American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
March 26th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Avlon: Hate is cheap political tool

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

CNN Independent analyst John Avlon says an escalation of angry rhetoric and actions this week are the results of hate in the service of hyper-partisanship.

CNN Independent analyst John Avlon says an escalation of angry rhetoric and actions this week are the results of hate in the service of hyper-partisanship.

By John Avlon, Special to CNN

In the wake of the health care vote, we’ve seen an escalation of angry rhetoric and actions, fueling this week’s wingnuts to ugly new heights of incitement.

At least ten members of the House of Representatives received death threats this week while Republican House Leader Eric Cantor reported that bullets had been fired at his district offices in Virginia. Four local Democratic Party offices and district congressional offices had their windows broken with bricks.

All this follows the online exhortations of militia leader Mike Vanderboegh, who wrote on his blog this past Friday: “If we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.”

I interviewed Vanderboegh at length late last year for my book "Wingnuts." He is a self-described “former leftist” and SDS member who became a Second Amendment activist and leader in the militia movement during the 1990s. Last year, he co-founded a loosely-affiliated Hatriot group known as the Three Percenters.

Over the past year, he has detailed his unhinged opposition to the Obama administration: “You should understand that we are rapidly coming to a point in this country when half of the people are going to become convinced of the illegitimacy of this administration and its designs upon our liberty. Need I remind you that this side is the one with most of the firearms?”

This week he’s been hitting the radio show circuit to promote his message. This isn’t just wingnut stuff, it’s indicative of a new breed of Hatriot militias – those who believe its patriotic to fear the government and hate the president. It’s the politics of incitement.

At a time when Sarah Palin posted a Facebook page with gun-scope cross-hairs on the districts of Democratic representatives she is seeking to unseat this fall, the unhinged could be getting further encouragement from the former GOP VP nominee. In light of the death threats, decency and a modicum of good judgment should inspire Palin to take that map down immediately.

On the left, radio host Mike Malloy is at the ugly rhetoric again, this time targeting conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni. Mrs. Thomas formed a group with sympathies for the Tea Party protesters, remarking “I did not give up my First Amendment rights when my husband became a justice of the Supreme Court.”

Send in your suggestions for 'Wingnuts of the Week'

Malloy exercised his first amendment rights by launching an ugly attack on Justice Thomas, calling him a “House Negro” and in transcripts raising the question of whether the Thomas’ interracial marriage ("She’s a very, very, very, very, very white Omaha, Nebraska woman married to a very, very, very, very black South Georgia man") would cause a problem for the Tea Party protesters he reflexively calls racist. This is an example of race-baiting from the left, wrapped in the arrogance of assumed ideological superiority.

Hate is a cheap and easy recruiting tool in politics – and in talk radio. But we are starting to see the results of hate in the service of hyper-partisanship. The extremes encourage and incite each other. We shouldn’t have to wait for further escalation to recognize the danger of this dynamic on our domestic politics.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.

Filed under: Opinion • Politics • Wingnuts of the week
soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. btenglish

    @John Forsberg –
    It's amazing to me that you would blame the economic entirely on Republicans and Reagan. I'll bet you didn't know that George Bush tried to rein in the dangerous lending going on at Fannie and Freddie back in 2003 (see NYT article on 9/11/2003 if you'd like to educate yourself). Back then, the illustrious Barney Frank (not a republican, in case you didn't know) said that there was no problem with those institutions. Bush's people had it right. Please, at least be willing to admit that much.

    March 26, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  2. Dave Long

    I guess we best make certain that Senate & House chambers are never occupied by only Democrats, eh? Just what is so hard to understand about everyone's wants being reasonably satisfied when each side controls political power about half the time? Be patient, conservatives. When, not if, Dems overreach, the voters will send the pendulum back the other nauseum.

    March 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
  3. janet

    The only "threats" I heard against a republican was a taped phone message where the GOP was referred to a "racist party"
    On the other hand, the taped calls to several democrats warned them to look over their shoulder and threatened their children.
    I've seen blogs that state anyone who has a clear shot at Obama should take it, and others who point out that when people get angry, things happen "remember Lincoln and Kennedy?".
    This entire area of hate and fear needs to stop – it's unbelieveable that the GOP hasn't strongly condemned these threats (oh, I forgot, it was the GOP congress who were egging on spectators in the galley who tried to disrupt the vote).
    The GOP is acting like spoiled petulant children – with bricks and guns.

    March 26, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
  4. Curious

    "All this follows the online exhortations of militia leader Mike Vanderboegh, who wrote on his blog this past Friday: “If we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.”
    What's ironic is thta Mike Vanderboegh receives disability benefits from the federal government. As I've said before, until individuals with this attitude who believe in no government intervention in to their lives are willing to give up their Social Security, Medicare and other tax benefits provided by the government, I have a hard time taking them seriously.

    March 26, 2010 at 9:43 pm |
  5. Shane

    Avlon, relax. While I appreciate the concern over a few people in a nation of 330 million acting like jackasses, I think you're being used once again to obfuscate what the real story is. That is: this Congress just pushed through the most significant and controversial legislation in our your and my lifetime while most of the American people were against it. Perhaps you may understand why some wingnuts are beginning to activate when you take 2 seconds to realize this is the biggest infusion of government in the daily lives of its citizens EVER. It affects freedom, it affects our wallets, and it affects our national economic picture in ways that will have decades-long effect. Wake up, stop being so uptight, and remember why you got interested in politics and policy in the first place. I don't think it was to be a water boy for the busybodies who can't handle a shouted "NO" without thinking they're lives are being threatened when it's really just their liveliehoods at risk. Relax, buddy

    March 26, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  6. Profbam

    Dear Anastasya: No has hijacked the government. They offered ideas including expanding health care and thereby handily won the last election. Healthcare reform was clearly promised by Mr. Obama and a weak pastiche of GOP ideas has been passed by the Democrats. So now Mitt Romney's health plan has been passed.

