Thursday, June 11, 2009

James Von Brunn, Hatred, and Subjective Morality

Having blogged about ethics, actions, and subjectivity yesterday, I find myself wishing that the day had not served up such an excellent case study. The shooting of a guard in the Holocaust Museum here in DC yesterday was the act of someone who strongly felt the world was a certain way. That blighted soul is a virulently hateful man by the name of James Von Brunn.

This being the internet era, the first thing I did on hearing the news was google him...and a few moments later, I found myself on his website, a rather clumsy festival of hatred entitled "Holy Western Empire." The site no longer exists today, having been shut down by his service provider. Remnants and fragments can still be found cached on google, and they're plenty to give you a sense of the darkness that governed this man.

Now that the site is down, it's hard to access it, but I managed to get hold of the unpublished manuscript that Von Brunn considered...and still considers, given that he ain't dead yet...his life's greatest work. The manuscript, which I found republished on a white supremacist site in Australia, is entitled "Kill The Best Gentiles."

For reasons that I myself can't quite fathom, I spent much of this morning reading it.

It is, for all of the media buzz today that Von Brunn was a brilliant, angry loner, not the work of a genius. If he got into Mensa, then Mensa must have considerably lowered their standards. The book is a clumsy, EMPHASIZE THINGS IN ALL CAPS pastiche of every racist conspiracy theory ever generated. Illuminati? He's got them. Jewish control of media and finance? It's in there. The Holocaust never happened? He'd say so. Jews aren't in fact Hebrew at all, but an Asiatic usurper race? Um...yeah...but...huh? Jews are interested in preserving their bloodlines and simultaneously obsessed with interbreeding with "white people?" Err...um...isn't that...aaah...inherently contradictory? But consistency and internal integrity of argument were apparently irrelevant. Only hate is relevant. The only reason to make arguments is to reinforce an already all consuming hatred.

What's clear is that Von Brunn deeply and passionately believed what he believed. Those beliefs...that seething, governing anger...made it possible for him to enter a place dedicated to the memory of millions of innocent dead, and to open fire, taking the life of another innocent in the process. Having forced myself to read his writing, I can confirm that he undeniably feels, down to the core of his being, that he was justified in his actions.

That feeling means nothing. That he truly felt he was defending the integrity of the Aryan race means exactly diddly. Sure, one could argue that his pattern of thinking is a form of insanity. In a way, it is. Reality means nothing to someone who exists only for their own bitterness.

But as a person of faith, I know that reality...both our intents and how we express those intents into the fabric of being...is the ultimate measure of our actions. Our time here in creation is not "unbearably light," as Milan Kundera once misdescribed it. It is infinitely heavy, and infinitely valuable. Further, I know that both the fruits of our intents and the intents themselves are the measure of how our Creator holds us to account.

Von Brunn rejects this, of course. His anger against Christians for our "false dogma" of compassion and love is woven throughout his bilious little screed. For him, it is a sign of our weakness. But I fear he misunderstands the nature of our love, and of the love that is God.

That God is love does not mean that God is weak, or that God is not just. It does mean that His justice is deeper and more terrible than we can imagine. It is unfortunate that those like Mr. Von Brunn who live for hate do not realize this.

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