Von Brunn: A Left Wing Radical
James von Brunn apparently murdered Security Guard Stephen T. Johns at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. on 10 June. Scott Roeder killed abortionist George Tiller. Can we distinguish a murder from justifiable homicide? Can we distinguish malicious and racist genocide from national wars of defense(or wars of liberation)? And how are the “Right Wingers” different from the “Left Wingers”?
Three weeks after the event, the Washington Times reported on the judicial progress in von Brunn’s case on the front page (June 30). He had been shot in the face by security guards returning fire and the 88-year-old defendant is unable to appear in court. The first line of the report begins, “James W. von Brunn, the white supremacist . . .” He might also have been identified as “the anti-Semite.” But less obvious to many, it seems, is the fact that he ought as well to have been labeled an “anti-Christian.”
Indeed, a week after the shooting, “child pornography was found” by the F.B.I. after poring over a computer snatched from his residence according to an AP report (June 18). Well, anarchists and Left Wingers would approve of the liberty to look at and do just about anything that arguably does no “harm” to anyone. Christian doctrine would decry such peeps or viewings as a commission in spirit of two of the hebdomad of “deadly sins”; namely, “fornication” and “adultery.” Forgivable, as all sins, it would be nevertheless scorned as an indulgence which leads the mind and spirit into conflict with godly behavior. The doctrine of the justification of sexual indulgence outside marriage belongs to the Left Wingers, not to the Right. It is an anti-Christian doctrine.
“Obama was created by Jews,” said James von Brunn, according to a court affidavit. Such a statement ought to remind us of Obama’s Pastor Jeremiah Wright who recently complained that since the accession of his parishioner to the presidency his disciple has been inaccessible. “Them Jews aren’t going to let him talk to me,” he declared.
But the odious anti-Semitism of Pastor Wright and von Brunn is not splashed back upon Obama but upon the “Right Wing”! And that “Right Wing” is exactly where the “Left Wing” wants to associate the person of James von Brunn. He is a Jew-hating abortion rights supporter, but the Left won’t own him.
It is apparent that the “Left” likes to slander the “Right” by kicking the Nazis over to the “Right” side and downplaying the Communist genocides. The “Left” would associate von Brunn with the “Right.” We may take for example Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent article in The Atlantic (June 10, 2009) in which he refers to the “Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review” as a “far-right organization.” The heading of the article is as pointedly slanderous with this reference to organization leader Mark Weber: “Leading Far-Right Holocaust Denier Says: It Ain’t Us.”
Is anti-Semitism as aspect of the “Left” or the “Right”? What is the difference between a Hitler and a Stalin? Between a Nazi (Nationalsozalist) and a Communist? Both persecuted Christians and Jews. Both are Godless. And the death toll at the hands of Communist revolutionaries in Stalinist Russia and Maoist China far exceeded that of the National Socialists of Germany. We will contend here that Jew haters and abortion lovers fit historically into the camp of the Left Wing.
We recommend reading another example of Goldberg’s association of Nazism with “the Right.” In Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism (Doubleday, 2008), the following observations are made:
“The German historian Götz Aly explains how Hitler purchased popularity with lavish social welfare programs and middle-class perks, often paid for with stolen Jewish wealth and high taxes on the rich.”
Are these not the actions of a Leftist?
The behavior of the de-Christianizing Left in the U.S. today calls to mind the Leftist Jacobins in the revolutionary France as well as the Nazis a century and a half later.
“The Nazis replaced the traditional Christian calendar. The new year began on January 30 with the Day of the Seizure of Power. Each November the streets of central Munich were dedicated to a Nazi Passion play depicting Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch. The martyrdom of Horst Wessel and his “old fighters” replaced Jesus and the apostles. Plays and official histories were rewritten to glorify pagan Aryans bravely fighting against Christianizing foreign armies. Anticipating some feminist pseudo history, witches became martyrs to the bloodthirsty oppression of Christianity. . .
“In 1935 mandatory prayer in school was abolished, and in 1938 carols and Nativity plays were banned entirely. By 1941 religious instruction for children fourteen years and up had been abolished altogether, and Jacobinism reigned supreme” (pp. 364, 365).
The traditional Left-Center-Right political paradigm assumed by political pundits is not really useful in providing us with a clear picture of the historical political options. Let us consider a more helpful schematic. On the Left is the totalitarian state (there is no rule of Law; rather, the people are governed by the evolutionary postulates of men); on the Right is Lawlessness, anarchy; each individual or family (or social unit) does what it chooses without interference from any other. In the Center is government based upon the Law of God as revealed in the Scriptures. This has been the government of the West from Constantine to Charlemagne to King George III of England to the American colonies. Whether the apparatus of government was an emperor, king, parliament, or democratic republic, the foundation for law was the Law of Christ. The legislations and decrees of men were restrained by divine law. Each culture, of course, has a cult and must affirm its scriptures accordingly. The cult of our culture has been Christianity and the Law of Christ.
As it stands, the far Left is associated with Communists; moderately situated to the right are the “socialists” followed by “progressives” and “Democrats”; the far Right gets all the rest: the Nazis, the KKK, the Christian Right, and the Pro-Lifers. And just to the left of them are the regular Republicans.
The fact is illustrated in a very personal way to this author in the recent article posted by Mark Juergensmeyer, Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, at www.religiondispatches.org. The professor interviewed and wrote about me in his book, Terror in the Mind of God (University of California Press, 2000). In a June 11 article entitled “Onward Christian Terrorists; Fighting Evil in the Obama Era,” he says, “In the imaginations of Scott Roeder, James W. von Brunn, and Michael Bray, they are soldiers in an awesome war, a grand struggle between the forces of good and the reign of evil.”
