SCOTT SIMON, host:
And Juan, we want to talk about the sacrifice of Stephen T. Johns, the guard who worked at the Holocaust Memorial Museum for six years and of course was shot down this week. It must be noted in this time, that in this - I think was universally labeled a tragedy - political polarization set in very quickly, didn't it?
JUAN WILLIAMS: It really did. And again, I think that that's a really sensitive point that you made, Scott, that Johns made a sacrifice here. He literally opened the door for that 88-year-old man. And it's easy to forget a guy who is a Wackenhut Security special agent in this moment when everybody looks at the bigger picture. But there was a human being who gave up his life. And you know, security people at all these facilities, I think we all owe them a debt.
But to your point, I think that there's right now a lot of finger-pointing going on. If you look at some of the left-wing blogs in the country, they're saying, you know, this extremist talk from the right wing, especially on talk radio, has been feeding alienation and violence and pumping up the idea that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder want to take guns, especially the, you know, the military-style assault rifles - the ban on those expired in '04. Lots of anger at immigrants.
And from the right-wing blogs, they're saying, well, why don't you talk about some of the attacks, like the attack on the military recruiter. What about First Amendment rights to criticize? And so you have this intensity right now on the blogs that, you know, with people saying you're responsible for this kind of outbreak of extremist violence as represented by what took place at the Holocaust Museum.
SIMON: Juan, I want to at least, if you can, explore the possibility with you -I don't mind saying I sometimes wonder about - do we have a tendency in the media to look for patterns, because in the 24-hour news cycle we're looking for something to say and something to advance a story, when in fact we might be talking about a series of isolated incidents? Whether it's the killings of the recruiter in Little Rock or the assassination of Dr. Tiller and now this tragedy at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, people who track this kind of thing, Scott, have found a 48 percent increase in hate groups since 2000. This is work done by the intelligence report of the Southern Poverty Law Center. And they've seen a specific rise, especially in the southwestern states, largely tied to anti-immigrant sentiments. But they're concerned about guns, concerned about having a president who's African-American.
All of that has led to, I think, more and more concern. So I'm not sure the media is responsible for simply feeding this. There's some reality here.
SIMON: NPR News analyst Juan Williams. Thanks so much for being with us.
WILLIAMS: You're welcome, Scott.
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