American Kristallnacht: Conservative Hatred Shatters The Peace
Conservative hatred over the passage of health care reform has spilled over into direct acts of vandalism against Democratic targets, including the smashing of windows in multiple offices. This follows homophobic and racist slurs yelled at reform advocates.
As of today, the acts of vandalism reported include:
1.Brick thrown through the office of Louise Slaughter (D-NY) in Niagara Falls
2.Brick thrown through window of Sedgwich County Democratic HQ in Witchita, Kansas
3.Brick shattered window at Democratic Party HQ in Rochester, New York
4.Rock thrown through window of Hamilton County Democratic HQ in Pleasant Ridge, Ohio
5.Front door and plate glass window smashed at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords office in Tucson, Arizona
Vandals have struck the Tuscon office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), the Monroe County Democratic Committee headquarters in upstate New York, Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) Niagara Falls office, the Knox County Democratic headquarters in Ohio, and the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita, KS.
These acts of vandalism followed a collective meltdown of conservative protesters in the final days of the debate to reform America’s health care system, which passed the US House on Sunday and was signed into law by President Obama Monday. The final days of protest to this very modest version of health care reform brought racist and homophobic slurs against Democrats and desperate last minute Tea Party rallies in an attempt to counter what they perceive as a ‘government takeover of 1/6th of the economy’.
One note attached to brick thrown through a window in New York quoted the former presidential candidate and conservative Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) which read “Exremism [extremism] in defense of liberty is no vice”.
These acts of bitter, partisan aggression come on the heels of direct incitement from a variety of conservative sources, including Mike Vanderboegh of Pinson, Alabama who is behind Sipsey Street Irregulars. He is the former leader of the Alabama Constitutional Militia. In his call to arms, he writes:
“I’m advocating broken windows. I’m advocating vandalism. We can break their windows.Break them NOW. Break them and run to break again. Break them under cover of night. Break them in broad daylight. Break them and await arrest in willful, principled civil disobedience. Break them with rocks. Break them with slingshots. Break them with baseball bats.”
The DailyKos reports:
Mike Vanderboegh of Pinson, Ala., former leader of the Alabama Constitutional Militia, put out a call on Friday for modern “Sons of Liberty” to break the windows of Democratic Party offices nationwide in opposition to health care reform. Since then, vandals have struck several offices, including the Sedgwick County Democratic Party headquarters in Wichita.
Just after the health care vote, a conservative advocate on Twitter named solly_forell sent the following message: “ASSASSINATION! America, we survived the #Assassinations of #Lincoln & #Kennedy. We’ll surely get over a bullet 2 #BarackObama’s head! #tlot.”
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has been a focal point in the push for reform. Last Thursday she received a chilling recorded message at her campaign office. “Assassinate is the word they used…toward the children of lawmakers who voted yes.”
Sarah Palin tweeted, “Don’t retreat. RELOAD. “
Cause and Effect
This is just the latest in the trend of incitement by conservative media spokesman that has brought about a culture of violence.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there is “a 244 percent increase in the number of active Patriot groups in 2009. Their numbers grew from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 groups in 2009, an astonishing addition of 363 new groups in a single year. Militias – the paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement – were a major part of the increase, growing from 42 militias in 2008 to 127 in 2009.”
Texas congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) shouted “BABY KILLER!!” to Bart Stupak (D-MI) on the house floor in a scene reminiscent to that which Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted “YOU LIE!!” to President Obama during his speech about health care reform before a joint session of Congress a couple months ago.
Orange County, California Pastor Wiley Drake called for the death of all 219 Democrats who voted for the bill, through the power of imprecatory prayer. This is nothing new to this conservative Christian, as he has prayed for and encouraged prayers for the death of Obama in the past.
All of this deliberate fear mongering has had a measurable effect. There has been a chilling rise in right wing hate around the country. President Obama receives an average of 30 death threats per day, a 400% increase over Bush. Conservative websites have called for a Honduran style military coup, offered a list of Democratic Senators to assassinate, and sold merchandise about Obama featuring Psalm 109:8 which reads: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Pastor Steven Anderson virtually issued a fatwa on Obama, and members of his flock arrived at a Phoenix rally with loaded assault rifles. Many have compared the current atmosphere to that which existed prior to the assassination of JFK. Others say it feels eerily similar to the way things were before Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma Federal Building, killing 168 people.
Recent Conservative Reactions
Although Republican and Tea Party leaders are not so brazen in their denouncement of reforming our nations health care system, the message is certainly along the same lines. NYmag has documented a large swath of hysterical reactions from them, reactions which reinforce the paranoid suspicions of right wing extremists that are ready to snap. They report:
Newt Gingrich thinks the Democrats “have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years with the enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s.”
Yet others point out that where Jim DeMint (R-SC) predicted that health care reform would be the Waterloo of Obama, it now appears to be the Waterloo of Republicans, as the most recent polls demonstrate that the majority of Americans now favor the recently passed legislation and his own personal approval ratings have spiked as well.
What is in question here is whether right wing leaders will continue to remain silent or actively encourage incitement to vandalism and violence. Their encouragement of this, at least their lack of condemnation of it seem to have brought about an American Kristallnacht. Whether this will spiral into violence or not is a matter of debate, although there is certainly potential for it.