back off on a report (initiated by the Bush Administration) may have contributed to an atmosphere that makes it easier for right-wing extremists to act. Instead of condemning a report than, in hindsight, has credibility, why not forcefully and unequivocally attack hate in all of its many forms?
Instead of condemning an attack after the fact, might we see a different America if the political left and right repudiated all forms of violence as a means to an end?
As a social scientist, I am not sure that right- or left-wing rhetoric directly causes violence. But does it contribute to an environment conducive to violence (see the Obama Haters Silent Enablers)?
As a political observer, I am struck by the quote from Richard Hofstadter in this morning's Salon.com: We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.