Tag Archives: violence

Violence in the United States Congress

There is probably a rule, in the chambers of the United States Congress, that you can’t punch a guy. Living rules are clues to the past. Where I live now, there is probably one Middle or High School age kid across 130 homes, but we have a rule: You can’t leave your hockey goals or giant plastic basketball nets out overnight. So all the old people who live on my street have to drag those things into the garage at the end of every day, after their long sessions of pickup ball. Or, more likely, years ago, there were kids everywhere and the “Get off my lawn” contingent took over the local board and made all these rules. So, today, in Congress, you can’t hit a guy.

But in the old days, that wasn’t so uncommon. You have heard about the caning of Charles Sumner. Southern slavery supporter Preston Brooks beat the piss out of Senator Charles Sumner, an anti-slave guy from Massachusetts. They weren’t even in the same chamber. Brooks was in the House, Sumner was in the Senate. Sumner almost didn’t survive the ruthless and violent beating, which came after a long period of bullying and ridicule by a bunch of southern bullies. Witnesses describe a scene in which Brooks was clearly trying to murder Sumner, and seems to have failed only because the cane he was using broke into too many pieces, depriving the assailant of the necessary leverage. Parts of that cane, by the way, were used to make pendants worn by Brook’s allies to celebrate this attempted murder of a Yankee anti-slavery member of Congress.

Here’s the thing. You’ve probably heard that story, or some version of it, because it was a major example of violence in the US Congress. But in truth, there were many other acts of verbal and physical violence carried out among our elected representatives, often in the chambers, during the decades leading up to the civil war. Even a cursory examination of this series of events reveals how fisticuffs, sometimes quite serious, can be a prelude to a bloody fight in which perhaps as many as a million people all told were killed. Indeed, the number of violent events, almost always southerner against northerner, may have been large enough to never allow the two sides, conservative, southern, right wing on one hand vs. progressive, liberal not as southern, on the other, to equalize in their total level of violence against each other. Perhaps there are good people on both sides, but the preponderance of thugs reside on one side only.

Which brings us to this. You hears of the caning of Sumner, but you probably have not read The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War by Yale historian Joanne B. Freeman.

Professor Freeman is one of the hosts of a podcast I consider to be in my top free favorite, Backstory, produced by Virginia Humanities. Joanne is one of the “American History Guys,” along with Ed Ayers (19th century), Brian Balogh (20th Century), Nathan Connolly (Immigration history, Urban history) and emeritus host Peter Onuf (18th century). Freeman writes in her newest book of the first half of the 19th century, but her primary area of interest heretofore is the 18th century, and her prior works have focused, among other things, on Alexander Hamilton: Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic about the nastiness among the founding fathers, and two major collections focused on A.H., The Essential Hamilton: Letters & Other Writings: A Library of America Special Publication and Alexander Hamilton: Writings .

I strongly urge you to have a look at Freeman’s book, in which she brings to light a vast amount of information about utter asshatitude among our elected representatives, based on previously unexplored documents. I also strongly urge you to listen to the podcast. The most recent edition as of this writing is on video games and American History. The previous issue is covers the hosts’ book picks for the year.

Trump, Trainwreck, Fascist.

In a series of strange events, President Donald Trump once again invoked violence against a CNN reporter and, apparently, embraced the idea that he is a fascist.

Following the homicidal terrorist attack on anti-White Supremacist demonstrators, trump saw fit to post the following tweet, memorialized here in a retweet by Kyle Griffin, an MSNBC producer.

Similar to an earlier contrived production in which Trump himself is shown in a video beating a CNN reporter, this shows a train labeled TRUMP running over a CNN reporter in cartoon form.

That tweet was deleted soon after being posted. I wonder how that happened. Did Trump think better of his choice? Did General Kelly storm the bathroom and wrestle Trump’s phone away from him? Did the NSA dive in there and delete the offending tweet in such a way that Trump will never see that it was deleted but the rest of us will? Can they even do that?

Meanwhile, a guy from the UK named Mike Holden, tweeted the observation that Trump is a fascist, so his alleged ikntent to pardon Arizona Joe Arpaio, Sheriff makes sense. Astonishingly, trump re-tweeted Holden’s remark.

I checked. Trump’s twitter account does not say “retweets are not endorsement,” and we know from the evidence of considerable prior practice that Trump’s retweets are, in deed, endorsements.

That tweet was also removed, and again, one wonders how that happened.

SNL, are you paying attention?

I found out about these tweets in this WaPo article.. So, it is probably fake, but whatever.

Dear Republican, time to make the change, because this is now you.

My current model (subject to change) puts Arizona in the Clinton Column. This is the prediction that has resulted in the most head scratching from those observing this, but it turns out that the Clinton Campaign seems to agree. Clinton surrogates, including Chelsea, Michele Obama, and Bernie Sanders will be in the state over the next few days.

Frankly, I worry about good people going to Arizona stumping for a Liberal Democrat. Perhaps that is because of my own experience living there for several weeks. During that time a local desperado was arrested and made a court appearance, and his family showed up, heavily armed, shot the judge, the DA, others, and took off with the accused to begin a days long chase ended by a shootout in the desert somewhere.

That visit was several years ago, a very short time after mobsters assassinated Arizona Republic investigative reporter Don Bolles because he was getting too close to something.

Some of my best friends are Arizonans. But among Arizonans are the usual deplorables who have no compunction against threatening to shoot children, blowing up reporters, and who knows what else. But, perhaps, the Arizonan version of this particular monster is somewhat better armed, has more ammo, or perhaps, a hair trigger.

