I know what you’re thinking but this doesn’t sound like Antifa. This sounds like a dude with a longstanding unhealthy interest in explosives looking for an outlet to try them out and finding inspiration in the recent left-wing frenzy over CSA statuary.
A Houston man has been charged with trying to plant explosives at the statue of Confederate officer Richard Dowling in Hermann Park, federal officials said Monday.
Andrew Schneck, 25, who was released from probation early last year after being convicted in 2015 of storing explosives, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez said in a statement Monday…
When confronted Saturday night in the park, he tried to drink some of the liquid explosives but spit it out, officials said.
The ranger then asked if he planned to harm the statute, and he said he did because he did not “like that guy,” according to a sworn statement submitted in federal court by an FBI agent investigating the case.
Schneck wasn’t some random doofus messing around with cherry bombs. The material he had on him was “most likely nitroglycerin and Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD),” according to the U.S. Attorney’s press release on the arrest. He told that ranger who spotted him that he had other “chemicals” back at his home — which, according to the Houston Chronicle, he did. I encourage you to dive into the story and see just how dangerous the situation was. Neighbors were evacuated and the FBI set up a tent on the front lawn to review evidence; “significant hazardous materials” were discovered inside. Experts from Quantico and the Dallas and New Orleans offices of the FBI were brought in to help. This wasn’t the first time the Schneck home had been raided for explosives, either. In 2013, the feds reportedly got a tip that he was up to something and found picric acid, a military-grade explosive, at a home owned by his parents. That’s the violation that landed him on probation — from which he was granted early release last year. Popehat has a copy of the unopposed motion for early release from probation. Quote: “Over the term of his supervised release, Schneck has matured and his focus is no longer concentrated on high-risk activities.”
A friend from high school remembered him to the Chronicle as “an awkward loner who never had a girlfriend and seemed to struggle with social interactions” and recalled that he had written a, er, “manifesto” about the popular girls at school, “decrying how their boyfriends treated them and saying he could have done better.” That plus his years-long interest in explosives makes this feel like less of an “I can’t believe he wanted to blow up a Confederate statue!” story than an “I’m surprised he only wanted to blow up a Confederate statue” one.
Still, a nice reminder of the evergreen double standard on inflammatory political speech. After Jared Loughner’s Tucson rampage, conservatives were warned to tone down their invective against liberals for fear of what it might do to fragile minds. The average person can handle symbolism involving crosshairs and rhetoric about the evils of the opposition, we were told, but the unbalanced person might take it as a trigger. (Loughner wasn’t motivated by politics, as it turned out, but that didn’t stop the finger-wagging.) I never thought partisans on either side needed to tone themselves down for the benefit of unstable people, as there’s no stopping point in sanitizing rhetoric once you start down that road. But there is, I’m sure, a real risk of inadvertently inspiring violence when you demonize your enemy. Bernie Sanders didn’t want James Hodgkinson to go shoot up a baseball field full of Republicans, but Hodgkinson wasn’t wrong to take from Sanders’s rhetoric about Republicans a conviction that the GOP has malign intentions. Same with Schneck and the monument critics. Most liberals outside the Antifa fringe aren’t calling for defacing statues, let alone blowing them up, but the laser focus on them over the past 10 days as symbols of evil that need to be cleansed was bound to inspire some over-excited attempts to get rid of them asap. Remember that mob that tore down the statue in Durham? Another Confederate monument was literally tarred and feathered. And now here’s Schneck, with explosives in his cupboard and time on his hands. They’re seeing the hard way why the Tucson demagoguery was folly.
Exit question: How’d you like to be the local Houston U.S. Attorney right now, having failed to oppose an early end to probation for this guy?
Update: Tweaked the headline to note that Schneck was caught in the act of trying to plant explosives. He hadn’t successfully planted them yet, it seems.