Back in December, during a major protest in Washington, D.C. against the Senate health care bill, former candidate for governor of New Jersey Steve Lonegan mounted the podium to tell his audience, ‘We cannot let the pen be mightier than the sword!” In any other forum, Lonegan would have been laughed off the stage, but the crowd ate it up. In fact, they gave him an ovation for one of the most mind-numbingly stupid statements to emerge from the Tea Party movement.

When the House of Representatives moved to pass the same bill, it seems some took him at his word. Anonymous individuals kicked in the glass door of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ office in Tucson, Ariz. cut the gas line to the house of Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother and left a coffin on Rep. Russ Carnahan’s lawn. Locally, unidentified vandals threw bricks through the windows of Rep. Louise Slaughter’s district offices in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Other protestors, those who managed to make it to Washington in time for the bill’s passage, contented themselves with spitting on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and shouting racial and homophobic slurs at Reps. Andre Carson, Elijah Cummings, Barney Frank and John Lewis a former leader of the civil rights movement whose head still bears scars from a police beating.

Yet when the Department of Homeland Security released a report on the threat of right-wing terrorism to the U.S. government, a report commissioned under the Bush administration, there were calls for Secretary Janet Napolitano’s resignation and accusations of politicizing terrorism. The reaction included general outrage from conservatives who felt some incomprehensible need to identify themselves with the kind of people who read ‘The Turner Diaries” and crash vehicles into federal buildings full of innocent people. A similar report on left-wing threats, released under the Bush administration, met no such opposition. Now, after someone put a bullet through the window of Rep. Eric Cantor’s direct-mail firm, Republicans in Congress have finally realized that the populist anger they have fed on and directed toward Democratic efforts may backfire on them.

Since the election of Barack Obama, his opponents have focused on the need for a revolution in government, usually against irresponsible spending. The public has been treated to countless signs and slogans encouraging or implying an imminent change of government, many of which contain images or phrases referencing the use of firearms in this undertaking. These people have repeatedly proven to be not only uncourtable, but inconsistent. A recent New York Times article profiled Tea Party activists who decry the same government help they once sought for themselves. They have not noticed the drop in their taxes and have largely been co-opted by establishment figures like Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann who continue to deliver fiery rhetoric to crowds hungry for more, despite their shaky grasp of American history.

American liberals particularly those of Cuban descent, such as yours truly have been asked to disavow communists ever since Joseph McCarthy glanced at a ketchup bottle while in front of a microphone. Yet, there has been no real conservative backlash against these terrorists. There is no better word to describe them. Their entire playbook is based on angry shouting and fear of vaguely implied violence. Despite their rhetoric of powerlessness, they have allied themselves with powerful Washington insiders and the most widely watched cable network all of whom are clearly using them for their own road back into power.

This kind of violence is unacceptable. The American Revolution was predicated on the words ‘taxation without representation,” since Great Britain gave its colonies neither a parliamentary vote nor a voice in its policies toward them. The U.S. already has a mechanism in place to restrain or reject unwanted changes the ballot box. The founding fathers intended the ballot box, rather than guns or war cries, to be the primary method through which government is made answerable to its people. Otherwise, they would be susceptible to precisely this kind of domestic terrorism.

Morales is a member of
the class of 2011.

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