Friday, May 31, 2013

It’s Getting Scary Out There

Any regular reader of this blog will probably be aware that a recurring theme and caution of my posts is the fear that the lack of civility, overall tone, and nature of our current political debates seemed to be heading down a slippery slope toward the sort of political violence that we see across the globe but which has mostly spared America. Unfortunately, we really do appear to be sliding down that slope. And with one party losing touch with reality more and more frequently and showing a complete unwillingness or inability to tamp down on the craziest, fringe voices, I’m not really sure how we step back from the brink.

What prompts this newest expression of concern?

Well, there’s this:

Letters Threatening Mayor Tested Positive for Ricin

Two letters that contained threats to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — one addressed to him, the other to a lobbyist who works on his gun control campaign — have tested positive for the deadly poison ricin, the authorities said on Wednesday.

The first letter was opened at a New York City mail center in Lower Manhattan on Friday, the police said. Although staff members at the mail center do not appear to have become ill, several police officers who came into contact with the letter’s contents “indicated some mild symptoms the next day, including diarrhea,” and they are being treated in hospitals, the New York Police Department’s spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said on Wednesday afternoon. “They’re being checked out as a precaution.”

The second letter, which was opened on Sunday in Washington, was addressed to Mark Glaze, the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group Mr. Bloomberg helps run and finances, officials said. Mr. Glaze opened the letter, an official said. No injuries were reported, Mr. Browne said.

Both letters were identical in content, bore references to the debate over gun regulation and contained written threats to Mayor Bloomberg, Mr. Browne said. “It’s threatening, and it’s very clearly about one issue,” one official said of the letters.

A similar letter was also addressed to President Obama.

Or there’s this:

Radio Host Frequented By Gun Activists Calls For Shooting of Bush Family & Obama, Sexual Violence Against Hillary Clinton

How about Hillary Clinton? That frickin’ assbag has not only been involved in drug trafficking out of Mena, Arkansas, okay? Not only that; and all these people try to have this plausible deniability thing, yeah sure, they’re removed, they’re just a bunch of politicians. Well, guess where they got all of the money to acquire the power that they have?

This ‘C U Next Tuesday,’ Hillary Clinton, has been involved in the killings of American troops.  Namely, the mysterious suicide of the emotionally unstable Navy SEAL commander who just so happened to be involved in all of her dealings in the Middle East, okay. And he just mysteriously got suicided along with everyone else associated with the Clinton family. Miss Hillary Clinton needs to be convicted, she needs to be tried, convicted and shot in the vagina. I wanna pull the trigger. That ‘C U Next Tuesday’ has killed human beings that are in our ranks of our service.

I want to remind you that in Benghazi, Miss Hillary ‘the fricken’ biggest vagina on the face of the planet’ told troops to stand down and to not go in and interfere with the operation that they set up because they're moving arms; Barack Obama is moving drugs through the CIA out of Afghanistan and Barack Obama needs to be tried, convicted, and shot for crimes against the United States of America. And if anybody has a problem with that, then you are an enemy of our state.

I want to shoot [Clinton] right in the vagina and I don't want her to die right away; I want her to feel the pain and I want to look her in the eyes and I want to say ‘on behalf of all Americans that you’ve killed, on behalf of the Navy SEALS,’ … the families of Navy SEAL Team Six who were involved in the fake hunt down of this Obama bin Laden thing, that whole fake scenario — because these Navy SEALS know the truth, they killed them all — on behalf of all of those people, I’m supporting our troops by saying we need to try, convict, and shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina.

And most disturbingly, this (emphasis added):

Press Release: Adam Kokesh Calls on American Revolutionary Army to March on 50 State Capitols

“When a government has repeatedly and deliberately failed to follow its own laws, violated the fundamental human rights of its citizens, threatened the sanctity of a free press, created institutions intended to eliminate privacy of communication, waged war at the behest of special interest that threatens the public safety, killed hundreds of children with drone strikes, imprisoned and destroyed the lives of countless individuals for victimless crimes, stifled economic opportunity to maintain the dominance of the financial elite, stolen from the people through an absurd system of taxation and inflation, sold future generations into debt slavery, and abused its power to suppress political opposition, it is unfit to exist and it becomes the duty of the people to alter or abolish that government by whatever means necessary to secure liberty and ensure peace.

“A new American revolution is long overdue. This revolution has been brewing in the hearts and minds of the people for many years, but this Independence Day, it shall take a new form as the American Revolutionary Army will march on each state capital to demand that the governors of these 50 states immediately initiate the process of an orderly dissolution of the federal government through secession and reclamation of federally held property. Should one whole year from this July 4th pass while the crimes of this government are allowed to continue, we may have passed the point at which non-violent revolution becomes impossible.

“The time to sit idly by has passed. To remain neutral is to be complicit, just doing your job is not an excuse, and the line in the sand has been drawn between the people, and the criminals in Washington, D.C. While some timid souls will say that it is too early, that we can solve this problem through democratic means provided by government, that current levels of taxation are reasonable for the services provided, and that the crimes of this government are merely a tolerable nuisance, it may already be too late.

“While there is risk in drastic action, the greater danger lies in allowing this government to continue unchallenged. So if you are content with the status quo, stay home, get fat, watch the fireworks from a safe distance, and allow this Independence Day to pass like any other. But if you see as we see, and feel as we feel, we will see you on the front lines of freedom on July 4th, 2013 for this, The Final American Revolution.”

It’s worth noting that Kokesh had previously called for an armed march on Washington, D.C., and he received over 5,000 “RSVPs” via his Facebook page.

We’re seeing threats of violence against politicians and public servants, we’re seeing poison mailings, and we’re seeing calls for secession which, if not heeded, could be followed by violent revolt. And we’re seeing these sorts of things with ever greater frequency. Most disturbingly, we’re not hearing outright condemnations immediately from those on the same side of the philosophical divide. You know, when a Muslim commits a terrorist act, many people expect every moderate Muslim (and, in particular, moderate Muslim leaders and organizations) to immediately denounce the violence. Yet when the violence or threat of violence comes from the far right, we don’t usually hear every moderate (let alone far right) Republican denouncing the violence or threat. Why not? If a Muslim Brotherhood related organization issued a press release that it was calling for an armed march on Washington, we would expect every Muslim imam and Muslim organization to denounce the plan (not to mention what we would do to stop that march from happening; I mean, people are willing to stop Muslims from building mosques, so I don’t suppose stopping an armed march would take much convincing). But when a far right libertarian does the same thing, we get mostly silence. We’re ready to trample Muslim freedom of religion but people will barely raise their voices to call out insane gun rhetoric.

If we expect Muslim organizations to take a stand against Muslim extremists, then shouldn’t we expect the NRA or pro-gun legislators to take a stand against the sort of violence and rhetoric that we’re seeing?

If our political leaders cannot call out and denounce totally inappropriate conduct from the fringes of their own political movements, then that silence will begin to be seen as tacit approval. And a little tacit approval may go a long, long way.

We have to encourage — demand — that our political leaders speak up and talk to those on their side of the philosophical divide to tell them that, no matter how valid their concern or how important the issue, violence or the threat of violence is unacceptable. Wholly unacceptable. It is un-American. It is treasonous. We have to recapture the ability to discuss our differing opinions, not just threaten or attack those holding opposing views. Violent rhetoric is bad enough; outright violence is something else entirely. Something dangerous.

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