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WASHINGTON – An elderly man enters a crowded museum carrying a rifle and begins shooting. A young man in Arkansas pulls the trigger outside a military recruiting office. Another man opens fire in a Kansas church.
Three chilling, unconnected slayings in less than two weeks. One gunman was a white supremacist, one a militant Muslim, one a fervent foe of abortion.
Each suspect had a history that suggested trouble. Each apparently was driven to act by beliefs considered by some as extreme. Each shooter fits the description of a "lone wolf" terrorist, a killer whose attack, authorities say, is harder to head off than if planned by a trained terrorist network.
"It could be anyone. It could be the guy next door, living in the basement of his mother's place, on the Internet just building himself up with hate, building himself up to a boiling point and finally using what he's learned," said John Perren, head of the counterterrorism branch at the FBI's Washington field office.
Perren described the difficulty of hunting a lone wolf suspect in an interview with the Associated Press just two days before white supremacist James von Brunn allegedly shot and killed a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
"The lone wolf is what concerns the Washington field office, what concerns the FBI the most," he said.
Many political words are similarly abused.
The word FASCISM has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies
"something not desirable." The words DEMOCRACY, SOCIALISM, FREEDOM,
PATRIOTIC, REALISTIC, JUSTICE, have each of them several different
meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a
word like DEMOCRACY, not only is there no agreed definition, but the
attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally
felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it:
consequently the defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a
democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it
were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a
consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own
private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something
quite different. Statements like MARSHAL PÉTAIN WAS A TRUE PATRIOT, THE
SOVIET PRESS IS THE FREEST IN THE WORLD, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS OPPOSED
TO PERSECUTION, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other
words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly,
are: CLASS, TOTALITARIAN, SCIENCE, PROGRESSIVE, REACTIONARY BOURGEOIS,