Hoyer: Reps should be careful that ‘rhetoric doesn’t incite to violent acts’
The window of Monroe County Democratic Committee’s office in Rochester, N.Y., was damaged by a brick over the weekend. (Photo credit: Monroe County Democratic Committee via AP)
March 25, 2010
Unrest over sweeping federal health care legislation has turned to vandalism and threats, with bricks hurled through Democrats’ windows, a propane line cut at the home of a congressman’s brother and menacing phone messages left for lawmakers who supported the bill.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Thursday that the threats are being taken “very seriously.”
“The bottom line is, we need to be very careful in public life that our rhetoric doesn’t incite to violent acts,” the Maryland Democrat said. He said dealing with difficult issues in a civil and peaceful manner is “at the core of our democracy.”
The FBI is investigating the instances, which include shattered windows at four Democratic offices in New York, Arizona and Kansas. At least 10 members of Congress have reported some sort of threat as of Wednesday, and no arrests have been made.
Democrats get threats over health vote (NBC “Today,” March 25, 2010) – The FBI is investigating acts of vandalism and alleged threats made to Democrats in Congress who voted in favor of health care overhaul legislation. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports. (03:15)
The brick flung through the window of a county Democratic Party office in Rochester, New York, over the weekend had a note attached: “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,” roughly quoting 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.
A New York congresswoman whose office window also was smashed with a brick accused the Republican leadership of failing to denounce attacks against lawmakers who supported the legislation. The vandalism was at Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter’s district office in Niagara Falls early Friday, two days before the House passed the health care overhaul bill.
“It’s more disturbing to me that Republican leadership has not condemned these attacks and instead appears to be fanning the flames with coded rhetoric,” said Slaughter, a key supporter of the bill.
‘That’s not the American way’
House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement that while many Americans are angry over the bill’s passage, “violence and threats are unacceptable.”
“That’s not the American way,” Boehner said. “We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change.” …
At a news conference in Washington, Hoyer said people have yelled that Democratic lawmakers should be put on firing lines and posters have appeared with the faces of lawmakers in the cross hairs of a target.
While not directly criticizing Republicans, Hoyer said that “any show of appreciation for such actions encourages such action.”
Gun imagery was used in a posting on the Facebook page of Sarah Palin urging people to organize against 20 House Democrats who voted for the health care bill and whose districts went for the John McCain-Palin ticket two years ago. Palin’s post featured a U.S. map with circles and cross hairs over the 20 districts.
Obscene phone messages
Some of the anger over the bill spilled over in a flood of obscenity and threat-filled phone and fax messages to the office of Rep. Bart Stupak. His office released some of the messages it has received since the health care bill passed, declining to add further comment.
In audio recordings of voice messages obtained by NBC News and other networks, one caller repeatedly tells Stupak “I hope you die.”
“There are millions of people across the country who wish you ill,” another caller says. “And all of those thoughts projected on you will materialize into something that’s not very good for you.”
A fax with the title “Defecating on Stupak” carried a picture of a gallows with “Bart (SS) Stupak” on it and a noose attached. It was captioned, “All Baby Killers come to unseemly ends Either by the hand of man or by the hand of God.”
The vandalism and threats surprised a researcher at a think tank that monitors extremist groups.
“I think it is astounding that we are seeing this wave of vigilantism,” said Mark Potok of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
In Virginia, someone cut a propane line leading to a grill at the Charlottesville home of U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother after the address was posted online by activists angry about the health care overhaul. Perriello also said a threatening letter was sent to his brother’s house. The FBI and local authorities were investigating.
Tea party activists had posted the brother’s address online thinking it was the congressman’s home. The post urged opponents to drop by and “express their thanks” for the Democrat’s vote in favor of the sweeping health care reform. …
Battle lines drawn over health care law (NBC Nightly News, March 24, 2010) – Anger over health care reform, erupted into over-the-top rhetoric and threats were made against members of Congress who voted the bill into law. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports. (03:16)
‘Way over the line’
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has filed a lawsuit challenging the health care overhaul and is a favorite of the Tea Party, said for activists to post an address of Perriello’s family shows that things are going too far.
“That is way over the line,” he said. “It’s not civil discourse, it’s an invitation to intimidation and it’s totally unacceptable.”
Potok compared the online posting of a public official’s address to tactics used by hate groups.
