So-called "Conservative" commentators, those of the ilk of Rush Limbaugh and the imbecilic Glenn Beck, have baited the President with accusations one day of being a "Socialist," the next of being a Nazi. People are bringing loaded weapons to so-called "Town Hall meetings" on Health Care where many of the attendees have been prepped to scream epithets at their elected representatives, others hold placards some of which show the President in Nazi garb. Some so-called "columnists" refer to the President as "Hussein Obama." A group now elevated to "official status" as "birthers" continue to characterize the President's election as "illegitimate," claiming he was not born in the United States. Others, like Palin and Senator Grassley just make up the accusation that the Health Care legislation authorizes "death panels" out of whole cloth. At times the cacophony drowns out rational thought leaving room only for the irrational, the haters, those who bring automatic weapons to Obama public meetings.
Perhaps it's just me but I see terrible parallels to the incitement to riot and ultimately kill Prime Minister Rabin, z'l, one of the most terrible moments in our lives. In their compelling history of this horrific act and the times leading to it, authors Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman wrote Murder In the Name of God: The Plot to Kill Yitzchak Rabin. The similarities that led an ultra-Orthodox assassin to strike down Rabin to those of today -- where demagogues and worse along with "main stream" politicians have turned attempts at civil discourse into near riots with gun-toting nut jobs "protesting" outside of events where the President is speaking -- require more than just a "response" on MSNBC.
While I take pride in Congressman Barney Franks' response at a Town Hall meeting in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, to a woman, holding an Obama as Hitler caricature while asking: "Why are you supporting this Nazi policy?' He called her "approach" "vile, contemptible nonsense," closing by stating the obvious "trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table," Franks observation "blessing" "freedom of speech in our country" needs to be followed up by many, many others. The woman who assailed Franks was clearly contemptuous of his response.
No one is listening; the merchants of hate are filling a void in the name of misperceived "freedom and liberty" when tolerance and civility are so badly needed.