    But, where does all this vituperative hatred come from? While the left pilloried Mr. Bush, I never heard people advocating violence or carrying around posters of him made to look like a monster in contrast to the Joker posters the tea baggers like to hold up. Unfortunately, the only way that the GOP has been able to win elections is to evoke fear (Willie Horton commercials), anger, and hatred. That way the unwashed don't notice how their pockets are being picked and the money deposited in the bank accounts of billionaires.

    March 26, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
  7. Richfin

    Sarah Palins use of the cross-hairs was intentionally done to incite the right. Bill I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that your alot smarter than you sound and you know that Palin, Beck and Limbaugh perpetuate this divisive and hateful rhetoric so please don't make excuses for them. Not a coincidence that these teaklanner parties sprung up during Obama's nomination and subsequent presidency. Look at the crowd do you see anyone other that white angry people! Come on you and millions of others cannot be blind to this.
    I can tell you that here Arizona we are tired of it and these threats and posturing with guns at the hip is going to be met by the same not too long from now.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  8. MsDp

    @Diane St. Louis: Maybe because the GOP idea of attacks on them is called fabricated or fabrication?

    March 26, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  9. Lisa from St Paul

    Mrs. Palin can act as innocent as she wants and say she didn't me it the way the left wing is taking it but she gets off on getting people riled up and hopes they act. On the campaign trail she said Pres Obama pals around with terrorist, funny thing is, she is a terrorist!

    March 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  10. cak

    We know that CNN is the propaganda arm of the millitary industrial complex... to hold the Center while FOX (right) and (MSNBC) left..
    push to the extremism.. to create a fatal embrase of the american population.. (READ YOUR HISTORY AMERICA)

    March 26, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  11. steve

    The politicians on both sides have been fomenting hate for the other side for some time now.
    The chickens are coming home to roost.
    Can't wait to hear what comes out of Sarah Palin's mouth while campaigning for John McCain.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  12. Amunaka

    .." Hatriot militias "..thanks for that Mr.Avlon hope you don't mind me using it ...alot

    March 26, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
  13. David S.

    Many people feel upset and disenfranchised when the Democrats forced this healthcare fiasco down their throats without recognizing the fact that more than half the country wants no part of it. The Republicans were shut out of the debate, sweetheart deals with our tax dollars were made behind closed doors and no one was allowed to see the final product. That is hardly a democratic process and the Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for their arrogance to force their agenda on so many. Now you have a President gloating about the vote, mocking those who opposed it. No wonder people are upset. The details of this bill are now being discovered and there are a lot ot details that are ugly, democratic leadership exempting themselves from it, tremendous costs for businesses that are already saying they will have to lay off people to fund it, tricks used to misrepresent budget numbers etc.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
  14. Bill E

    For CNN to plublish this reterict from the left is a clear indication of their desire to incite racism and pass off a nut case as a reflection of the Republicans and conservatives.

    Shame on CNN for their publicizing this garbage and their intent to do harm to the law abiding majority of the US electorate.

    Readers, you need to read something with a little more balance in their reporting instead of following this liberal rag. Follow like sheep and you will fall off the cliff!

    Remember all, only 35% of the electorate wanted this version of government takeover; that 65% will be casting their votes to oust the law makers that voted AGAINST the will of the we all see out health care premiums skyrocket!

    March 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  15. Rex McWhorterr

    In reading all the comments both sides are saying the same thing blaming the other. Let us wait and see who is right or wrong with this legislation. I beleive everyone should get helth care but I fail to see how everyone will get it and who is going to pay for it. I think both sides are fueling the anger. You can turn anthing around to mean a whole diffrent meaning. There are idiots on both sides. There have been stong arm tactics on both sides but I think there is probalby more pork than you and I will ever know about in this legislation. I think if we the people don 't start looking out for ourselves we are all going to be in very big trouble. We need to hold the Senators and Representatives accountable for their actions. Clean house and start over until they start listening to their constituants. We can go back and forth on these issues but not able to change each others outlooks. We just need to do what is good for this country not just parts of it.

    March 26, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  16. Allen from Illinois

    When the left wing nuts go off track they hug a tree, when the right wing nuts go of the track, the4y shoot at people with guns. Who do you think is more dangerous?

    In addition, the right forgets there are patriots on both sides of the isle...just because democrats disgaree with them doesn't make them anti-American!

    Besides, if the people believed in the GOP ideology President Obama would not be in office!

    The GOP needs to come down hard on the terrorists in their own organization, and they need to publically distance themselves from Beck, Limbaugh, and Coulter. They need to condemn the hate speech, and start putting out country first. They need quit their childish behavior and grow up.

    The GOP lost again, get over it and understand a simple truth, the majority America are patriots, and we do not want an extremist GOP agenda thrust on us ever again…

    March 26, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  17. Jack

    I would not put it past democrats to stage these events just to use them to make political and financial gain. These people have NO scrupples whatsoever.

    March 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  18. Ricky atlanta

    for the media to act that most of this racial hate doesnt fall mostly on the GOP's shoulders is pure CRAP!... how come the news doesnt tell what the POLICE report says about the "1" bullet that was shot in the air and was on the way down and hit the corner of the Sen Cantors building... But that's not NEWS, doesnt sound as exsiting as BULLETS fired at his location... GET YOUR facts in order NEWS

    March 26, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  19. Janet

    There is are no attacks on Republicans to report. Cantor made the whole thing up.

    March 26, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  20. reACTIONary

    Diane in St. Louis, could you be more specific? What threats against republicans? Are you talking about the bullet through the window? That was determined to be "random gunfire", that is, an accident. I can believe there are threats against Republicans, but such threats and the means to cary them out seem to be a right-wing specialty.

