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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 9/13/21

Why Threats of Violence are Epidemic in America

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Message Thom Hartmann
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I'm sitting in my home office working on the next morning's Daily Rant when I hear what sounded like a man in my driveway yelling, at the top of his voice, "You f*cking c*nt!" and other female-specific obscenities. Walking to the window, I saw a guy in his 40s, redfaced, giving my wife the finger with both hands and cursing her out as he climbed into his car and squealed out of the driveway.

Louise, it turns out, had invited a local contractor to give us a bid on some repairs and she'd (very nicely) asked him, before letting him into the house, if he was vaccinated. He exploded and marched back to his car screaming curses at her. In all her years on this planet, including as CEO of three different companies, that was the first time in her life a man had behaved like such an ass toward her.

In Tennessee a high school student testifies to a school board meeting that his grandmother has just died of Covid and he begs his school to mandate masks so his other grandmother isn't next; he's shouted down, laughed at and heckled by smirking, unmasked adults.

On Jet Blue what's become a new rite of passage for flight attendants blows into life as a man screams obscenities when asked to leave the plane because he refused to properly wear his mask.

In Olympia, Washington a group of thugs goes looking for a fight when "antifa" fails to show up for the brawl the "Boys" had advertised. Undeterred, they march around town with clubs, flags and baseball bats looking for people to pick fights with until a local (not-antifa) man, apparently disgusted and feeling threatened by their behavior, finally pulls out a gun and shoots one of them in the foot (the story is still evolving; it's possible the guy shot himself in the foot).

In Ft. Collins Colorado a man harasses a group of women suntanning on the beach for wearing "pornographic" bathing suits, refusing to leave when they ask him to go away because, he says, "This is America!"

Across the nation, hundreds of poll workers and election officials endure daily death threats and violent harassment just for doing their civic duty. And school boards are under daily assault in similar fashion.

And these are just the stories from the past week.

This continuous and increasing use of violence and threats of violence has become an epidemic across America since 2016 and it's not because of frustration with the pandemic.

This is what happens in every country when it begins making the transition from being a democratic and generally polite and respectful culture into one that embraces authoritarianism or fascism.

And it always starts from the top down: leadership sets the initial tone in countries, just like in companies and families.

In our case, these people are imitating Donald Trump; our best hope is that President Biden's reasonable and compassionate example can help the nation turn against it, although Trump-imitating governors and other elected officials are making it very difficult.

The Republican leadership of Texas, for example, just legally embraced vigilantism against women, and a dozen GOP-controlled states are planning to follow suit this month. This is how it starts.

In Hungary, roaming bands of thugs with torches threatened to burn the homes of Roma people as Viktor Orba'n rose to power a bit over a decade ago.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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