“They’ve Become Political Terrorists”

Here’s a video of the riot outside last night’s Tampa town hall meeting:

If you listen, at one point you can hear someone by the doors who appears to be a police officer trying to explain that the hall was filled to capacity and that allowing more people in would be a violation of fire safety code. The rioters weren’t buying it.

Jeffrey Feldman:

With fists pounding on exterior windows like a street mob out of a 1930s newsreel, a crowd of right-wing agitators against health insurance reform descended on a town hall meeting in Tampa, Florida, “banging on windows” until police and organizers were forced to end the event. The result? A violent mob silenced the voices of each and every American desperate to find a way out of the endless cycle of fear, shame and family bankruptcy brought on by an inhumane, profit-driven health insurance market. Moreover, by using violence to shut down civic discussion between neighbors, this right-wing horde trampled underfoot one of the most sacred and historic symbols of American democracy.

Paul Krugman:

There’s a famous Norman Rockwell painting titled “Freedom of Speech,” depicting an idealized American town meeting. The painting, part of a series illustrating F.D.R.’s “Four Freedoms,” shows an ordinary citizen expressing an unpopular opinion. His neighbors obviously don’t like what he’s saying, but they’re letting him speak his mind.

That’s a far cry from what has been happening at recent town halls, where angry protesters — some of them, with no apparent sense of irony, shouting “This is America!” — have been drowning out, and in some cases threatening, members of Congress trying to talk about health reform.

Steve Pearlstein :

As a columnist who regularly dishes out sharp criticism, I try not to question the motives of people with whom I don’t agree. Today, I’m going to step over that line.

The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

They’ve become political terrorists. Yeah, pretty much.

Apparently at a meeting in St. Louis, the wingnut mob was met by equal numbers of pro-reform counter-protesters, and at least one counter-protester (and a Post-Dispatch reporter) were arrested. It’s very possible the St. Louis police held counter-protesters to a different standard.

Even so, I say again that if anyone is going to go to the town hall meetings to counter the mob, non-violence is essential. Otherwise you’re just taking the bait.

That said, I found a list of upcoming town hall meetings on an astroturf site that the mob is using to pick its targets. Do what you think you need to do.

Update: Ellen Goodman writes a thoughtful and intelligent column about end-of-life decisions. However, flaming wingnuts screaming about socialism and killing granny dominate the comments. I am genuinely disturbed.

17 thoughts on ““They’ve Become Political Terrorists”

  1. These are “White Riot’s,” and should be labeled as such. (Courtesy of The Clash, one of the great R&R groups of all time).
    In all of the video’s I’ve seen, admittedly not close to all of them, I have yet to see anyone who is not white (and many appear to be older – ‘Grey Riot’s?’). This demonstrates to me the underlying element of racism.
    I think that those protesting believe that black, brown, yellow, etc., people will take away the coverage that they, the white people, get, or is due them. Ever since the Civil Right’s movement, any legislation that puts forward a progressive social agenda has been couched, subconsciously by the right, in terms of race. These people may or may not consciously know it, but it’s there. Oh yes, it’s there…
    It needs to be pointed out to the MSM, who are characterizing these as ‘Populist’ gatherings, that something that is “Populist” should have a cross-representation of the population. That gatherings that consist solely of one select slice of the population, cannot be said to be POPULIST! They are selective gatherings. But this is too fine a point for many in our MSM.
    Can anyone come up with a better way to make this clear?

  2. Someone needs to tell these old folks there is another socialist program that needs serious reform: Medicare.

    The comment above is correct. If the protestors were all black, the media would have no qualms about characterizing it in racial terms. They never point out, however, that all the protestors are white. America is not an all-white nation. These are, indeed, angry white mobs.

  3. This was pretty hard to watch. It had a cocktail of senseless rage, mindless repetition and psychopathology that was extremely draining. It was like being locked in a room with a group of giant four year olds.

    I lived in Tampa for many years. It is no stranger to thuggery. If you are familiar with Alpha 66, Omega 88 and a handful of other right wing groups, you know that many were present in Tampa. The Cuban community was divided with Lefties coming over before Castro and Righties after. I think it would be very illustrative to find out where the Cuban community in Tampa falls on this issue. Certainly the “communist” and associated buttons are being pushed repeatedly and they should be out in force. Maybe they are, but, it doesn’t seem like it from the video.

