Rep. King Justifies Suicide Attack On IRS: Sympathizes With Hatred Of IRS, Hopes For Its Destruction
On Thursday, a man flew a plane into a Texas federal building in an apparent domestic terrorist attack. The suicide bomber, identified as Joseph Andrew Stack, was allegedly a right wing extremist who wrote on a website that violence “is the only answer” and expressed anger at the IRS, the federal government, and health care reform. Some on the fringe right have declared Stack a hero.
ThinkProgress caught up with Rep. Steve King (R-IA) at CPAC to talk about the attack in Texas. Asked if the right-wing anti-tax rhetoric might have motivated the attack, King implicitly agreed, noting that he had been a leading opponent of the IRS for some time. He noted that although the attack was “sad,” “by the same token,” it was justified because once the the right succeeds at abolishing the IRS, “it’s going to be a happy day for America.” He sidestepped the question of the legitimacy of the terrorists’ grievances, but sympathized by saying that “I’ve had a sense of ‘why is the IRS in my kitchen.’ Why do they have their thumb in the middle of my back”:
TP: Do you think this attack, this terrorist attack, was motivated at all by a lot of the anti-tax rhetoric that’s popular in America right now?
KING: I think if we’d abolished the IRS back when I first advocated it, he wouldn’t have a target for his airplane. And I’m still for abolishing the IRS, I’ve been for it for thirty years and I’m for a national sales tax. [...] It’s sad the incident in Texas happened, but by the same token, it’s an agency that is unnecessary and when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it’s going to be a happy day for America.
TP: So some of his grievances were legitimate?
KING: I don’t know if his grievances were legitimate, I’ve read part of the material. I can tell you I’ve been audited by the IRS and I’ve had the sense of ‘why is the IRS in my kitchen.’ Why do they have their thumb in the middle of my back. … It is intrusive and we can do a better job without them entirely.
Last week, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), despite his long history of inflamed rhetoric about terrorism and domestic security, essentially disregarded the attack. As ThinkProgress’ Max Bergmann observed, “It is naive for Brown to think the dangers of right wing terrorism aren’t real. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security released a report warning of the dangers of rising right wing extremism, as was evidenced by the shooting at the Holocaust museum in D.C. and by a Pittsburgh killer who was partially inspired by Glenn Beck.”
Indeed, it’s not only hate radio personalities encouraging violence against the government. Far right members of Congress, like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), have called for people to get “armed and dangerous” against the administration’s clean energy policies. King’s quasi-embrace of the Texas terrorist’s grievances is similarly dangerous.
Steve King To Conservatives: 'Implode' IRS Offices
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told a crowd at CPAC on Saturday that he could "empathize" with the suicide bomber who last week attacked an IRS office in Austin, and encouraged his listeners to "implode" other IRS offices, according to a witness.
King's comments weren't recorded, but a staffer for Media Matters, who heard the comments, provided TPMmuckraker with an account.
The staffer, who requested anonymity because she's not a communications specialist, said that King, an extreme right-winger with a reputation for eyebrow-raising rhetoric, appeared as a surprise guest speaker on an immigration panel at the conservative conference. During his closing remarks, King veered into a complaint about high taxes, and said he could "empathize" with the man who flew a plane into an IRS building last week.
During the question and answer session, the Media Matters staffer asked King to clarify his comment, reminding him of his sworn duty to protect the American people from all sworn enemies, foreign and domestic. In response, said the staffer, King gave a long and convoluted answer about having been personally audited by the IRS, and ended by saying he intended to hold a fundraiser to help people "implode" their local IRS office.
We've told you about other inappropriate responses to the bombing, which was carried out by Austin software developer Joe Stack, and in which one other person has so far died. But King's may take the cake.
King's office did not immediately comment on the account.