The Corner

Immigration

Why So Little Coverage of the ICE Attack?

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detain a suspect in Los Angeles, Calif. (Charles Reed/Reuters)

Mostly unnoticed beneath the storm of idiotic presidential tweets and the Democratic struggle session over exactly how minority legislators should behave, a 69-year-old man conducted a terrorist attack on a government facility this weekend.

Willem Van Spronsen, armed with a rifle and “incendiary devices”, set a car on fire and was shot and killed by police officers who were responding to the scene. He also attempted to light a propane tank on fire, which “could have resulted in the mass murder of staff and detainees housed at the facility had he been successful,” according to Shawn Fallah, head of the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility.

Van Spronsen reportedly had been arrested for lunging at and grabbing a police officer during a 2018 anti-immigration protest at the Tacoma facility. Presumably, he attacked the facility out of anger at ICE’s role in the crisis on the border.

This hardly registered in the national media. Granted, all the major outlets ran news stories — but there was no outcry of protest, no concern over political violence directed at government officials.

It is very easy to imagine how a similar attack, with political loyalties reversed, would have been reported. In fact, you don’t have to imagine it: Look to last year’s Cesar Sayoc “pipe bomb spree,” which became a referendum on whether President Trump’s “violent rhetoric” somehow encouraged violence of this kind. Conservatives warned then, and should say again now, that tying lone attacks by obvious lunatics to some kind of aura cast by controversial politicians is a toxic kind of discourse which needlessly and dangerously escalates the moral stakes of political disagreement.

So no one should be blaming any politician or political group for this assault (except possibly Antifa, of which Van Spronsen was a member — the Seattle branch posted a eulogy on Facebook). But the comparative lack of interest in this attempted bombing should be concerning.

I don’t think the downplaying of this story is malicious, but it’s a good example of how media bias manifests itself under the radar. Bias is less an attempt by journalists to impose beliefs and more journalists’ beliefs affecting which stories they cover.

In this case, attacks on Trump critics fit into a media worldview that sees Trump and his supporters as basically proto-fascist, ready to use violence against their adversaries. People like Cesar Sayoc fit into that narrative: They’re “stories” that help explain why Trump supporters are dangerous.

In contrast, Van Spronsen and Antifa are aberrations from the Left’s (and by extension, large sectors of elite media) own self-conception: peaceful, progressive, and ethical. Their actions, while worthy of basic reporting, aren’t worth covering in exhaustive detail. Not being representative of the Left, they don’t really “explain” anything about national politics.

Of course, the reasonable thing to say is that dangerous, violent, lunatics have always existed and will continue to exist, and attempting to attach the blame for bomb-throwing to Democrats or Republicans is absurd. But that wouldn’t drive traffic.

Most Popular

U.S.

Baby Please Come Back, Says Andrew Cuomo

Then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg famously described New York City in 2003 as a “luxury product,” and therefore priced accordingly. The price hasn’t changed, except to go up slightly — taxes, rents, everything. But few would argue that the product New York offers remains first-rate. The theaters are closed. The ... Read More
U.S.

Baby Please Come Back, Says Andrew Cuomo

Then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg famously described New York City in 2003 as a “luxury product,” and therefore priced accordingly. The price hasn’t changed, except to go up slightly — taxes, rents, everything. But few would argue that the product New York offers remains first-rate. The theaters are closed. The ... Read More
Law & the Courts

New York’s Lawless NRA Lawsuit

The latest bananas news from the banana republic that is the State of New York: The attorney general, a political enemy of the National Rifle Association, is seeking to have the advocacy organization legally dissolved. The pretext is financial corruption and self-dealing on the part of the NRA’s ... Read More
Law & the Courts

New York’s Lawless NRA Lawsuit

The latest bananas news from the banana republic that is the State of New York: The attorney general, a political enemy of the National Rifle Association, is seeking to have the advocacy organization legally dissolved. The pretext is financial corruption and self-dealing on the part of the NRA’s ... Read More
Elections

Joe Biden’s Authoritarian VP Finalist

Last year, Senator Kamala Harris may have become the first presidential candidate in history to laugh derisively at the idea that the Constitution limits what a president can do. When former Vice President Joe Biden said that her plan for gun control by executive fiat didn’t pass constitutional muster, she ... Read More
Elections

Joe Biden’s Authoritarian VP Finalist

Last year, Senator Kamala Harris may have become the first presidential candidate in history to laugh derisively at the idea that the Constitution limits what a president can do. When former Vice President Joe Biden said that her plan for gun control by executive fiat didn’t pass constitutional muster, she ... Read More
World

The ‘Rough Sex’ Problem

John Broadhurst, a 41-year-old multi-millionaire from the United Kingdom — convicted of “manslaughter by gross negligence” after he killed his 26-year-old girlfriend Natalie Connolly during so-called “rough sex” — will walk free after serving only half of his 44-month sentence. Like many countries, ... Read More
World

The ‘Rough Sex’ Problem

John Broadhurst, a 41-year-old multi-millionaire from the United Kingdom — convicted of “manslaughter by gross negligence” after he killed his 26-year-old girlfriend Natalie Connolly during so-called “rough sex” — will walk free after serving only half of his 44-month sentence. Like many countries, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Government Misconduct Frees Cliven Bundy

Politically charged prosecutions — even ones that are thoroughly justified — often end badly for the justice system. So it appears with the federal prosecutions of Cliven Bundy and his sons. The government blew its case against Bundy's sons by overcharging them, resulting in a jury acquittal in 2016. Today, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Government Misconduct Frees Cliven Bundy

Politically charged prosecutions — even ones that are thoroughly justified — often end badly for the justice system. So it appears with the federal prosecutions of Cliven Bundy and his sons. The government blew its case against Bundy's sons by overcharging them, resulting in a jury acquittal in 2016. Today, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Misguided Attempt to Dissolve the NRA

Closing out the week with some variety: The evidence of mismanagement and wasteful spending at the NRA is real, but New York State attorney general Letitia James is on a vendetta against the organization in just about the worst possible way; an eye-opening question about Susan Rice perhaps having undisclosed ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Misguided Attempt to Dissolve the NRA

Closing out the week with some variety: The evidence of mismanagement and wasteful spending at the NRA is real, but New York State attorney general Letitia James is on a vendetta against the organization in just about the worst possible way; an eye-opening question about Susan Rice perhaps having undisclosed ... Read More