Rep. Steve Cohen was on The Young Turks last night and he brought it. He said the Republicans in Congress seemed to be encouraging the Tea Party protests to the point of nearly inciting a riot. He said it was like "mob rule." In Tennessee people were throwing rocks through windows. Talking about the local and national protests, the Congressman said, "It was the verge of Kristallnacht."
Then when he was asked if he thought there were any Republican leaders who could calm this situation down, he said they were basically captured by the movement. Rep. Cohen commented about the former presidential nominee for the Republican Party, "When I saw John McCain stand behind Sarah Palin, he looked more like a captured soldier in North Vietnam than he did a United States Senator."
Strong words and striking imagery. Certainly we don't see much of that maverick John McCain who was brave enough to be bipartisan anymore. We see a man captured and beholden to the extreme right-wing of his party, as represented by Sarah Palin. There is definitely something to Rep. Cohen's observation that the roles have reversed since the presidential campaign.
Watch the interview here:
Full transcript here.
To me, the Tea Party activists are a little like Lennie in Of Mice and Men. A bit of a dumb giant who can easily cause unintended violence if led in the wrong direction. The Republican Party and conservative media figures seem intent on leading them in that direction. Imagine how much damage Lennie could cause if led by a guy like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.
Things don't seem to be quieting down. Quite the opposite. The physical acts of violence only seem to be gaining momentum, as the craziest of the activists continue to get egged on. This is not going to end well. I am for the first time starting to get concerned about the physical welfare of the congressmen.
Ironically, it appears the right-wing has taken on the ideology of Malcolm X. By any means necessary.
If they lose the elections, well then they turn to physical intimidation. This is ugly.
Finally, imagine if there were a group of well-organized Muslims in the country leading rage filled protests. That they were being led by Democratic congressmen and left-wing commentators. And they started throwing bricks through windows, cutting gas lines, sending white powder to congressmen's offices and sending death threats. What do you think the general attitude of the nation and the press would be? My guess is utter panic and an enormous backlash.
So, why aren't people reacting the same way when it's right-wing zealots doing these things? Does it appear to be less scary when it's done by white people? By right-wingers? The last time the extreme right-wing movement got this worked up, someone blew up a federal building in Oklahoma. We have already had several federal buildings attacked and the size of the militia movement is even larger now than when Clinton was president. When is it time to get concerned? What are we waiting for? For the attacks to get larger? To get deadlier?
The irony is that the Obama administration had accurately predicted the scope of the problem early on when the Department of Homeland Security put out a report about extremist right-wing groups in the country. What happened to that report? It was pulled after Republicans complained. Does that seem like a smart move now?