Meet America’s Newest Loser

roederThanks to reporting by  the New York Times, details have begun to emerge about the life and background of Scott Roeder, the Kansas man who murdered Dr. George R. Tiller last Sunday, as he ushered congregants at the Lutheran church where he was a member. What we know about Tiller’s murderer so far, is predictably depressing… or depressingly predictable, depending on how you want to view it.

It will probably come as no surprise to Stinquers to learn that Roeder was an enthusiast of kooky right-wing causes that went well beyond the question of abortion:

Years earlier, Mr. Roeder belonged to a Kansas group known as the Patriot Movement, a citizens’ militia which, according to a fellow member, Morris Wilson, 70, aimed to “kick Uncle Sam in the shins” by bucking rules like mounting license plates on cars. “He didn’t like taxation and over-regulation…”

He also appears to have been a member of (or had some association with) the radical Montana Freemen, an organization that gained some notoriety in the 1990’s for passing millions of dollars in forged checks that they claimed were backed by a fictional “fractional reserve currency.”

And Roeder’s financial situation seems to fit a familiar pattern, too. If there’s one common thread that tends to unite these violent, conspiracy minded nutcases, its a record of financial failure and an inability to keep a steady job:

In Overland Park, Ms. Roeder, a teacher, said Mr. Roeder had seemed ambivalent on matters of abortion, politics and religion when they first met and married in 1986. He had worked in a manufacturing job at an envelope company, she said, until he seemed unable to pay the bills.

“The man I married disappeared into this other person,” Ms. Roeder, shaken and puffy eyed, said of Mr. Roeder, from the home she shared with him in Overland Park, Kan., near Kansas City.

“He wanted a scapegoat,” Ms. Roeder said. “First it was taxes — he stopped paying. Then he turned to the church and got involved in anti-abortion.”

It seems a pretty typical story for these sorts of individuals, the details of his life have a depressingly familiar ring to them. In the 1990s Republican politicians seized upon and exploited the anxieties of this group of frustrated working-class failures. With an all too eager media, this demographic group were dubbed “the Angry White Male” and blame for their plight was laid, not at the doorsteps of preceding Republican presidential administrations that had exacerbated a tendency of massive inequality of wealth distribution favoring the top five percent of the nation, but instead on minorities, on the Federal government, on taxes and on the very business regulations that sought to protect the environment, economic competition, and safe working conditions for the otherwise vulnerable employees of private companies.

And so it was that a cottage industry of venomous vilification of progressive ideas and causes took hold of America’s AM radio dial. The political Left, we were told, were those who were truly responsible for the dire economic circumtsances of ordinary Americans who found it nearly impossible to raise a family on meager salaries and with little public support for health care, child care, housing, public transportation and the like. Instead the blame fell on undeserving minorities who took jobs that should have gone to more qualified white men. The blame fell on liberals who had crippled the economy by insisting that businesses observe minimal standards of pay, non-discrimination, and environmental stewardship. The blame fell on women and feminists in particular who, in the words of Pat Robertson comprise a “…socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”

Seeing the potential to exploit these people, their failures and insecurities for political and financial gain, the Right seized on their anger and channeled it in hateful and sometimes vicious directions.

The results were seen in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. They were seen in the recent murders of Unitarian churchgoers in Tennesse by a man who idolized hate mongers Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. And it is seen again here, in the murder of Dr. George R. Tiller, by a psycopathic loser, a conspiracy theorist and right-wing militia enthusiast.

42 Comments

I keep having a nightmare that my tribe is next. So it was with Eric Rudolph, who hated the Olympics, abortion and gay people.

@rptrcub: I too haz teh fear that the genie is out of Pandora’s box, such as. I could deal with a whole lot more panda/furry a-scandalizing in the news and a lot less handgun vandalizing.

@rptrcub: You’re in good company. Hitler hated gays and Jews. Too bad Alan Ginsberg never got a chance to shit on his grave.

Well, they don’t call it “rabble-rousing” because they are out there rousing the elites and the comfortable.

I would bet that the unemployment rate among those who attended Palin rallies hovered near 90%.

You mean ‘Meet America’s Latest GOP Icon’ . . . How long before Talibunny visits him in prison?

@Prommie: This may be bad of me as a lefty tree-hugger etc, but when I see the pasty, scraggly white faces of the young people who demonstrate at the G8 and IMF etc meetings, I think “lumpenproletariat” and remember what Lenin said about them.

