An act of political intimidation — from the left

There’s an effort to brand conservatives, Republicans and tea partiers as culpable for the stupid death threats that a handful of idiots are making to some members of Congress. That effort has the same intent as the death threats: intimidation.

It should go without saying that death threats are unacceptable in this situation, just as they were when George Bush was president. But if it needs to be said, well, I just said it.

It is, however, also a calculated act of intimidation to smear an entire political movement as a bunch of dangerous lunatics on the basis of a handful of actions. I do not recall the same people who are now so worried about anti-ObamaCare threats also wringing their hands about the entire political left’s culpability when, for instance, some idiot shot up a Bush-Cheney re-election headquarters in Knoxville or ransacked one in Orlando, or attacked a GOP office in Raleigh, or vandalized Bush supporters’ homes in Madison, Wis. (H/t Instapundit)

In fact, click through the link to the Knoxville story, and you get a good idea of the Democratic notion of who’s to blame when the left attacks:

Knox County Democratic chairman Jim Gray called the attack “despicable.”

“I can’t imagine what kind of thinking inspired it or maybe what amount of alcohol,” Gray said. “My second thought is, maybe it was just someone who got tired of their darn Kerry signs being stolen.” (emphasis added)

You see? When the left attacks, it’s because some guy just got a little drunk — or, even more despicably, to use Jim Gray’s word, it’s because, well, Mom! The Republicans started it by stealing my John Kerry sign!

Today, however, these threats are described as the responsibility of all Americans who spoke out against ObamaCare. And why is that?

Well, given the constant effort to brand the right as racists, fascists, and now terrorists — oh, wait, I forgot; we were already branded as terrorists by this administration — one gets the impression that it’s a concerted effort to discredit the left’s opponents and intimidate Americans from outwardly supporting the tea parties and Republicans.

Sound conspiratorial? Any more conspiratorial than the notion that the millions of tea partiers in America are motivated chiefly by racism, rather than the president’s policies?

There are a few hotheads out there who need to cool down and remember that there are still democratic avenues for opposing ObamaCare (as an overwhelming majority of Americans — including two-thirds of independents — tell pollsters they want Republicans to do). There are even more talking heads who need to stop fanning the flames by casting the blame more widely than it belongs.

***

UPDATE: Anatomy of a racial smear

132 comments Add your comment

CrazyInGA

March 25th, 2010
10:43 am

Get real, the people who show up at the Tea Party and Republican rallies have shown their true colors on many occassions. Unsavory individuals seem to follow your party “around” from event to event.

Also, I guess that nut job in Alabama is just some crazy individual. Nope, he has been a part of a larger movement for years.

Road Scholar

March 25th, 2010
10:46 am

Poor Kyle. Out of ideas for a column? No matter the source, degree of threat, or intent of implementing the threat, anger and intimidation has its limits. Regardless ALL intimidation is wrong. Talking over people and insulting them is wrong (Yes, I have been guilty of both). It is interesting that the greatest country in the world has lost any semblence of respect and manners! And this is not a political issue.

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
10:49 am

Road, I think we actually agree here…

Political Mongrel

March 25th, 2010
10:52 am

Baloney, Kyle. Look at the number and virulence of the incidents. What happened under Bush is nothing compared to what’s happening now.

retiredds

March 25th, 2010
10:52 am

Kyle, come on now. This has been brewing for a long time now. Your favorite party has given a few slaps on the wrist to the crazies. When have they called a news conference and said in the strongest words possible that the behavior by the crazies “will not be tolerated” and they will be purged from the party and any groups affiliated, even if loosely, to the Republican Party. When will the leadership take on the ranting and raving of Rush, Beck, Coulter, et. al. and COMPLETELY distance themselves from them by saying, “you do not represent the Republican Party and we totally denounce your inflammatory language and acts”. Until that happens they will remain the party of “no” and viewed as obstructionists.

