When the right takes offense for the wrong reasons

WHEN THE RIGHT TAKES OFFENSE FOR THE WRONG REASONS…. Yesterday morning, Jonah Goldberg responded to news of Faisal Shahzad with a candid concession: “When the Times Square story first broke there was a part of me that said, ‘Man, I hope it’s not some white militia nutjob.’ When I saw the news this morning that it was a Pakistani, the same small part of me was relieved.”

Funny, I was relieved that the suspect was in custody, regardless of his personal characteristics. But Goldberg and I tend to see things a little differently.

That said, Goldberg’s response probably wasn’t especially unusual in some conservative circles. After all, on Monday, some officials had identified a 40-something white male, seen on security cameras, as a possible person of interest. Given that violent domestic radicals have engaged in some awful U.S. attacks of late — John Patrick Bedell and Joe Stack, for example — the initial reports probably caused some conservatives to wonder if the Times Square bomber was another white, right-wing extremist.

Indeed, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg wondered aloud about the same thing the other day.

Bloomberg … speculated — before a suspect was named — that the incident wasn’t Islamist terrorism at all.

“If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that. Homegrown, or maybe a mentally deranged person, or somebody with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health care bill or something. It could be anything,” he told Katie Couric.

In an odd twist, a group called Tea Party Nation — the outfit that put together that controversial event in Nashville a few months ago — is expressing its outrage over Bloomberg’s initial guess. The group is demanding an apology.

This approach seems badly flawed. The mayor was admittedly speculating about the possible background of an inept criminal. Bloomberg thought it was some crazed U.S. extremist who might be responsible.

In effect, the Tea Partiers’ response is, “Wait, crazed U.S. extremist who might set off a car bomb? Maybe he’s talking about us!”

The same thing happened a year ago, when the Department of Homeland Security warned law-enforcement officials about potentially-violent radicals, who may try to take action against Americans on American soil. Conservatives were outraged — they thought DHS might be referring to people like them.

The phrase “doth protest too much” comes to mind.