I am sort of surprised that this guys is not either a) my cousin, b) my Facebook friend, or c) both. It is like staring into the future of my family tree.

Serolf, can I just say how grateful I am that Nojo and co. courted you and sent you flowers and singing telegrams and callgirls until you decided to come over to Stinque and play? This post is a thing of beauty–well done.

@Nabisco: Pandora’s Box has long been opened — OK and Atlanta demonstrate that, and this wasn’t Tiller’s first encounter with a gun-wielding criminal.

We’re still playing out an infernal series of events that was launched in the Reagan era: stiff working Americans and blame it on liberals. Highly successful politically, never mind the body count.

Imagine what what happen if lib/lefty/progressive extremists struck first.

Great essay, btw, Mr. Serolf.

@redmanlaw: That’s what I was chatting about with CB last night — have we actually seen any violent lefty extremists since the 70s?

The best I can come up with are actions by radical animal-rights groups, “tree spiking” and related monkeywrenching in the Northwest, and window-breaking in Seattle.

@Dodgerblue:

Wow, I never thought about that. Does Hitler have a public grave?

@Also sprach Tommmcatt:

Ashes scattered in the Elbe, apparently, according to Wiki.

@Also sprach Tommmcatt: There are also stories that the Russians recovered the bodies from the bunker and took them to Russia so there would not be any gravesites etc for the die-hards to visit. But there is no known grave.

@Also sprach Tommmcatt: Don’t know if it’s true or not, but when I did a walking tour of East Berlin in 1992 or so with an unemployed PhD in WW II history from Oxford, he pointed out where the bunker was where Hitler killed himself. There is no marking except a manhole cover. My friend took a picture of me squatting over the manhole as if I were taking a shit and simultaneously flipping the bird at the manhole cover. I’m sure it’s somewhere in a photo album in a storage crate, maybe I’ll dig it out and scan it for a future Stinque Jam.

@redmanlaw:

Which Vonnegut novel was it that had Hitler at the mouth of hell, painting watercolors?

Now I must go re-read my Vonnegut.

@Dodgerblue:

Can you imagine the weirdos if there were a gravesite? Not just anti-semites and neo-nazis, but Satanists, etc. Kind of like Central Park’s Strawberry Fields monument, but for the evil.

I think it’s been suggested here before that public-dumping gravesites would be an acceptable substitute for war-crimes prosecution. And as a practical matter, perhaps a better preventive method.

“Mr. Vice President, it is our legal judgment that proceeding with your torture policy will lead to folks shitting on your grave when you die.”

@nojo: I’d like to take a shit on Cheney during the war-crimes prosecution.

@SanFranLefty: Alas, Silent Creative Partner is busy, and I’m not a jock with such programming, but a “Dump on Dick” Flash game would be a marvelous addition to the site.

@nojo: And just think of the increased traffic you’d get from people Googling that phrase and not quite getting what they had hoped for!

@SanFranLefty: “If you were in a German scheisse video, you’d tell me, right?”

@nojo: Cartman references = always funny.

@flippin eck:

Er… hold on a second… I’m still waiting for the call girls.

@Serolf Divad: Ooops, you mean you didn’t want them sent “in care of Nabisco, 1 Serolf Way, Pennsyltucky”?

@redmanlaw: “In the generation clear as ice, this is your paradise….”

leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.

Well, I’ve got my to-do list for the weekend. Well done, Mr. Serolf–may I call you Divad?

@Also sprach Tommmcatt: There is a grave where his body was interred for a few years, and even that was secret and unmarked, but then the Soviets, fearing a cult growing around it, or someone stealing the body, dug him up, cremated him, and scattered the ashes. Thats what the records from east Germany say, anyway.

@Dodgerblue: Lenninism, as I understand it, differs from ideal communism, in that it does rely on cadres of intellectual elites who promote the proletarian revolution, accelerating the process Marx predicted, in which the proles would rise of their own accord. Marx predicted the proletarian revolution as the natural end of the abuses of industrial communism, which abuses were indeed extreme in Marx’s day (Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, anyone? Dickens, Dreiser?). The problem was, Russia was still nearly medeival, not yet a capitalist industrial society, so Lennin thought up the idea of prematurely igniting the revolution from above, so to speak.

To my way of seeing it, the flaw in Marx’s historical and predictive theories, was that he did not foresee that industrialized capitalism could soften and ameliorate the abuses, that a country like the US, for example, could react to the early labor movement, which was nearly a revolution, and work with it, implement livable wages and conditions, and social welfare programs, and this stave off the revolution, simply by making people happier, more prosperous, speading the wealth a little more equitably.

