The statement written by the Austin Texas resident who flew a small plane into an IRS building is a remarkable read, for two reasons. First, because we are so rarely allowed an opportunity to read such a statement. Usually excerpts are all that are reported, or, we’re given what is supposedly a summary (such as “because they hate our freedoms”.)
The internet is to thank for this opportunity. He posted his explanation for his actions online. And though the FBI did ask for it to be taken down, it was saved and copied by many, including the document archive, The Smoking Gun.
The second reason it is a remarkable read is because it is not the statement of a loon.
I am not defending him by noting he was not a loon. I mean he was not a loon in that he weighed a decision to make a symbolic statement, aware that it would be akin to past revolutionary war type actions.
He was ultimately a damnable person for deciding that his statement was more important than any lives that may have been lost. But he wasn’t a nut – he was well aware that what he was doing was an act of insurrection.
His essay was an articulate and rationale defense of the middle class. His act of war was an act of war — and as such, indefensible morally. But his intention, of defending the middle class against exploitation, was admirable. That his intention was admirable, and his argument clear, does NOT make his act of war admirable. It was vile and wrong. And he will not be admired. But his argument was cogent.
“His point that big business does this [tax maneuvering] regularly, yet the little guy can’t is definitely valid,” noted a commenter on HuffPost. “But two wrongs don’t make a right. We should be fighting to make sure that corporations play by the same rules as the rest of us, rather than trying to play the games the way they do.”
Indeed. Unfortunately for everyone who worked in that building, he seemed to have concluded that there was no way to make that happen, not with elected officials who are openly bought by corporations. His actions were wrong. But was his belief wrong?
How can we reconcile that the man had a good point, yet acted reprehensibly? Perhaps by addressing his point, through governmental reform, so that acts as despicable as what he did will never be done again.
ADDENDUM: [A similar post I wrote, which may duplicate some of what I wrote above]
Without being political, I’d like to simply comment on the way some news outlets have described his essay. If you’ve read the essay, on The Smoking Gun website perhaps, then you’ve seen it for what it is — carefully composed and well written. And by that I mean the sentence structure is clear, the paragraph breaks correctly made, the argument carefully built, etc. From a storytelling point of view, he effectively provides a character arc when describing his life, and how it led him to his act of insurrection. All that can be said without agreeing or disagreeing with his thesis that the middle class is being exploited by the elite and left without any defense from the politicians who have been openly bought. It is simply a matter of objectively evaluating the writing and argumentative skills he brought to bear in his essay. Which brings me to my point about the media:
Some news outlets describe the essay as a “rant”, and some as “rambling”. Some as a “rambling rant”. Yet it was not!
Observing the media, expecting neutral reporting, I was surprised to see those exceptionally subjective words being used to describe what he wrote. It was almost as if reporters instinctively felt the need to recast the guy’s essay as the product of a madman, rather than consider it for what it was — an argument that appeared to be sound.
The New York Times was one of the very few papers to state that his argument was actually materially correct in many respects:
That so many other outlets decided not to be impartial was a brush with how media must have been like in the USSR — semi-fictional and placating.
Some say we create a future that we are familiar with, so we will instinctively create an Orwellian future, even though we’ve all read “1984” and got the point that it was bad. We’ll create it anyway, because it is at least familiar. This was an example of that sort of recasting of the facts that really, we should never do.
The only way to ensure that this sort of tragedy never happens again is to make sure that we attend to any of the problems that were pointed out, if any of the problems are real, and resolve them. The NY Times says they are real. So what happens next?
Well that wraps up my comments on this event. I just had that impression, about his essay and the news coverage last week, and thought it was worth noting. I am less interested in how every political camp is trying to suggest the guy must have been a this, or a that — always placing him exactly into whatever opposing side that camp already has. Progressives calling him a teabagger. Conservatives calling him a communist. All reading whatever they want into what he wrote, with barely any evidence to support their claims one way or another. He was apparently a liberal conservative capitalism communist, if everyone is to be believed. And that in itself makes it futile to even discuss politics about this case, even if we could.