WAW

March 25th, 2010
10:53 am

Admitting that the “far right” has reached the pit of the “far left” does not speak well of the Evangelical, Patriotic, Wrapped in the Flag, Corporate Republican. It only means that if the chart was a circle instead of a line, the left and right would be together, Newt handing hands with Cynthia (not too hard to picture since that act so much alike).

chris barry

March 25th, 2010
10:54 am

When’s the last time anyone on the left blew up a federal building, pal? Or shot up an abortion clinic?
Exactly. Damn, what passes for political discourse in the United States is ridiculous sometimes. It’s genuinely embarrassing. No wonder the rest of the world sees us as buffoons.

The Anti-Wooten

March 25th, 2010
10:54 am

You are correct about one thing, any of the violence in intolerable no matter who and what side of the arguments they come from. I was in DC for protests and there were many signs about that could be interpreted as calling for the death of Bush but many courts have ruled those as free speech. Throwing rocks, bricks or what have you at the other sides property is illegal and should not happen.

All of that being said, one of the prime arguments that I’ve heard over the last couple of days is that “Oh it’s probably leftists doing it just to cast blame on us”. Stupid is as stupid does and that’s doing stupid at a whole new level.

The right has screeched, screamed, cried and Becked to the point that it’s getting out of hand. Just now I read of a direct threat some rightwing nutter tossed into Jay’s blog (while admitting ownership of an illegal weapon). Kyle you would do great service to call upon your fellow fringers to put down the bricks.

Je m'appelle Bombon

March 25th, 2010
10:57 am

Give it a rest. We’re talking about an entire movement, not “a few hotheads out there” you moron. Conservatives are vile. Using the “n” word at and spitting on Congressman John Lewis? Must have brought back memories of Selma for the Congressman. Conservatives have nowhere to go but up. They’ve hit rock bottom.

DannyX

March 25th, 2010
10:59 am

Here’s a challenge for you Kyle. Turn off the filters. Just for one week. Turn off all the filters on your blog that edit out all the racist, homophobic, and nasty language.

Have Cynthia Tucker do the same. Then write a big story on how bad the Democrats are, and what model, God loving souls the Republicans are. You know, make things up.

Peter

March 25th, 2010
10:59 am

Gee……… Cheney never intimidated anyone Kyle ?

The udder side!!!

March 25th, 2010
11:00 am

Kyle,

When you apply this kind of spin to an argument that is as serios as life and death, you do a disservice to this bog and the movement that you profess to support. You can down play this and try the finger pointing tactics if you like, but understand that when, and I mean when, someone is hurt or killed, those like you that minimize will have some amount of blood on your hands, and there will be a cost to pay for inciting the idiots among your followers, instead of holding them accountable for behavior that is clearly out of bounds and boarders on criminal!!!

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:00 am

Thanks for representing my point, Bombon.

Road Scholar

March 25th, 2010
11:04 am

Good morning Kyle. I do beleive we agree, but the manner the threats are being addressed is insufficient. Don’t just point out the idiots on the left, but as shown above, more numerous and more vile and violent have the recent hreats been. And one was exasperated by Boehmer’s comment …He is a dead man.. when referencing a neighboring Congressman.

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:09 am

Spin, udder? The spin is by those who say everyone who opposes ObamaCare is responsible for the actions of a few, and by extension brand all the opponents as dangerous. This is textbook political intimidation.

Saying that doesn’t excuse the idiots. As I wrote, if you bothered to notice, death threats are unacceptable and the people making them need to stop. But this “blood on your hands” nonsense also needs to stop. Do you really expect people to calm down when conservatives condemn these actions, if the left is simultaneously smearing all of its opponents? Don’t you see that these smears are escalating things, not de-escalating them?

DannyX

March 25th, 2010
11:14 am

The actions of a few?

Take me up on my challenge Kyle. Open up your blog for one week free of all filters.

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:21 am

Road, I’d agree that it’s dumb to say things like “dead man,” even if obviously referring to someone’s political fortunes, in this kind of atmosphere. But I also find it hard to believe that someone heard that and decided to phone in a death threat.