    March 26, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  21. Steve

    Just hilarious to read about the guy being a former "leftist" and other crazy things "leftists" have been involved in, and then look at the comments and some people blame everything on the right wing wingnuts. Wake up people! Both sides have "nuts" and the sooner that is recognized by everyone in the middle, the quicker we are all better off. Threats against Dems. Show me the proof that it is not the leftist wingnuts rather than the rightest wingnuts who are doing it. They were pissed that there was no public option. And doing a few crazy things and then blaming it on the right would only make good theatre. And the other way around works too. Until people are arrested and proven to do these acts of incitement, we would all be better off withholding judgment.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  22. That Man

    yea i remember when people in this country had rights like free speech and and a quick and expediant trial with jury of your peers . but that was a pre patriot act you cant say nothing bad about no one or your undermining the goverment and supporting terrorism .who the hell cares what some random says. and for all any one really knows the "hate rederic" like supposed racial slurs being said to a member of our goverment could be lies to further one side of the political spectrums goals wich is to get re elected.there mean an calld me names .unless you got a video to prove it your just a politician not exactly the most credible source regardless of wich side your on.and windows supposedly being broken well really who uses bricks in this day and age. given the weight and shape and the fact there might be a fence and the average americans lack of physical fitness i dont think 1 out of ten americans could hit a window at just 20 ft with a brick .atleast not irl maybe if it was a wii sports event

    massive spelling errors for the win

    March 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  23. Jake

    Diane St. Louis March 26th, 2010 6:39 am ET

    Why has CNN been harping on the threats to the democrats this week and hardly no mention of the fact that the republicans had threats, also?

    Besides Cantor who supposidly had his office shot at, who else in the Republican party was called a and spat on? Who else on the Republican party had their offices ransacked and bricks thrown at? Who else in the Republican party had their propane lines cut? Which Republican, Diane of St. Louis, enlighten all of us fools who listen to the so-called "liberal media bias" of the harrassment the Republicans have received. You can't because they weren't and you wish they were so the Republicans don't have to look like the Glen Beck crazies that they are.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  24. Bob

    Interesting how political ideology and religion – both irrational belief systems – incite people to such despicable behavior. The republican party, in its remmorseless quest for power and wealth through big government, has manged to fuse these twin evils into an abomination. The US must appear to be a completely irrational, sick, twisted and perverted nation to those outside its borders. 40-50 years ago, during the turbulence of teh '60's, when you wanted a rational and civil discussion about national affairs, you'd have spoken with a republican. So – who's going to start a party to represent intelligent conservative folks, who are sickened by so-called conservative talk radio and the marriage of political ambition, kook religion, and stupidy that defines today's republican party? Rationality and intelligent discussion do not need to be objects of revulsion and fear, as they have become for republican/tea-party/idiot-militia folks.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  25. Al

    GOD FORBID, when someone actually finally uses a gun or similar weapon to deal with their hysterically ramped up anger, I wonder who will be willing to stand up and accept responsibility? Will Sarah Palin and the other right wing hate mongers proudly step up and say, "Yes I got this person so insanely furious that they decided to use overt violence to solve these problems instead of using the tried and true techniques of discussion, debates and elections to change what they do not like!" Or will they run to hide in the corner and claim, "I never advocated violence, that was completely misunderstood!" Like the anti-abortion activists (like Bill O'Reilly) who repeatedly called lte term abortion doctor Dr Tiller a baby murderer AND then are "shocked" when a fringe member in their rank shoot him dead!

    Let me make this as clearly as I can – If anyone get harmed over the anger incited about this health care issue (especially our first African American President Barack Obama), then that hate will explode 1000 fold and we will see rioting, civil unrest, and human fury unparalleled in the history of this unique social-political experiment we call the United States! Everyone had better just put down their guns, turn down their rhetoric and sheath any other weapons they are thinking of using and just calm the hell down!

    Nothing is ever solved through violence but everyone and everything we hold dear is jeopardized by it!

    March 26, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  26. Franklin

    "It is amazing to me that all of these right wingers fail to see or admit that most of this nations money woes are because of the republicans and Ronald Reagans spending. The debt was only 700 billion at the start of his presidency and 2.7 trillion in the end."
    No, what is amazing is how many uneducated people we have in this country with little to no insight on how the system is gamed and who is really to blame. This economy is a disaster because of the insidious decision that Congress made in 1913 to turn the economic well being of an entire nation over to a private, for profit, banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve. Congress abidicated its Constitutional duty to coin our money to private bankers and both parties have gleefully gone along ever since. Do some reading and trace the shennanigans of this disastorous decision from it's inception to the present. It should be enlightening for many.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  27. John

    People who fetishize being moderates will go to any length to try to create an illusion of balance between extremists on the right and extremists on the left. It's amazing that Avlon tries to equate a liberal merely bad-mouthing Clarence Thomas and his wife to armed militias advocating and perpetrating acts of violence.

    For there to be any kind of validity to the comparison, Malloy would have to publish a picture of Clarence Thomas with crosshairs over him, and encourage the throwing of bricks through the windows of Thomas' home.

    People who make an obsession and career out of presenting themselves as moderates, like Avlon, work really hard to act like the left and the right are equally extreme and dangerous. This is dangerous in its own right, because it hides the threat and danger of the actual violent right-wing extremists. It's be like comparing the Weather Underground and ELF to Timothy McVeigh and the Klan, except far more so.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  28. jim

    What did everyone expect? This program has the potential to greatly alter (for good or bad) the lives of millions of people. Such changes stir powerful emotions. I think a certain amount of violence is to be expected. This is just the beginning. Wait until someone is actually killed.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  29. Midwestie

    Seems to me that having any politician hold a press conference and demand the threats stop is pointless. Why would you listen and respect the wishes of the people that have wronged you? Politicians works for their electorate and if their electorate is up in arms and ready to tar/feather them (wouldn't that be something?) maybe they ought to take notice. The fact that they have to answer to the people is sort of the point of a representative democracy. If politicians are afraid to go home, maybe they ought to ask themselves if their votes had anything to do with that?

