Just as James Holmes did in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, just as Charles Carl Roberts IV did in a one-room schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania and just as those four bastards did decades ago at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Wade Michael Page took his hatred, frustrations and bloodlust out on a group of unsuspecting innocents -- people without the ability and foresight to protect themselves or perhaps strike back. After all, who but the most paranoid of individuals expects a gunman to burst into their normally quiet place of worship?
In my book (and hopefully anyone else's), that's cowardice. It's a trait all of the above players share among each other. When pitted against equal or greater force, these individuals often fold under pressure. Holmes quietly gave up and turned himself in. Roberts took his own life. Cherry, Blanton, Cash and Chambliss scattered like roaches before being found, charged and eventually imprisoned.
Page apparently chose "suicide by cop."
Page visited his hate on a community of Sikhs, a people often mistaken (and sometimes used as stand-ins) for the Muslims whom "God-fearing Americans" have been trained to reflexively hate since 9/11, if not longer. Because there are never any Muslim extremists around when you need one, Page figured a Sikh temple would do in a pinch.
And that's how six people ended up losing their lives.
Holmes and Roberts' actions were treated as outliers, as something atypical of how men of their societal makeup should behave. It's much harder to do the same for Page, given his connections to and affiliations with Neo-Nazi hate groups, but that doesn't mean they won't try.* Nevertheless, his actions represent the proverbial canary in a blood-filled coal mine.
It's funny how right-wing-oriented "patriot" groups grow like weeds during "liberal" administrations, only to fall dormant during conservative ones, like a bad herpes infection:
The Patriot movement first emerged in 1994, a response to what was seen as violent government repression of dissident groups at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and near Waco, Texas, in 1993, along with anger at gun control and the Democratic Clinton Administration in general. It peaked in 1996, a year after the Oklahoma City bombing, with 858 groups, then began to fade. By the turn of the millennium, the Patriot movement was reduced to fewer than 150 relatively inactive groups.
But the movement came roaring back beginning in late 2008, just as the economy went south with the subprime collapse and, more importantly, as Barack Obama appeared on the political scene as the Democratic nominee and, ultimately, the president-elect. Even as most of the nation cheered the election of the first black president that November, an angry backlash developed that included several plots to murder Obama. Many Americans, infused with populist fury over bank and auto bailouts and a feeling that they had lost their country, joined Patriot groups.
The swelling of the Patriot movement since that time has been astounding. From 149 groups in 2008, the number of Patriot organizations skyrocketed to 512 in 2009, shot up again in 2010 to 824, and then, last year, jumped to 1,274. That works out to a staggering 755% growth in the three years ending last Dec. 31. Last year's total was more than 400 groups higher than the prior all-time high, in 1996.
All of this talk about "taking back our country" didn't really kick into overdrive until the dreaded "Marxist socialist Kenyan" planted his hind parts in the Oval Office chair. From there, memberships to these various "patriot" groups became less about disaffected losers slouching towards hatedom in search of an identity and a scapegoat, and more about people finding new outlets to vent their frustrations through before they suffered a humiliating "Ni*clang!*" moment in front of polite society.
As long as these people see the current president, along with black Americans, Latinos, Muslims, liberal-minded folk and others who are ideologically, socially or politically different from them as dire threats to be eliminated with extreme prejudice, you'll keep seeing scenes like these. You'll keep seeing cowards pick soft targets to unload maximum death and misery just to make a statement and you'll keep hearing people attempt to explain why these events are somehow in no way connected to any future trends.
Meanwhile, people are more scared of the raggedy-assed New Black Panther Party frightening elderly white Americans with their mere presence than they are of disaffected Neo-Nazis and other militia types deciding to strike out on their own rampage of terror and mayhem. After all, those ni*clang!*s are pretty scary...
*For morbid hilarity, check out the FReep comments prescribing the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis as "radical leftist" entities. "National Socialist," indeed.