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More Violence and Anger at Town Halls August 26, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in Healthcare.
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Add Rep. Jim Moran’s town hall Wednesday to the constantly growing list of incidence of violence by right-wing extremists. Last night a man wearing a Cato Institute t-shirt punched a supporter of the proposed health care reform. The victim of the attack, Jeremy, has written his account of the incident on Carrots and Sticks, a DC-based Action Think Tank.

The violence resulted when the Cato-clad man attempted to steal the “Health Care for America Now” signs from pro-reform activists. The man in the Cato shirt began crumpling the signs up and attempting to throw them away. Jeremy would not stand to be bullied in this way; so Jeremy followed him, grabbed his Cato shirt, and then suffered a forceful blow to his face. After the punch, the two were split apart, and the police escorted the attacker off the premises.

Cato Clad Man. Do you know this teabagger?

Cato Clad Man. Do you know this teabagger?

The man in the Cato shirt was not the only infuriated right-wing protester at Rep. Moran’s town hall. Below is a video of a crazy man screaming a young girl. About 10 seconds in, just after you see a young girl showing her support for the bill, the same angry man screams: “You and Pelsoi are going to hell! You suck!” According to activists in attendance, this man had been screaming at this young girl repeatedly. The wild man then continues to rant and shout at anyone who will listen. He then starts clenching his fists and getting in peoples faces until a friend comes over to restrain him. Watch:

Another video of this same man ranting and screaming can be found here.

People like the irate man in the video and the attacker in the Cato shirt are two of many using violence or intimidation rather than discussion and reason to voice their opinions at political events. Last Monday, at a speech President Obama gave in Phoenix, Arizona, a dozen men were seen with guns, some of which were assault rifles. This also happened in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and elsewhere.

Though these firearms are legally brought to the political rallies, it is tremendously scary. In April, the Department of Homeland Security released a report, originally commissioned by the Bush Administration, that found there is a growing resurgence of violent right-wing extremism in the United States. The DHS report explains that the economic recession and the election of the first African American president has caused a sharp increase in threats and recruitment. Similarly, one federal law enforcement official told the Southern Poverty Law Center that the current climate is ripe for domestic terrorism: “All it’s lacking is spark.” Frank Rich has been writing about this subject ever since anti-Obama folks shouted “Terrorist” and “Off with his head” at Sarah Palin rallies last fall.

Political discourse does not equal violence. This is a huge problem and something must be done.

I’ll let Jeremy, the victim of the Cato-clad attacker, have the final word:

It’s highly unfortunate that people like him feel the need to resort to violence to get their way… That is exactly what is wrong with the American political discourse; when one side feels okay using tactics of intimidation and physical aggression just to advance an agenda, it poisons the whole debate and good policy takes a backseat to who can yell the loudest. We can do better than that.

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