An arrest has been made in the case of the I-96 shootings. A man from Wixom by the name of Raulie Wayne Casteel has been taken into custody. According to the Daily Tribune, “Casteel was charged with six counts of a combination of felonious assault, carrying with unlawful intent, felony firearms, and discharge of a dangerous weapon from a vehicle.” Here, with more background, is a clip from the Daily Mail.
The man accused of terrifying suburban Detroit, Michigan, for two weeks by shooting at two dozen cars on the highway ranted about far-right-wing politics for months before the attacks.
Raulie Wayne Casteel, 43, bragged on his Twitter feed about carrying a handgun everyday and said President Obama should be arrested by the military and ‘marched out of the White House in handcuffs.’
Police arrested him Sunday night at his home in Wixom, Michigan, near the epicenter of the seemingly random shootings…
And here’s a clip from Casteel’s Twitter account.
While I certainly don’t believe that right wing politics and violence necessarily go hand in hand, I do think it’s worth exploring whether, in instances such as this, the actions of the perpetrator can, in any way, be traced back to the purposefully cultivated paranoia and vitriolic anger which are clearly manifest in the anti-government Tea Party movement. How many times, I wonder, can someone… especially someone at risk for mental illness… hear that our President, for instance, is an America-hating Socialist, who, since his training as a young man in a radical Muslim madrassa, has been programmed to take over our country, with the intention of putting white Christian males in death camps, before he snaps? I have no idea what the I-96 shooter may have been thinking as he attempted to murder drivers making their way to and from work, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that anti-government sentiment, and a feeling of powerlessness, were contributing factors. At least, I can imagine how a man who’s fearful about the future might seek out ways to reassert himself, and feel, once again, as though he has agency and power. And nothing makes a man feel more powerful, as we know from the rhetoric of the “patriot” movement, than a gun… hence the record-breaking sales of firearms during Obama’s first term.
And, regardless of whether there’s a causal link in this particular case between this man’s alleged actions and the political hate speech he surrounded himself with, I wonder if the individuals that he’s known to have followed online, like Rush Limbaugh, Allen West, Michelle Malkin, Karl Rove and Michele Bachmann, feel any responsibility whatsoever for filling his head with conspiratorial nonsense about a government intent on enslaving him. For all that these people like to talk of accountability, I wonder if any of them are willing to take some for themselves and tone down their rhetoric now that the election has passed.
And, speaking of accountability, and the day of reckoning which has to come within the Republican party if it’s to survive as something other than a fringe party animated primarily by the conspiratorial tweets of psychopaths, here’s a little something from Thomas Friedman in today’s New York Times.
…The G.O.P. has lost two presidential elections in a row because it forced its candidate to run so far to the loony right to get through the primaries, dominated by its ultraconservative base, that he could not get close enough back to the center to carry the national election. It is not enough for Republicans to tell their Democratic colleagues in private — as some do — “I wish I could help you, but our base is crazy.” They need to have their own reformation. The center-right has got to have it out with the far-right, or it is going to be a minority party for a long time…
And I would go one step further… Not only is it going to be a fringe party, but it’s going to be an increasingly violent one.
Oh, and one last thing… According to Facebook, Casteel also happens to be a supporter of Kerry Bentivolio.
And, if you’re interested in going deeper on the subject of increased violence in our post-Tea Party world, I’d suggest listening to my interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok.