For those who are old enough to remember the 60's the violent reaction of those opposed to health care reform to the passage of such legislation is like deja vu all over again. While we haven't seen riots in the streets, the reaction coming from the new radical right has gone beyond threatening violence with incendiary rhetoric and open displays of guns to actually carrying out acts of violence.
The increasing tendency towards violence has been brewing since Obama became a serious candidate for the presidency in 2007. "The recent rise of domestic terrorism and extremist violence has been well documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and in an interview yesterday on National Public Radio, the connection between GOP lawmakers and the extremist right came into even greater focus. According to Mark Potok, editor of the investigative journal Intelligence Report mainstream GOP leaders are creating a very scary situation (by not condemning threats and outrageous claims coming from the far right). A new poll from Harris interactive shows that 14% of Americans believe President Obama may be the Antichrist." (click here)
While Republican leadership has done nothing to discourage this and other
seemingly absurd claims, talk show hosts on conservative TV and radio have fanned
the flames of hatred. Before President
Obama was even elected there was a concerted effort to figure out how they
could remove him from office. Conspiracy
theories are running rampant depicting Obama as a committed socialist not born
in the U.S. who is intent upon imposing martial law, revoking the second amendment
to the Constitution (the right to bear arms), and converting the country to
They also claim the government has plans to round up resisters into internment camps. Such theories have been endorsed by the likes of Glenn Beck on Fox News. He later recanted, but the harm had already been done. While such conspiracy theories have been around for years they gained little traction until Obama was elected President.
This is the environment in which the SPLC has seen a dramatic rise in the number of anti-government "Patriot" groups from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009. Their opponents refer to them as "hatriot" groups. The last time there was such a rise in activity of hate, militia, and patriot groups was during the 1990's, during the Clinton administration, when the movement " produced an enormous amount of violence-most dramatically the Oklahoma City bombing (in 1995) that left 168 people dead." (SPLC Report, "Fighting Hate", Spring 2010)
Now, with Obama's victory in enacting significant changes in health care such groups are using any and all weapons, including the Constitution itself, to mobilize their forces against what they see as an illegal and anti-American president. Claiming that the tenth amendment makes federal health care reform illegal and that the Declaration of Independence endorses revolution (""whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it"") groups such as the "Tea Party" have insomuch as endorsed the use of violence if that is what it will take to reverse what they see as tyranny of the minority over the majority.
Supporters of Obama and his reforms, many of whom see health care as a right, can't seem to understand why anyone would be upset over what they see as much needed reforms that will benefit all Americans and feel that the rule of law, common sense, and majority rule are on their side. The reality is that they face an opposition that is determined to throw Obama and his supporters out of office using any means necessary and then repeal any health care legislation that is passed.
"More than 10 lawmakers have complained they've received threats since the run-up to Sunday's House vote on a health insurance overhaul, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday, and law enforcement officials are taking the allegations seriously. Plus the office of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. -- who initially opposed the Senate's health bill over concerns about abortion funding but switched to support the plan following assurance from the White House (that federal funds would not be used to support abortions)-- has received several threatening messages, recordings of which have been obtained by Fox News.
"According to a report in the Buffalo News, a brick was thrown through a window in Rep. Louise Slaughter's office, causing about $350 worth of damage. The report said another window was broken at the Monroe County Democratic headquarters in Rochester, and cited similar incidents elsewhere in the country." (FOXNews.com)
"A brick with the words, "No to Obama," "No to Obamacare" was thrown through the window of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita, Kan., late Friday or early Saturday." (click here)
The FBI is also investigating a separate incident at the home of Virginia
Rep. Tom Perriello's brother. Perriello's office confirmed that a line to a
propane tank on a gas grill was cut at Bo Periello's Charlottesville home on Tuesday. Tea Party
activists had posted the address online thinking it was the congressman's home,
telling opponents to drop by and "express their thanks" for his
Mike Troxel, the blogger who posted the address online, told Fox News' Alan Colmes that he was encouraging voters to go to Perriello's house. When asked if the children of public officials should be harassed at their house just because they're related, Troxel said, "You know, I think that's a burden that comes with being an elected official."
"Alabama blogger Mike Vanderboegh published a post on Friday that railed against Congress for taking up the controversial health care bill and urged readers to "break their windows." (http://www.bnd.com/2010/03/24/1187980/threats-violence-against-democrats.html) This is reminiscent of Nazi Germany's Kristallnacht, in which the windows of Jewish owned businesses were systematically broken with no consequences for the perpetrators, and is no laughing matter.
The voice mails left for Stupak were particularly graphic. In one recording,
a man swears at Stupak repeatedly while wishing for him to die.
Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., linked the threats to terrorism. "If we don't disown that and go get out people to move beyond that, if we participate in it, either from the balcony or on the floor of the House, you are aiding and abetting this kind of terrorism really," he told MSNBC host Chris Matthews.
A recent article in "Mother Jones" magazine quoted an "Oath Keeper" militia member as saying "They will call us terrorists".