Today, Arizona Republicans are threatening children, flashing guns at them, because those children have a vague (and, really, non existent) association with Clinton. And more.

Here, watch this:

Republicans need to realize that this is what they have become.

Individuals who still call themselves Republicans can no longer do the old “I’m one of the good ones” or “I’m a principled economic conservative but social bla bla bla” or “I’ve been a Republican since the old days when herp a derp a derp” and “Yadda yadda yadda my brains just melted through my sinuses and got all over my shirt because I’m so fucking stupid.” That sort of thing.

What Republicans need to realize now is that they are the people that threaten the children selling magazine subscriptions by flashing guns at them, they are the people that show up at opposing candidate’s rallies to harass the candidate for money, they are the people who cheer when the Republican candidate calls for the death of his opponent, and they are the people who condone sexual assault and racism.

It is not, dear Republicans true that YOUR PARTY does this, and you do not go along. Too much time has gone by without reform, without taking responsibility. You do this. This is you. You are this.

You are deplorable, even if you’ve not personally taken part.

You are the guy standing there in the locker room “going along” with the misogynist talk, maybe in a different context later that day, “going along” with the sexual assault itself. You are the guy out with his friends “going along” with racist talk. Maybe you are the guy who, later that night, watches silently when your friends carry out a hate crime. You are the guy “going along” when your candidate calls for the jailing or killing of his opponents, and you say nothing. Maybe later this week you will be the guy who says nothing as his political party produce and encourages the assassins who attack Chelsea Clinton, or Michelle Obama, or Bernie Sanders. If something like that happens this week in Arizona, that will be you, Republican. You.

Hopefully that won’t happen. But enough has happened already, and there is no way we can not expect more.

Threats were made against the staff of the Arizona Republic for asking their readers to vote for the most qualified candidate to ever run for the office of President of the United States. Threats are being made against the kids who sell that newspaper’s subscription door to door, or in grocery stores, and against others. The video above covers this, but there is more than mentioned there. The following is an extended excerpt from the comments of Mi Ai Parrish, president of the media company that owns The Arizona Republic:

What is the correct response to any of the vile threats against me? What is the correct response to the more disturbing actions and words directed against so many others?

I’ve thought about those responses a lot. Today, I offer you a few.

To the anonymous caller who invoked the name of Don Bolles … and threatened that more of our reporters would be blown up because of the endorsement, I give you Kimberly. She is the young woman who answered the phone when you called. She sat in my office and calmly told three Phoenix police detectives what you had said. She told them that later, she walked to church and prayed for you. Prayed for patience, for forgiveness. Kimberly knows free speech requires compassion.

To those who said we should be shut down, burned down, who said they hoped we would cease to exist under a new presidential administration, I give you Nicole. She is our editor who directs the news staff, independent of our endorsements. After your threats, Nicole put on her press badge and walked with her reporters and photographers into the latest Donald Trump rally in Prescott Valley, Ariz. She stood as Trump encouraged his followers to heckle and boo and bully journalists. Then she came back to the newsroom to ensure our coverage was fair. Nicole knows free speech requires an open debate.

To those of you who have said that someone who disagrees with you deserves to be punished, I give you Phil. Our editorial page editor is a lifelong Republican, a conservative and a patriot. He was an early voice of reason, arguing calmly that Donald Trump didn’t represent the values of the party he loves. Phil understands that free speech sometimes requires bravery.

To those of you who have spit on, threatened with violence, screamed at and bullied the young people going door-to-door selling subscriptions, I give you those dozens of young men and women themselves. Many sell subscriptions to work their way through school. Most were too frightened to share even their first names here. But they are still on the job. They know that free speech is part of a society that values hard work and equal opportunity.

To those of you who have called us hacks and losers with no purpose, and that we are un-American, I give you Dennis. He is the investigative reporter who first revealed the despicable mistreatment of our veterans at the VA hospital. His work triggered comprehensive debate and, one hopes, lasting change. He and others on his team have been hailed as heroes by veterans’ families across the country. Dennis knows that free speech is sometimes the only way to hold the powerful accountable.

To those of you who have invoked the name of longtime publisher Gene Pulliam, saying he is spinning in his grave, I give you his wife, Nina. After reporter Don Bolles was targeted by a bomber for doing his job, Nina Pulliam wept at his hospital bed. He died there slowly over 12 days. The Pulliams understood that free speech, and a free press, come at a cost.

Then, of course, there are the threats against the publisher today.

To those of you who have said Jesus will judge me, that you hope I burn in hell, that non-Christians should be kept out of our country, I give you my pastor grandfather. He was imprisoned and tortured for being a Christian, and suffered the murder of his best friend for also refusing to deny Christ. He taught all that freedom of religion is a fragile and precious thing.

Much as my grandfather taught, I also know there are a lot of things worth standing up for.

To those of you who said we should go live with the immigrants we love so much, and who threatened violence against people who look or speak a different way, I give you Jobe Couch.

He was the Army cultural attache and Alabama professor who sponsored my aunts and my mother when they arrived in America from Korea after World War II. There are dozens of descendants of his kindness. Citizens with college degrees, a dentist, lawyers, engineers, pastors, teachers, business owners, a Marine, a publisher and more. Uncle Jobe stood for the power of America as a melting pot. He taught me that one kind man can make a difference.

Dear Republican, this is you. Oh, and you are going to lose Arizona.