Holocaust Museum shooting: A spike in domestic extremism?
The attack, which killed one, is the third fatal shooting by an extremist in 10 days.
The shooting at Washington's Holocaust Museum by a notorious white supremacist Wednesday, which left one security guard dead, underscores a growing concern among analysts and government officials about a potential rise in domestic extremism.Skip to next paragraph
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Authorities say James Von Brunn entered the museum with a rifle and began shooting, before he himself was shot, leaving the octogenarian in critical condition. Mr. Von Brunn's car, parked near the museum, has also tested positive for explosives, AP reports.
Von Brunn is well known to anti-extremist experts, having written countless invectives against Jews and blacks on the Web. He also was imprisoned in the 1980s for attempting to accost the Federal Reserve board members while waving a pistol – apparently angered by high interest rates and inflation.
Wednesday's attack is the third shooting by an extremist in the past 10 days in the United States. Experts say the shootings suggest that "lone wolf" extremism unaffiliated with any organization could be spreading, fueled both by overseas anti-American fervor as well as by homegrown right-wing groups angered by the state of the economy and the election of the nation's first black president.
Last Sunday, an anti-abortion activist killed a well-known abortion doctor in Kansas, leading to the closing of the clinic. The following day, an American convert to Islam opened fire on two US soldiers taking a break outside a Little Rock, Ark., Army-Navy recruiting office, killing one and injuring the other.
In a controversial document released earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security warned that "a number of economic and political factors are driving a resurgence in right-wing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity." The report was later retracted because it claimed that disgruntled veterans were possible converts to right-wing extremism – a point that infuriated veterans' groups. But it cited the economic downturn and the election of a black president as factors in a potential spike in extremist activity.
The "Obama effect ... [has] generated a backlash of white supremacy," Northeastern criminologist Jack Levin told CNN Wednesday. "Jews and blacks in the White House – that's threatening to someone who believes that blacks are subhuman and Jews are the children of the devil."
But Wednesday's shooting also highlights the difficulties of countering the "lone wolf."