Sanchez

Sanchez

STAFF

Call it the deplorables’ defense.

Three men in Southwest Kansas who plotted to kill Muslims believe they cannot get a fair trial unless there are hardcore right-wingers on the jury.

Luckily, Curtis Wayne Allen, Patrick Eugene Stein and Gavin Wayne Wright were thwarted in their attempt to blow up an apartment complex and a mosque in Garden City, Kan., hoping to kill significant numbers of Somali immigrants.

They said their goal was a “bloodbath” to “wake people up” to the idea that the nation is being overrun by foreigners. The men referred to the Somali refugees as “cockroaches.” They had stockpiled weapons and researched chemical explosives, with a plan to put them at the corners of the apartment building where Somali refugees live and worship.

The men discussed going door-to-door murdering and raping people, as well as arson and kidnapping. They also thought it a fine idea to target churches that had aided the refugees and people who had rented to them. One of the men swore that no Muslim child would be left alive.

They planned the attack for Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election that put Donald Trump in the White House. They didn’t want to cause any disruption in his quest for the presidency.

And now their defense team argues that the men’s Sixth Amendment rights and the Jury Act will be violated if the jury pool isn’t expanded beyond Wichita, where they are being tried, to where these three lived and hatched their plan, in rural western Kansas.

The rationale is laid out in the motion, citing Democrat and Republican voting patterns, noting that Southwest Kansas has higher percentages of Republican voters.

“This case is uniquely political because much of the anticipated evidence will center around, and was in reaction to, the 2016 presidential election,” the defense lawyers wrote in the motion.

The men were also members of militia groups, the Crusaders and the Kansas Security Force, adherents of anti-government conspiracy theories and sovereign citizen lore.

That explains why the defense motion also refers to “a political difference between the two parties also extends to their respective ideologies regarding the appropriate size and power of the federal government and the individual rights of its citizens.”

“Additionally, this case will require the jury to evaluate and weigh evidence regarding whether the alleged conduct constitutes the crimes charged or whether it was constitutionality protected speech, assembly and petition, and/or the right to bear arms,” the motion added.

What nonsense. These violent extremists and their lawyers are essentially substantiating Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” conceit during the 2016 presidential campaign. When Clinton used the term to describe certain Trump supporters, there was outrage that this liberal elitist would dare disparage salt-of-the-earth conservatives. Now we’re supposed to believe that one man’s bloodletting is another man’s exercise of his constitutional rights.

Don’t see the distinction? Well, you must be one of those elitists who think Trump voters are deplorable. The argument is absurd, but the calculation is transparent. The defense team clearly hopes to find jurors so irredeemably bigoted against Muslims that they will hang the jury

For argument’s sake, let’s assume they win their point with the court and the jury is pulled from both the area of Wichita and from Dodge City.

Yes, many people in western Kansas voted for Trump, disregarding his flagrantly conspiratorial, sexist and outright daft thinking. But they’ve also lived among many Vietnamese, Mexicans and now Somalis in that portion of the state for decades. It’s a remarkably dynamic area, partly due to the need for workers in the meatpacking industry.

This trial will surely be sensational. But it also proves the more modest point that words do matter — not in the sense that Trump can be held accountable for what these despicable men plotted but rather in the sense that sick people look for inspiration. The vile invective that Trump unleashed during his campaign spoke to many people who merely enjoyed the false bravado — sane people who would never harm another in violence.

But it also spoke to people like these three — men so disassociated from any sense of humanity that mass murder was appealing, even called for.

There’s a lesson here that is bigger than the courtroom where it will be heard.

Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star.

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