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Tilting at Windmills

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April 9, 2010

REFORM DEBATE LEADS TO RIGHT-WING THREATS.... It certainly seems as if threats of violence from right-wing activists, targeting members of Congress, have been far more common of late. Apparently, this is not just a perceived shift -- there's been a quantifiable rise.

Anger over the health-care overhaul has led to a nearly threefold increase in recent months in the number of serious threats against members of Congress, federal law enforcement officials said.

The lawmakers reported 42 threats in the first three months of this year, compared with 15 in last three months of 2009, said Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer, who had information about threats involving both chambers. [...]

Nearly all of the recent threats appear to come from opponents of the health-care overhaul, said Gainer, who also served four years as chief of the U.S. Capitol Police. And, he said, there have been "significantly more" threats against House members than against senators.

Law-enforcement officials are taking these developments seriously. Not only have there been arrests, but some congressional offices are "receiving additional equipment to help with the screening of mail," while others are taking renewed security measures to help prevent incidents.

To be sure, there's a difference in severity among these threats. On the one end of the spectrum we see plenty of messages from unhinged conservatives (letters, emails, voice mails) that include violent rhetoric, most of which are probably random nuts blowing off steam. On the other, we see at least one right-wing activist cutting a gas line at the Charlottesville home of Rep. Tom Perriello's (D-Va.) brother. In between, conservative extremists have thrown bricks through windows and made specific death threats.

Obviously, this is no laughing matter. But part of me finds a certain macabre humor in the absurdity of it all -- there is no modern precedent for a group of American political activists becoming this violent in response to legislation they don't understand.

I'm not in a position to know the personal details of those responding violently to the Affordable Care Act, but given general demographic information, it's extremely likely that most of those turning to criminal behavior to express their outrage are also likely to benefit personally from the new law.

There's just something extraordinary about right-wing extremists reacting violently to bogus arguments.

Steve Benen 10:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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These are not right-wing threats; they are patriots standing up for liberty.

As Patrick Henry said: "Give me liberty for corporations to make profits and own politicians OR give you death!"

As Thomas Jefferson said: "The tree of liberty of corporate control must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of people we convince to become 'patriots' and Kenyan Muslims."

Posted by: FreedomRings on April 9, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

so it just might not be the new 'gravy train' these bozos are violently protesting, huh?

it might have something to do with hate radio, hate teevee? might have some ting to do with the cynical lies of the Repugnant party?

Well damn, somebody ought to tell those folks to cut it out...they're upsettin' folks...

Posted by: neill on April 9, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Threats? You ain't seen nothin' yet, folks. Just wait until the Census workers come aknockin' on your door. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 9, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Sadly, the revolution will be led by these poor, duped ignorant fools. Hopefully, their numbers aren't larger than the 'sane' folks. Otherwise, when it's all over and they write their history books, we will learn how they defeated the Socialist Muslim threat to Merika.

I am already grieving for the loss of life in this country that will have to occur to put down this lie-induced uprising.

Posted by: Gridlock on April 9, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

There's just something extraordinary about right-wing extremists reacting violently to bogus arguments.

Really? I think not. _The Authoritarians_, by Bob Altemeyer, explains it well.

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

Bogus or not, it isn't about arguments. It's about people in a position of authority identifying certain "others" as a grave threat. Among the followers of these pols and media personalities are some insecure and unstable enough to be driven to acts of violence.

Posted by: FC on April 9, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

The President is black. This has nothing to do with health care or anything else.

Posted by: SaintZak on April 9, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

"There's just something extraordinary about right-wing extremists reacting violently to bogus arguments."

As others have touched on above, there's also something more than a little extraordinary about right-wing public figures openly inciting the easily-led to violence, and getting away with it.

Posted by: Mark on April 9, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Racism: the outlines of a proof

The President is black. This has nothing to do with health care or anything else.

Frum and many others have said the health care bill was the GOP's response to HillaryCare in the early 90s. It is essentially a republican bill. Romney's bill if you will.

So why the great republican angst?
Why the screams, taunts, threats, militias?

It can't be the bill.
It is a republican bill.

Because the president is black.
And that irks pitiful poor white people to no end.

Posted by: koreyel on April 9, 2010 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

In which all of Dave Neiwert's predictions come true.

Posted by: Monty on April 9, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

It seems, as of late, the Republican fall campaign aided by FOXNEWS is to yell fire in a crowded theater!

When will our loved ones on the Right get over their xenophobia? -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 9, 2010 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

There's just something extraordinary about right-wing extremists reacting violently to bogus arguments.

