I have admittedly been experiencing some cognitive dissonance regarding the recent rash of the right-wing crazies threatening Democratic politicians who supported the HCR bill. I do not believe that the threat of violence against anybody has any place within political discourse, but I also am extremely uncomfortable with how acts of vandalism against Democratic congresspeople are so freely labeled as "terrorism" in this community.
Follow me past the fold for further musings.
The threat of politically motivated violence, like what has so clearly arisen from the right in the wake of the HCR bill, is by definition undemocratic. The right wing loonies who break windows, etc. are clearly aiming to scare and intimidate the admirable members of congress who passed the bill.
I think every legitimate threat of violence against these congresspeople or their families should be taken seriously and investigated. But I have strong reservations when any act of vandalism, such as breaking a window, is regarded as terrorism. You may recall that individuals accused of terrorism by the federal government enter a legal wilderness where their rights to due process are essentially stripped from them. Ever since the Patriot Act, American citizens can be sent to Guantanamo as enemy combatants if they are deemed terrorists by the sole discretion of the Executive; I am fairly certain that this policy has not changed since President Obama took office (and even if they close Gitmo, they have made it clear that they will maintain other "extra-legal" detention facilities), and indeed Obama explicitly endorsed indefinite detention without trial for some people, a position that even Bush didn't take, at least publicly.
I suppose that "terrorism" has become as nebulous a term as "freedom" in our postmodern world, where every definition is fluid. Certainly, the redneck motherfuckers who throw bricks through Democratic windows out of their pathetic, impotent rage should be condemned publicly by Democrats, Republicans, and everybody. But, are we really willing to label those actions as terrorism, given what that means under the American "legal" system?
I can't help but think of the policies that were adopted during the Clinton administration, such as the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, which was intended to prevent "environmental terrorism," defined as "physical disruption to the functioning of an animal enterprise by intentionally stealing, damaging, or causing the loss of any property...used by the animal enterprise." During this time, groups like the Earth Liberation Front would occasionally destroy lots full of SUVs, burn down unoccupied resorts in at-risk ecosystems, and spike old-growth trees slated to be leveled for paper production. These groups always took meticulous care not to harm human or animal life, and to this day no substantiated reports of intentional physical harm have been attributed to such left-wing agitators. Nevertheless, individuals convicted under such laws face the several years in federal prison for their vandalism, and could potentially face the Kafkaeque legal black hole that "terrorists" face in the US.
I believe it is the treatment of private property as a fundamental right, on the level with life itself, that is the basis of this legal paradox, and I believe it is unjust. Somewhere during the development of American culture/capitalism, the right to own property, and as much of it as you can get, became enshrined among the most sacred of popular American values. This ideal has most recently been codified by the Citizens United decision, which only follows the trajectory of American politics to its logical conclusion: whoever has the most wealth and property can and should have the most influence, whether they are an individual or a corporation.
I loathe everything the right-wingers stand for as much as the next Kossack. I think that their violent rhetoric increases the possibility of violence being committed against Democratic politicians and citizens. But I think we should all take a minute to step back and ask ourselves a few questions. Are we really willing to look at pathetic acts of politically motivated property destruction, such as breaking windows, and condemn their perpetrators to the possibility innumerable years in a secret US detention facility? Are we really willing to place the destruction or seizure of property - a legitimate political act that has been revered ever since the real Boston Tea Party - in the same category as mass murder? Are we really willing to hand over the full power of the US legal system to the corporate elites, placing their massive property holdings on the same legal plane as human life at the same time as they ravage society and our environment with their greedy, destructive practices?