If the Left’s standards of justice prevailed, violence at townhall meetings in St. Louis and Tampa would be prosecuted as a Democratic hate crime. In recent weeks, left-wingers have tried to blame the murder of abortionist George Tiller on Bill O’Reilly and drafted a hate crimes bill that chills free speech. However, it was Nancy Pelosi and her cohorts who created an atmosphere of fear, loathing, and intimidation that exploded into union violence against private citizens.
As the Left would say, the recent violence “did not occur in a vacuum.” Congressional Democrats, faced with hemorrhaging support for nationalizing health care insurance, systematically dismissed their constituents as pawns of pernicious drug companies, branded them “un-American” troublemakers employing “Brown Shirt tactics,” and asserted their activism is killing thousands or millions of innocent Americans.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi got the hyperbole rolling, insisting, “Insurance companies are out there in full force carpet bombing, Shock and Awe, against a public option.” Attacking the industry titans poll-tested well, and soon the entire Democratic caucus claimed the citizen uprising was little more than an “Astroturf” sham financed by insurance and pharmaceutical barons. The fact that they provided no proof of this assertion slowed them down not one bit.
Even after the violence, Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer published an op-ed in Monday’s USA Today calling townhall protesters “un-American.” Not content questioning the patriotism of such opponents, their colleague Brian Baird, D-WA, skipped a townhall meeting in his district, telling local media, “What we’re seeing right now is close to Brown Shirt tactics. I mean that very seriously.”
According to Congressional Democrats, the great townhall putsch has extracted a bitter harvest. The Democratic Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Byron Dorgan, maintained in its tract Why We Must Act: Eight Years of Inaction Contributed to High Costs and a Rising Number of Uninsured, “In 2006, 22,000 people died because they did not have health insurance.” Sen. Dick Durbin (who has been known to make invidious Nazi comparisons himself), blamed the tactics on avaricious insurance companies, who “are making a fortune off the current healthcare system and they want to keep their profit margins protected, and they want to stop change.” By this reasoning, the middle American protesters are not constituents who disagree with Madam Speaker but unpatriotic Nazis doing the work of shadowy corporate overlords, whose actions kill 22,000 Americans annually. Can anyone be surprised by violence against murderous, greedy crypto-Nazis? MSNBC’s David Shuster proved ironically prescient when he asked Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA, if anti-nationalization protesters were “putting our president in some sort of danger because of some wacko that will see this stuff and say, ‘Oh, yes, it’s fascism and the way we dealt with Adolf Hitler was to try to kill him, so therefore, let’s do this with our president’?”
One of the uniformed SEIU members arrested for assaulting Kenneth Gladney in St. Louis last Thursday used precisely this defense. (As I outlined in “Soros Care,” the SEIU is an integral component of the Soros-funded coterie pushing for the government health care takeover.) When a conservative fingered him in Gladney’s attack, the union man justified himself, saying, “He attacked America!” (Here’s the video; it happens at one minute in.) Media reports indicate a black SEIU member arrested in the assault called Gladney, who is also black, a racial slur, indicating he does not see his opponent as an authentic member of his own race.
The presence of union thugs at these meetings was no accident but was facilitated by leftists and Democratic members of Congress. The Soros-funded lobbying group Health Care for America Now! (HCAN) strategy bulletin Fight Back against the Right has made the rounds on leftist websites. Its underlying principle – turn out left-wing activists to drown out conservative citizens – has been accepted by members of Congress. “If they wanna organize, we’ll out-organize them,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, a member of the House Progressive Caucus and a former Chicago community organizer. “If they turn out 100, we can turn out 200.” Eyewitnesses have noted SEIU and other union activists are being sneaked into reserved seating at the meetings, presumably with the knowledge of the Democratic Congressmen.
Thus, left-wing Democrats incited the crowds with allegations of Nazism and unnecessary deaths, delegitimized their majority position on the issue, and then placed union members in close physical proximity to the enemy. Eric Holder’s Department of Justice signaled that properly directed violence would be overlooked when it dropped all charges against the three members of the New Black Panther Party who brandished weapons and intimidated white voters at a Philadelphia polling place last November.
At least one leftist Congresswoman has seen the value of launching such high-profile, raucous protests before. Jan Schakowsky has experience turning violent mobs into legislative victories. Schakowsky, who sounded similarly negative themes about this spring’s tea parties, organized a senior citizens’ protest against then-Congressman Dan Rostenkowski over the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988. As Rostenkowski exited a meeting with the leadership of local seniors groups, an angry mob demanded to speak to him. Rostenkowski, who made no such promise, ran to his car. Senior citizen then pelted his vehicle with protest signs, and shouted “Killer! Killer!” as he tried to drive off. Although Rostenkowski never changed his mind on the issue, 240 other Congressmen changed theirs and repealed the bill. Schakowsky later called this “a pivotal event.”
Yet when left-wing MSNBC interviewer Lawrence O’Donnell asked Schakowsky if she “organized this very organized protest,” Schakowsky dissembled: “No, no, no, no, actually not. I was there that day as head of the [Illinois] State Council of Senior Citizens, very different. The Congressman would not come in and talk to that group of seniors, who were upset about the catastrophic health care bill that didn’t provide long-term care to seniors…The motivation was different. The action was very different.”
Schakowsky sang a different tune in front of the 2003 “Take Back America” conference, boasting, “When I was director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens, our group was chasing Dan Rostenkowski down the street.”
Nor is it true the seniors objected to the act’s not providing “long-term care to seniors.” The act provided such coverage to all Medicare recipients – by levying a new tax on 40 percent of seniors, when 45 percent of the elderly already had “more comprehensive” supplemental insurance through their employers. Some of the signs protesters rammed into Rostenkowski’s car read, “Don’t Tax the Seniors” and “Read My Lips: Catastrophic Act is a Seniors Tax.” Theirs was an anti-tax, smaller government rally.
Then as now, the people rose up to oppose an expanded government health care benefit favored by the Washington intelligentsia, because it raised their taxes to provide a service inferior to the one many already enjoyed through the free market. That history should be instructive as Obama seeks to nationalize the health insurance industry by squeezing a much larger group, the 85 percent of American residents (N.B.: not Americans citizens) who already have private health insurance, with incalculably higher taxes and pending service denials.
Unfortunately, making the argument can now get one “flagged” by the feds – and possibly brutalized by their union allies.