    Breaking windows is a far cry from killing someone. As Thor points out above, many of the 'terrorists' that helped found this country threw rocks through windows and *gasp* boarded a British merchant ship and threw overboard crates of tea.

    Look, it seems that these groups all feel that the government is a threat, either to their economic future, their rights, or their "security". From that viewpoint, the government is always SUPPOSED TO be afraid of the people and not the other way around. The people possess arms and the ability to use them so that the government needs to ask and convince them to do something, rather than ORDER them to comply. Ask yourself, is there anything wrong with this idea? Why should the government be able to FORCE it's will on the people and be horrified that the opposite holds true as well?

    March 26, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  30. Rudolph

    Very scarry. Is this the new America? Democracy is the allowance for free speech, but such angry rhetoric can and will lead to violence.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  31. kaptin

    The sponsors of increasing the hate are the politicians. Also, they created negative competition among the nations on face of earth to achieve their doubt goals. We should not permit anyone to speak on platform of public with out control. The hate is escalation of the evils self to accomplish power. Unfortunately, medias became publishers of hate and the laws also became the protectors of it.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  32. ben cornelius

    Obama should have known politics is no place for an honest man. It truly
    is no place for someone who wants to help people against the giants who have controled our country for as long as I can remember.
    money controls our lives. big money controles our government.
    I cant say Obama is the only honerable man in govt,but you could count the others on one hand

    March 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  33. Look at what is right in front of you... OH

    @Bill Crabill

    Your a photographer and you can't differentiate between a Target and a Crosshair? The word 'target' is arbitrary and generic, but the connotation of a crosshair is recognizable by everyone and 9 out of 10 people will identify it as gun-related. And most notable is the type of crosshair graphic used on the map, which is most seen on hunting related gear and posters(And we all know Sarah loves her hunting, You betcha.)

    You sound like that moron on fox news that had to look up the word Czar and then used it in a manner most unlike the American implementation.

    Stop being an idiot and post something of worth instead of trying to warp arguments with nonsense definitions. Sorry if I used too many big words for you, but you have a dictionary handy so start using it to increase your knowledge...

    March 26, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  34. Jsedgeman

    So why is Vanderboegh accepting Disability checks? The paragraphs below are from a Joe Conason report in Salon.

    "There is often a darkly comical aspect to these sinister fringe figures. While Vanderboegh claims to be a militant "libertarian," a tribune of the oppressed white middle class, and a student of Friedrich von Hayek, he appears to be an ordinary welfare case. Claiming to be too ill for gainful employment, he apparently spends most of his time stirring up violence, with a nice federal subsidy.

    "According to the Post, he lives off his wife, who works at a forklift company - and also gets a monthly disability check from our "Marxist" federal government."

    March 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  35. JoJola

    Now that the crazy people have resorted to violence, brought on by Rush, Fox News and Glenn Beck, something needs to be done. The FCC should warn fox network to either tone it down or be cut from broadcast. Freedom of speech is one thing but stirring up people to inflict harm on others is down right criminal. I mean, isn't this the same reason why we are trying to capture Bin Laden? He's asking his followers to declare jihad on America. Explain to me what's the difference between what Bin Laden is doing and what Rush and Beck is doing? Other than the fact that one is a Muslim and the other two are white, there is no difference.

    March 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  36. Linda Bishop

    Can CNN never assume positive intent when it comes to a republican? As a country we need to stop with the finger pointing and assuming the worst. Sarah Palin is a hunter and politician. A target would be a natural symbol for her but we want to let the wing nuts of the world have us walking on egg shells? I don't care if your democrat or republican...just do your job, listen to the people who put you in office and stop the backroom deals to get what you want. That's what CNN should be talking about. Disclosing the truth about what actually happens on the hill so we can get the bad apples out and the good ones in. I'm sick of news and political kindergarden.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  37. Look at what is right in front of you... OH

    @Diane St. Louis:

    Because the only "threat" against Republicans has been deemed by the Richmond Chief of Police to be caused by a random falling bullet and not one directed at the offices of Cantor.

    While there are more threats directed at Democrats than you can count on your fingers, but Republicans are quick to try and call the threats "Isolated Incidents". Hint: When it happens over and over again it is no longer isolated, it is politically motivated. Did you notice how the condom and gasonline flag sent to the Dem offices were in plastic bags? Because they were advised by Republicans to place them in safe bags to avoid charges of bio/chemical terrorism and/or assault.

    That is why.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  38. Grog in Ohio

    Wow... I see you go from someone on the right wanting to kill elected officials to someone on the left that said something you didn't like. Did you note any differences in the extremes? DUH?

    I have a feeling that if a right wing nut claimed the earth was flat, CNN would offer that as an "opinion" that needed to be refuted by someone on the left... like a physicist or astronomer.

    John Avlon receives today's "Faux News" imitator award.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  39. CaptainJack

    Once upon a time we were called the UNITED states. Now we're separated into Blue or Red. Liberal or Conservative. Idiotic and idiotic.

    Violence? Death threats? Name-calling? I mean seriously. I have come to the conclusion that the whole bipartisan idea isn't working anymore. If America wants to save itself from... well, destroying itself, we NEED to ELIMINATE the parties.

