The long, rambling rant posted on a website eerily reflected the angry populist sentiments that have swept the country in the past year. In it, a Joe Stack inveighed against intrusive Big Brother government, corrupt corporate giants, irrational taxes, as well as the "puppet" George Bush. "I choose not to pretend that business as usual won't continue," he wrote. "I have just had enough. I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt." And then Stack apparently got in a Piper Cherokee PA-28 at about 9:40 a.m. at an airport in suburban Austin, Texas, and flew the plane into a commercial building housing an IRS office, killing himself, seriously injuring two people on the ground and starting a conflagration that lasted several hours. – Time Magazine
Dominant Social Theme: Too much talk of freedom leads to terrorism.
Free-Market Analysis: That didn't take long. The tragic incident of a man flying a plane into an IRS building in Texas almost immediately conjured up articles in the mainstream press expressing concern over the violent impacts of libertarian and free market rhetoric. Joe Stack apparently set his house on fire with his family in it (they barely escaped) and then flew a plane into a building, but the mainstream press doesn't seem very concerned with the human dimension. It is the rhetorical arguments that fascinate. Here's some more from the Time Magazine story that was obviously rushed into print, on the Internet anyway:
After the fireball … the black-glass windows blew out and the Venetian blinds starting flapping in the wind. The building houses regional offices of the IRS and other federal agencies. As one unidentified office worker from the building said, "If you have problems with the IRS, this is where you come in person to work them out." According to news reports, 199 IRS employees work in the building, and all are accounted for. Toward the end of what appears to be his final note, Stack wrote, "Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well." (See the making of the Tea Party movement.)
The White House was quick to say the incident was not a plot by overseas terrorists. But was it terrorism nevertheless? In his note, Stack was very clear he was unhappy with the U.S. government. He complained about onerous and merciless taxation of individuals like him as well as corruption and the special treatment the executives of big corporations allegedly received after their companies failed. And he seemed to be as emboldened as any suicide bomber. …
We note that Time inserted the parenthetical comment "See the making of the Tea Party movement" into the middle of the article. We think it's sad from a strictly human perspective that the article – and others like it rushed into print yesterday – don't seem to provide us with much of a human dimension for this tragic tale. There's not much on the IRS workers in the building, some of whom were badly injured – not even an expression of concern. And certainly no tears are shed for Stack or his family. We say a little prayer for those involved.
Time Magazine, perhaps because of the deadlines involved, goes directly for the sociopolitical jugular. The article focuses predictably on the connection between Stack and, almost inevitably, the larger irresponsibility of those involved agitating peacefully in the US for a return to limited government. But what does that encompass? Are they truly radical stances? Less war, fewer taxes, an end to mercantilist central banking and generally a less crazy way of doing things. Here's what we wrote on February 17, 2010 about the possibility of this sort of violent action occurring:
Again, we don't believe necessarily that the powers-that-be are contemplating a false-flag event aimed at President Obama or anyone else. [But] … these are desperate times in America. Indeed, a violent act or acts could be committed by a person or persons that could then be linked to the exploding free-market movement in this country, one that includes the Tea Parties, Ron Paul, etc. We hope nothing like this happens. Forewarned is forearmed (with ideas, not weapons!).
Click to read False Flag to Discredit Ron Paul?
Despite negative feedbacks we've gotten on the issue, we believe we were correct to make the points we did. It's been obvious to us recently that attacks by the mainstream press against the Tea Party Freedom movement have been ratcheting up. We've written several articles about it recently because we, like our readers, saw the signs that many in the established political system – and mainstream media – had simply had enough of the agitation and free-market rhetoric.
