09/08/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Question for GOP Leaders: What Would It Take for You to Condemn the Hatefulness?

Glenn Beck has said Barack Obama hates white people, and jokes about assassinating the Speaker of the House. Rush Limbaugh makes repeated and extended comparisons between Obama and Hitler. Mobs hang a congressman in effigy and physically attack people at a town hall meeting.

Members of Congress have death threats issued against them, while other members make jokes about lynching their colleagues.

With all of this hateful and violent rhetoric going on, I haven't seen one Republican leader asking for people to cool their rhetoric, or heard them condemn any of these tactics. My question for Republican party, and their allies at conservative media companies that employ the kind of people making these remarks: what exactly would have to be said for you to distance yourself from these people? How far would someone have to go before you got uncomfortable with it? What would have to said before Fox News considered firing someone?

If Glenn Beck actually directly called for the assassination of someone, would it bother you guys? If Rush Limbaugh just screamed a racial insult referring to the President of the United States into his microphone, would it make you pause at all? If Lou Dobbs went so far as to call for the murder of random Hispanics in the street, would CNN consider firing him? If Michael Savage actually encouraged a caller to his show to go blow up a federal building like Timothy McVeigh did, would any republicans suggest he pull his rhetoric back a bit?

The scary thing to me about what's going on right now in this country is not the violence, because this country has always had violent extremists, and we've survived as a country and democracy. What concerns me, though, is that the Republicans seem to have crossed some kind of line to where they actually tolerate and even defend all this violence. They have stopped doing that now, and are even egging the violence on now in some cases. I fear the answer to my question -- what would it take for you to condemn the hatefulness -- because the answer seems to be that there is nothing that could happen that would make them say "Stop!" And that's a very scary thing for a democracy.