House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was quick this past week to accuse the Democrats of ‘fanning the flames’ of voter discontent by blaming the GOP for recent threats against 10 House Democrats. The Democrats, on the other hand, have been complaining for a very long time (since the 2008 Presidential campaign) about GOP collusion with extremists that resulted in multiple threats to President (then candidate) Obama’s life.
Indeed, threats of violence to 10 house democrats and vandalism to multiple Democratic headquarters across the country seem related to dangerous rhetoric by the GOP. Such rhetoric included Sarah Palin’s cross-hair map symbols targeting Democratic districts and telling her supporters to ‘reload’. House Minority Leader Boehner was quoted as calling someone a dead man and referred to the health care vote as ‘armageddon‘. Not only that, but extremist threats made were not limited to law makers. In fact, threats directed at the 10 Democrats extended to their spouses, and even, their children.
Cantor’s outrage at the Democrat’s alleged politicization of the threats is disingenuous at best. House Republicans received one call and an alleged incident at Congressman Cantor’s campaign office – none of which was serious enough to warrant police protection.
Democrats, on the other hand, before and after the vote were spit on, called racial epitaphs, and harshly criticized for their sexual orientation. These incidents, coupled with the vandalism and threatening phone calls, were serious enough to prompt the FBI to investigate and for Democrats to receive police protection.
Adding insult to injury, Democrats were beginning to see a more pronounced problem with their GOP colleagues both in the house itself and on the capitol lawn during the health care debate. GOP law makers, live on C-SPAN, cheered on a disruptive tea party protester who was ejected from the gallery of the house during the health care debate, unfurled a ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag (now usurped by the Tea Party as their flag) to a jubilant crowd of Tea Party protesters outside, and participated in a plethora of Tea Party protests leading up to the health care vote, even sponsoring some of them with Fox News close behind.
But the crowning achievement of the GOP during the health care debate was when Abilene Congressman Randy Neugebauer interrupted Rep. Bart Stupak during debate on the house floor to call him a ‘baby killer’ for supporting the health care bill publicly (shown in this footage):
For all those tempted to say ‘both’ sides are at fault, both sides own some of the responsibility for outrageous and unprofessional behavior on the House floor or by Tea Party extremists, ask yourself this question: Have the Democrats spit on anyone? Have Democrats told their followers to ‘reload’ in reference to a renewed campaign against a bill? Have Democrats called the President a liar in national TV during a speech to a joint session of congress? Have the Democrats called anyone a ‘baby killer’?
All extremists that call for violent opposition to a democratic form of government or threaten the lives of people because they disagree with them are shameful and dangerous – plain and simple. There is no place for them in our society.
Any law maker, that fans the flames of discontent by cheering on extremist protesters that disturb a house vote, call for the physical replacement of a Democratic member of congress at a Tea Party rally, or side with Governors that threaten to secede from the Union, is an embarrassment and should be censured (at a minimum) or perhaps even prosecuted under federal law (at a maximum).
It is time for the GOP to calm the dangerous rhetoric of the past year. I’m sure they will continue to disagree with Democrats and that is fine. That disagreement in an open and public forum for all to see is what Democracy is all about. Dangerous rhetoric that prompts violence is not.