Health Care: Death Threats On Both Sides

After we heard about a slew of death threats against liberals (particularly unions) over the past week, FreedomWorks--a conservative group opposing Democratic health care reform--today released a handful of recorded messages, left on staff voicemail, that include some pretty nasty stuff and one clear death threat.

"What you people are doing is exactly what Hitler did in his day...and if I have to pick up a weapon again like I did when I went to Vietnam, to protect this Constitution, and our freedom to speak up, then I will, but you sir are scum of the earth to disrupt our democracy," the threatening caller said (recording here).

Two other calls included accusations of Naziism; another was about 45 seconds of heavy breathing. The group released 10 recordings in all, posted on its website here, along with a screed against liberal backers of health care reform. FreedomWorks suggests and the AFL-CIO were responsible.

The liberal countereffort to conservative protests, FreedomWorks says, has "included phone call blitzes from and the AFL-CIO that jammed FreedomWorks phone lines and filled up staff voice mail boxes.  Callers' consistently used profanity, vulgarity, ever-popular references to 'Nazis' and 'brown-shirters,' racial slurs targeting an African-American staffer, and even veiled threats of violence and bodily harm."

In its release, FreedomWorks does not provide any link or evidence connecting the callers to those groups. When asked what led FreedomWorks that conclusion, spokesman Adam Brandon asserted that many of the callers have been "self identified as MoveON and as AFL-CIO," though none of the recorded messages posted online contain any reference to those groups.

FreedomWorks also mentions ACORN and the Democratic National Committee in its release, though without suggesting any link to the calls. All four groups--ACORN, AFL-CIO,, and the DNC--say they have never encouraged members, supporters or staff to call FreedomWorks.

FreedomWorks is one of the more prominent groups to that has organized a presence at Democratic lawmaker's town-hall events this month, encouraging non-members to show up as well by providing information on its website. Its VP of public policy, Max Pappas, has appeared on TV to debate health reform.

A cascade of threats have come down against liberals, especially the Service Employees International Union, since the left has sought to turn out their own people to town-hall events to balance the crowd and give some cover to Democratic lawmakers facing angry questions and/or shouting from conservatives in the audience. A YouTube video of an SEIU member and a conservative fighting outside a town-hall event in Missouri appears to have sparked some of it.

The following threat was posted to liberal blog Newshounds over the weekend, and forwarded to the AFL-CIO by a moderator for the site: "I will be going to a local town hall this weekend, all you union members BEWARE! We will be waiting for you. better make sure you have arrangements with your local ER. today is the day when the goon meets the gun. see you there".

SEIU received this voicemail message threatening that "I suggest that you tell your people to calm down, act like American citizens, and stop trying to repress people's First Amendment rights, that or you all are gonna come up against the Second Amendment. Stop the violence." On Twitter, a health reform opponent suggested his fellow protesters bring guns to town-halls if ACORN or SEIU members show up, issuing a call to "hurt them. Badly".

And this message was sent to the office of Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA).

ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring said his group is "very concerned about threats of violence" coming from the right, and that ACORN has urged its members not to engage reform opponents.