Robert Gartrell

Law-enforcement officials are dismissing the apparent plot by white-supremacist tweakers to shoot Barack Obama in Denver because it’s clear that they weren’t competent in the least:

And of course, that means the wingnutosphere is even more eager to dismiss it, as Nitpicker reports. This includes some faux-macho posturing about guns that actually only demonstrate the wingnuts’ base ignorance about them.

Well, we’ve already observed that we were fortunate that they weren’t very competent. But where there’s smoke … well, let’s just say we shouldn’t be quite so eager to just toss this off.

Especially considering that the chief reason for dismissing any concern is that they were tweakers. This rationale was touted by the cops and seized upon by the wingnuts. But even Rachel Maddow applied this logic:

“Know how you can tell a crime isn’t going to be successful?” (Rachel) Maddow asked her new friends. “Crystal meth.”

There’s some legitimate basis to this reasoning, but it’s not wholly accurate, either — because tweakers, while innately unstable and scattered, still are capable of wreaking extraordinary harm. Example No. 1: Tim McVeigh.

Tim McVeigh

The Oklahoma City bomber and his Arizona buddy Michael Fortier were prodigious tweakers. At one point, McVeigh even exchanged some stolen guns for methamphetamine. As this 2001 piece about the relationship of meth to criminal behavior notes:

In fact, McVeigh’s lawyer made an argument during the trial that his client was a practicing, paranoid, delusional "tweaker," or meth addict, whose judgment had been irreparably impaired by his drug use.

The bottom-line issue is not whether these men were actually capable of killing Obama — considering the levels of security in Denver this week, any plot would have had only an infinitesimal likelihood of succeeding in the first place, and the plotters’ apparently addled state would have reduced that to nearly nothing. Yet it seems not to have crossed anyone’s minds that even if Obama was never at risk, any number of innocent bystanders stood in harm’s way.

No, the issue remains that there is an unusual level of visceral hatred towards Obama already extant because of his race. And that hatred is being whipped up to feverish levels by the dog-whistle race-baiting that is endemic to the right-wing attacks on Obama, as well as the general levels of violent rhetoric they have been deploying for the past decade and longer and rising in recent months.

These crazies don’t act in a vacuum. And the problem is one not just for their immediate targets, but for all of us.

David Neiwert

David Neiwert

David Neiwert is the managing editor of Firedoglake. He's a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author/editor of the blog Orcinus. He also is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.