Home National Politics Threats of Violence Against Eric Cantor, Or Anyone Else, Are Not Acceptable

Threats of Violence Against Eric Cantor, Or Anyone Else, Are Not Acceptable

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This should go without saying, but I strongly condemn threats of violence, let alone actual violence, against Eric Cantor, Tom Perriello, Tom Perriello’s brother, or anyone else.  It simply has no legitimate place in American politics and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Period.

In this case, it appears the guy threatening Eric Cantor and his family is a madman who also has threatened many other political figures, including Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. In other cases, like with Tom Perriello and his brother, the threats were made by right-wing activists and bloggers (ostensibly) angered by the passage of health care reform legislation.  And, I’d note, the threats against Tom and his family came after 1 1/2 years of vicious invective, dehumanization, and demagoguery by leading Republicans – including the GOP’s 2008 presidential and vice presidential nominees, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, etc. – against Democrats, against Barack Obama, etc. Do Republicans and right-wingers really believe that using the kind of language and imagery they’ve been using will have no impact at all?  If not, they clearly haven’t studied the history of the 20th century.  

Speaking of the type of language that should never be used in our Democracy, I was very troubled to read this. I’ve known Bearing Drift’s Jim Hoeft for several years now, and although  he’s a staunch conservative and we disagree on most issues, I’ve never thought of him as advocating or condoning political violence in the least bit. Which is why I was surprised to see him using phrases like “before we start taking any sort of violent action against anyone else” and “let’s let the judicial process play itself out before we do anything violent.” Excuse me? “Before?”  How about “never?”

I emailed Jim Hoeft to ask him if he wanted to clarify his remarks, as I found them highly troubling. We went back and forth a few times, but in the end Hoeft agreed that violence or threats thereof are “unacceptable,” although Hoeft added the phrase “in our current political climate.” I’m not sure if we differ here nor not, but just to be clear, the correct answer is: in our Democracy, violence or threats of violence are never acceptable, in the current political climate or any other climate. Sure, if some day our Democracy is overthrown by a tyranny, that could be a different story. But that’s totally hypothetical, pretty much science fiction, so why even talk about it?  Not only do I see no need to do so, I also see the potential danger to more…uh, “excitable” individuals in discussing such things as even within the realm of possibility.

By the way, I strongly approve of the comments by conservative activist and blogger Brian W. Schoeneman, who writes, “The angry rhetoric needs to stop, as does the idea or belief that a violent overthrow of our government is even a possible course of action in response to these issues.”  Schoeneman adds, “it would be helpful if Republican elected officials would stop letting our activists get away with that kind of talk.”  I couldn’t agree more, but I’m not holding my breath on this one.

UPDATE: Jim Hoeft comments further at Bearing Drift.

So – do I advocate violence if health care is upheld as the law of the land by the judiciary?

No. No. Hell, no.

My point is that violence is never appropriate in our current Republic to make political points.

[…]

The public has no appetite for violence. It is unacceptable and worthy of condemnation. It shouldn’t even be considered as a course of action given our political climate.

  • Teddy Goodson

    our democracy is overthrown by a tyranny” you commented, going on to call that totally hypothetical, and I agree (although I sometimes worried when we lived under a man who promoted the “unitary executive” theory).

    However, is there a possibility that the stoked-up right wing avengers could convince themselves that Obama is a Hitler, and that they are living under a tyranny which justifies any violent action they might take? Is just that outcome one reason for the continued emphasis by Palin et al that Obama “rammed through” health care and did not listen to their objections? And the frequent display of Obama with a Hitler mustache? And using cross-hairs on photos of Democratic elected officials coupled with repeyitious use of violent rhetoric (“time to reload”)?

    This all might be regarded as the inappropriate result of fevered and immature minds—- except for the fact that we are dealing here with Republican political operatives who have been proven to have a firm grasp of manipulative language and clever use of framing, who have honed their skills to a professional point over the past 10 to 15 years.

    I would not sell any of this short. It is deliberate and the effect being sought is indeed violence and/or a coup of some sort, after which the operatives can pretend to be very “surprised” and innocent of how it happened.  

    • TomPaine

      I spoke about “leaders and activists” not the rank and file true believers. And my remark was about their agreeing to speak out as Brian did!

      While J.R. has been embarassed into repudiating his own words; those other Reepublican leaders and activists have yet to speak out other than to state their unwillingness to do so!

      Why? Obviously, they have invested so much effort into inciting their robotic followers (useful idiots) that politically they cannot afford at this late date to rebuke them!  

  • TomPaine

    “The angry rhetoric needs to stop, as does the idea or belief that a violent overthrow of our government is even a possible course of action in response to these issues.”  Schoeneman adds, “it would be helpful if Republican elected officials would stop letting our activists get away with that kind of talk.”

    I challenge you to find a Republican leader or activist, other than Brian, to agree with this post by Brian.  

  • Master Gunner

    I absolutely disagree.

    And so does H. Rap Brown. 🙂

    Can you dig what I’m saying?

  • Good that he did that. I like Bearing Drift and I didn’t like the negative attention it was getting. Even though I don’t always agree with those guys – especially some of the more rabid defenders of the AG – they have a good site.