    We need to RUN on VALUES not on Rep or Dem. Maybe we wouldn't have all these loonies in office and stalking everyone in office if we actually had to pay attention to who was running instead of what color picked them to run.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  40. J

    There's a significant difference between people protesting Bush sending people into kill other humans and start war and people making these death threats, throwing bricks, shooting guns, etc.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  41. Sheila

    The GOP started this mess back in August of last year with the town hall meeting. Let's be fair it all about a black man in the white house. the Democratic 's have been on the sidelines taking this mess from the GOP now we are the problem give me a break. The Problem is the GOP still think the elections is going on. They will fight this President untill he leaves office. Some of the whites in Southern states has several issues they are still fighting the (1)Civil War between the states,( 2) Civil Rights Bill of 1964 that gave blacks equal rights got us off the back of the bus and they are fighting the (3) Voting Right Act of 1965, that gave blacks the right to vote they see it as helping put Obama in the white house and (4) Fair Housing Act of 1967 where blacks can live anywhere they want too. That way they are saying we want our country back. So do not say the Democratics started the mess we have been silent. But when we see John Lewis being called the "N" word that were we draw the line. Laws have been broken by the Tea Party and the GOP

    March 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  42. Will

    Cantor was front page news yesterday after his place got shot up. If there are more reports of threats against the dems, it might just meant there were threats against dems.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  43. Paula

    I fear I will never see these states "United" ever again in my lifetime, and for that I am very sad. It's a shame what we've become, always pointing fingers at the "other side" and never getting anything constructive accomplished.

    March 26, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  44. Joe


    March 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  45. Ashamed

    Diane, maybe this is why:

    "Richmond police say the bullet that hit a window of Republican Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor's office had been randomly fired skyward."

    There are also statements and timeline in the police reports that show that Cantor and his people were informed that the shot was confirmed to be randomly fired before he got on TV purgered himself by pretending it was an act against him for his political stances.


    March 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  46. gary davis

    Cantor is as usual lies and using the hate to take him out of the mess he helped create . along with Boehner McConnell and the rest of the Palin followers they make me sick . history shows what these type of people do . knock us right back to the civil rights issues and the rest of the whitie hate group crap . the media should stop promoting this hate even listening to Palin stump for McCain John McCain is now showing how desperate he really is . he will loose and Palin will help him loose a another great day when the votes show him loose so now CNN is proving Cantor is stretching it about the shooting at a building he used on occasion

    March 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  47. Eric R.

    Vanderboegh said "Need I remind you that this side is the one with most of the firearms?” Need I remind you that drunk rednecks couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat. All this gun talk is BS. you don't know who has guns. The right is just a bunch of babies who want to fight becuase they can't have their way. I say give em' what they want. You ask for a bullet you get a bullet.

    March 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  48. Stephon

    "Gad Zooks, will you lefties step back & look at what your doing with attempts to infer incorrect meanings to common alternate word usage."

    Just how many meanings are there to the words f--t and ni-r. spitting on a person confuses me also. What does that mean?

    March 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  49. Jon

    It seems that every since President Obama took office, hate in this country has been at an all time high. Why is CNN giving these hate mongrals any airtime at all. The Republicans should start to take a little stake in the fact that their retoric has stirred alot of the hatred actions we are seeing today and they should get on TV and the radio waves and tell their backers to stop with the hatred actions. I wonder if CNN, which is becoming more and more like FOX, would air that if it happens.

    March 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  50. Angie

    Fact: Republican Representative in the house on Suday said to Anti abortionist Democrat when he said yes to Health Care Reform Bill:
    "You're a Dead Man!"
    Fact: Republicans Representatives even the Republican Leader of the house have made statement telling people to arm themselves over the Health Care Reform issue.
    Fact: Republican Representatives have allow statements to be made in the past in their presents by other Republicans that included physical violence against Democrats in Washington, and those Republican Representatives only laughed and made excuses for such statements.

    Fact: Not one Democrat Representative has incited people to any violent act against Republicans.

    Fact: Not one Republican will ever be arrested and charged for inciting violence.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
  51. Bob

    Perhaps if our MEDIA would do their job and report as their successors use to there would be more clarity and less need to doubt????

    March 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  52. Emily

    Most people are united in the belief that violent actions are condemnable, and not the means to achieving an end. But please give me a break- are you really accusing former Governor Palin of inciting violence? She used gun points on a map? Get real. This is such a sick and despicable twisting of reality. Talk about hate? Who has been promoting hate and largely responsible for creating the vicious dialogue and culture of intolerance that has been settling over this country for the past 8 years? Are we discussing that? No, because CNN, like so many other news organizations have slipped into a perpetual cycle of promoting one side, one opinion, one view, and propagating it in every way they possibly can. THERE IS A REASON CNN has LOST the status it once held as the most popular and respected news organization to FOX. Wake up.

    Interesting you don't truly analyze the cause of this backlash- the condemnable, disgusting actions of those in power that were used to pass legislation with back-room deals, lies, deceit, falsity, mistruths... a year of debate that has torn this country apart and disregarded all who were questioning or opposed as stupid, illegitimate, and unworthy of any attention or thought. A year of re-writing legislation that nobody can still figure out because it was constantly changed and distorted from inception. Did CNN ever address that? CNN and many others happily choose to ignore the reality that they share responsibility for contributing to this environment. Lackadaisical reporting, poor journalism, opinion as news. Those of us who are aware, who are intellectually curious, who value above all else their reasoning mind and the ability to discern truth understand what is really going on here.

    Nice try at a half-decent opinion article. Too bad your opinion is full of unfounded biases and an attempt to slip in a few incredibly vicious and slandering accusations at those you disagree with.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  53. Kathleen

    Republicans are responsible for inciting the hate, along with the Tea Party.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  54. beesquare

    You think the hate was bad this time? Wait for the next issue in the queue to come up... immigration reform. We're likely to see armed insurrection fueled not by logic, not by right and wrong, but by hate and racism.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  55. John

    When will CNN report that Cantor's claim is suspect, at best? He was no more a target as I am.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  56. Kathleen

    Mr. Avlon,

    Why is the first person you mention as to receiving threats after the health care vote, ERIC CANTOR. Are you trying to send a message to us dumb Americans? Believe me, Americans are smarter than that.