There are some idiots out there. They need to be condemned. I’ve never been at a rally or meeting and met people who seemed like they’d condone this sort of stuff. I didn’t blame all liberals, or all Democrats, when anti-war types did stupid things, in spite of the heated feelings that some liberals and Democrats held about the war. All I’m saying is that the same lack of broad culpability applies here.

retiredds

March 25th, 2010
11:22 am

Kyle, I repeat, the smear campaign has been building and your Republican leadership has done very little to stop it. As I said above how about if the leadership, i.e., Boehner, McConnell, Newt, and the RNC hold a news conference in Prime Time and firmly, strongly, take a stand. Here’s what I have in mind: banish the crazies from the Republican Party. Force them out!! Tell them they are not wanted. Tell them to form their own party, the crazy right wing party. The Dems should do the same with their crazies. Then we can put the crazies from the right and the left in a big arena, say the GA Dome, and let them duke it out. I’d pay $200 for a ticket to that event.

Oh, and also, could you speak with the governor and Newt. GA’s most immediate need is a comprehensive transportation bill. They can deal with the health care suit some other time. Take the money to be spent on that side show and hire back some teachers.

CJ

March 25th, 2010
11:24 am

There’s an effort to brand conservatives, Republicans and tea partiers as culpable for the stupid death threats that a handful of idiots are making to some members of Congress. That effort has the same intent as the death threats: intimidation.

A few hotheads?

It started with racist and anti-gay slurs on Capitol Hill by multiple people with the surrounding crowds laughing and cheering them on. It led to a Democratic congressman being spat on. These same crowds were egged on by Republican lawmakers standing outside on a Capitol balcony holding a “Don’t Tread on Me Flag” and cheering and applauding inside for protesters who were resisting arrest. Before long, opponents of health care reform were vandalizing lawmakers’ offices. Then a gas line was cut at a lawmaker’s brother’s house. Yesterday, nooses were faxed to Democratic lawmakers. One Democrat received an anonymous voicemail message that said, “You’re dead. We know where you live. We’ll get you.” If the goal of the Republican base was to send a terrorist-like signal to Congress, officials have heard it.

What do Republicans expect to happen? They’ve told confused, misguided activists that health care reform is a “totalitarian” scheme that attacks our “freedom” and represents the “end of America as we know it.” The policy breakthrough is, as several GOP leaders have put it, “Armageddon.”

When Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele demands that Pelosi get “ready for the firing line,” the GOP base gets the message. When Sarah Palin tweets that activists should “RELOAD” and her Facebook page shows 20 gun sights over Democratic lawmakers, some of whom are colored in red, the GOP base gets the message.

And now we’re seeing the results of Republicans’ irresponsibility.

Jess

March 25th, 2010
11:24 am

Mr. or Ms. Bombon,

I think you just validated Kyle’s point. You have no idea what the political affiliation of the N word shouter was yet you just blamed an entire political party for the actions of one.

The Anti-Wooten

March 25th, 2010
11:26 am

Kyle, you may not personally have blamed all Democrats who protested the war but it remains that many rightwing members of congress, the Bush admin., and nearly all of the rightwing punditry said clearly “If you’re not with us you’re with the terroroists”. So that would make you the reasoned exception, something that I’m having difficulty buying.

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:27 am

DannyX, that’s not my call — it’s a company-wide policy. What I can tell you is that I can see both the comments that are blocked as well as the ones that are allowed, and I’d be surprised if there have been even 25 comments blocked because of their invective during the 6-7 months I’ve been blogging. By “invective” I’d include gratuitous, profane comments — the majority of which are directed at me, not in support of me.

Would more people make those comments if they knew they’d get through? Possibly. But let’s say 50 different (anonymous, remember) readers made vile comments; would you really see that as a broad representation of one side or the other? I know I wouldn’t — in large part because I know the number of people who comment on the blogs are a fraction of the number who read them. And I find it hard to believe, with the anonymity granted on here, for better or worse, that the extremists are staying silent.

jt

March 25th, 2010
11:27 am

Kyle-

Thanks for your balance.

To be on the safe side, I would be looking for alternatives in your present medical care insurance.

Maybe Costa Rica.

