Frustration Playing Out Into Violence
Right now, all we have is a war of words. But as McCain slips slowly into irrelevance and Obama pulls ever further ahead, we see that, at two major rallies today for the Republican candidates, audience members yelled out that Obama is a terrorist and that he should be killed (or maybe that Bill Ayers should be killed, hard to know from the context, but when you're talking about someone approving of murder in the presence of a Republican candidate, it's a distinction without a difference).
The right has made a cottage industry on whipping up their side into a frenzy, demonizing liberals, blaming them for every ill of society and ramping up that rhetoric louder and louder until it takes on the full appearance of eliminationism. And as much as the conservative noise machine gets all wounded and indignant when you say this, such rhetoric does play itself out into actual acts of violence.
Indeed, John McCain has actively shielded domestic terrorists from prosecution through his votes in the 1990s.
Pfotenhauer’s invocation of abortion clinic bombers in defense of McCain is ironic given that McCain has repeatedly voted against protecting Americans from domestic terrorists in the anti-choice movement. On multiple occasions throughout his career, McCain sought to limit the government’s ability to punish violent anti-choice fanatics by:
– Voting against making anti-choice violence a federal crime. As the Jed Report notes, McCain voted in 1993 and 1994 against making “bombings, arson and blockades at abortion clinics, and shootings and threats of violence against doctors and nurses who perform abortions” federal crimes.
– Opposing Colorado’s “Bubble Law.” McCain said he opposed Colorado’s “Bubble Law,” which prohibited abortion protesters from getting within 8 feet of women entering clinics [Denver Post, 2/27/00]. The law was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
– Voting to allow those fined for violence at clinics to avoid penalties by declaring bankruptcy. NARAL Pro-Chioce America notes that McCain “voted to allow perpetrators of violence or harassment at reproductive-health clinics to avoid paying the fines assessed against them for their illegal acts by declaring bankruptcy.”
(This is to say nothing of Sarah Palin's very direct ties to Jew-hating Christian Zionists or the extremist Birchers in the Alaska Independence Party, which until recently included her husband.)
It should be unsurprising that the McCain campaign is stopping reporters from mingling in their crowds - maybe it's for their own protection. But riling up your base and demonizing your opponent to this degree - calling him un-American, for example - is bound to have consequences. Especially when we're about to head into a protracted economic downturn and it will be blamed on liberals, gays, Hispanics, Arabs and black people, not necessarily in that order.
Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
I hope they understand the consequences of their actions.