Link Roundup on Holocaust Museum Shooting

Holocaust Museum ShootingIt’s been just about 24 hours since the white supremacist James W. von Brunn (shown here in a more recent DMV photo released by police) opened fire at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and killed security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns.   I’ll be back later today with some analysis but for now, I wanted to share my growing link archive about von Brunn and the shooting.

Mainstream News Outlets:

  • Long History of Hate (Washington Post)
  • White Supremacist to Be Charged with Murder (FoxNews)
  • Suspect called genius, ‘a ‘oner and a hothead’ (MSNBC – same content as the WaPo link above) – most memorable line is the last one, quoting someone that knew von Brunn: “The responsible white separatist community condemns this. It makes us look bad.” Indeed.
  • Guard Opened Door for Killer (CNN) – The museum canceled a performance scheduled for Wednesday night of a play about racism and anti-Semitism, based on a fictional meeting between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, written by Janet Langhart Cohen, the wife of former Defense Secretary and U.S. Sen. William Cohen. CNN also has the video (9:00) of the Cohens describing what they saw (along with another example of CNN’s horrible use of illustrative technology).
  • Holocaust Museum suspects’ views were known (LATimes) – Quotes Heidi Beirich, research director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, saying “We’ve been tracking this guy since the late 1970s. He has an extremely long history with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and is extremely hard-core.” After his release from prison von Brunn went to work for a Southern California bookstore connected to the Institute for Historical Review, a top Holocaust-denial group in the U.S.
  • According to von Brunn’s own bio from his website used as source material by lots of the news agencies, he moved to NYC in 1947 and found a job at a “big-league advertising [firm] on Madison Avenue” although the ad firm he mentions denies that he was ever employed there.
  • His (second) ex-wife says she ‘detested’ his views – (NYDaily News) – She also says that the 6’5″ von Brunn reminded her of John Wayne and that when they were married, von Brunn frequently said that he would ‘go out with his boots on.’ “I took it to mean that he was going to go out and try to take some people with him,” she’s quoted as saying.  After leaving prison, von Brunn became a prolific writer in the white supremacist fringe and a member of the Mensa, a group for people with high IQs.



Around the Blogosphere:



If I missed a crucial link, please feel free to add a comment and post a link there.

Update: And now neo-Nazi violence, again, in Russia.

Update2: the Gun he had was illegal:

QUESTION: Can you talk about his firearm, sir? He was a convicted felon, so how did he have the rifle?

Asst. Dir. JOSEPH PERSICHINI, JR., FBI DC Field Office: That I can’t answer.

QUESTION: He was a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a long gun. That is illegal anywhere in the country. Is that not right?

Chief CATHY LANIER, DC Police: That’s correct.

QUESTION: So, we don’t have any sense of how he came into possession of that?

LANIER: Obviously that’s something that will be followed up on.

More on the Holocaust Museum Shooting

james_von_brunnIn the absence of real news and hard facts about James von Brunn, the cable news networks are making a great deal of the fact that this man was “born in 1920, making him 89 years old, so an elderly gentleman,” as one talking-head just now described him.  Longevity is no antidote for racism and antisemitism (shown here in an undated photo from his website, used without permission).

This sort of analysis does nothing to explain this man’s actions and place them in the broader context of antisemitism, white supremacy and systemic racism in the U.S.  The fact that Von Brunn, long known as a white supremacist and a convicted felon, would take this sort of action should not be surprising.   White supremacy in the U.S., rather than being an atavism, is a consistent feature of the political landscape.

While the news networks are going to prattle on about how it’s possible that an octogenarian could carry out such a shooting, what (I predict) they’ll miss is the ways that this shooting is connected to the one last week of Dr. Tiller.   As I wrote about then,  killing, abortion, antisemitism and racism are inextricably linked in the white supremacist imagination.   I’m hoping that some of the more thoughtful mainstream news people will connect these dots.

UPDATE (Joe):

The Associated Press just added this:

Von Brunn has a racist, anti-Semitic Web site and wrote a book titled “Kill the Best Gentile.” In 1983, he was convicted of attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board. He was arrested two years earlier outside the room where the board was meeting, carrying a revolver, knife and sawed-off shotgun. At the time, police said Von Brunn wanted to take the members hostage because of high interest rates and the nation’s economic difficulties.

The museum houses exhibits and records relating to the Holocaust more than a half century ago in which more than six million Jews were killed by the Nazis. It is located across the street from the National Mall, and within sight of the Washington Monument. The museum, which draws about 1.7 million visitors each year, was closed for the day after the shooting, and nearby streets were cordoned off by police. Surrounding roads were closed at least temporarily and blocked off with yellow tape. Police cars and officers on horses surrounded the area.

CNN: White Supremacist Shooter at US Holocaust Museum



CNN is reporting a major shooting at the DC Holocaust Museum:

The suspect in Wednesday’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is James von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist from Maryland, two law enforcement officials told CNN.

According to TPM’s report he holds strong anti-Semitic views. They are reporting his own version of his biography like this:

James W. von Brunn holds a Bach-Sci Journalism degree from a mid-Western university where he was president of SAE and played varsity football. During WWII he served as PT-Boat captain, Lt. USNR, receiving a Commendation and four battle stars. For twenty years he was an advertising executive and film-producer in New York City. He is a member of Mensa, the high-IQ society.

In 1981 Von Brunn attempted to place the treasonous Federal Reserve Board of Governors under legal, non-violent, citizens arrest. He was tried in a Washington, D.C. Superior Court; convicted by a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal. He served 6.5 years in federal prison. (Read about von Brunn’s “And so, on December 7, 1981, a bright, crisp morning James Wenneker von Brunn visited the Federal Reserve Building on Constitution Ave., across from the Washington Monument, Washington D.C. I had cased the building twice before, and talked at length with one of the guards, a retire U.S. Marine. I posed as a freelance newspaper reporter. I wore a trench-coat with a camera-case slung over my shoulder. . The Marine (“HARRY”)) guided me through the Board Room, and Paul Volcker’s office; there I met his secretary, a smartly dressed middle-aged lady with gray hair. My objective was to arrest Volcker and the FED Brd of Governors.

Greg Sargent adds this about the Holocaust shooter and others lately:

Remember the enormous controversy that erupted in April over a Department of Homeland Security report that assessed the threat of “right wing extremists”? The story provoked days of nonstop cable chatter, forcing DHS chief Janet Napolitano to ultimately apologize.

Today, a gunman entered the Holocaust Museum and exchanged fire with security guards, leaving one in grave condition. MSNBC reports that the suspected gunman is connected to anti-government and white supremacist groups. If that proves correct, perhaps it’ll be time to revisit all that criticism of the DHS report. Right?

This passage from the DHS report in particular sparked a huge outpouring of rage on the right:

“Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

Given the white supremacist and extreme-right links of several other recent attackers in the US, does this signal once more the resurgence of the white supremacist and white nationalist groups we have warned about on this site?

Will major federal officials now be targets of these racist-right groups?