It is a cheap shot, to say the least, but from modern academe it comes as no surprise. Professor Juergensmeyer might raise an eyebrow upon discovering that I was, in fact, personally acquainted with Mr. von Brunn. But we were by no means philosophical fellow travelers. Rather, von Brunn’s doctrine has more in common with a modern sociologist’s evolutionary views of ethics and culture than it does with biblical and historic Christianity to which I subscribe.
I knew James von Brunn (whom we inmates knew as Jim) at Ray Brook Federal Correctional Institution while was I there from July of 1985 until May of 1989. Ray Brook was a (level four) medium security federal prison (level six is the highest security). It was a clean and new facility situated in the clean air of the Adirondack Mountains near Lake Placid. Prudent planning had it serve as a housing facility for Olympic athletes of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. And when the prison was first opened, skis were provided and inmates could ski down the small hills on the compound. Such were the rumors maintained by inmates who had been there a few years.
Von Brunn was there when I arrived and was shipped to Allenwood, a “camp” in Pennsylvania, sometime in 1988 or early 1989 as I recall. A “camp” is what we called the level one or two prisons, which had no fences. Prisoners are dropped to lower level security on the basis of behavior while in prison and time remaining (regardless of the length of the original sentence). Von Brunn and I, then, were in Ray Brook concurrently for a couple years. In this prison, near the Canadian boarder and removed from easy access by reporters, the federal government housed some of the higher publicity convicts.
One whom my memory always associated with von Brunn, I think because of the political and ethnic orientation of his crime and his disinterest in Christianity, was a Croat named Marc Vlasic. I cannot recall whether or not they spent time together, but eventually most people end up in conversation with one another at some point. He was one of five who had hijacked the Trans World Airlines Boeing 727 which took off from LaGuardia Airport for Chicago on September 10, 1976. The tragic and accidental death of one policeman and maiming of another in the cause of bluffing authorities into believing that the imitation bomb on the plane was as real as the live one in a locker in a New York subway did not produce the desired results of a free Croatia. He ended up doing 20 on the 30-year sentence. (The most culpable of the five defendants was not released until 2008 and forbidden to ever return to the United States.)
Von Brunn was a regular tennis player. He was genteel, carried himself with temperance and dignity, and he would accompany his greetings with a smile. No foul speech, profuse among many inmates, came out of his mouth. I remember him as a striking figure, towering above most the others in height as well as age and etiquette. He stood out as one with refined manners, polite to all, patient in the cafeteria lines. He was amiable but quiet and not so gregarious to point of sycophancy. He needed no one’s companionship and yet was content to share his with those who could carry a conversation beyond sports, popular culture, drugs, riches, and contemporary politics. He would spend his time reading or in conversations with the non-Christian intellectuals on the compound.
I had very few conversations with von Brunn. My time was devoted to particular matters: reading, writing, and building the church inside the walls. I did not afford the time to chat for entertainment. Evangelization was worth the effort, and I spent what I deemed affordable for Jim von Brunn. Christianity quickly became the focal point of the one conversation that I had with him -perhaps the only lengthy one. He expressed essential agreement with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and affirmed a belief in the essential superiority of certain ethnic strands of the human race over others (there was the über- and unter-mensch; super- and sub-human). He believed in that the evolutionary progress of humanity was best achieved by maintaining purity of these superior ethnic strands, viz. the Aryan or European “race.” This goal was subverted by intermixing of the races. And, to the point, he viewed Christianity as adversarial in its doctrine of targeting the poor for uplifting benevolence and in the doctrine of equality of all the ethnic groups by their common possession of the “image of God.” This doctrine permitted the inter-marriage of ethnic groups, diluting the strength of the European strand. He commended the bravery of my own alleged involvement in anti-abortion activity, but he said it was misguided. Von Brunn approved of abortion as a means of ridding the race of defective people. And the inferior strands of humanity were welcome to curb their natural reproductive course by aborting their offspring and ought not to be discouraged from that intention. These views he expressed quite politely and directly me.
If we cannot adjust the political schematic regarding Left, Right, and Center such that the classic Christian state may be the Center with the Godless Totalitarians on the Left and the anarchists on the Right, and if “radical anti-abortionists” must remain on the Right, then make a separate class for racists, anarchists and Nazi evolutionists. Christians such as I who affirm the sanctity of human life (including the weakest) created in the image of God are ideologically opposite Communists and Nazis.
How curious that on Tuesday night, 9 June, the eve of von Brunn’s attack at the Holocaust museum in D.C., five Mountain Lake Academy school students barricaded themselves in a room “taking several teachers hostage and amassing rocks, 2-by-4s and sharp objects stolen from the art room that were intended as weapons.” (This is the report given by Capt. Robert LaFountain of the New York State Police to the local WPTZ TV, Channel 5.) Each of the students of the Lake Placid area school were “charged with rioting and some are also charged with assault and criminal mischief,” according to the TV report.
The very next day, 10 June, James von Brunn committed his atrocity at the Holocaust Museum. Mountain Lake Academy is located just a few miles from the prison where Von Brunn spent most of his 6.5 prison years in Ray Brook.
Were certain territorial spirits aroused together to work evil in the earth? Is there something in the spirit world that drives certain activities? It makes me wonder, but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that, regardless of preternatural influences, we distinguish good from evil: shooting abortionists, for example, on the one hand; and shooting Holocaust museum guards on the other.