    And, as for your book, why is Keith Olbermann on the cover? At least he tells the truth!

    Mr. Avlon, you are a Republican, right?

    March 26, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  57. Kathleen

    Diane-St. Louis

    CNN is very careful about not telling the whole truth.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  58. mike

    Diane St. Louis March 26th, 2010 6:39 am ET

    Why has CNN been harping on the threats to the democrats this week and hardly no mention of the fact that the republicans had threats, also?


    Well Diane,

    The Story Cantor made up was just that, a story. He's a liar ... Jean Schmidt was called and told she & Bohner were 'racists' ... Sounds like fact to me ... Truth hurts at times but no one threatened anyone in the GoP with coffins on lawns, cutting gas lines at a house, tossing bricks through windows, sending white powder to an office, callers telling Dem members to 'watch their backs.' & on and on ...

    That's the difference ... those are threats not statements that someone thinks X or Y is a racist ...

    March 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  59. Jack

    Thor, back in the 1960s, we heard the old saw that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". In some cases, that may be true. But when you compare Thomas Jefferson to Timothy McVeigh, you are exposing your own ignorance. Terrorism involves specific methods and means. Those "founding fathers" did not resort to terrorism. They used generally-accepted warfighting methods of the time. There were exceptions, of course, like their treatment of the Iroquois in New York whose villages were razed because they supported the British. But for the most part, the Continental Army and the Founding Fathers, while revolutionaries, were a very far cry from terrorists.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  60. Jack

    CNN is one of the worst offenders in inciting violence in this nation. Not only does CNN fill its newscasts and webpages with the most inflammatory stuff that it can find, but it also takes clearly biased positions – providing idelogy instead of objective journalism. I believe in freedom of the press, but I also believe that the original intent of that freedom in the Constitution was "freedom of a responsible and objective press." CNN has gone so far downhill in the 30 years that it has been around that I believe (and hope) that it will soon suffer the same fate as the auto companies and the airlines.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  61. G Chapman

    Hate begets hate as the latest political theatrics over the new healthcare bill plainly shows. Have never seen one bit of objectivity from the GOP side over this, maybe I missed it..

    I'm a Canadian and I tune in to CNN every night. Lately all the negativity is getting tiresome and I so welcome John's take.

    CNN lately is like watching all the other emotionally laden reality shows. Ratings, I know.

    March 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
  62. Jeff

    Just another domestic terrorist like the tea party people....

    March 26, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
  63. Bill K NY

    I don't recall John Avlon writing this way about code pink during the Bush years. Thanks for the fair and balanced commentary CNN.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  64. BABS

    I am truly amazed by some of the comments at CNN's handling of this topic. Where was the outrage when Hollywood and the progressive left were making movies about the assassination of George W. Bush? How about the hate filled and often violent rants posted on No outrage there. According to Pelosi they were just patriotic Americans expressing their views. Where is the outrage regarding the behavior of some of the radicals that our President deems worthy of appointing to a position within his administration? I agree we need to condemn extreme and inappropriate behavior, but come on CNN don't sugar coat it for one side and exaggerate for the other. Your bias is shameful.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
  65. Blkman

    OK............................strange coming from an American news outlet........ everyone is all to aware that HATE is what this country is built on.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  66. Liberal wingnut

    Obama ran his campaign as a moderate who would "unite" America now the left wing radical is going to cause a darn civil war.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  67. akeina

    I don't really believe the threats against the republicans. Its kinda like when my son tells on his sister and rather than admit that he did something bad, he tells on her. This is what that feels like.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  68. Andrew

    You forgot about the part where Eric Cantors story was a lie and just a political stunt. He just lucked out that a stray bullet hit his window.

    Downward trajectory and not enough force to even make it through the blinds. Nice try, but its almost impossible to make it seem like the crazies are on both sides in equal numbers.

    10 democrats provide proof of death threats and damage to property.

    1 republican twists the situation for political gain and refuses to release emails to prove his claims.

    Talk is cheap conservitards.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  69. stormerF

    Funny you never heard of the threats Stupak got when he was going to vote against the health care bill,So why are we hearing about threats now? With all the Lying Politicans out there,where is the video of them being called names or being spit on? There were 100's of camers and videos but none of the accusations, acclaimed by the bedwetters of spitting or name calling? Why is that? maybe it did not take place.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  70. wsa

    I listened to Glen Beck this morning. Aside from his utter ignorance of American history - I would be tempted to say that he is frankly nuts. But then, the more he foments what could inevitably be real violence - the bigger his bank account grows.

    Rupert Murdoch should examine his conscience.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  71. Tim

    Everyone who is against health care reform is full of you-know-what. If you drive a car in this country, you must have car insurance, since everyone who is on the road is a potential liability. The same rationale that is behind having to have car insurance can be applied to needing to have health insurance.

    If you live in this country, you are a potential liability, since if you get sick or injured, you go to a hospital to get care, which costs money. So, basically, anyone who lives in this country should have their own health care plan, and, should be forced to by law. Since everyone doesn't have their own plan, maybe because they can't afford it, than the single best solution for all of this is for this country to switch to public health care, which is what this bill is trying to accomplish.

    So, to everyone who is against health care, either get on the right side of good sense or get the #$^% out of this country. I'd rather see people forced to have health care than incur a financial burden on the rest of the population, so get out if you don't like the health care plan.

    Stop being sore losers too. Was any of you saying anything when the previous administration (Republicans losers) destroyed our nation's financial surplus, stripped education benefits, degraded our privacy rights in the name of security and sunk this country into two wars and trillions of dollars in debt? All that and then you complain about another expensive bill. Maybe the current administration is just following precedent, so go jump off a cliff.

