Early last week, Republican Paul Broun was holding a town hall in Georgia, when he fielded questions from the crowd. The very first question Broun received? Was it about taxes? Jobs? The war in Afghanistan? Unrest in the Middle East? No…the question was..
"Who is going to shoot Obama?"
Now, most rational people would assume that Broun would immediately condemn the questioner, similar to what John McCain did more than 2 years ago when another misguided conservative questioner stated that Barack Obama was an Arab. Surely, Broun did not let the comment stand, right?
Actually, by all accounts, Broun and the rest of the mostly conservative crowd began to laugh with the congressman finally responding, "The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president."
Seriously? That is the proper response when one of your constituents insinuates that the President of the United States should be shot? To laugh it off and empathize with the guy’s point of view?
Normally I would just write this off as a politician doing something dumb, but I think there is something a bit more insidious going on here.
1. Paul Broun is the same Republican who refused to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address last month. Instead, he sent out "Tweets" amongst which were "Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism."
2. This reinforces the hardcore conservative fascination with gunplay and politics by prominent members of the right wing fringe. Time and time again they seem to enjoy making the connection between the two and giving off that hint that violence is sometimes acceptable to get what you want. How many examples do you need before it becomes a trend?
"People are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, ‘My goodness what can we do to turn this country around?’ And I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”
– Sharon Angle
"Don’t retreat, reload"
– Sarah Palin
"If ballots don’t work, bullets will."
– Joyce Kaufman, conservative radio host and former chief of staff for Republican Allan West
"Empty the clip, and do what has to be done."
– Alabama Republican State Senator Scott Beason, talking about the illegal immigration problem
"They believe in communism. They believe and have called for revolution. You’re going to have to shoot them in the head."
– Glenn Beck
I am sure I could give several more examples off the top of my head, but you get the picture. I know both sides have supporters with extreme viewpoints, but why does it seem like with the right there is this constant threat of violence if they do not get what they want? Why is this kind of language not widely and loudly condemned?
When does playing to the crowds actually become dangerous?