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Criswell Predicts... Many Red Faces - and Full Pockets - for Sniper "Experts"
by J. Edward Tremlett, Columnist

October 29, 2002

"Down On the rANT Farm"

J. Edward TremlettAs of this writing, it seems that we have caught the sniper(s). I'm still willing to refer to the twosome in custody as "the suspects" until after the trial, out of respect for our judicial system. But there's little doubt in my mind that we've done what needed doing. And Goddess bless our law enforcement for seeing it done.

But if you're not too busy with alternating between being grateful and angry at aspects of this case, you can join me in being amused, and disgusted, at the "experts."

This case had a lot of them: hordes of obnoxious, would-be "experts" whose predictions about the snipers' vital statistics were rather - *ahem* - off-target.

They told us that the sniper was a white militiaman with a gun in one hand, a Bible in the other and a copy of the Turner Diaries at home. They told us this was the work of a foreigner in league with Al-Queda, blowing infidels away instead of trying to hijack planes. It was a disgruntled vet who'd had the day from "Falling Down" and wasn't going to take it anymore. All sorts of usual suspects.

Everyone was very sure of all this: Steve Dunleavy was even willing to drop his pants in the window of Macy's if it wasn't a foreigner. (And while Malvo is, technically, a foreigner, I have the feeling that Dunleavy was thinking more along the lines of Mohammed Atta of Egypt than John Lee Malvo of Jamaica. Unless we're blaming this on the Ton Ton Macoute...?)

While they may have trotted out any number of culturally-acceptable bogeymen, Muhammad and Malvo slipped right under the "experts" collective radar. They were too black and too Muslim to be in the sort of militia that most picture when they hear the "m"-word, from a sect of Islam too heretical to be directly linked to Al-Queda to use the other "m"-word, and from a country hardly linked to our understanding of international terrorism to use the "f"-word.


And what's really amusing is that some of the "experts" - particularly those in the more Islamophobic camps - are now trying to say that they were right all along! But this wasn't the Islam they were thinking of, and Malvo isn't the kind of foreigner they were thinking of, either. We may get more damning evidence to the contrary when we get to the trial, of course, but for now all the yay-sayers have to go on is adrenaline, fear and technicalities: hardly a recipe for retaining respect.

Maybe the "experts" should have thought of the folly of prediction before opening their yaps. A look at the "work" of 50's TV psychic Criswell - ne Charles King - proves instructive. Criswell, perhaps best remembered for his roles in various Ed Wood movies, made a number of predictions that came true. His most famous one was that JFK wouldn't run for president in 1964 because "something would happen."

However, Criswell also predicted cannibalism in Pittsburgh in 1980 and a rash of female baldness in St. Louis in 1983, both caused by strange gas. And he also said we'd have utopia in 1995, but the end of the world would come in 1999, caused by our atmosphere being sucked away by giant, black rainbows...


Now, I don't think he believed any of that really crazy stuff, myself. But the fact that he was right at least part of the time got him noticed. And the fact that he was willing to say the crazy stuff got him fame - however fleeting - a book and, you guessed it, money. Not enough to make him rich, but enough to get by without having to utter the words "yes, sir" or "would you like fries with that?" for a time.

So I can only wonder if some of those "experts" in this case had similar ideas in mind? After all, it's a crap shoot, but if you're right, you've got it made. And who really cares about being right if you get paid either way?

And I can only wonder if some of the people who are trying to insist they were right after all don't have similar motives. Joseph Farah over at WND has really been trying to pimp for how they "got it right," for example, but it's starting to smell more like desperation to me. ("Hey! Look! Here we are! Read us, dammit!")

My motive? I want to give my opinion, but not stick my neck out so far that I lose my credibility on an ill-considered gamble. I had nothing to back my suspicions up but gut feelings and educated guesses, so I kept my mouth shut. And since I was only maybe a quarter right - the military training, if you must know - it's a good thing I did.

But that's all a bit secondary to the real point. I don't care what the suspects looked like, who they prayed to, or what was going through the suspects' heads when they were on their damned who rides. I care about their actions, and I think I have the right to call them evil.

And do you know what? Evil isn't a phenotype or a census tag. It isn't a race, a religion, a philosophy or a country of origin - nothing that simple or clear-cut.

Evil is a state of mind: the willingness to ignore the fact that others matter, too, while benefiting yourself. It can be as simple as taking the money from someone's lost wallet, and it can be as elaborate as 9/11, the Holocaust or Stalin's reign of terror. It can come from any hand, any face, any background and at any time.

And woe be to those who forget this, for their predictions about what evil will come, and who will do it, will often have about as much accuracy as Criswell.

"My friend, you have seen this incident based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn't happen? Perhaps on your way home, you will pass someone in the dark, and you will never know it, for they will be from outer space!"

- Criswell's ending monologue, "Plan 9 from Outer Space" (perhaps describing certain "experts"...)


J. Edward Tremlett is a published author, political thinker and self-described "mean-spirited crank." He lives with his wife and two cats in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

2002 J. Edward Tremlett

COPYRIGHT 2002 BY THE AMERICAN PARTISAN. All writers retain rights to their work.

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