On Thursday, a man flew a plane into a Texas federal building in an apparent domestic terrorist attack. The suicide bomber, identified as Joseph Andrew Stack, was allegedly a right wing extremist who wrote on a website that violence “is the only answer” and expressed anger at the IRS, the federal government, and health care reform. Some on the fringe right have declared Stack a hero.
ThinkProgress caught up with Rep. Steve King (R-IA) at CPAC to talk about the attack in Texas. Asked if the right-wing anti-tax rhetoric might have motivated the attack, King implicitly agreed, noting that he had been a leading opponent of the IRS for some time. He noted that although the attack was “sad,” “by the same token,” it was justified because once the the right succeeds at abolishing the IRS, “it’s going to be a happy day for America.” He sidestepped the question of the legitimacy of the terrorists’ grievances, but sympathized by saying that “I’ve had a sense of ‘why is the IRS in my kitchen.’ Why do they have their thumb in the middle of my back”:
TP: Do you think this attack, this terrorist attack, was motivated at all by a lot of the anti-tax rhetoric that’s popular in America right now?
KING: I think if we’d abolished the IRS back when I first advocated it, he wouldn’t have a target for his airplane. And I’m still for abolishing the IRS, I’ve been for it for thirty years and I’m for a national sales tax. [...] 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.
TP: So some of his grievances were legitimate?
KING: I don’t know if his grievances were legitimate, I’ve read part of the material. I can tell you I’ve been audited by the IRS and I’ve had the sense of ‘why is the IRS in my kitchen.’ Why do they have their thumb in the middle of my back. … It is intrusive and we can do a better job without them entirely.
Last week, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), despite his long history of inflamed rhetoric about terrorism and domestic security, essentially disregarded the attack. As ThinkProgress’ Max Bergmann observed, “It is naive for Brown to think the dangers of right wing terrorism aren’t real. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security released a report warning of the dangers of rising right wing extremism, as was evidenced by the shooting at the Holocaust museum in D.C. and by a Pittsburgh killer who was partially inspired by Glenn Beck.”
Indeed, it’s not only hate radio personalities encouraging violence against the government. Far right members of Congress, like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), have called for people to get “armed and dangerous” against the administration’s clean energy policies. King’s quasi-embrace of the Texas terrorist’s grievances is similarly dangerous.