Lone Wolves and Lynch Mobs: The Threats Behind Town Hall Meetings

Keep in mind that it’s one thing to forcefully argue for health care reform, including dramatic changes to Obama’s approach–and quite another to join in activities that threaten physical harm, along the lines of the attacks on abortion clinics that sometimes culminated the murder of workers and doctors, the most recent being Wichita’s Dr. George Tiller.

Some of these tactics, used by some of the right to life movement and its supposedly unwanted allies on the far right, are being employed against members of Congress at the so-called town meetings on health care reform.  The Washington Post reports this morning reports on one of these confrontations, with newly minted Democratic Senator Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania:

The exchange between Specter and one man broadcast throughout the day on cable television — culminated with the senator asking whether the man would like to leave the meeting and the man responding, to applause from some in the crowd: “One day God’s going to stand before you, and he’s going to judge you and the rest of your damned cronies up on the Hill.”

Earlier in the week, Buzzflash featured a personal report by Maria Allwine on the crowds outside a town hall meeting with Senator Ben Cardin in the Baltimore suburbs, which she attended with a group of single-payer advocates:

I have never seen such hatred, vitriol and racism in all my life – and I do not say that lightly.  It made me physically ill – I could stand the heat, but I couldn’t stand the hatred and racism.  We all read about it, we know it – but having it in your face in such large and angry numbers is hard to deal with.  There were posters of Obama as Hitler, the Democratic Nazi Party, Keep Your Laws Off My Body (except for abortion – I asked) and various and sundry examples of ugliness.  Some Lyndon LaRouche supporters along with anti-immigration and tort reform.  Also a lot of “killing the elderly, euthanasia” type signs.  And of course, our favorite – “No Socialism.”  As I looked across Osler at these people, they were screaming and angry – and they often came over to where we were to provoke us and to out-shout us.  The comments to me as I walked up and down with my signs were appalling. …

Folks, this is NOT about healthcare or anything remotely resembling policy or any particular issue.  This is about the naked anger of the right wing being out of power and not accepting a black man as President combined with their own racism – it’s thinly veiled at best, but it’s racism.  I venture to say that this is the least thinly veiled racism I’ve seen for a long time – they have taken those gloves off.

The rightwing swiftboating that has characterized the last two presidential campaigns can take a racialist turn, as they did in Pennsylvania during the primary campaign between Hillary Clinton and Obama. During that heated contest,even reporters were taken aback at some of the racist epithets aimed at Obama. The same sort of thing resurfaced at some of Sarah Palin’s rallies during the general election. And it’s back in force at the town hall meetings.

It’s this sort of wild threatening talk that puts law enforcement on the alert for people taking matters into their own hands. The militias once more are on the rise. And the  FBI currently is in the midst of a broad reconnaisance effort to locate “lone wolf killers” whom they fear will turn to armed action, along the lines of the Tiller murder and the Holocaust Museum attack, not to mention the earlier and less publicized murder of two Pittsburgh police officers. As USA Today reported yesterday:

Federal authorities have launched an effort to detect lone attackers who may be contemplating politically charged assaults similar to the recent murders of a Kansas abortion doctor and a Holocaust museum security guard.The effort, known as the “Lone Wolf Initiative,” was started shortly after President Obama’s inauguration, in part because of a rising level of hate speech and surging gun sales.


3 responses to “Lone Wolves and Lynch Mobs: The Threats Behind Town Hall Meetings

  1. Most health care money is spent during the last year of life.

    Of course the industry doesn’t want people reminded they can choose not to spend their last year in a hospital bed while the industry sucks their family finances dry before it’s allowed to start sucking Medicare money.

    Dying slowly in a hospital is miserable when the alternative is dying, probably a little less slowly, at home with home care — and leaving most of any family money with the family.

    Spend all your family’s money being kept alive on tubes and ventilators in a hospital?

    For what?? To benefit the insurance industry that gets a cut of every bill???

  2. Ignorance is fighting tooth and nail for legitimacy while trying to eliminate the legitimacy of reason.

    The inspiration for this comes from the corporate aristocrats who all have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. As George Carlin said, they are the owners and they don’t care about you.

    The chickens, through the likes of Beck, Limbaugh and Palin, are doing everything they can to keep Colonel Sanders in charge.

    Fight ignorance. Speak up.

  3. The unsettling thing about these right wing radicals is that it is not about the issue or Obama, or really anything visible. It is simply an outlet for their own anger, and ultimately hatred for – get this . . . themselves. If a person truly loves them self, they cannot hate others. It is only the anger and hatred within, usually triggered by pattern of abuse and dysfunction that can cause this sort of repulsive display. So why is it important to know this? Because awareness is the first step. Once we understand that there is no logic to their reasoning, we are not so confused when they do not respond to reasoning. Also, the true enemy is the the rage, not the person. It seems to me the best we can do is counter with relentless truth about the issues. As for the rage, all evil ultimately destroys it’s host, if unchecked. The sad thing is all the collateral damage.

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