Keith Oberman's Worst Persons in the World on MSNBC news put Wally Herger, Republican Congressman from northern California in the Worst Person position. A local story that has gone nationwide began where I live and I was there. I saw it happen.
Representative Herger had a town hall meeting at a local religious college in Redding California on August 18th. I took a poster I made that read, CONDEMN HATE SPEECH with me to the town hall.
Prior to the town hall I was concerned that hate speech could incite people to violence. So on August 13th I visited Mr. Herger's office to discuss the need for keeping behavior appropriate and safe. I also discussed my position on the health care issue and that the system needs to be reformed. Unfortunately I did not see Mr. Herger, but spoke for over a half an hour with his assistant.
At the town hall, from my place high up on the bleachers in the very hot and crowed gymnasium, I saw a parade of 'tea baggers' enter and sit down in the bottom row of bleachers in front of me. After this coordinated entry, Herger emerged from the side wings to cheers and applause. It became obvious to me very quickly that I was seeing a crowd of very right-wing conservatives.
Wally Herger's speech was predictable and meant to pump up the crowd of his constituents. I began to wonder why I bothered to attend. And then people lined up to take turns speaking on the microphone to ask questions or make comments. That too was predictable.
Then one of the speakers, a man announced he was a proud "right-wing terrorist." That was not predictable and totally amazed me. Even more amazing was Wally's response. I actually heard him say "Amen, God bless you. There is a great American." The crowd cheered; well some of them did.
I was stunned, chilled to the bone! They actually applauded him for saying that!
Fortunately the press was there and in the days to follow the story ended up first in the Mt. Shasta News. http://www.mtshastanews.com/news/x769902147/Congressman-Herger-calls-Obama-plan-threat-to-democracy
My letter to the editor about the incident was posted in the Redding newspaper, the Record Searchlight.
This is what I wrote when it was fresh in my mind:
"REP. WALLY HERGER TELLS TERRORIST "GOD BLESS YOU"