While out of the country last week, I received the following email from my office:

“We received a letter today—our address was typed, no return address (postmark ME) with a typed letter that had been folded into a pouch that included some white powder. The letter said “Death to Traitors” and quoted Congress making no establishment of religion. To be on the safe side, David, Nakitta and I decided it would be best to report it . . . just in case. This resulted in an hour festival of fire and police. Even the fire marshal got involved. A Hazmat unit was called in. They were in contact with the FBI to see what to do. They’re sending someone out to pick up the package. They won’t let anyone in or out until it’s been picked up and sent out to be analyzed.”

This isn’t the first time that American Vision has been threatened. Reports from other conservative groups tell similar stores of hate mail and threats. Glenn Beck has about 15 threats against his life being investigated at any one time, he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. These incidents rarely get reported in the news. We seem only to hear about so-called hate incidents when they happen to liberals or high profile figures (see story here).

Dr. Gary North was present when all the action started. Here’s his account of events and his unique perspective on “lone nut jobs.” It was originally posted at GaryNorth.com:

I went over to American Vision’s headquarters yesterday. My library is housed there. I had to do some proofreading of a typeset manuscript before it goes to the printer.

I chatted with my son-in-law, who works there. We went out to lunch. When we drove back there were uniformed people in the parking lot. They wanted to know why we were driving in. My son-in-law said, “I work here.”

We could not go into the building. One of the secretaries had opened an envelope. Inside was a death-threat letter. Also inside was white powder. She took it to her supervisor, who called the police.

Within minutes, the fire department had sent a truck and several uniformed people. There were also two police officers.

Because the first-response program does not deal with white powder crime on a regular basis, the question arose: “Now what?” The fireman in charge contacted his superior, who contacted the FBI. The FBI contacted the Post Office. The Post Office sent over two men with the capability of testing the powder.

The Post Office does seem to be an obvious source of testing white powder in envelopes. I don’t know who would have come out if the package had been sent by FedEx.

Meanwhile, not being an idiot, I had driven home. I did not want to have to go through a shower, which the man said might be required if I re-entered the building. I left my print-out inside.

The fireman in charge had said it was probably body powder. He was close to right. It was foot powder.

My wife then informed me that, one week ago, someone had sent a similar package to Chalcedon, a parallel research organization that I used to work for in the 1970s. She had not mentioned this before. It’s just as well.

The response team was pretty good, I thought. It was not a Keystone Cops scenario. But it did take time. This is not a normal occurrence. The chain of command is not in everyone’s immediate “call him next” guide book.

My son-in-law did not call the media, but ABC found out and sent out a camera crew. He had already called me to ask whether he should call the media. I advised against it. Let the authorities do their job without interference. Also, there is no reason to encourage copycats. I had mentioned this threat in my Reality Check newsletter on Tuesday.

The liberal media are trying to pin the shootings in Tucson on the Republican Right. The Right is hopping mad at this, as a quick search on Google reveals.

As I wrote in Reality Check, nut jobs are always around, and it is easy to connect dots in a Kevin Bacon game world of only six dots back to the “hidden source.” The dots are not self-explanatory. It is easy to connect the wrong dots. Here is what I wrote:

There are lone nuts in history. Loughner certainly has the characteristics of a lone nut. Anyone who writes incoherently is unlikely to be a trusted member of a conspiracy to shoot an official.

In today’s interconnected world, organizing a conspiracy to commit violence will become more difficult, because it is so easy to trace the digital dots. A group will know that it will be discovered retroactively. Terrorists who do not use the Web or cell phones can operate this way, but these would have to be highly dedicated and highly organized groups. They would not include people like Jared Loughner.

This is why we should be suspicious of off-the-shelf theories of criminal conspiracies that are involved in assassinations. It takes a lot of digital spadework, along Sam Spade’s lines, to dig up the hidden connections. It may take years.

People like to connect easy dots. They do not like the hard work of detailed study.

I think a single nut sent the letters to both organizations. My assumption is that the person is harmless.

Sometimes, a nut job is not harmless, as we learned in Tucson. But that does not change the assessment. He is nuts. A person who shoots a child at random is not rational. The media should not imply that he is.

If the police had hassled Loughner before the shootings, the ACLU might have intervened, with legitimate cause. He did not break any laws. I do not want a government that arrests suspected weirdos for their weirdness.

Living at risk of violent nut jobs is the price of not living in a police state. In any case, nut jobs operate in police states, too. Stalin was one. Hitler was another. Mao was right up there.

I prefer lone nut jobs.