    March 26, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  72. KLoveD

    Conservatives always wanna even out the circumstances... saying that Republicans recieved threats also... but do you really believe its the same??? I mean... threats from some tree-hugging hippie PETA member are NOT EVEN IN THE SAME BALLPARK as threats from dudes with AUTOMATIC RIFLES... think about it

    March 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  73. Great Nation

    I think it is time to make it clear to all the people that like to create fear among the American people. Federal agents swore to defend this great nation against all enemies... Foreign and Domestic. Understand these words carefully and know that every threat will be taking serious.

    Fidelity... Bravery... Integrity all the way

    March 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  74. Chicagoan

    I condemn violent acts based on racism, or any other type of bigotry. However, if you are suggesting by this article that we as a people should censor another citizens right to free-speech, then we have truly lost touch with our rights under the founding fathers. This modern-day liberalism is sickening. Why should the left be able to say whatever they want, but if a far right group says something, it's all of a sudden labled as the wrong kind of free-speech? If you try and take away the peoples freedom of expression, you are truly inviting a revolution with the sleeping masses. That's all I have to say...

    March 26, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  75. Yvette

    Why the focus now, regarding hate-speech? I didn't hear any of this from CNN when the left, including the Dems, was promoting thier hateful and vile speeches against Bush! Mr. Avoln, you are such a fraud as a reporter!

    March 26, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  76. Conrad Yust

    I have to agree with Tom Judd and Anastasia completely, their comments are right on target. OOPS !! Did I just say "on target"? The bullet that went through Cantor's window was shot from blocks away and just happened to hit his window by accident and he's crying like a little baby to get some attention. Why didn't he stay on his podium and answer questions instead of charging off-stage?
    The people in this country should have been given the right to vote on this insurance bill that was just rammed down our throats. Am I the only one that remembers what hapened to our car insurance rates right after insurance was made mandatory?
    WAKE UP! People are starting to get PO'd about the spending!!!

    March 26, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  77. Thomas

    Got to wonder just what is happening around us? Health care is passed, wait for NOV and vote for who you like. Pres. O nominated a far left professor for 9th Fed court, not just far left, three steps past far left. Isreal PM get treated like a Republican in the White House.

    I do not get it, Where is the Pres. O that ran for office? Healthcare not withstanding, he has an agenda that does not match anything to do with what I like about him while campaigning.

    I guess in NOV, any republican will do over any Demo, at county, state, or fed level. Now what I normally do but the current federal Leg and Pres do not represent me or my interests.

    PS Does Pres. O not know any normal people, seems like he only associates with radicals.

    March 26, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  78. Bill Crabill

    I'm certainly not defending these right wing nuts, any more that the left wing anti-war nuts that attacked Pres Bush incessintly but this article represents "Political Correctness" running amuck.
    Re; Sara Palins web site map, I suggest you look up the definition of "Target" in the dictionary, as I DID! You will find that 'GOAL' & 'OBJECTIVE' are alternate accepted meanings, & those are the meanings represented by their placement on certain areas of her map.
    As a Photographer, I was accosted some weeks ago because I stated that I was going to "Shoot" a photograph, Gad Zooks, will you lefties step back & look at what your doing with attempts to infer incorrect meanings to common alternate word usage.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  79. Thor

    The fact that people are using the word "terrorist" as a means to describe any type of violence is a sad reflection of our educational system. If we had taught people the history of this nation one would find that the very foundation of this nation was layed by "terrorists". Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  80. tony

    If anyone wants to know where this incivility is leading us, listen to an extremely angry caller who said if he was the one who was spat on by that member of the Tea Party Express this past weekend, he would have used his gun (and he named the brand) to shoot that person right in the face. I have no doubt that any tea partier should take note that the next person they spit on, maybe their last.

    When I heard this tape on the CNN situation room with Wolf Blitzer between 5-5.30PM on the 25th of March 2010, I knew we are at the point of no return. To say that the republican party should change their name to the "racist party" was an eye opener. CNN who is not blameless especially (amfix) who always appear to be giving the republican party more air time than the democrats. Just watch and you will get that impression.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  81. Isaac

    To all those lawmakers seeking to repeal Healthcare Reform: Voluntarily give up your own government-paid health insurance first and help us reduce the deficit before you take away health insurance from others.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:18 am |
  82. Perplexed

    Mike-Sey is worried that this nastyness might damage the brand of American Democracy. The BRAND of American Democracy?!? Apparently, history and civics are no longer being taught. I think his statement should frighten Americans 100% more than a nasty voice mail or a brick through a window.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  83. disgusted up north

    Why is CNN not pointing out the threats made by the Democratic leaders to their own representatives to force them to vote yes on the healthcare bill????
    'Every action has an equal opposite reaction'
    The threats and hate language were ok for the dem leaders as a tactic to get what they wanted....but now are appauling to them as a reaction from the US public after witnessing and being only 1/2 informed of the level of corruption used by the Pelosi mafia.
    Please cover this aspect (ha, ha, like that is going to happen) – CNN only focuses on making corrupt dems look good and trashing the integrity of the Republican leaders.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:13 am |
  84. Perplexed

    It frustrates and angers me that the incremental destruction of the Constitution by those who pledge to uphold and defend it is completely acceptable to so many Americans. Yet this same group calls the defenders of the Constitution "Haters" and "Domestic Terrorists."
    I wish CNN and other media outlets would realize that without the Constitution, we have nothing and do something to draw American's attention to this point. A great start would be to quit refering to America as a Democracy, as it is a Republic. If you think that is an antiquated description, why not call it what is has become?
    Oligarchy: government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.

