The XX Factor

Joe Stack’s Deluded Daughter

Hanna, your post about Amy Bishop’s husband James Anderson makes me think about another deluded relative of a murderer: Joe Stack’s daughter, Samantha Bell. Stack is the man who flew a stolen plane into an Austin, Texas, IRS building last week because he was angry about paying taxes. Samantha Bell went on Good Morning America today to call her father a “hero.” She said, “His last actions, the suicide, the catastrophe that caused injuries and death, that was wrong … but if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished. But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government.”

Bell now lives in semi-socialist Norway. As GMA anchor Robin Roberts pointed out, what Bell says makes little ideological sense: Her father was angry about having to pay taxes, and Bell defends him though she elects to live in a nation where people are more heavily taxed than in the United States. Both Bell and Anderson have deluded themselves. They separate their image of their loved ones from their actual, deplorable behavior. Bell says, “The father I knew was a loving, caring, devoted man who cherished every moment with me and my three children, his grandchildren. … This man who did this was not my father.” While Bell’s statements are ridiculous, psychologically it makes sense: It’s going to take her time to reconcile this heinous act.

Photograph of Austin IRS building by Jana Birchum/Getty Images News.