The Anti-Wooten

March 25th, 2010
11:29 am

Jess, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the N Word shouter was NOT a Democrat. Glenda Beck has infected your psyche.

DannyX

March 25th, 2010
11:30 am

This is the strategy the GOP decided on. No way they could run on their record. Scorched earth is all they had. Now it is burning them.

From the Tea Party, to Sarah Palin, talk radio, and now the internet sites. How funny would it be to dress up as a telephone repairman and attempt to bug a Senator’s phone!

I have been warning about the downside of this strategy for months. Now Republicans are getting burned by it and are attempting, once again, to shift blame.

Yes the wonderful world of Republican politics. Like bipartisanship. In the Republican world bipartisanship only applies when Democrats are in charge.

When can we expect the Republicans running our state to ask for bipartisanship? Lol. Who ever heard of such a thing.

DebbieDo Right

March 25th, 2010
11:30 am

Kyle what you are talking about and sneakily abdicating is terrorrism in the extreme. You point your fingers and say “[he] was obviously referring to someone’s political future” and then don’t remember your recent history. Okalhoma Bombing by Timothy McVeigh fed on the “obviously” racist rants of the Turner Diaries. WHen you pretend that words don’t matter you make a mockery and a LIE of the journalism profession, or common sense for that matter — if you don’t believe that the pen/words is just as mighty as the sword, then why do you post your “musings” daily? Just to see yourself in print?

Stop hiding behind lies, distortion and revisionist history. Your “tea party” members are unhinged. UN HINGED — and they are acting as they did in the 60’s when Civil Rights for all was made into law. Call it like it is — not how you want it to be.

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:38 am

retiredds: Fine, let’s ban the crazies from both parties. Who are they? How do you ban someone who acts anonymously? (If they are identified, they’ll be arrested of course.) I’d be willing to bet that the kind of people you’re talking about don’t belong to either party, because they’d view them as too moderate.

This is my whole point: We are not talking about either party’s “base” here.

CJ: I’d invite you to read the article I linked under “Update” at the bottom of the post. There were any number of cameras at that rally — everything political these days is filmed by both sides; remember “macaca”? — and yet no one has produced a video which includes that slur. Exactly one person, not Rep. Lewis but a different Congressman, says he heard it. Look, I can’t deny that it happened, because I wasn’t there; but neither can I, nor anyone else it seems, confirm it. I’m not even suggesting the Congressman is lying; he may have thought he heard it. But I really find it hard to believe, in the YouTube age, that this was “shouted” — the Congressman’s word — and no one caught it on tape.

If a new tape emerges, I’ll stand corrected. In the meantime, you and others are branding an entire segment of the population as culpable…all while decrying polarization.

Jess

March 25th, 2010
11:39 am

About a year ago Jay wrote an article condeming the fact that somewhere in Miss. or La. a scarecrow with an Obama sign was found hanging from a tree. He blamed this on the confrontational climate the republicans and talk radio had created. I pointed out to him that Bush had been hanged and burned in effigy many times usually to cheering crowds, and basically Jay denied it had happened, and asked for proof. Within minutes posters had found over 1000 web sites with film and pictures of these events, and Jay had to issue a rare apology for saying they didn’t happen.

The point I take from here is that the media had not covered these events so no one remembered them. The media and it’s selective coverage drives most of the political discourse in this country and it’s dangerous.

The udder side!!!

March 25th, 2010
11:40 am

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:09 am

There you go again… I did not not say that Everyone that opposes HCR was responsible…that is you attempting to cloud the issue. What I said is that in a lot of cases, What the right side talking ( and writing) heads are doing is beyond opposition and has moved towards inciting the crazies on your fringe. And yes, When you see where this is headed and you choose to do nothing to try and stop it, you and those that dismiss do bear some of the burden of making it happen. and for the record your lame ass condimnation is a poor sheild…The lives of members of congress and their families deserve more that one tired line.

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:40 am

Debbie, how many tea parties have you attended? You speak with such first-hand experience and expertise.

DannyX

March 25th, 2010
11:41 am

Some of us have been here longer than 6 months.

