Terrorism at home and abroad
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
We are all too familiar with the terrorism which seems to have engulfed so much of our world: Palestinians vs. Israelis, Sunnis vs. Shiites, al Qaida and the Taliban vs. the governments and people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the government of Sudan vs. the people of Darfur, drug cartels against the governments and people of Colombia and Mexico, rogue governments and militias vs. the people of several African countries, and the nuclear threat posed by the governments of Iran and North Korea against the rest of the world.
Here in the United States, verbal terrorism is presenting a growing threat to our democratic system. The privilege of freedom of speech guaranteed by our Constitution is being subverted by streams of inflammatory invection from a vociferous minority. We see it in the newspapers and on TV in the talk shows. The dangers of these tirades is their potential effect on impressionable young people or mentally unstable individuals carrying a grudge against society for self-perceived mistreatment. A recent example is the murder of Dr. George Tiller in his church by a fanatic who was undoubtedly influenced by the violent speech and demonstrations of anti-abortionists whose extremism, screaming “Murderer,” very likely incited his criminal action. Sadly, there were many who applauded the attack on the World Trade Center. And just a few days ago a deranged man with a fuming hatred of Jews tried unsuccessfully to blast his way into the Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.
One has to wonder what motivated Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate President Kennedy, and what effect the frothing-at-the-mouth rantings against President Obama, that can reach millions via the Internet, may be having on some loose cannon somewhere. The current financial and emotional distress that has led many to suicide is fertile ground for an assassination attempt. I can think no worse tragedy for our country in this time of economic stress and unrest in the world. It is quite likely that the effect would be widespread anarchy that would dwarf the 1967 Newark and Detroit riots and the Los Angeles riots of 1965 and 1992.
Among the most dangerous rantings are those of radical talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, who has gleefully pronounced “I hope Obama fails.” Such talk is not, as many see it, patriotic – it is downright treasonous. It is tantamount to hoping our country fails. Rush, I hope YOU fail! And on the subject of talk shows, some have pointed out with derision that there have been no successful liberal talk shows. The reason is pretty obvious. To be successful, talk shows have to be about entertainment instead of about civil and intelligent discussion, which you certainly don’t get from the ranting of Rush Limbaugh. The civility of a liberal talk show probably wouldn’t appeal to listeners who are seeking blood-lust.
Right here in Glenwood Springs, we have more than our share of verbal terrorism in the ranting and raving and spewing of vitriol in Letters to the Editor in the Post Independent. I commend Dale Shrull’s June 5 editorial invoking decorum, civility and respect and censuring anger, hatred, name-calling and proselytizing in the editorial commentary. The only intelligent discourse is civil discourse, based exclusively on the issues.
Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent. It’s running Friday this week due to our error.
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