I didn't believe it.
I was absolutely astonished when I heard it. I just knew I must be listening to an absolutely raving, bottom-dwelling, white supremacist, Timothy McVeigh worshiper.
Understand that I live in a very small town--about 5500. Most every resident is friendly and helpful in many ways. The most violence the police force in this town has to deal with is when the cowboys and the jocks get in a fist fight/brawl at some local beer bar.
So what happened? What had shocked me so?
Just a very few days after the election in November 2008, I was working (filling-in, actually) in a local retail store when a somewhat regular customer came in to make a purchase. The transaction was completed and THEN he asked, "Well, what did you think of the election?"
Not wanting to start a word fight with someone I considered ill-armed, I said something like, "Well, it is over."
The customer was unwilling to let it drop. "I guess you know," he added, "the streets are going to run with blood."
I was completely taken aback. The election was over; the Bush Doctrine was thrown out. The adults were in charge again--to clean up the mess. Braininess had become popular again. Rational thoughts were a good thing.
But here before me stood absolute racist, overt hatred and anger. It was so astonishing. He and, I assumed, his friends with whom he spoke on a daily basis, were not willing to accept the fact of the election--like a small child pouting because he didn't get his way.
But now, that hatred and racist angst has been overtly harnessed by the big power boys.
Where will it end? That customer was right: there will be blood. I would never have believed it.
Those hate-filled tea-baggers/birthers/deathers/"Keep the Government out of my Medicare"-groupies seem to have neglected to read the Constitution they are so fond of claiming to cherish. The First Amendment grants the right to peaceful assembly. The Constitution does not grant threatening, shouting, violent assembly--peaceful assembly.
We just need to look at the escalating rhetoric. To anyone familiar with the tactics of terror, it is clear where this is going. First there is the threat of violence. It may be spoken, or it may not (a hanging noose). No matter, the intended effect is the same: put the target on notice to shut up, stay in his/her place, and dare not to challenge the status quo.
It is delivered, often, with a smile that implies not merely a willingness to do harm, but perhaps even a desire to do so — "I will hurt you, and I will enjoy doing it."
If Republicans keep standing silent or even cheer on the mob, the assumption must be one of three things: (1) they don't know what fire they're playing with, (2) it's what they want, (3) or — for the sake of their ideology — they are willing to take the risk.
Much as I decry the use of violence, I remember Molly Ivins saying that during WWII people went around kicking dachshunds, but they didn't kick German Shepherds.Our dog had better get a lot bigger.