I for a fact, have seen with my own eyes why the ajc.com has had to completely revise its blog policy.

If you want to pretend, so be it. There is a reason the ajc.com had to reduce the number of blogs that follow news stories. Why don’t you do some real investigating and tell us why this policy has changed. I have seen countless blogs closed, overrun by sickening comments. You might want to do some research, there is plenty of proof in your own offices.

Interview Cynthia Tucker, one brave soul, about the crap she gets emailed on a daily basis. Then tell me how that compares to the mean ol liberals.

retiredds

March 25th, 2010
11:42 am

Let’s just put it this way. Kyle, you can’t defend the indefensible, period. In other words, there is no rationalizing despicable behavior and vitriolic speech. I use my words intentionally to underscore that language and how it is used is critical, whether the words are stated or placed upon signage. AND the crazies on the right are equal in low-life stature as the ones on the left. To speak more plainly they are two sides of the same coin.

DebbieDo Right

March 25th, 2010
11:47 am

Kyle – it’s called television – I’m sure you’re aware of it.

PS: I noticed you didn’t address the “meat” of my post about words inflecting as much damage/destruction as acts by “inciting” the act. That’s why there are LAWS against it.

JD

March 25th, 2010
11:47 am

Does Erick Erickson know you copied his column?

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:47 am

What would you have me do, udder? Round up a posse?

I’m not trying to be sarcastic. But I do think it’s easy for you to blame me for what people unknown to me, and who have in all likelihood never read a word that I’ve written, have done. So, do tell. What should I do other than condemn them?

Glenn

March 25th, 2010
11:48 am

I really felt like a public option would have brought down costs . I feel like if I would say that in a Kroger I would get hit with a can of peas but that is neither here nor there . As far as intimidation from the left, it would be better than making a squinchy face & scurrying away like the liberals usually do . When people like Sarah Palin say we need to ” not retreat but reload ” , she is basically insighting violence. You can spin it anyway you want Kyle . This needs to be made an issue so someone is not killed . View it as intimidation all you want but that really isn’t accurate . This woman was on your parties presidential ticket last year & is a big part of your parties movement . Her words need to be brought to everyones attention . You think that the gulf war set republicans back Kyle . Let one of these fringers kill a politician for their views or vote on healthcare . If that happens , “smear ” won’t be needed for decades .

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:49 am

JD: You mean the one he posted half an hour after what I wrote? (And no, I’m certainly not accusing Erick of copying me.)

Or maybe you think we got the same briefing from the evil RNC. Because there’s no way that two like-minded people can arrive at the same conclusion.

DannyX

March 25th, 2010
11:50 am

“and I’d be surprised if there have been even 25 comments blocked because of their invective during the 6-7 months I’ve been blogging.”

That of course proves my point. You have had only 25 posts blocked. I included Cynthia Tucker for a reason. She probably has 25 blocked per hour. Can you imagine her email.

You need to finish the story and interview Cynthia Tucker. You had only 25 comments blocked, how many has Cynthia had blocked?

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:50 am

Thanks, Debbie. And I’m sure you were watching FOX.

CJ

March 25th, 2010
11:53 am

You’re right Kyle. They don’t have it on tape, so it’s reasonable to give these protesters, who walk around with signs that say “Warning: If Brown Can’t Stop It, A Browning Can.”, the benefit of the doubt. It’s more reasonable to assume that Congressmen and others who work on the hill are lying about the name calling and vandalism. I’m sure the death threats are concocted as well. They played some of the voice mail messages on television last night, but that’s probably just a scam by members of Congress in a desperate need for attention.

It takes a lot of gall to get your base worked up with an unending pattern of violent imagery, and then accuse your political opponents of intimidation when they ask you to stop.

