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Joe Stack IRS attack: All-American rage?

Fury over taxation and the IRS is more common – and honorable – in the US than elsewhere. That may help explain why some empathize with Joe Stack.

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Joe Stack’s antitax rage may be a uniquely American kind of anger.

Mr. Stack attacked the US Internal Revenue Service by flying his plane into its Austin, Texas, office last Thursday. He left behind a lengthy, disjointed screed in which he complained about his failure to find work, the crimes of corporations, and, most of all, his hatred of the IRS, with which he had been feuding for years.

This kind of fury about taxation is far more common in the US than in most of the rest of the world, says Mark Potok, director of The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.

Europe has problems with its own brands of extremists, such as neo-Nazis. But Europeans are used to turning to government to solve their problems, so government institutions themselves seldom become targets of symbolic violence.

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