The politics of assassination

Rick Moran, who never lets political correctness of any sort interfere with his thinking, raises the very touchy question of assassination and Barack Obama's candidacy.

Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King are only the most prominent names on a long list of shameful murders - usually at the hands of extremist whites - that have stained this country's honor and darkened the pages of our history. From those who sought to teach the recently freed slaves how to read who were hunted down and killed like animals, to martyred pioneers in the struggle for voting rights in the south at the turn of the century, to the devastating murders of civil rights workers in the 1950's and 60's, blacks who have stepped forward and offered to serve the cause of freedom in America have been at risk of being slain. And while few deny the steady and resolute progress toward achieving the goal of a truly color blind society, the fact is that there are dozens of groups like the Klan, Skinheads, Nazis, and Aryan Nation whose hate could erupt in a spasm of violence that would have tragic consequences.

I remember vividly when Alma Powell was said to have ruled out her husband Colin from running for president, based on the assumption that he would be a target for assassins. There can be no doubt that any rational black candidate would have to weigh the probabilities and brave the risks.

But when Rick raises the issue of an "atmosphere of hate" I take some issue with the unspoken nuance that the right has any more to answer for than the left. Rick cites the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group headed by Morris Dees, which seems to demonize the right and exonerate the left.

Unquestionably, it behooves all of us to avoid hate when writing about politics. But it is not the right which has published books about the assassination of George Bush or made a movie  depicting same.

I think that the United States is at a dangerous moment when to comes to public expressions of political hate. But I think that the threat comes at least as much from the left as the right. Rick mentions the atmosphere surrounding Bill Clinton. Fair enough: many of us despised him and numbers certainly still hate him with a passion. But was this hatred any worse than that facing Ronald Reagan (who was almost killed) or Richard Nixon, much less "Chimpy Bushhitler"?

Let us all agree that political violence is despicable. And let's start by prosecuting to the max those who engage in it. No one should ever be allowed to believe that there is anything noble in political violence. It is abhorrent.

Rick Moran, who never lets political correctness of any sort interfere with his thinking, raises the very touchy question of assassination and Barack Obama's candidacy.

Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King are only the most prominent names on a long list of shameful murders - usually at the hands of extremist whites - that have stained this country's honor and darkened the pages of our history. From those who sought to teach the recently freed slaves how to read who were hunted down and killed like animals, to martyred pioneers in the struggle for voting rights in the south at the turn of the century, to the devastating murders of civil rights workers in the 1950's and 60's, blacks who have stepped forward and offered to serve the cause of freedom in America have been at risk of being slain. And while few deny the steady and resolute progress toward achieving the goal of a truly color blind society, the fact is that there are dozens of groups like the Klan, Skinheads, Nazis, and Aryan Nation whose hate could erupt in a spasm of violence that would have tragic consequences.

I remember vividly when Alma Powell was said to have ruled out her husband Colin from running for president, based on the assumption that he would be a target for assassins. There can be no doubt that any rational black candidate would have to weigh the probabilities and brave the risks.

But when Rick raises the issue of an "atmosphere of hate" I take some issue with the unspoken nuance that the right has any more to answer for than the left. Rick cites the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group headed by Morris Dees, which seems to demonize the right and exonerate the left.

Unquestionably, it behooves all of us to avoid hate when writing about politics. But it is not the right which has published books about the assassination of George Bush or made a movie  depicting same.

I think that the United States is at a dangerous moment when to comes to public expressions of political hate. But I think that the threat comes at least as much from the left as the right. Rick mentions the atmosphere surrounding Bill Clinton. Fair enough: many of us despised him and numbers certainly still hate him with a passion. But was this hatred any worse than that facing Ronald Reagan (who was almost killed) or Richard Nixon, much less "Chimpy Bushhitler"?

Let us all agree that political violence is despicable. And let's start by prosecuting to the max those who engage in it. No one should ever be allowed to believe that there is anything noble in political violence. It is abhorrent.