Saturday, July 25, 2015

Massacre in Louisiana: The Shooter's Ideology, and the Governor's


 
Kira Lerner, Ryan Lenz
July 24, 2015
 
When mass shootings fit into Gov. Bobby Jindal's view of "radical Islamic terrorists" he is quick to condemn the violence as terrorism. But when the incidents are results of lax gun control laws and radical right-wing shooters he simply calls the situation tragic and is quick to move on. The evidence already indicates that the shooter in the Lafayette Theater was a fan of David Duke, neo-Nazis, and antigovernment conspiracies.
 
 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks with the media following a deadly shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette, La., Thursday, July 23, 2015., AP PHOTO/DENNY CULBERT,
 
 
After a shooter opened fire in a Louisiana movie theater Thursdaynight, killing two and taking his own life, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) arrived at the scene and called for prayers after the "senseless act of violence."
"This should never happen anywhere, but you certainly never imagine, you never imagine it would happen in Louisiana, never imagine it would happen in Lafayette," the governor and presidential candidate said at a news conference late Thursdaynight.
Since he spoke, a clearer picture of the shooter, who held a number of right-wing beliefs and acted as a "lone wolf," has emerged. But Jindal has yet to speak out about the individual and the threat of the radicalized right.
When mass shootings fit into Jindal's view of "radical Islamic terrorists" posing the gravest threat to our country, he is quick to condemn the violence as acts of terrorism. But when the incidents are results of lax gun control laws and radical right-wing shooters — which more frequently lead to terrorism in the U.S. — he simply calls the situation tragic and is quick to move on.
After a shooter killed nine people in Charleston, South Carolina last month, Jindal called President Barack Obama's calls for stricter gun control "completely shameful," and like he did Thursday, offered only prayers. But when a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait opened fire at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee earlier this month, Jindal released a statement saying the incident "certainly looks like an act of terrorism" and "underscores the grave reality of the threat posed to us by radical Islamic terrorism every single day." He went on to say, "the truth is that radical Islam is at war with us, and we must start by being honest about that."
To the Louisiana governor and many Republican lawmakers, when white men open fire in public places it is "tragic" and "awful," but when the shooter has a connection to "Islamic extremism," the act becomes terrorism.
Jindal also refuses to discuss policies that lead people to open fire and commit mass executions across the country — and in Louisiana, many of those policies were his creation.
The governor, who is rated an A+ by the National Rifle Association, has opposed every sensible piece of gun control legislation in Louisiana and has signed a series of bills making it easier for people to have and carry firearms in public. Last year, he signed two bills to expand gun rights for state residents, including one to allow people with concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol — previously, state law did not allow people to carry guns into any establishments where they can drink alcohol. The other bill expanded Louisiana's "stand your ground" law.
The year before, he signed another series of bills expanding rights for gun owners including one to enforce penalties for the intentional publication of the personal information of people with concealed handgun permits.
At the NRA's annual meeting this year, Jindal compared the fight for gun rights to efforts in his state and others for so-called religious freedom measures. "If these large forces can conspire to crush the First Amendment, it won't be long before they come after the Second Amendment," Jindal said.
Louisiana has some of the laxest gun control laws in the country, and as a result, the worst rate of gun violence.
Kira Lerner is a Political Reporter for ThinkProgress. She previously worked as a reporter covering litigation and policy for the legal newswire Law360. She has also worked as an investigative journalist with the Chicago Innocence Project where she helped develop evidence that led to the exoneration of a wrongfully convicted man from Illinois prison. A native of the Washington, D.C. area, Kira earned her bachelor's degree at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
One day after John Russell Houser killed two people and wounded nine in a movie theater in Lafayette, La., a picture is emerging online of a man caught up with a number of far-right ideas and fascinated about "the power of the lone wolf."

Photo of suspect John Russell Houser via his LinkedIn page
"Do not mistake yourselves for one minute, the enemy sees all posted on this website. I do not want to discourage the last hope for the best, but you must realize the power of the lone wolf, is the power that come forth in ALL situations," Houser wrote on a forum dedicated to the New York chapter of Golden Dawn, Greece's far-right neo-Nazi political party. "Look within yourselves."
That comment was one of dozens of messages that Houser, 59, left on several Internet message boards, all of which provide a picture of a politically disaffected, angry man who viewed the United States as a "financially failing filth farm," expressed interest in white power groups, anti-Semitic ideas, the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, as well as a number of conspiracy theories often espoused by the antigovernment right.
But his extremism appears to have gone deeper. In 2005, he registered to attend David Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) Conference in New Orleans, according to a spreadsheet of conference registrations obtained by Hatewatch. He lauded Duke, one of the most recognizable figures of the American radical right, a neo-Nazi, longtime Ku Klux Klan leader and now an international spokesman for Holocaust denial. On a PoliticalForum.com, Houser wrote in 2013, "David Duke has been unseen or hear of in years, but at one time appeared exactly what US needed."
Elsewhere online, Houser described his interests as "hustling" and said that his political involvement was minimal, though he belonged to a forum associated with Tea Party Nation. He sang the praise of Adolf Hitler many times, saying "Hitler is loved for the results of his pragmatism," last January on the websitestateofmind13.com.
Aside from his affinity for Hitler and Golden Dawn, he expressed racist extremism elsewhere. He promoted the disproven racist theory that a connection exists between race and IQ, and promoted The Bell Curve, a book written by Charles Murray. As for voting, he said, "don't vote, waste of time."
The shooting comes five weeks after Dylann Roof walked into a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., and killed nine people, adding to an ever growing list of attackers who, motivated by right-wing ideologies, have a left a growing body count of innocent victims.
Ryan Lenz is senior writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project

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