Trying to Stifle Dissent

Recently, former President Bill Clinton gravely warned that the anti-government sentiment could incite people to violence. Clinton was directing his criticism against the Tea Party protesters, whose demonstrations have proven remarkably peaceful. No one wishes to encourage violence, but we suggest here that Clinton’s warning is more about discrediting legitimate dissent than a warning against violence.

If Clinton were sincere about his concern, he might have spoken out against incendiary speech against President George Bush. Not only was Bush regularly compared to Hitler, but prominent people made accusations designed to engender anti-Bush hatred. The late Senator Ted Kennedy called the Iraq war a “fraud” cooked up in Texas. Air America radio talk show host Randi Rhodes speculated about a mafia style elimination of Bush. The 2006 movie the Death of a President graphically depicted the fictional assassination of the very real President Bush. Can you imagine the righteous (and justifiable) hand-wringing if there were such a graphic depiction of a similar incident with regard to President Barack Obama? It would probably not win the same number of international film awards.

The truth is that the Tea Party protests have been largely peaceful with far fewer arrests and incidents than usually accompany the same number of protesters for other causes. Just consider the Left-wing violent protests that typically happen whenever the G8 meets. According the New York Times, Tea Party protesters come from the middle classes, slightly more affluent and more educated than the population as a whole. Perhaps the most we can learn from Clinton’s remarks is that the Tea Party movement is threatening because it is so representative of a large swath of America.

Clinton has a history of exploiting domestic terrorism for political advantage. After a the destruction of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City killing 168 people.  Clinton and his political strategist Dick Morris, consciously used the tragedy to suggest that Conservatives, particularly those on talk radio created an environment conducive to violence. Unfortunately, we have come to expect such cynicism from politicians. It probably says more about Clinton and other Democratic leaders that they are so fretful about a group that has as the first element of its program:

“Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.

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