The historical blindness of the modern conservative movement, again, as I see it, is that it does not recognize that the social programs and labor rights and taxation policies of liberal democracies, which they see as communistic, are in fact the reason we did not have a communist revolution. They are trying to do away with the cure, mistaking it for the disease.

Again, as I see it, taking bits from everything I have ever read and know, is that as Jesus said, “the poor will always be with us.” And a society has two choices about what to do about the poor, the poor sad unsuccesful, damaged, weak, and yes, sometimes, irresponsible, and lazy, what do you do about them? I think there are two choices; you create a society that gives them enough to live some kind of life, free from desperation and starvation, or you say to them “fuck you, die, if you cannot hack it,” but if you take this second option, you have to create a totalitarian society to keep them down when their desperation drives them to desperate measures.

The biggest blindness of the government-hating libertariantards and the government hating conservatives, is that they cannot see that the primary function of government is protecting the haves from the have-nots, so that the have-nots won’t just murder the haves in their sleep and take their shit.

Lumpenproletariat, in fact, refers almost perfectly to our red state angry white males, like this loser.

@blogenfreude: Jesus Fucking Christ, I have a better chance of being indicted for conspiracy to jaywalk than these people.

@Promnight: This is the best thing you’ve ever written on this site. This should be published in every newspaper in the country. You, sir, have nailed it.

@Dodgerblue: Thats very kind of you, sir. I wrote a paper with this thesis in college, I got a B. But in researching it, I read much about the state of the labor movement, and the large number of small uprisings, that occurred during the early years of the depression, and I have also read much early labor history. Our “official” history glosses over and hides the fact that Marx’s predictions of a social revolution resulting from the extreme abuses of early industrialism nearly came to pass, here in the US, and I came to believe that Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of the most brilliant politicians, a true social engineer, who should be credited with inventing a capitalist response, an evolution in industrial capitalism, which prevented Marx’s communist revolution, creating the modern capitalist-social welfare state, which, in every country which has adopted it, has acheived the greatest measure of individual freedom, both freedom to succeed for the achievers, and freedom from want for the losers, of any other system ever tried.

But ironically, here in the US, where this brilliant invention, this brilliant, and succesful, feat of scientific, rational, social engineering was innovated and first implemented, it is hated and reviled by a very large proportion of our country, the conservative “movement” which drives our politics, and it does, and has, for 30 years now.

Its our race problem that causes this. The racial divide allows the conservative demagogues to convince the lumpen proles that its not unrestrained capitalism that is hurting them, but rather, the social programs, which the demagogues portray as going to the blacks. They have thus diverted the anger of the lumpenproles from the capitalists who enslave them, and turned that anger towards the blacks, perverting the class consciuosness of poor whites and somehow convincing them that they should ally themselves with the rich capitalists.

Anyway, thats what I think.

@Also sprach Tommmcatt: Married Eva, committed suicide and had his body burned within hours as the Russians consolidated their hold on Berlin.

@Promnight: I think that racism is good for capitalism for exactly that reason, and that fact helps explain why it’s so prevalent even though it is demonstrably senseless.

@Dodgerblue: I would not say its “good” for capitalism, it is the reason the US refuses to embrace the Roosevelt, now the european, capitalist compromise system, that as I said, I truly believe does the most good for all members of society, of any system devised in human history.

But racism is more than good for US the US conservative movement; its almost the only thing they have, that and the retarded fundamentalist christian social issues, all of which are distractions from the real fundamental issues of our society, how to temper and tame the extreme power of capitalism, how to harness and control capitalism’s wealth and material progress capabilities and inject some measure of social justice and social equality. The entire public agenda of the conservatives is to distract from the real issues of social justice, and they have so controlled debate and so demonized even any discussion of social justice as “communist,” that its anathema to even speak publicly of the issues I am speaking of.

I am tired of howling into the void. I wants sex and drugs and rock and roll. Noone listens, noone cares.

Brava, prom. Excellent and original account.

FDR saved the US from revolution by co-opting the ideas of the left and thereby defusing them.

@Promnight: Do not be seduced by despair. The Catholic church did get that one sin right; the sin of sloth. Best known as accidie. The sin of despair and depression. Remember that you love and are loved in return. That’s about as much as we can hope for. That and really good tabouleh.

@Promnight: Excellent essay. Thank you for that perspective. People are really bringing their A game today.

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