    There is likely to be a synergy with the amount of support our new Justice Sonia Sotomayor had in the same community because both issues have the potential to test the bond between fringe elements of the Republicans and the Cuban community. It may very well be that the Cuban community in Tampa was uniformly favorable regarding Justice Sotomayor and that could dampen negative responses to healthcare reform.

    I suppose the founders of groups like Alpha 66 are all on medicare by now. So, comically, the “dirty communists” are now the ones paying for latest surgery. But, let’s just say that such groups were very good at this sort of thing and if they are involved, you will see a few more headlnes from Tampa and south Florida.

  4. muiq2xu,
    Nah, nothing as serious as all that. The only thing hijacked has been the democratic process.
    “Nothing to see there, folks. Just move along…”

  5. Did I miss something?

    Quite a bit, I suspect.

    Terrorism, definition:

      /ˈtɛrəˌrɪzəm/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ter-uh-riz-uhm] Show IPA
    Use terrorism in a Sentence
    1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
    2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
    3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

  6. Yes, myiq2xu and other PUMA are working themselves into a lather over the fact that people are pointing out that they are allowing themselves to be used by corporate lobbyists in a right-wing, phony grassroots astroturfing campaign.

    Their cries of “I’m not a Republican, I’m a Murkin!” are getting rather old.

  7. Did I miss something?

    “Missing it” would imply that you don’t see the connection. In your case, the better question would be “did I completely ignore the obvious in order to protect my narrow world view?”. The answer, of course, would be “yes”.

  8. This is a link to Norman Rockwell’s Freedom of Speech. How far we’ve fallen. (I’m a too-frequent patron of “Home Town Buffet” which used to decorate their outlets with Norman Rockwell’s art – and so I’m very familiar with this particular statement on American democracy, as well as his many other works of 1940s Amercana. You can get fed/fat there and be edified, at the same time!).

    Rachel Maddow has been doing tremendous work in exposing the whole phenomenon of the mobs and the astroturf groups behind them. This video is just brilliant.

  9. I plan to avoid the crowds. I called my representative yesterday and left a message pro a single payer plan. I didn’t have trouble getting through. I will see if I can find the web site that gives phone numbers and a map to look yours up if you need that.

  10. I don’t think the so-called protests have anything to do with health-care reform. The language, behavior, general demeanor of the protesters is more reflective of xenophobia and the object (person) to be feared is Obama.

    The fringe, and maybe not so fringy, right wing has carefully laid the ground work to oppose Obama at every turn and one easily tapped group to enlist in the opposition movement is the xenophobic who has an already built-in fear of strangers, foreigners, aliens, the other.

    Listen to the language of the ‘birthers’ List the labels – Nazi, socialist, Muslim, non-American, communist, terrorist… – around anything and everything Obama proposes, says, does. It’s who he is, not what he says or does.

    Health-care reform is just one more proposal. It’s Obama the protesters fear. The righties know it and they’ll capitalize on it at every possible opportunity, be it health-care reform, cleaning up the environment, makes no difference. And because phobias are irrational fears, the recruiters only have to arouse fear and never need make a rational argument to get support for whatever their cause may be. It’s actually quite scary.

  11. Need to add that what’s so really sick about this whole thing is that the people really behind the get Obama drive are not xenophobes. They’re perfectly rational people just like the people behind the Salem witch trials, the Klan movement, the Red scare, they stand to gain as their movement grows. The xenophobic is merely a tool.

  12. I’m starting to see an amazing similarity between Ernst Röhm and Glen Beck. I’m puzzled to understand how possessing oafish qualities translates into the ability to stimulate and mobilize political goons to do one’s bidding. I guess that it’s the sense of empowerment that the goons experience with their disruptive behavior, and it really doesn’t matter whether their actions are ultimately beneficial to them or not. As long as they get off in feeling that they prevailed…..who cares if democracy falls by the wayside.

    Amerika uber alles! Ameriika erwacht!

  13. Swami,
    Sie haben recht! Das is rechtig, aber Ich habe alles vergessen…
    It’s SA all the way! Brown shirt’s against non-white people.
    To the “White Rioter’s,” please feel free to disrupt the democratic process. That is what the corporations pay you for. So go ahead, you f’in stupid stooges, prove your individualism by joining the idiot masses. Jeez…
    Maybe euthanizing the stupid isn’t such a bad idea… Just kidding! HA! Ha. ha… No, really, just kidding…
    No, we need the opinions of everyone – given respectfully. No matter if they’re from rocket scientist’s or from those who crawl out from under a rock.
    OK. someone help me out here. I’m trying to convice myself and it ain’t workin’!

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