Larison says his piece:

Obviously, the killer was deranged, but the same could probably be said about Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist assassin of William McKinley. That doesn’t make their destructive goals any less political. Nihilism is a charge that a lot of people have thrown around in the last few years, and it has usually been wrong. There are so few actual nihilists that it is usually a mistake to label someone this way, but it seems appropriate in this case. Nihilism is usually the wrong word to use because nihilism is “far removed from politics as we normally understand it,” to use Brooks’ phrase describing Loughner’s thinking, but if anything describes Loughner’s ideas that would seem to be it.             

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.