Even before three bricks smashed the windows of a Republican Party field office in Charlottesville, Maryland last week, Republicans in Congress and conservatives in the media claimed that Democrats weren't the only ones targeted by fanatics after the healthcare bill was voted into law. What happened at the GOP office in Charlottesville was a heinous crime and a repugnant act of terrorism. But this terrible incident does not begin to balance out the multiple terrorist crimes aimed at House Democrats whosupported President Obama's healthcare overhaul. Bricks shattered the windows at no fewer than four Democratic Party offices. At least three House Democrats had their lives threatened. One even received a phone call threatening to murder the children of any Representative who voted yes on healthcare. Another was told that he would be killed either by God or man. A propane gas line was cut at the home of a House Democrat's brother; the criminal apparently though it was the Congressman's home.
Despite a clear pattern of political violence directed at Democrats, Republican Congressional leaders continue to claim an equality of victimization. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, stood on the House floor last Thursday and said, "End the threats. End the vandalism. And let's also end the smears of law-abiding citizens exercising their First Amendment right to speech and peaceable assembly." I'm not aware of any law-abiding citizens being smeared and I doubt that Rep. Pence could cite one legitimate example of that.
But no one made a stronger – and more transparent -- allegation of Republican victimization than House Minority Whip Eric Cantor. So eager was the Virginia Congressman to claim that GOP lawmakers were under attack that he stood in front of the media and told a lie. "Just recently, I had been directly threatened. A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week," Cantor stated, knowing full well that the bullet did not go through his office window but through the window of an office downstairs in the same building. On top of that, Richmond police concluded that, based on its trajectory, the bullet had not been aimed at the building; it was fired into the air from half a mile away and crashed through the window while arcing back to Earth. In other words, no one fired a bullet into Eric Cantor's office and Cantor must have known that when he read his statement to the media. To make matters laughably worse, Cantor inverted logic to ridiculousness by claiming that Democratic Party leaders were encouraging more violence by talking about the attacks leveled against them!
But Republican attempts to play the victim, blame the messenger and downplay the seriousness of the criminal, un-American acts of terror aimed at Democrats cannot hide the fact that GOP leaders have permitted and even encouraged the rage of right wing extremists. Instead of using strong, uncompromising terms to denounce the verbal, physical and threatened violence by their conservative followers, Republican leaders use tepid phrases like "violence is unacceptable." That's what House Minority Leader John Boehner said on Fox News. "Unacceptable." A surprisingly flaccid and ineffectual word from the man who shouted "Hell no!" from the well of the House chamber during the final debate on the healthcare bill.
Of course, Boehner and other Republicans are always quick to rationalize the anger of the brick-throwing, racial epithet-spewing, death threat-phoning, gas line-severing right wing criminals. And, of course, these supposedly-responsible GOP top dogs will never admit that their extreme rhetoric in Congress or their egging-on of the volatile Tea Party mob outside the U.S. Capitol or their contributed in any way to the climate of rage that resulted in violence.
This is nothing new. GOP leaders started stoking the fires of rage among their followers long before the healthcare vote, long before the Tea Party march on Washington, long before the out-of-control town halls last summer. The GOP's current tolerance of the right-wing mob goes all the way back to the 2008 Presidential campaign. During their final debate, Barack Obama asked John McCain to denounce his supporters who had stood up at rallies and called for Obama to be killed. McCain indignantly refused, accused Obama of insulting his supporters and claimed that terrible things had been said about him by pro-Obama forces. Of course McCain couldn't cite a single death threat shouted out at an Obama rally – because there were none.
The Republicans will never make any serious effort to calm the rage of the right wing masses. On the contrary, they depend on it.
Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.
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