It’s Time

People are making a big to do about the “vitriolic” rhetoric in our political landscape and all I have to say is: it’s about damn time.

This is nasty, violent rhetoric is nothing new. David Neiwart recorded right-wing hate speech in 2007 and Media Matters posted this list in June of 2009. Many on the right say they are simple “jokes”, but looking at the significant lists it is clear they are anything but “funny”.

While I’m sure the good Sheriff out of AZ will get the brunt of the scapegoating by the right, some are already trying to spread out the blame to all liberals.

Consider a tea party leader recently vilified liberals request to examine the hate rhetoric by saying  it is “borderline evil”. I don’t get it either.

Further they are making a false equivalence from those media and political figures on the left as to those on the right, which is complete horse crap. When the right can compile lists like the ones above, or find billboards like the one below, then we can talk equivalence.

The SLPC and Homeland Security both say that right-wing extremism is up and we “should be concerned”. Are we? Are we concerned enough to raise our standard of discourse or will we continue the fear and hate mongering? Let’s hope for the prior (unless that hopey changey thing doesn’t sit well with you).

I am with PZ Meyers. While there may not be a “direct correlation” between this nutcase and any particular group, it is absolutely necessary we have a discussion about having civil debate on issues people disagree without asking our supporters to reload, bring rifles to political rallies, threaten to secede from the union, or say revolution should be on the table.

Some highlights:

August 11, 2009—William Kostric is filmed openly carrying a handgun outside of President Obama’s health care reform town hall meeting in New Hampshire. Kostric holds a sign that reads, “IT IS TIME TO WATER THE TREE OF LIBERTY!” a reference to the following Thomas Jefferson quote: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

CNN contributor Erik Erikson:

“At what point do the people … march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp?”

July 27, 2008—Jim Adkisson shoots and kills two people at a progressive church in Knoxville, Tennessee, wounding two. Adkisson calls it “a symbolic killing” because he really “wanted to kill…every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg’s book,” but was unable to gain access to them.

March 9, 2009—NRA celebrity spokesman Chuck Norris writes in an editorial published at WorldNetDaily: “How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution?”

March 21-22, 2009—Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) states that she wants residents of her state to be “armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people—we the people—are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.”

April 7, 2009—The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis releases an assessment of right wing extremism in the United States. The Department notes that “the economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.”

September 28, 2009—Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), the Chairman of the Second Amendment Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, calls House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “domestic enemy of the Constitution” at a health care reform town hall meeting.

September 29, 2009—An editorial at the Newsmax website calls for a military coup to oust President Obama.

July 18, 2010—California Highway Patrol officers arrest Byron Williams, 45, after a shootout on I-580 in which more than 60 rounds are fired. Officers had pulled Williams over in his pick-up for speeding and weaving in and out of traffic when he opened fire on them with a handgun and a long gun. Williams, a convicted felon, is shot several times, but survives because he is wearing body armor. Williams, a convicted felon, reveals that he was on his way to San Francisco to “start a revolution” by killing employees of the ACLU and Tides Foundation. Williams’ mother says her son was angry at “Left-wing politicians” and upset by “the way Congress was railroading through all these Left-wing agenda items.”

September 16, 2010—Patricia Stoneking, the President of the Kansas State Rifle Association, tells Fox News, “People need to arm themselves, We have the right to put limits on our government, and that’s what [the Second Amendment] does.” Explaining why America’s Founding Fathers drafted the amendment, she says, “They knew government could become tyrannical. We have the right to defend ourselves from a rogue government.”

We can do better.

We can be better.


Update: TPM is reporting someone has been arrested for making a death threat to Democratic Senator M. Bennet. *sigh*

By Chad Rohrbacher

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