As any longtime reader of these threads knows, all the right wing has are bogus arguments. And right wing violence is nothing new -- Oklahoma City, anyone?

What's extraordinary is that the so-called "liberal media" won't call violent political action what it is: terrorism.

Posted by: Gregory on April 9, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

...at least when white conservative America men do it.

Posted by: Gregory on April 9, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Revenge of the weak minded , and their crazy uncles . They have stood in humble insecurity , building up an inventory of hurt over these same issues . This while the outrages against their mailboxes and lawns that have been invaded by the enemy are unavenged .
Thus it always has been for tyrants . This time the tyrants are tyrants of common sense . Tsk , tyrants none the less ...

Posted by: FRP on April 9, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Folks, these people are brainwashed, literally. Talk radio and Fox news are to blame.

1st order of business is to break up the media monopolies, such as Clear Channel, Sinclair, etc.

Posted by: citizen_pain on April 9, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Without drawing inflammatory parallels with political parties in other countries that in the past engaged in propaganda, with disastrous results, propaganda almost always opens the door to violence.

“Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels.”

— Richard Alan Nelson, A Chronology and Glossary of Propaganda in the United States

Posted by: Bob on April 9, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

WaMo's edition of "Al" is a parody troll.

The paid counterblogger currently posting as "Al" mostly practices his conservative dishonesty at Yglesias' place.

Posted by: Gregory on April 9, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

The mass media have been real enablers with their controversy-craving "balanced" reporting to support the lie that "most Americans" are unhappy with the health insurance law. Teabaggery is really the association for sore losers, but they continue to be coddled in imagining that to clamor for violent insurgency has something to do with democracy or the Constitution.

Posted by: 1st Paradox on April 9, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

"Sound bite Sara" and the other Teabaggers need to get a life and stop the viciousness of their rants. They can not talk or debate rationally so what do little minded people do when they want their opinion heard and they do not get their way - they throw tantrums and they show their true selves when they threaten violence and hatred. It is a shame and embarrassing for them.

Posted by: wom55 on April 9, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

These bigots may as well come out the The Truth that their anger has nothing to do with the issues they're complaining about...this anger is targeted at President Obama for being the best president we've had since JFK, and the ONLY Black President in American History, and now the Only Nobel Peace Prize winning American president, ever....
Haters! Why don't you right wingers stop calling yourselves Christians...PLEASE...the majority of you are simply bigotted, selfish, racists with no concern for anyone but yourselves...

Posted by: Kimmi Common Sense on April 9, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

"Kimmi Common Sense "

+1

Posted by: James on April 9, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

there is no modern precedent for a group of American political activists becoming this violent in response to legislation they don't understand.

The response to the Civil Rights Act probably comes the closest (and one can make the argument that this is an extention of that response).

Posted by: thorin-1 on April 9, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

It's always fun to see people congratulating themselves on how smart and nice they are, not like those people on the other side. They're evil!
I especially like the fantasy that there were no death threats or expressions of hate against politicians "in modern memory." I seem to remember a lot of hatred and death threats against Bush and the Republicans by Democrats from 2003-2008. OTOH, maybe that was some weird alternate universe that never existed in this dimension.

Posted by: Tarkin on April 9, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK
Obviously, this is no laughing matter. But part of me finds a certain macabre humor in the absurdity of it all -- there is no modern precedent for a group of American political activists becoming this violent in response to legislation they don't understand.

While you think it's about a violent response to 'legislation they don't understand', it's really a violent response to a world they refuse to comprehend or accept. The Health Care Reform is the excuse: the real cause is that these teabaggers and extremists are convinced the Cold War hasn't ended and that marxist socialism is gonna conquer this nation. The real cause is that they are AFRAID. Fear pushed onto them by rage merchants like Beck and Limbaugh, snake-oil politicians like Newt and Palin: far right leaders who only offer fear in exchange for slavish loyalty from their followers and book deals from their money lords.
To paraphrase FDR and Frank Sinatra, Fear is the enemy. This is what we're REALLY fighting: the rage and hatred are merely side-effects. Get rid of the fear and the rage and hatred should pass.

Pity of it is, people won't realize there was anything to fear until it's all over... :/

Posted by: PaulW on April 9, 2010 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm... well then, I'm going to start another rumor: Justices Roberts and Thomas *really* love the new Health Care Act! They were the ones behind it!

Now...Release the idiots!

Hey, if they're going to be misled anyway...

Posted by: Limbaugh's Diabetes on April 9, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Tarkin,

Could you please provide some examples.

Thanks in advance!

-JTK

Posted by: JTK on April 10, 2010 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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