Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has now done her part to raise the rhetorical intensity, telling her Twitter followers, "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!'" Palin then refers supporters to her Facebook page, where she once again employs gun imagery (crosshairs) in offering a list of 20 potentially vulnerable pro-reform Democrats in Congress. Palin has since insisted that no violent symbolism was intended and that the media "just can't get it right". However, Palin is one of the key leaders of the Tea Party movement which is being so closely identified with these very real acts of violence and destruction of property since the passing of the healthcare bill. It is incumbent upon Tea Party and Republican Party leaders to choose their words more carefully before someone gets hurt. Methaphors of gun usage could be all that it takes to cause one of the more radical members of these groups to act on one of the threats.
Then this week, Democrats who voted for reform began receiving death threats--one had a coffin left in front of his house and another was told snipers would kill the children of lawmakers who voted yes. (ocregister.com)
Rep. John Boehner last week referred to fellow representative Steve Driehaus as "a dead man" if he voted for health care reform. And while Boehner's office insisted his remark wasn't meant to be taken literally, as Rep. Driehaus pointed out, "It doesn't really matter the way you meant it, nor the way I accept it. It's how the least sane person in my district accepts it." (yahoo.com)
And there's more: During the debate on the floor of the House on Sunday,
Rep. Randy Neugebauer shouted "baby-killer" at Rep. Bart Stupak even
though he is staunchly anti-abortion.
While civil discourse is in short supply, there are some urging level heads to prevail. "Common Cause believes our political system is based on a belief in ballots, not bullets, in votes, not violence. To advocate violence -- even jokingly or metaphorically -- against your political opponents expresses contempt not just for them but for our democracy." (commoncause.org)
J. Richard Cohen wrote, "Earlier this month, my SPLC colleagues and I were privileged to stand with U.S. Rep. John Lewis at the Civil Rights Memorial as he led a bipartisan congressional delegation in laying a wreath in honor of those who lost their lives in our country's epic battle for equality. (The Civil Rights Act of 1964)
The ceremony was held on the eve of the 45th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," that Sunday back in March of 1965 when Lewis and other civil rights advocates were beaten and tear-gassed by baton-wielding state troopers as they crossed the EdmundPettusBridge in Selma, Ala., on a march in support of voting rights.
This past Sunday, Lewis was involved in another march. Along with other members of Congress, he walked up to Capitol Hill to cast a vote for health-care reform, another important piece of legislation with the potential to transform our nation.
But once again, Lewis was confronted with the ugly stain of racism. Angry "tea party" protesters shouted racial slurs at him and Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana. Another black congressman, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, was spit on. Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay congressman, was the target of anti-gay epithets.
Lewis said that the protesters at the Capitol reminded him of the angry mobs that confronted him during the ugly days of civil rights movement in the 1960s.
The question now is whether America will respond as it did 45 years ago when it saw the pictures of the racism at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Will people of good faith -- of all races and faiths -- stand with Rep. Lewis and reject the politics of hate? Or will the angry mob, fueled by racism and demagoguery, continue to swell?" (J. Richard Cohen, President, Southern PovertyLawCenter)