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The Terrorist Threat: Right-Wing Radicals and the Eliminationist Mindset

Understanding the dangerous worldview that led to the murder of an innocent doctor and an attack at the Holocaust Museum.

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DN: Yeah.

JH: I just wonder how you respond to that defense.

DN: Well, in a real simple way I would say that it's just nonsense. There is a very clear causal connection between hateful rhetoric that thoroughly demonizes other people to a point that they are objects fit for elimination, and the violent action that follows. As I explain the book with example after example -- historical examples.

Eliminationist rhetoric has the effect of creating permission for people to act. We can't turn away from that. We can't simply say, "well, the only person responsible for [Kansas abortion provider] George Tiller's death was [alleged gunman] Scott Roeder." I'm sorry, Scott Roeder got a lot of his ideas -- got a lot of his hate -- from listening to people like Bill O'Reilly. Yes, he was clearly a radical. He was a Freeman and was also associated with the Army of God. But you have to understand that people like that actually see people like Limbaugh and O'Reilly as liberals.

And compared to themselves they are relatively liberal. So when a guy like O'Reilly broadcasts their beliefs and says what they are thinking is right, it not only validates them, not only validates their beliefs, but it also spurs them to action, because their thinking is that if even the liberal media is saying it, it's even worse than we thought. That is a spark to action.

I use an anecdote to illustrate this point very clearly. A key case for me relatively early on in my work on this kind of phenomenon was in 1986. We had a case in Seattle where this drifter named David Lewis Rice walked up to the home of a family in a Seattle neighborhood one Christmas Eve. He was pretending to be a taxicab deliveryman -- delivering a Christmas  package to them. He pulled a toy gun, tied them up, and over the next eight to 12 hours proceeded to kill them brutally and horribly with all kinds of torturous means -- this man David Goldmark, his wife and their two children, who were both under the age of 10 -- using an iron and ice pick, and it was really an awful case.

Why did he do this? Because he believed that the Goldmarks were the leading Communists in Washington state, and maybe even some of the leading Communists in the country. Why did he believe that? Because he had been hanging out with a group of Bircherites who met regularly down at a little local tavern in Seattle. They had sat around for the previous month and talked about how David Goldmark and his wife were prominent communists.

This had come up because Goldmark's father had been one of the leading legislators in Washington state during the McCarthyite Red scare in the state. Some of the local [John] Birchers out in the Spokane area had accused them of being members of the communist party -- secret communists. It was actually a famous case at the time, because the Goldmarks sued the crap out of these people and won. And it had long stuck in these people's craws that they had lost this case.

It had come up in the news two months before the killings. There had been some reminder of it, and this is what had got this group -- they called themselves the "Duck Club" -- all worked up. They were talking about the Goldmarks all the time. They filled David Lewis Rice's head with all these ideas, and he decided to act on it.

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