“This is what neo-Nazi leaders in America do today,” Potok said. “They post personal information about their enemies and sit back and wait for somebody else to act.”
In Tucson, Arizona, someone either kicked in or shot out a glass door and a side window at the congressional office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords early Monday, a few hours after the House health care vote. Giffords voted for the bill.
Giffords’ press secretary C.J. Karamargin in Tucson said the vandalism left the local congressional staff shaken and worried.
Lyndsay Stauble, executive director of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party in Wichita, Kan., said a brick was hurled through the party’s storefront plate glass window late Friday or early Saturday, landing in her office and gouging her wooden desk.
She said that written in marker on the brick were the slogans, “No to Obama” and “No Obomycare.”
“The tone is not surprising, but the aggressiveness is,” Stauble said Wednesday. …
1/8/11 — BREAKING NEWS
NBC News and news services via MSNBC.com
January 8, 2010
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head and an aide was killed Saturday when an assailant opened fire in an area where the lawmaker was meeting with constituents, officials said.
There were varying accounts on Giffords’ condition, but a hospital spokesman said the Democratic lawmaker was in critical condition. An aide to Giffords was killed. An unknown number of others were injured, officials said, including additional aides to the lawmaker. …
Giffords, 40, was re-elected to her third term last November. She was a member of the Arizona House and Senate before coming to Washington.
Giffords was elected to Congress amid a wave of Democratic victories in the 2006 election. The former state lawmaker won a narrow victory against a tea party favorite in the 2010 election.
The shooting comes amid a highly charged political environment that has seen several dangerous threats against lawmakers but nothing that reached the point of actual violence.
A San Francisco man upset with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s support of health care reform pleaded guilty to threatening the Democratic congresswoman and her family, calling her directly on March 25 and threatening to destroy her Northern California home if she voted for health care reform.
In July, a California man known for his anger over left-leaning politics engaged in a shootout with highway patrol officers after planning an attack on the American Civil Liberties Union and another nonprofit group. The man said he wanted to “start a revolution” by killing people at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation.
Giffords, a moderate Democrat, herself has drawn the ire of the right, especially for her support of the health care bill.
Her Tucson office was vandalized a few hours after the House vote to approve the health care law in March, with someone either kicking or shooting out a glass door and window.
Rep. Giffords target of harassment, threats (MSNBC “The Daily Rundown,” March 25, 2010) – Reports of death threats, vandalism, and harassment by Tea Party activists have Democrats on edge as they’re preparing to head home for their spring recess. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., one of the Democratic leaders targeted, discusses, making reference to Sarah Palin’s target list, which has “the crosshairs of a gunsight” over her district. (04:54)
Raising the alarm on this site since November 2008
Extremism Rises in America (June 16, 2010)
Discussing “Rise of the New Right” (MSNBC, June 16, 2010) – Joan Walsh of Salon.com and Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich discuss the Tea Party, Birthers, and other conservative developments on Hardball. (10:37)
Tea Party Fomenting Rebellion? (April 5, 2010)
Walter Maciel, center, of Tewskbury, Mass., at the Tea Party rally Wednesday, April 14, 2010 on Boston Common. (Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times)
Sovereign Citizen Ultimatum to Governors (April 3, 2010)
Governors threatened (Associated Press, April 2, 2010) – The FBI is warning police across the country that an anti-government group’s effort to remove governors from office could provoke violence. The group, Guardians of the Free Republics has sent menacing letters to some 30 governors. (01:08)
Christian Militia Terror Plot (March 29, 2010)
Analyst: Militias are ideologically diverse (MSNBC, March 29, 2010) – Chip Berlet, a senior analyst with Political Research Associates who has written extensively about rightwing populism, militias, and the patriot movement, discusses with Rachel Maddow. (06:52)
Extremism Explodes in America (March 3, 2010)
The number of extremist groups in the United States exploded in 2009 as militias and other groups steeped in wild, antigovernment conspiracy theories exploited populist anger across the country and infiltrated the mainstream, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Number of hate groups reach record level (The Dylan Ratigan Show, MSNBC, March 2, 2010) – According to a new report, militias and other extremist groups increasing 244 percent in 2009. Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center and radio host Mark Williams of the Tea Party Express discuss. (08:33)
Bachmann Conspiracy Nation (Feb. 20, 2010)
Town Hall Face (Photos: Landov, AP, Getty Images / Newsweek)
Condemning Beck and Bachmann (Nov. 19, 2009)
Michele Bachmann is the modern face of an emerging brand of American protofascism being spawned by the “perfect storm” of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the election of America’s first African-American president.