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:53 am

retiredds: Where’s the defense in what I wrote? I said it as plainly as I could: It is unacceptable. I’m defending the people who are being blamed wrongly for those unacceptable actions.

retiredds

March 25th, 2010
11:56 am

Kyle, defending the indefensible is a losing proposition. You may be right about the crazies, but I don’t buy into that argument. As I stated above this just didn’t drop out of the sky over the last few days. The toxic brew has been bubbling along for months now only to boil over recently. What I don’t understand is why the Republican leadership does not seem interested in doing something bold and dramatic to let the crazies know, in no uncertain terms, they are not only wrong but “we don’t want you at our rallies. The vitriolic words are not just shouted, Kyle, how about some of those signs we have seen? Why don’t the rally leaders have them torn down or taken away? Methinks you are trying to rationalize your side’s position. Whether its a crazy on the right or a crazy on the left, root them out!! I think with modern technology and some effort on your leader’s part they can begin to i.d. these folks. But you have to have the will to do so.

RJ

March 25th, 2010
11:56 am

“Sound conspiratorial? Any more conspiratorial than the notion that the millions of tea partiers in America are motivated chiefly by racism, rather than the president’s policies?”

There is a valid point in that most tea partyers are protesting government expansion. The hypocracy though is why did it take them so long? I didn’t see the tea party movement when Bush never saw a spending bill he didn’t like, or back when Clinton or Bush Sr. were increasing government spending with their policies.

I’m not saying the tea partiers are racists. I wouldn’t make an unfounded claim like that. But if they had been in full force during the Bush administration too, they’d have a lot more credibility. Based on their actions (or lack thereof) it appears that they are possibly protesting the man rather than the policy.

DebbieDo Right

March 25th, 2010
11:57 am

Kyle – where else do the loonies hang out? My favorite of course is Beck. On the eve of Obama’s inauguration he made a comment how Obama was a “racist”. How many other “legitimate” (supposedly Beck is legitimate), TV Hosts make statements like that on telelvision? Hint: Not Jerry Springer and he’s supposed to signify “trash” TV.

Beck’s own words: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/28/fox-host-glenn-beck-obama_n_246310.html

The udder side!!!

March 25th, 2010
11:59 am

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
11:47 am

Your condimnation is weak and rings hollow…You can find pages of words to describe you dislike for HCR and you can go on and on about why it is bad ect. and we can have a real honest and respectful debate regarding those points. And you and I both know that the loonies are getting their points and Ideas form right side talkers and Republican mouth piesces like yourself. If you were sincere in your condemnation, you would be as passionate about stopping the madness as you are about your dislike for the POTUS.

retiredds

March 25th, 2010
12:02 pm

Kyle, I think I know where you stand. You are as upset as I am about this. My point is, you and I and others can write our opinions here. What needs to happen is the Republican (and Democratic leadership too) leaders must decide that they are going to put as much effort into stopping this behavior and verbal garbage as president Obama did in getting health care passed. It takes a continuous, strong, and in no uncertain terms, denouncement of this, over, and over, and over, and over, till the crazies get the message.

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
12:03 pm

Let’s see, Debbie, maybe Keith Olbermann calling George Bush a fascist

http://bit.ly/9gKbBx

Kyle Wingfield

March 25th, 2010
12:04 pm

Fair enough, retiredds, as long as you acknowledge this is easier said than done, for both parties.

DebbieDo Right

March 25th, 2010
12:05 pm

kyle:retiredds: Where’s the defense in what I wrote? I said it as plainly as I could: It is unacceptable. I’m defending the people who are being blamed wrongly for those unacceptable actions

How about being SINCERE in your words? That might be the first step. Also by saying basically, “yeah they were wrong BUT Johnny did it TOO!!”, is juvenile. And by authoring a column that says that the DEMOCRATS are the ones advocating wanton violence is hypocrisy in the extreme. IMO of course.

Gandhi

March 25th, 2010
12:06 pm

Kyle this is the most lame crap you’ve ever tried to foist upon us. Typical of you to play the victim here. The difference in left and right wing kooks is the right-wing is fed a pack of lies 24/7 via talk radio and Fox. The new conservative strategy is to Swiftboat every issue they don’t agree with. I have said it for a while now: the blood of any violence will be on ALL of the hands that have participated in this slanderous discourse. If the shoe fits, wear it. But you can’t deny that the Republicans have hoped to benefit from whipping up the fear factor.