Yes, it seemed clear to us that from the point of view of the powers-that-be, the movement was steadily gathering steam and the rhetoric was growing steadily stronger. For this reason, we believed if there were to be some sort of violence, the mainstream media – at the behest of the larger American establishment – would attempt to make the linkages described above. Here is an excerpt from a Washington Post commentator's blog:
Joseph Stack was angry at the Internal Revenue Service, and he took his rage out on it by slamming his single-engine plane into the Echelon Building in Austin, Texas. We now know this thanks to the rather clear (as rants go) suicide note Stack left behind. There's no information yet on whether he was involved in any anti-government groups or whether he was a lone wolf. But after reading his 34-paragraph screed, I am struck by how his alienation is similar to that we're hearing from the extreme elements of the Tea Party movement.
The New York Times carried a description of the deed and certain feedbackers wasted no time in making linkages below the article, as follows:
1. Tea Party movement stokes the frustration and move the fringe farther to the right. I think this is a matter of reaping what has been sowed. People like this do not act unless they feel there are plenty out there who will be inspired by their actions.
3. First act of Tea Party Terrorism? Wonder how long it'll take Glen Beck to defend this guy…
9. It's time to speak out loudly against this fringe before more die and they gain real power.
As a matter of fact, we were ALSO of the opinion that self-styled libertarian Glenn Beck would use the incident as a way to further delineate differences within the Tea Party movement – and would not attempt to defend Stack (and certainly not his actions). We were fairly sure that Beck would use Stack to further a political viewpoint, much as Time Magazine did in it's reporting, excerpted above.
We've come to believe unfortunately that the mainstream press, Beck included, is pursuing a very specific line of reporting when it comes to the Tea Party movement. It is one that bifurcates the movement into a majority that can be safely co-opted by the larger Republican "big tent" party and a small BAD "fringe" element that wants to re-open 9/11 investigations, questions the legitimacy of President Barack Obama based on his lack of what they consider a formal birth certificate, etc. We were convinced enough to write several analyses on this phenomenon, which you can read here, if you wish:
As we were going to press last night, we were not surprised to read a blurb over at www.informationliberation.com claiming that "Glenn Beck just posed the question "Is he [Stack] a communist or a radical constitutionalist." That's a new one on us, "radical constitutionalist," but we are not surprised that Beck uses the phrase. Fox News, at the behest of its owner Rupert Murdoch and others are almost certainly engaged in the campaign described above. Beck works for Murdoch of course, and is paid a great deal to do so.
We hope that we are wrong about all this. The libertarian/constitutionalist congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex) has been leading a movement that argues for a classical liberal interpretation of government – that small government is good and a smaller government is even better. Within the context of smaller government, people have a right to ask questions about 9/11, Barack Obama's birth certificate or anything else for that matter. In America, anyway, asking questions is not yet illegal, nor should the enemies of freedom try to make it so.
Will the efforts to bifurcate the populist Tea Party movement into a controllable majority and a fringe minority end with a repudiation of Birthers and Truthers by the mainstream media? Hm-mm … probably not. Once the movement is divided into a "responsible" (small government/big military) group and an irresponsible (all small government all the time) group, efforts will quickly be made to lump Ron Paul and the constitutionalist movement into the irresponsible group. Never mind that the kind of free-market classical liberalism espoused by Ron Paul is absolutely antithetical to violence – the attempt will be made to conflate those who believe in smaller government with "violent anarchists" and such. It has been done before.
No, there is no reason why the playbook will not be trotted out again. This time, however, it may not work. There is the Internet to contend with. Too many understand the mechanisms of control involved, and the effort to impose and assert this control will itself will educate others. In order to roll back the freedom movement – in both the US and even in Europe – the powers-that-be would have to literally use a time machine to transport everyone in the US back about 15 years. And then they'd have to confiscate everybody's PCs and phones to make sure the Internet didn't take hold.
Absent the above circumstances, the smearing of classical liberalism may prove most difficult this time around. The power elite (as we regularly point out because almost no one else seems to) is used to responding to crises that threaten its fear-based dominant social themes. But the Internet is a PROCESS and is not amenable to such crisis intervention. It is a big problem for certain people, and one we think will only increase over time.