It’s worse than I thought. Sunday night, I wrote that political websites over the past couple weeks have become filled with irate Republicans who see opposition to immigration reform as the end-all and be-all for their future in the Republican Party. I’ve seen posters say they’ll no longer donate money or volunteer for the GOP. I’ve seen a few folks say they are planning to turn their backs at election time, and won’t be casting any votes for Republicans. Now, I’m well aware that 95 percent of comments posted in these forums are harmless, yet vitriolic displays of political hyperbole. As I said in my previous posts, I don’t really think many Republicans will stop voting, or will be so angry with the Republican Party they will no longer contribute their time or money.
But tonight, I saw something I’ve never seen before: death threats against sitting U.S. senators. Right out there on display in the open for you, me, and everyone else to see. I have frequented many political websites and blogs over the years, and I’ve never seen the level of vitriol escalate to such intensity. Not even in the most contentious days of the debate over Obamacare did I ever see such displays of anger. I think I would have remembered death threats. All this excitement is over a TEST VOTE passed Monday on a border surge deal sponsored by Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, both Republicans. Thirteen other Republican senators joined Corker and Hoeven in supporting the measure. A poster on Politico called “bamanights” wrote that all senators who supported the deal should be “taken out an[d] shot.” Usually such a comment would be met with cooler heads calling for an end to such threats. Not tonight. Equally riled-up posters chimed in with “immediately” and “amen” to this particular threat. Politico forums are monitored, so I’m sure the posts have been called to the attention of those in charge. Given the anonymity the internet provides, I’m sure the posters just wanted to make an inflammatory and reactionary statement. I hope.
What has to be concerning to Republican leaders is that this overheated and threatening language is coming from WITHIN their party. It was one thing for Republicans to call President Obama a socialist during the healthcare reform debate. It’s quite another for Republicans to call, however hyperbolic these comments are intended, for the shooting of some of their own senators. I realize these comment sections on political websites have always been a place for disgruntled Americans to voice their displeasure at Washington, D.C. But I had an uncomfortable feeling reading these remarks that I haven’t quite experienced before. I hope it’s all talk, and nothing more. But, one thing is for sure. The level of anger among immigration reform opponents is soaring right now. Are the concerns legitimate policy disagreements? Probably for some. Are others racists who see their version of lily-white America slipping away? For sure. Whatever the underlying reasons are for all this anger, however, is the fact that the already-hot rhetoric over immigration reform is now reaching a fever pitch. And neither house of Congress has even voted on it yet.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_the_United_States