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Threats and Theater

Threats have no place in any political discourse in the U.S. — but conservatives can't afford to let over-dramatized threats either paralyze them or goad them into stupidity. (Watch the latest Hicks File, and comment here.)

by
Joe Hicks

Bio

March 31, 2010 - 12:00 am

Democrats say they’ve been the targets of political attacks since they passed President Obama’s health care bill. Is this true, or are they trying to exploit the threats some have received for political gain?

Okay, some of these reports have been troubling. Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter said her office received death threats. Gabrielle Gifford’s office was vandalized. Bart Stupak received nasty voicemail messages. A brick was thrown through the window of Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita, Kansas.

Black Democrats like James Clyburn claimed the N-word was shouted at them as they walked into the Capitol building, and Emanuel Cleaver said he was spit on by someone in the crowd.

There’s evidence that some acts of vandalism and threats have taken place, but tea party protesters who were there say the stories of Clyburn and Cleaver are baloney. They say they heard nothing of the kind, and no videotapes or other corroborating evidence have surfaced to corroborate these black Democrats’ claims.

First, let’s stipulate that there are idiots, fools, and knuckle-draggers of all sorts at the fringes of American politics — on the left and on the right.

Second, as House Republican Leader John Boehner has correctly said, “violence and threats are unacceptable. It is not the American way.”

But, is there really some larger concern about populist anger, or are leftists and liberals just playing the victim card? Nancy Pelosi has used these incidents in just that fashion, asking the Capitol Police to meet with House Republicans — as if they had orchestrated and directed the acts.

House Democrat Phil Hare argued that Boehner needs to come to the floor and condemn the violence and apologize. But Boehner had already made a statement condemning the events and there was nothing for him, or any other House Republicans for that matter, to apologize for.  They can’t be held responsible for the acts of a few crazed individuals.

Still, it has gotten increasingly bizarre since Democrats reported the first incident.

One writer at the Huffington Post offered the following brain-dead analysis: Sarah Palin is encouraging violence against Democrats because she has targeted 20 Democrats for defeat in the upcoming midterm elections.  Why? Well, she has a map on her Facebook page that identifies the 20 with what appear to liberals to be “crosshairs.”

This is simply leftist silliness. Had the writer simply read Palin’s Facebook posting she’d have noticed that, upfront, Palin argues: “Don’t get demoralized! Get organized! Take back the 20!”  It takes a real fool to somehow construe this as inciting violence.

NBC’s Ann Curry picked up on this theme on the Today show, badgering Senator John McCain to comment on what she claimed was Palin “encouraging the violence.

Kudos to McCain for coolly responding to the nearly hyperventilating Curry and refraining from treating her like what she was — an idiotic jerk.

It’s clear that other compliant members of the mainstream liberal media all received the same memo. Over at NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams chimed in with his report on the events, saying: “It’s getting ugly as anger over health care reform erupts into some over-the-top rhetoric, including now threats against House members of Congress.” Hardly the unbiased observer, Williams argued: “It can now be said that the debate over health care reform has gone too far.”

MSNBC’s always-over-the-top Chris Matthews actually argued that Republicans should be held criminally libel for the acts of extremists. This is what he asked Representative Chris Van Hollen: “Would you say that this incitement, from the Republican leadership is criminal?”

Calm down Chris, your meds are on the way.

What of course is missing here is some sense of balance, some semblance of fairness.

For example, Bart Stupak, the current target of a few pro-life nuts, was the target of pro-abortion crazies just prior to his flip-flop on the health care vote. Stupak said his life had become a living hell. He’d received obscene calls and death threats, not from the right, but from leftist pro-choice advocates — all because he’d indicated he was a “no” vote on ObamaCare.

Or how about the death threats that Newt Gingrich received following the 1994 “Republican Revolution” that swept many Democrats from the House and Senate that year? The same thing happened to Republican Henry Hyde for his active role in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.

But one doesn’t have to go that far back. Recall that Republican Senator Jim Bunning received death threats because of his filibuster of the bill to extend unemployment benefits. This was only last month. Did Ann Curry become breathless because of these death threats? Did Brian Williams wag an accusatory finger at liberals and leftists when Bunning’s security folks were on high alert? If they did, I must have missed it.

The hypocrisy of Democrats and their willing and compliant allies in the mainstream media is clear. The midterm elections loom on the near horizon and Democrats are frantic about what the outcome will be.

What liberals do when challenged is to — with no sense of shame — play either the race card or the victim card, often both at the same time.

Whatever the truth is about the recent threats, vandalism, and violence following the health care vote, something I hope should be obvious to all who claim to be conservatives or Republicans is that we can’t imitate the tactics of the left, who have always used intimidation and thug methods against their opponents.

Majority Leader Boehner said it best: “We need to take that anger and channel it into positive things … [M]ake your voice heard — but let’s do things the right way.”

Joe R. Hicks is a political commentator and the vice president of Community Advocates.
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