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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

American Brownshirts
Posted by Jill | 6:53 AM
In my previous post, I implored the twelve Army captains who wrote today's op-ed piece in the Washington Post to please take care of themselves. We've already seen what happens to soldiers who dare to point out that the Iraq adventure into which so many on the right have put their energy is a fraud and a failure. We've seen an actor with Parkinson's mocked and accused of faking the effects of his illness for opposing the Bush Administration's stem cell research policy. We've seen women who were widowed in the 9/11 attacks called "harpies" for daring to ask questions about what happened and how it could have been prevented. Now we see a twelve-year-old and his family harassed and threatened because they chose not to make themselves homeless just to be able to afford health insurance.

The right likes to draw parallels between Ann Coulter and Moveon.org; between Michelle Malkin and Keith Olbermann; between vocal opposition to government policy and threats (implied or explicit) against American citizens for the "crime" of speaking out. But no mainstream left groups (A.N.S.W.E.R. is not a mainstream group) has ever advocated violence or personal threats against private citizens. Progressives advocate political action and letter-writing campaigns, not violence.

As the curtain continues to be pulled from the house of cards that is the Bush Administration, and the faux cowboy within reveals himself to be the batshit crazy idiot some of us knew he was all along, and those who invested so much in believing that he was a hybrid of Ronald Reagan and the all-powerful and protective daddy figure that only a four-year-old legitimately expects, the right is becoming unhinged. And the more they become unhinged, the more likely they are to act out their rage and hatred in a physical manner.

It now seems that Air America firebrand Randi Rhodes may have been the latest victim to pay the price in a very real way for daring to oppose the status quo.

from Talking Radio:

Randi Rhodes was mugged on Sunday night on 39th Street and Park Ave, nearby her Manhattan apartment, while she was walking her dog Simon.

According to Air America Radio late night host Jon Elliott, Rhodes was beaten up pretty badly, losing several teeth and will probably be off the air for at least the rest of the week. At of late Monday night we have not able to locate any press accounts of the attack and nothing has been posted on the AAR website.

Several liberal blogs, including the Randi Rhodes Message Board and Democratic Underground have logged numerous posts on the Rhodes mugging with most of the posters expressing concern about the condition of the popular lib talker.

Morning talk host, Lionel filled in for Rhodes on Monday, but did not say anything about why she wasn’t on hand to do her show. The Randi Rhodes board reports that Sam Seder, who does a Sunday afternoon show for AAR, will be filling on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Elliott was extremely agitated when he reported on the incident. He opened his show by saying "it is with sadness that tonight I inform you that my Air America colleague Randi Rhodes was assaulted last night while walking her dog near her New York City home."

Pointing out that Rhodes was wearing a jogging suit and displayed no purse or jewelry, Elliott speculated that "this does not appear to me to be a standard grab the money and run mugging."

"Is this an attempt by the right wing hate machine to silence one of our own," he asked. "Are we threatening them. Are they afraid that we're winning. Are they trying to silence intimidate us."

Some of blog posters also expressed concerns that the attack on Rhodes was hate crime. Other posters warned that we need more facts before any judgements are made.

According to Elliott, Rhodes was resting in her New York City apartment and was not hospitalized.

Attacks on liberal talk radio stations and their hosts are not a new thing. About a month ago a gunman fired a shot through a window at the studios of KPFT, Houston’s, Pacifica station narrowly missing a DJ who was hosting music show at the time. There is currently a $10,000 reward offered to anyone who identifies the shooter.

This is not the first politically motivated attack on KPFT. More than 35 years ago, the Ku Klux Klan blew up the station's transmitters twice within the Houston station's first year on the air.

Also, according to a blogger on Democratic Underground, Thom Hartmann said on his Friday show that his auto repairman, after replacing his windshield, pointed out to him that he had three bullet holes in his car.

Apparently, some right-wing critics of lib talk aren’t happy that conservative talk only accounts for 90% of the programming on talk radio. These whack jobs appear determined to whatever it takes to silence the opposing point of view.

Granted, we don't know for certain that Rhodes was specifically targeted for political reasons. We are, after all, talking about New York and people do get mugged. But taken in the context of a right wing hate machine that's grown ever more shrill as not just their president, but their entire ideology, has shown to be a hollow shell constituting just a veneer over a fetid, stinking core of greed, hypocrisy, and incompetence, they're going to lash out at those who shattered their illusions, rather than those who manipulated them in the first place.

UPDATE: A statement on Air America's web site claims that Rhodes was NOT attacked over the weekend:

October 16-NEW YORK-On Sunday evening, October 14, Air America host Randi Rhodes experienced an unfortunate incident hindering her from hosting her show. The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday.

Assuming this statement is accurate, and I have no reason to believe it isn't, this is good news. As you've seen, some of the wingnuts who have come here from Memeorandum and other sites have had a ball with my concerns, shared by others, that she had possibly been targeted. Note that my original post stated that the possibility was still speculative, and I'm glad to hear that this is not the case. However, my original point in this post about American brownshirts remains valid -- the right wing is not above using intimidation techniques and threats to silence those they deem threatening to so-called conservative policies. Free Republic still posted the Frost family's address. Rush Limbaugh boasted on his show yesterday about having "once" threatened a reporter, including that reporter's children, because said reporter had been planning to write a story about him in a national magazine:

"[W]e found out who was writing it and made a couple phone calls to the person writing it. And we said, 'You know what? We're going to find out where your kids go to school. We're going to find out who you knocked up in high school. We're going to find out what drugs you used. We're going to find out where you go to drink and do -- we're gonna find out how you paid for your house. We're going to do -- and we're going to do exact -- and we're going to say that, you know what? You are no different than Al Goldstein. You both masturbate.' "

Limbaugh then claimed: "And the guy started screaming on the phone, just went -- 'You can't do that.' We said, 'Watch us.' And it changed the tone of the story by about 60 percent, I would say, from what it was going to be. But nobody does that to these people. Nobody does it to them. And that would be so much fun."

In July, posters at Bill O'Reilly's web site made threats on Hillary Clinton's life. Staffers for a United States Senator are behind the attacks on the family of two horrifically injured children. These are the American Brownshirts, and they exist regardless of whether Randi Rhodes was assaulted or not.

I hate to disappoint our friends on the right, but I am not in the least disappointed that this one voice against this criminal administration was not targeted for violence. I don't wish for ANYONE to be physically attacked for having a viewpoint. However, the pattern of behavior among the mouthpieces of the right, and even in the mainstream of the Republican Party is clear. We ignore it at our peril.

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