Islamophobic Ballots and Bullets

I hope there’s not something strange in the water in the Fourth Congressional District of Tennessee. This is the place represented in the U.S. House by the Conservative From Hell, Scott DesJarlais, the hard-core antichoice Family Values man with a record of having sex with patients and encouraging wives and lovers to have abortions.

But now it turns out DesJarlais wasn’t the strangest person on the 4th district ballot in 2014: independent candidate Robert Daggart (he got six pecent of the vote) has been arrested for conspiring to firebomb a Muslim center in New York. Here’s the report from Claire Wiseman of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

Robert Doggart wanted to burn Islamberg to the ground.

In a plea agreement filed in federal court April 29, the Signal Mountain resident and former District 4 congressional candidate admitted he spent months gathering weapons and plotting an all-out assault on the small Muslim enclave in Delaware County, New York.

“We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace,” he wrote in one Facebook post.

Doggart’s plan seems to have been based on the fear that Islamberg residents were themselves planning a terrorist attack, though local law enforcement say no such plan exists. The town is the headquarters of Muslims of America.

It “must be utterly destroyed in order to get the attention of the American people,” Doggart wrote in a February Facebook post.

Federal agents became aware of Doggart’s plan in early 2015 and began surveillance. A local judge authorized a wiretap on March 15, according to a criminal complaint.

In recorded calls with a confidential source located in Texas, Doggart said he planned to travel to New York for “reconnaissance” in early April. He planned to check out the buildings he hoped to burn. But he told the source he would also bring his M-4 assault rifle with him “just in case,” according to the complaint.

I like this part:

He is facing a $250,000 fine and up to five years in prison after a plea to interstate communication of threats. He was put on pre-trial release two weeks ago after his attorneys told Magistrate Judge Susan K. Lee he had weaned himself off painkillers and stopped using alcohol while in the Hamilton County Jail.

Yeah, if there’s anything more dangerous than a regular old Islamophobic nut with shootin’ irons and kerosene, it’s a drugged-up, hootched-up Islamophobic nut with shootin’ irons and kerosene.

I don’t know what it is about Tennessee that’s made it the American capital of Islamophobia (a
GOP primary in a district adjoining the 4th was almost completely dominated by hysteria about a mosque under construction a while back). But it’s not even funny any more.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.