Conservatives Echo Assassination Fears

Days after Thomas Friedman's warning, two prominent conservatives say the threat of political violence is real

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Concerns about the possibility of an attack on President Obama have risen on the left, with Thomas Friedman joining their ranks this week. By comparing the toxic political atmosphere to the conditions that preceded Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, he brought these fears into the mainstream and triggered an assassination debate. Though some conservatives faulted Friedman for hyperbole, on Friday two right-leaning writers say that the threat of political violence is real.

  • "Those Who Warn of Violence Are Right," Peggy Noonan writes at The Wall Street Journal. "Stop reading this and ask whoever's nearby, 'Do you find yourself worrying about President Obama's safety?' I do not think you are going to get, 'No.'" Noonan says the political discourse "tears the national fabric." But, she writes, it could do something far worse:

I see it this way. There are roughly 300 million people in America. Let's say 1% of them, only 1 in 100, are composed of those who might fairly be called emotionally unstable--the mentally ill, those who have limited or no ability to govern their actions, those who act out, as they say, physically or violently. That's three million people.

Let's say a third of them are regularly exposed to political media rants from right or left. That's a million people.

What effect might "they want to see you dead" and "the Republic is falling right now" have on their minds?

  • Which Conservatives Will Speak Out Against the Ranters? Rod Dreher asks at Crunchy Con. "Before this is over, there will be blood, I fear, and there will be quite a few Americans standing around saying, 'Who, me?' Yes, you." Some Republicans, he writes, are exploiting paranoia for political gain.
This is why I'm so disgusted with so many conservative elites nowadays. Too many Republicans are unwilling to speak out against the ranters, because, I think, they are trying to maximize political gain from the ranters' passion. Where are the conservative media figures calling talk radio and TV ranters to accountability? I keep going on about Glenn Beck, but there are consequences from leading people to believe that their president is a Manchurian candidate who is trying to overturn the Constitution. You keep telling people that, and telling them that everybody around the president is evil incarnate, and you should not be surprised that more than a few people in this country work themselves into a state in which they're prepared to take radical action to "save" America. You know exactly what I'm talking about.
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