On Feb. 18, Joe Stack burned down his house in Austin, Texas, then kamikazied his plane into an Internal Revenue Service building, killing an IRS employee whose only crime was showing up for work that day. Yet Stack, who left behind a written diatribe of grievances that went clear back to high school, is being hailed in some corners as the second coming of Nathan Hale. That’s the kind of crazy we normally get from people who wish us dead.
I admit there are times when I watch news reports of unrest in some distant place, where enraged protesters are burning American flags and frothing some slogan that usually involves Satan, and I feel a slight sense of superiority.
We Americans are loath to engage in such naked emotionalism, even when outrage is justified. It’s one reason the current Tea Party movement is so fascinating. It’s a prairie fire on a landscape where political passions usually can be tamped out by a new season of “Dancing with the Stars.”
I’ve watched those overseas protesters and have found myself wondering, how can that many people be that irrational?
Now I know.
On Feb. 18, Joe Stack burned down his house in Austin, Texas, then kamikazied his plane into an Internal Revenue Service building, killing an IRS employee whose only crime was showing up for work that day.
Yet Stack, who left behind a written diatribe of grievances that went clear back to high school, is being hailed in some corners as the second coming of Nathan Hale.
That’s the kind of crazy we normally get from people who wish us dead.
Someone should ask the families of those killed in a federal building blown up by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols if they think Joe Stack is a hero.
Stack is no more a patriot than the lunatic who murdered a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in June. He is every inch a killer, as were Beltway sniper John Allen Muhammad and Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood head case who’s charged with killing 12 unarmed soldiers and wounding 31.
Initially, Stack’s daughter tried to tag her father as a hero, but even she had the good sense to walk it back.
Just as galling is the hypocrisy of those who are sidestepping the inconvenient truth that Stack’s victim was the real hero.
Vernon Hunter, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, was murdered for no other reason than he was a public servant — and people are whistling past his grave.
To wrap Stack in the same flag that Hunter fought under is to spit on his memory and on the real-life heroism of Austin’s first responders.
Perhaps the only thing worse than the silence are those who did speak.
Rep. Steve King of Iowa reportedly told ThinkProgress.org: “I think if we’d abolished the IRS back when I first advocated it, he wouldn’t have a target for his airplane. ... It’s sad the incident in Texas happened, but by the same token, it’s an agency that is unnecessary, and when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it’s going to be a happy day for America.”
Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, whose ruminations about possible government involvement in 9/11 made even Glenn Beck back off, said that while she was unsympathetic to Stack, his crime was an expression of the “hopelessness” Americans feel.
Medina told a Fox News affiliate: “They are criminal acts, and we can never excuse them. But nor should we wash our hands and say, ‘Oh well, the government didn’t have anything to do with that.’ People are hurting, and they’re tired of abuse at the hands of their government.”
Tinfoil hats, anyone?
Contact Charita Goshay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the newspaper.