It's rare that I publish an item without offering a corresponding opinion, but I think it's important that -- before each of the echo chambers on either side of the political spectrum begins knee-jerk spinning the hell out of its supposed larger implications -- you get a look at this, unclouded, and come to a few conclusions on your own.
At the link below you'll find the written manifesto of Joseph Andrew Stack -- the man who crashed a small plane into an office building in Austin, Texas this morning. Stack apparently had major issues with the IRS and was specifically targeting its office. Regardless of which side of the political fence you're on, something like this is a potential gold mine: If you're on the right, you can paint Stack as a guy who'd had enough of big government intruding into our lives; if you're on the left, you might trumpet his final act as proof of the violent shitstorm being stirred up by exactly that kind of talk from the right.
But after reading through the whole thing, none of it's quite that cut and dry -- and therefore that easy to summarily dismiss or co-opt.
See for yourself.
The Smoking Gun: Plane Crash Suspect's Online Diatribe/2.18.10
(Update: I touched on this in the comment section but I think it needs to be on the main page. Just because I thought that a logical examination of Joseph Stack's "suicide note" proved that he wasn't easy to pin down politically, that doesn't mean both sides aren't already trying to do just that. There are already Facebook pages popping up from what I assume is the farthest-right lunatic fringe claiming Stack as a martyr for the cause -- pulling irresponsible crap like calling him "the first casualty in the next American revolution." Likewise, commenters at Huffington are dismissing him as just another "Tea Bagging loser" who doesn't think he should have to pay his taxes. Needless to say, both sides are dead wrong.
As much as Stack may have a good vocabulary and have made a few decent points in his final manifesto, one thing cannot be avoided: He's now a domestic terrorist. He flew a plane into a building filled with innocent people to make a political point -- that's the definition of a terrorist, as we should well know. He's an attempted mass murderer. Holding him up as some kind of patriot or excusing his act because you happen to agree with some of his views -- or even worse, hope to adopt them strictly to score political points -- is fucking inexcusable. Period.
But at the same time, it's absolutely off the mark to relegate Stack to the Bagger faux-populist pile. He apparently had issues with the IRS for decades, long before the "movement" started (his primary nemesis being a change in the tax code 24 years ago that he blames for forever altering his life); he fires his anger in all kinds of paranoid directions, going after not simply one elected official or political party but politicians in general, including George W. Bush, as well as multinational corporations, health insurance companies, the city of Austin, "Big Brother", even the Catholic Church. He doesn't go off on any kind of racist tangent and his anger doesn't seem to have peaked specifically because Barack Obama is now in office. Stack may share some of the Baggers' ideology when it comes to government intrusion but he doesn't seem to be one of them by alignment. Which won't stop the craziest on that side from canonizing him, the mainstream right-wing shit-stirrers from trying to distance themselves from him, and the usual suspects on the left from demonizing him.)