Latest "Homegrown" Terrorist Incident Used to Smear the "Radical Left and 9/11 Truth"
The setting was seemingly random: an outer gate at the Pentagon at evening rush hour. But John Patrick Bedell's violent rampage Thursday made him only the latest in the growing ranks of the disaffected and disturbed to take aim at a symbol of official Washington.
(snip) All three also appear to have drawn ideological nourishment from the same well: online communities of like-minded people who validate and amplify extreme views. Today, more than in recent years, such communities are tapping into a broad undercurrent of anti-government discontent fueled by economic recession, joblessness and concern over the growing federal deficit, according to experts who have studied the phenomenon.
For Bedell and others like him, Washington and its institutions are an irresistible target -- the "ultimate symbol of power for the powerless," said Jerrold Post, a professor of political psychology at George Washington University.
"We've always had individuals who strike out at the giant 'system' when they're feeling a sense of powerlessness and insignificance," said Post, author of "Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred," a book on extremist movements. "Now we see an alarming tendency in which these same individuals can find substantiation online for almost any point of view."
Researchers who track violent groups see Bedell's rampage as a distorted manifestation of the anti-Washington view that has driven the rise of right-wing militias. A report last week by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the number of such organizations jumped 244 percent since the election of President Obama, from 149 groups to 512, including 127 militias. At the same time, the number of extremist attacks in the United States that resulted in deaths has fallen since the 1990s.(snip) Yet the motivations for the attacks differ greatly. Joseph Stack, who flew a small plane into an IRS building in Austin, was inspired in part by the anti-tax movement. Bedell's anti-government views were more libertarian, and some were from the radical left, such as his belief that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were a U.S. government conspiracy. Conservative bloggers Friday sought to label Bedell as leftist extremist, noting his online tirades against President George W. Bush's administration.