When are we going to be inundated with on-air rants about white home-grown paranoid extremist men who shoot people with weapons of mass death? Never. That's when.
Erick Shute took out three neighbors with an assault-style weapon earlier this week in West Virginia, but it doesn't seem to make much difference to a media and politics obsessed with brown people who practice Islam.
Shute was not a nice person, and he was definitely what we here at Crooks and Liars would describe as a right wing zealot with a mission. According to Mark Pitcavage at the ADL, Shute had been an adherent to the three main wings of right wing extremism: The 'sovereign citizen' movement, the anti-tax movement, and the patriot movement.
It is the patriot movement which he was most recently associated with.
In recent years, however, Shute seems to have identified most strongly with the ideas of the militia movement. The militia movement believes that the federal government is collaborating with a “New World Order” globalist conspiracy to strip Americans of their rights and enslave them. Subsidiary conspiracy theories emanating from the movement include a belief that the federal government is planning to round up citizens and place them in internment or concentration camps; a belief that the government is plotting to suspend the Constitution and declare martial law, perhaps on a pretext such as a terrorist attack or pandemic; and that the government will engage in mass gun confiscations—among others.
In true patriot fashion, he promoted the Jade Helm myth and more:
However, Shute’s on-line statements clearly indicate an adherence to the movement’s ideology. Responding to a conspiracy article about an employment ad for a U.N. “disarmament officer,” Shute claimed in 2014 that anyone who took such a job “deserves to be killed” by some sort of “painful and horrifying” manner such as being “eaten alive by dogs.” When the governor of West Virginia vetoed a permitless carry firearms bill in 2015, Shute posted that “someone needs to behead this mofo.”
In 2015, Shute expressed happiness at the thought that police officers might be among the first Americans “to get put in internment camps.” He also posted that he could not support the troops “if the troops are training to take you and me away into an internment camp.” Like many other anti-government extremists, Shute became outraged at the military exercises held in the southern U.S. under the name “Operation Jade Helm,” claiming that they were martial law training scenarios.
He was a real fan of the Malheur occupiers:
In January and February 2016, Erick Shute became a supporter of the anti-government extremists who engaged in an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and subsequent standoff, even listening to the live broadcasts by the final few occupiers in the last hours of the standoff, before they were arrested. After their arrest, Shute wrote that he “loved” the occupiers and that “even though we never met, I feel so close to these people now.”
Incidents such as these increased the already extreme hostility that Shute felt for law enforcement. Responding in February 2016 to a news report of one officer who had killed a dog, Shute urged that the officer be tortured and murdered, including being hung over a fire, whipped, teeth and nails pulled out, fingers cut out, among many other violent and gruesome methods. Indeed, so hostile was Shute to law enforcement that he may have well posed a risk to local law enforcement as well as to his neighbors.
In reading Pitcavage's full article, I was struck by what an incredibly self-centered person Shute was. HE didn't want to pay taxes; HE didn't want to get a drivers' license, and then as he slipped farther into online-encouraged paranoia and conspiracies, HE saw himself as judge and jury of everyone else, until finally he executed a death sentence on three people who did not deserve it.