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Joe The Terrorist

CAIR wants to make sure you know that Joe Stack’s suicide mission into the IRS building in Austin Texas is different in no way than any Muslim’s flight into martyrdom-it’s nothing more than a political statement, his and theirs- and is only noteworthy because of the violent nature with which it was expressed.

Translation?

Joe Stack is a terrorist…just like the Jihadists that CAIR seeks to rationalize and defend.

I am fine with letting the media struggle to hurry up and pigeonhole this moment in history. Define it, classify it, cast it aside; “case closed, move along people-this nut’s been cracked.” Somehow we seem unwilling to look any further than for a catch-phrase so we can get back to more serious business. For the record I will even accept that, by definition, Stack’s murder/suicide mission was an act of terrorism. And…so what? Does acknowledging that change anything about the rest of the story no one seems interested in looking at in any greater detail? Does defining this somehow make it easier to just forget about so we can get back to talking about more important stuff like Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi or healthcare or jobs? Or the Olympics perhaps?

I took the time to read (and comprehend) Joseph Stack’s Manifesto. I skimmed the headlines this morning, hoping to find enough diverse coverage to make sense of the man-not just his actions-and no such psyhchiatric counsel was available. We don’t know if he was a loving husband or a loving Father. We’re not aware of anything he did with his life or his career that would make him stand out in a crowd or draw attention to his name. We don’t know anything about the man before he converted to madman…whether he was always nuts or was driven to it at some point by external circumstances over which he had no control or to which he ultimately succumbed. What we DO know is that no one cares. Joe Stack will be remembered now as a terrorist and a nutjob. And the world moves along.

If you read his last words, slowly and with attention to detail, you might find something a little more substantive than what Anderson Cooper likes to call (over and over and over again) “a rambling diatribe.” Joe Stack was “mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it any more.” His method of expression aside, there are a great many of us that know a thing or two about being broken down, beaten, and repeatedly kicked in the teeth after we’re down. Does anyone out there not notice that this has all been lost in the race to put this behind us and move on?

Joe Stack lost in his bid to game the system. He admits he tried to game it as he acknowledges he was part of a group of people that actively discussed how to best utilize the tax Code(s) to their collective advantage. He railed against the Catholic Church (apparently because the Church is better at gaming the tax laws than he was) and he lamented the healthcare system, George Bush, GM, and a whole host of other headline-notable moments in history over the last few years.

He complained about pensions being lost to greedy and corrupt Unions and losing his own nest egg at least twice to pay the IRS for his transgressions. He mentioned a “grandmotherly” neighbor whose husband had worked a lifetime in the steel mills only to see his pension disappear to corrupt thugs and greedy mismanagement. She once told him he should be eating cat food in his poverty rather than peanut butter and bread because he “would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her).”

He expressed great cynicism at the whole idea of engaging his elected officials. He spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours “writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time.” He was, of course, but he did all of this hoping to get politicians to change the tax code…the very one he sought to game but kept getting gamed by, instead. That he would keep blaming the blackjack dealers for not changing the rules so he could win a few hands at the big table speaks volumes about Joe Stack.

He worked hard, lost everything, worked harder, lost everything again. He failed in California (in marriage and career) and moved to Austin and failed again. He watched his world collapse after 9/11, lamented the airline bailout and every other bailout since…and he grew angrier. He routinely struggled to find work, and burned through his savings and retirement funds as he continued failing to find any (or enough). He screwed himself in, and got screwed by, a tax system he obviously never figured out but one that had him pegged from day one…and he grew more bitter and cynical. I am reminded of Frank Abagnale here, the character played by Christopher Walken in the movie Catch Me If You Can. Abagnale owed the IRS money, too, and like Stack spent more energy trying to avoid paying it than in just getting it over with and getting on with his life.

At some point he turned toward the idea of using his life (and his ultimate death) as an opportunity to teach us all a lesson, and send a message to “big brother” in some distorted way thinking he was not the first (and far from the last) to give his life in the fight for freedom…and that his struggle might somehow serve as a way for others to follow. None of that will happen, of course. Joe Stack will be remembered as just some “poor Joe” that lost his way (and his mind) and became just another statistic in a long line of meaningless data points that reflect what little any of us can do against overwhelming odds in a game where all the rules are stacked up against us.

Make no mistake here…I don’t believe Joe the Terrorist is a victim. The only victim here is Vernon Hunter, the lone casualty from Stack’s horrific act of senseless violence. Vernon, ironically, was just doing his job, trying to earn money to support himself and his family, and following the rules of a game none of us actually ever fully wins-and Joseph Stack killed him because of it. That is, perhaps the greater lesson Stack has taught us…that no one is safe from a person singly focused on his own problems with total disregard for the problems of those around them. Stack might be a terrorist, but he was selfish and only served his own personal “greater good”. He killed an innocent man whose only crime was being at work on the day some lunatic chose to give his pound of flesh to the Federal Government.

Stack wants us to feel sorry for him, and in many ways I do. But my sympathy is for his never realizing he was part of the reason the system was built the way it is built. He truly WAS his own worst enemy, yet he died believing he was getting even with something he helped create. There’s no victim in that…just a man that lost the argument with his own private demons. I do feel for the family, friends, and loved ones he left behind…but that’s about as far as it goes.

He closed with a quote I use quite often in my own life, and a closing thought:

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The real lesson to be learned from Joe Stack is how NOT to deal with problems…especially ones we help create of our own device. The IRS will sleep well tonight, and so will most of the rest of us. Stack could have done many things to relieve his burdens…he made his choice and he chose poorly. He does leave behind the one lesson I doubt “the MAN” will ever learn, and that is this: we each have our breaking points in life, and all we have left once that point is reached is how we choose to “break” and how far we’re willing to go to spread that pain around and make it the death and destruction of everyone else around us.

If what Joe Stack did was “terrorism” then there are a lot of terrorists out there that just haven’t reached his point of no return yet.

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