News & Politics

Man Who Crashed Plane into IRS Building Posted Online Manifesto (and Gets Right-Wing Macabre Facebook Fan Page)

Software engineer Joseph Stack blasted taxes, the legal system and corporate executives in his suicide note. Now a Facebook fan club celebrates his act.

In a suicide noteposted online, Joseph Stack, the 53-year-old software engineer who slammed his plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas Thursday morning, railed against the federal government, taxation, the legal system, corporate execs and the bailout.

“If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, 'Why did this have to happen?' The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time,” wrote Stack.

"We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all,” he continued.

“We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was 'no taxation without representation.' I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a 'crackpot,' traitor and worse.”

Within hours of Stack's attack on the IRS building, which wounded two people and left one unaccounted for (as of late Thursday, 2 bodies had been pulled from the site), a right-wing group celebrating Stack popped up on Facebook. The page featured the Gadsden flag (a coiled snake against a yellow background with the slogan "Don't Tread on Me") and the following statement: "Finally an American man took a stand against our tyrannical government that no longer follows the constitution and is turned its back on its founding fathers and the beliefs this country was founded on." 

The group was deleted by Facebook yesterday; however, a new Joseph Stack Facebook fan page was created soon after. The administrator of that site, "Mike from Kentucky," wrote in a comment on the page, "We were deleted earlier but we are back until they delete us again. So much for freedom of speech."

The 29-year-old construction worker told AlterNet over the phone that his girlfriend had started the original Facebook page, but that the page -- and her personal account -- had been deleted by Facebook. He suspects Facebook may have killed the site after being pressured by the government. Mike says he and his girlfriend started the group as a discussion forum after digging up Joseph Stack's anti-government manifesto online. 

"I'm in support of his ideas," Mike says. "I have mixed emotions about the attack. Can't agree or disagree. I know for a fact you can picket all day long. It's a waste of time. The government has turned a blind eye to us."

Mike says Stack's frustrations are common, but unlike the "several million people" who feel the same way, Stack "chose to take a stand."

"I feel the frustration. So many things are changing so fast. The face of our country is changing so fast; it's going downhill really quick. People getting really fed up with this so-called progress."

While Mike, who says his politics are influenced by concerns about the future of his three children, seems to parrot the line of the Tea Party, he says he is not involved in the movement, although he said he might look into it following our conversation. He does, however, watch Fox News religiously, in part because Fox is as  "anti-Obama," as he is.

"Glenn Beck is my favorite. He says it like it is."

Many of the comments on the Facebook page's discussion board echo the anti-government rage expressed by Mike (many others counter that Stack was a criminal who should not be glorified).

Donna Wald writes, "I dont [sic] know about you all but, if I were in that building when Joe struck it I would have been honored to die for a good cause that would finally at least open up some eyes."

"His name was Joseph Andrew Stack," writes Allen Morgan. "In death we are all Joseph Stack."

Adrian Mojica offered up the following, "END THE FED! END THE FED! END THE FED! END THE FED! END THE FED!"

Joseph Stack's suicide mission was the sixth politically motivated attack against the IRS since the mid-nineties, including a 1995 plot against the Austin, Texas building into which Stack flew his plane, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks domestic terrorism.

Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, writes “This attack comes amid the absolutely explosive growth of the right-wing militias and the larger antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement, which includes thousands of so-called tax protesters who believe the federal income tax is illegal. There is a populist rage out there about what is seen as the coddling of rapacious elites, like the mortgage bankers who kept receiving multimillion dollar bonuses, even as working Americans seem to keep losing more and more.”

Since the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing, the SPLC has documented 75 domestic terror plots. Most of the individuals involved seemed inspired by extreme anti-government sentiment, according to the SPLC. 

Tana Ganeva is an AlterNet editor. Follow her on Twitter.
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