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The Party of Thugs

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mary Shaw       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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On October 25, a defenseless female MoveOn.org volunteer was assaulted outside the site of a Kentucky Senatorial debate. While engaged in street theater trying to get Rand Paul's attention, Lauren Valle was pushed to the ground by some of Paul's supporters, and then one of them stomped on her head. She ended up with a concussion.

A month earlier, on September 23, a male Sharron Angle supporter pushed a female Harry Reid supporter and then punched her female friend in the face at a Nevada Senatorial debate.

I do not see these as two isolated incidents. I see them as two very disturbing symptoms of a new culture of hatred and violence on the far right.

We saw it brewing last March, when Tea Partiers greeted members of the Congressional Black Caucus by hurling the N-word at them. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was spat on in the incident. Then they shouted "f*ggot" at openly gay Rep. Barney Frank.

At least those right-wing protesters were unarmed, as far as I know. But, also that month, ABC News reported that "at least 10 House Democrats received violent threats to their lives or property."

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At a protest in Washington, DC, last year, a Tea Partier was spotted with a sign that read: "We came unarmed (this time)". T-shirts are available online that sport the same threatening slogan.

But that line had already been crossed. In the backlash to President Obama's inauguration last year, some people showed up at town hall meetings with loaded guns. And sales of guns and ammunition surged, as did the number of death threats against Obama.

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that some Republican leaders are encouraging this kind of thing, either directly or indirectly.

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We have Sarah Palin tweeting to her followers, "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" On her Facebook page was a U.S. map marking the locations of 20 House Democrats who voted for the health care bill and who represent districts that the Republicans carried in 2008. The 20 locations were marked with crosshairs.

We have Sharron Angle suggesting "Second Amendment remedies" if the elections don't turn out as the Tea Partiers would hope.

And, ironically, we have Glenn Beck warning his followers of impending violence from the left. This, of course, serves to convince the Tea Partiers that their own violent acts are all in self-defense.

But might does not make right. And we do not have true democracy if political opponents are kept down by force of violence. What we have instead is the threat of mob rule. And I don't think that's what the Founding Fathers had in mind for this country.


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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

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