A year of growing animosity (Anti-Defamation League, Nov. 2009) — Since the election of Barack Obama as president, a current of anti-government hostility has swept across the United States, creating a climate of fervor and activism with manifestations ranging from incivility in public forums to acts of intimidation and violence.
Hate groups including neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan have grown since Barack Obama was elected president. (Image: NBC News)
Bachmann Rebuked for Nazi Image (Nov. 12, 2009)
Sign displayed at U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s “House Call on Congress” anti-health care reform rally in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2009. The sign reads, “National Socialist Health Care: Dachau, Germany – 1945.” (Photo credit: Lee Fang / ThinkProgress)
Anger in America (Oct. 31, 2009)
Bachmann Heads Teabaggers (Sept. 13, 2009)
Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at a Tea Party at Lake George in St. Cloud, Minn., after a town hall meeting, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. (Photo credit: Jason Wachter / St. Cloud Times)
Invitation to Tea Party headlined by Michele Bachmann
Bachmann: “Slit Our Wrists” (Sept. 2, 2009)
Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks to a luncheon crowd at the Denver Athletic Club, Aug. 31, 2009 (Photo credit: Jason Kosena / The Colorado Statesman)
In a speech filled with urgent and violent rhetoric, Bachmann … drew a clear line on health care reform.
“You’re either for us or against us on this issue,” she said. …
At times, Bachmann’s legislative briefing sounded more like the plot of a slasher movie.
“Right now, we are looking at reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom,” she said. “And we may never be able to restore it if we don’t man up and take this one on.”
While Bachmann didn’t ask this audience to “rise up against President Barack Obama’s tyrannical rule,” they stood anyway and applauded when she announced she was No. 1 on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s list of “top targets.” …
Economy and Obama Volatile Mix (April 16, 2009)
An April 2009 Homeland Security intelligence estimate warns that right-wing extremists could use the bad state of the U.S. economy and the election of the country’s first black president to recruit new members and incite anti-government violence.
Bachmann Call for Armed Revolt? (March 24, 2009)
On March 21, 2009 Rep. Michele Bachmann said that she wants people in Minnesota “armed and dangerous” on the issue of an energy tax, “because we need to fight back” and “having a revolution every now and then is a good thing.”
Obama, Economy Fuel Hate Groups (Feb. 28, 2009)
A cross and swastika are burned at an event called Hated and Proud in Nebraska in July 2008. (Photo credit: Southern Poverty Law Center / CNN)
Obama Racist Backlash (Nov. 16, 2008)
Racial incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama, including schoolchildren chanting “assassinate Obama,” racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars, and Black figures hung from nooses, are shattering the post-election illusion of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America. There have been “hundreds” of incidents since the election, many more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.
AN APOLOGIST’S PERSPECTIVE
|The GOPUSA Eagle||Friday, March 26, 2010|
If you can’t stand the heat, manufacture a hate-crime epidemic.
After years of covering racial hoaxes on college campuses and victim sob stories in the public arena, I’ve encountered countless opportunists who live by that demented mindset. At best, the fakers are desperately seeking 15 minutes of infamy. At worst, their aim is the criminalization of political dissent.
Upon decimating the deliberative process to hand President Obama a health care “reform” victory, unpopular Beltway Democrats and their media water-carriers now claim there’s a Tea Party epidemic of racism, harassment and violence against them. …
Hate and violence has to stop (MSNBC Ed Show, March 26, 2010) – Ed Schultz is joined by a political panel to discuss how to end the hate campaign following the passage of health care reform and suggests Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck are “fanning the flames of extremism.” (12:24)
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 25, 2009
Iraqi kids sit outside their home in the Hurriyah neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Eighteen months after the tide turned in Baghdad, only a small number of Iraqis who were displaced by the sectarian violence of 2006 and 2007 are coming back to their homes. (Photo credit: Dusan Vranic / AP)
One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that that Baghdad had been much calmer since sectarian violence peaked in late 2006 and the first half of 2007, but that the calm was achieved in part because the city became ethnically divided, with Shiites predominating and Sunnis largely having fled.
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