    March 26, 2010 at 8:07 am |
  85. Anastasya

    I am opposed to violence and we should use the democratic process to make our voices heard. Impeach Obama and arrest all of the other criminals who have hijacked our government. We know full well who is pulling the strings.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  86. Tom Judd

    The use of the word "Targeting" anything is normal and implies the use of an aiming device. We target diseases, neighborhoods, positions, politicians, and we use cross hairs to do it. Some people do not like Sarah Palin so they are taking a normal thing and making it politically incorrect. They are doing this to stiffle freedom of speech, they need to be stepped on, Not Sarah.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:51 am |
  87. st/us-now in canada

    I am a US citizen living in Canada. I observe and marvel at all the differences in what are essentially both young countries. The wild west mentality with self-insulation that exists in the US I compare to the strong faith that government takes care of its people in Canada, that all are deserving. There is a code of respect that runs strong in the laws here.

    The silver lining of the recent threats and use of rifle metaphors to make a point is that it is out in the open (even on news channels here) and not behind closed doors of militia members in the woods. I wonder if any one of these people are prosecuted for domestic terrorism, would they want for themselves a civil court or mititary??? And I certainly believe that Sarah Palin's website needs to be investigated without regard for the politics and her influence but with the best of the US justice system and its laws. It truly is the best in the world and that should be celebrated the most from our founding fathers, instead of the taxation theories.

    Thank you for listening (my influence from Canada).

    March 26, 2010 at 7:35 am |
  88. mike-sey

    It would worry me that all this nastyness damages the brand of "American Democracy" around the world.
    I can imagine that any autocrat – say a Mubarek or a Putin or a Saudi monarch – might have second thoughts about loosening up after looking at the worst of American politics. I doubt it helps those places which are being taught democracy at the point of a gun.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:35 am |
  89. Turley K. Hayes

    This has got to stop! The angry voices, the threats, the gunshots through windows. It cannot continue. It is entirely the falult of the Right Wing Wing nuts in congress. mostly ftom the south of the Mason Dixon Line and SarahPac in Alaska.. John Beyhoner has either get off his ass and control these right wing extremists or step down as their leader, I truly believe he is laughing his ass off over all of it. His rhetoric on the House floor was purely inflammatory and one huge lie after another. Get it together and in John Lenons song: "Imagine:

    March 26, 2010 at 7:35 am |
  90. Deborah

    How sad that we give so much publicity to someone like Sarah Palin. Her lastest actions should be completely dismissed without an audience. She has shown her true self – a quitter. Why continue to feed her overwhelming need to be in the spotlight? I think she's a joke.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:31 am |
  91. rwait

    I agree with the concern voiced in this segment. I was quite surprised then to hear a CNN host use the word 'shot' within seconds of the segment – '....President Obama will take another shot at...' I know the word is commonly used but this was a poor choice given the preceding story. Consider 'attempt', 'try', or something else.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:18 am |
  92. Mike Crockett, TX

    Wing-nuts of the week, looks like you don't have to look very far, just read your e-mails. It appears the wing-nuts came to you.

    You have to suspend reality now days to be a member of the right. Glen Beck appears to be the primary source for their information, such as it is. Do any of these people have a mind of their own or are they in the age of group-think.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:18 am |
  93. John Forsberg

    It is amazing to me that all of these right wingers fail to see or admit that most of this nations money woes are because of the republicans and Ronald Reagans spending. The debt was only 700 billion at the start of his presidency and 2.7 trillion in the end.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:03 am |
  94. IrishIndian

    This hate speech by radio/television talk show Hosts, and the HATERS on BOTH extremes, yes the left and the right wing-"NUTS" needs to stop now...
    Sarah Palin's targets are intended just for what they look like, added to Her statement about time to reload is less than disgusting, lower than dispicable... Then when fringe groups start making death threats, and actually start acting on the acts of other violence on Elected Leaders, it has gone too far!!! Pelosi, Reid, Boehner, and McConnell need to hold a joint Press conference telling both sides it is unacceptable and it must stop... Why? Well, it's like the "Pro-Lifers" who picket abortion clinics with signs saying all life is precious on one side, and death to all abortion Drs. on the other are side act on, and kill or attempt to these Doctors, where is the logic, humanity in all this?

    March 26, 2010 at 6:56 am |
  95. Karlin

    John?!? Are you a moron??? Do you KNOW for a fact that those are crosshairs on Sarah Palin's map??? Or are you just using your brilliance, assuming that since "it looks like it ... it could be given all that's been going on ... so therefore, it MUST BE", fueling the same fire you're bashing the right for? Just report the facts, and keep your assumptions to yourself. Oh wait. If you did that, then you would be on FOX.

    March 26, 2010 at 6:55 am |
  96. lynn

    When is CNN going to cover the fact that Cantor's claim of his office being shot at is questionable at best??

    March 26, 2010 at 6:51 am |
  97. Steven

    Thank you for shedding light on this real threat.

    March 26, 2010 at 6:50 am |
  98. SteveUpNorth

    Mike Vanderboegh is a domestic terrorist.

    What else do you call somebody like that?

    This is a post-9/11 world, you can't just go around saying and doing the things we've been seeing.

    While this type of dangerous tomfoolery is coming from all over, most of it seems to be confined to the right. I can only assume the reason is that they feel slighted, cheated, ignored and angry over the current issue.

    Then again, I don't remember left-wing millitia groups throwing bricks through windows in the hotly contested 2000 election.
    (though I was in 6th grade at the time, so I might've missed it)

    March 26, 2010 at 6:41 am |
  99. Mike in NC

    Mike Vanderboegh needs to be arrested and charged with inciting violence, right along with Sarah Palin. Placing such requests for violent behavior against our elected officials needs to be a punished with stiff penalties. You lost your first amendment right to free speech when you use it to make threats.
    Here in North Carolina if I made a threat to a mayor or police officer or any ranking government official like is being made by Mike Vanderbooger and Sarah Palin I would be jailed for communicating threats.

    March 26, 2010 at 6:40 am |
  100. Diane St. Louis

    Why has CNN been harping on the threats to the democrats this week and hardly no mention of the fact that the republicans had threats, also?

    March 26, 2010 at 6:39 am |
1 2 3