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Threats and Acts of Violence from the Right Fringe – What is a Repubican Senator to Do?

This op-ed by the New York Times Frank Rich called Guns of August articulates what I have been thinking for the last months.  Two months ago I wrote a piece on the shooting at the holocaust museum and before that about the killing of the doctor in his church.   Rich’s piece is a frightening portrayal of the rising violent rhetoric and actions of the right fringe and the inability or unwillingness of the mainstream right politicians to confront it.  Read it and weep…

“IT is time to water the tree of liberty” said the sign carried by a gun-toting protester milling outside President Obama’s town-hall meeting in New Hampshire two weeks ago. The Thomas Jefferson quote that inspired this message, of course, said nothing about water: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” That’s the beauty of a gun — you don’t have to spell out the “blood.”

The protester was a nut. America has never had a shortage of them. But what’s Tom Coburn’s excuse? Coburn is a Republican senator from Oklahoma, where 168 people were murdered by right-wing psychopaths who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Their leader, Timothy McVeigh, had the Jefferson quote on his T-shirt when he committed this act of mass murder. Yet last Sunday, when asked by David Gregory on “Meet the Press” if he was troubled by current threats of “violence against the government,” Coburn blamed not the nuts but the government.

“Well, I’m troubled any time when we stop having confidence in our government,” the senator said, “but we’ve earned it.”

Coburn is nothing if not consistent. In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, he was part of a House contingent that helped delay and soften an antiterrorism bill. This cohort even tried to strip out a provision blocking domestic fund-raising by foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas. Why? The far right, in league with the National Rifle Association, was angry at the federal government for aggressively policing America’s self-appointed militias. In a 1996 floor speech, Coburn conceded that “terrorism obviously poses a serious threat,” but then went on to explain that the nation had worse threats to worry about: “There is a far greater fear that is present in this country, and that is fear of our own government.” As his remarks on “Meet the Press” last week demonstrated, the subsequent intervention of 9/11 has not changed his worldview.

I have been writing about the simmering undertone of violence in our politics since October, when Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential candidate of a major political party, said nothing to condemn Obama haters shrieking “Treason!,” “Terrorist!” and “Off with his head!” at her rallies. As vacation beckons, I’d like to drop the subject, but the atmosphere keeps getting darker.

Coburn’s implicit rationalization for far-right fanatics bearing arms at presidential events — the government makes them do it! — cannot stand. He’s not a radio or Fox News bloviator paid a fortune to be outrageous; he’s a card-carrying member of the United States Senate. On Monday — the day after he gave a pass to those threatening violence — a dozen provocateurs with guns, at least two of them bearing assault weapons, showed up for Obama’s V.F.W. speech in Phoenix. Within hours, another member of Congress — Phil Gingrey of Georgia — was telling Chris Matthews on MSNBC that as long as brandishing guns is legal, he, too, saw no reason to discourage Americans from showing up armed at public meetings.

Read more of Frank Rich’s Guns of August

Comments read comments(10)
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posted August 24, 2009 at 11:12 am

Yoiu have to remeber that to neo-conservatives, the ends justifies the means as long as you do it in the name of Roanld Reagan and the correct Jesus Christ.

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posted August 24, 2009 at 11:46 am

Wow. All those crazy right wing fringe cases running around with guns. What about the crazies on the Left? After all, Timothy McVeigh was an environmental extremist, getting revenge for the assaults on the earth. And wasn’t it a PETA extremist who killed the corporate executive. But they used bombs, not guns.
I also find it interesting that Frank Rich chastises Sen. Coburn for watering down anti-terrorist legislation when Rich praised the Left for opposing anti-terrorist legistation that he claimed endangered our 1st Amendment rights. I guess the rub is endangering 2nd Amendment rights is ok and defending them makes you a hypocrite.
Also, hoot1fan sees Jesus being put in a Right politically-correct box. But doesn’t the Left do that same thing by ingnoring his comments on marriage and his claim to being the only way to God?
Oh, it is so easy to attack and paint our opposition in black and white. Serious, respectful discussion needs to replace name calling, and character assasination.

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posted August 24, 2009 at 11:49 am

Re: politicians ignoring Jesus’ comments on marriage–it’s the Right wing that ignores his comments on divorce.

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posted August 24, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Well, DJ…thank you for being honest enough to admit that your side is no better than those you oppose.

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Richard Clark

posted August 24, 2009 at 12:31 pm

DJ, please name the PETA activist accused of killing the corporate executive. I’ve never heard of that. But I know of many anti-abortion terrorists who have murdered and threatened doctors. Still our government refuses to put these domestic terrorists groups like the Army of God as real domestic terrorists. I guess tree-huggers are far more physically violent (sarcasm).

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Faithful Progressive

posted August 24, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Timothy McVeigh planned his attack to coincide with the anniversery of the Government invasion of the Davidian Compound in Waco Texas. He was not in any way shape or form and environmental extremist. He was opposed to the US Govt.

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Frank J Goddard

posted August 25, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Don’t have time to search the site but would love to read the blog post when you condemed the “left fringe” for their murderous intent see:
I won’t hold my breath for reply from this hypocrital blog

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posted August 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm

In answer to Richard Clark below is a citing from Wikipedia:
“Fran Stepanie Trutt is an American animal rights activist. She was convicted of an attempted murder of the president of a medical company in 1988.
Trutt planted a remote-controlled bomb in the parking space of Leon Hirsch, president of the U.S. Surgical Corporation, on 10 November 1988. US Surgical was engaged in animal testing, which Trutt strongly opposed. Shortly after the bomb was planted, Trutt’s supposed allies were revealed to be private security agents working for US Surgical (through a company called Perceptions International). These agents had kept authorities informed of Trutt’s actions, and the bomb was quickly removed. During a search of her home three other bombs and a sawed-off shotgun were found by police.”
Also, I neglected to say the Unibomber was an eco-terrorist and another one is or was recently on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.
But my point is not to say all crazies are Left Wing Eco-Terrorists. Only that evil behavior afflicts all walks of life and philosophies. It afflicts them, but does not condemn them.
I do notice the more liberal (code name “Progressive”) people on know tend to have “no enemies on the Left”. I am just saying no side has a monopoly on crazies.

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posted August 27, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Interesting Link. I notice that in response the silence is deafening.

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Frank J Goddard

posted August 28, 2009 at 9:22 am

on this blog…….it always is.

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