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Debunking the Left-Wing Myths About 'Right-Wing, Extremist Christians'

How many mischaracterizations can Peter Beinart make in a single paragraph?

2:55 PM, Jul 25, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Peter Beinart has a doozy of a column up over at the Daily Beast, rather breathlessly titled, "Why Norway Could Happen Here." Since I suspect that Beinart managed to repeat every left-wing myth about the violent tendencies of Christians and conservatives, let's take a look at the key paragraph:

There’s actually been a lot of right-wing, extremist Christian terrorism in the U.S. in recent years. The biggest terrorist attack in U.S. history prior to 9/11—the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing—was carried out by Timothy McVeigh, a white ex-Army officer with ties to the militia movement. That same year, Eric Rudolph bombed the Atlanta Olympics to protest abortion and international socialism. The only major WMD attack of the “war on terror” era—the 2001 anthrax mailings—apparently was the handiwork of a microbiologist angry that prominent Catholic politicians were pro-choice. In 2009, anti-abortion militants murdered Wichita doctor George Tiller. (He already had been shot once, and his clinic had been bombed). That same year octogenarian neo-Nazi, James Wenneker von Brunn, shot a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Last February, Andrew Joseph Stack, angry at the federal government, flew a small plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas.

Beinart is either largely ignorant, or has a pretty curious definition of "right-wing, extremist Christian." For one thing, I'm not sure that label applies in its entirety to Anders Breivik. As for his other examples, well, McVeigh was no Christian. He famously declared that "Science is my religion," and his final words were quoting from Invictus: "I thank whatever gods may be/ for my unconquerable soul ... I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."

Here's abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph in an interview with USA Today:

"Many good people continue to send me money and books," Rudolph writes in an undated letter. "Most of them have, of course, an agenda; mostly born-again Christians looking to save my soul. I suppose the assumption is made that because I'm in here I must be a 'sinner' in need of salvation, and they would be glad to sell me a ticket to heaven, hawking this salvation like peanuts at a ballgame. I do appreciate their charity, but I could really do without the condescension. They have been so nice I would hate to break it to them that I really prefer Nietzsche to the Bible."

As for alleged Anthrax mailer Bruce Ivins being supposedly motivated by his pro-life, Catholic views -- well, that's a pretty unfounded assertion based on a lot of tenuous and anonymous sources. Further, from what we know about his religious views -- to say nothing of considerable evidence that he was mentally ill -- he wanted the Catholic church to liberalize on the issue of female and married clergy. Not exactly what one thinks of when we discuss extremist religious views.

Then there's holocaust museum shooter James von Brunn. Who in his own words, was emphatically not a Christian: "The Big Lie technique, employed by Paul to create the CHRISTIAN RELIGION, also was used to create the HOLOCAUST RELIGION ... CHRISTIANITY AND THE HOLOCAUST are HOAXES." As for Brunn's politics, this is a little close to home, but Ben Smith handled it nicely:

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