Don’t feed the crazies

DON’T FEED THE CRAZIES…. It’d be great if congressional Republicans would show a little more courage when confronted with violence-related rhetoric.

Hey tea partiers, you say you want a revolution? Well, you know Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) understands.

At a recent town hall meeting in his Montross, VA-area district, Wittman told an angry constituent he sees where conservatives looking for an actual fight with their government are coming from. Told by a tea partier that the government is “gang-raping” the people and that it’s getting close to time when “people will have no recourse but to take things into their own hands,” Wittman wasn’t fazed.

His response to the tea partier’s call for revolt? “Good point.”

This isn’t especially rare. Over the summer, Rep. Wally Herger (R) of California held a town-hall event, and heard from a constituent who described himself as “a proud right-wing terrorist.” The Republican congressman replied with a broad smile, “Amen, God bless you. There is a great American.”

Around the same time, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) heard from one town-hall attendee, “The president of the United States, that’s who you should be concerned about. Because he’s acting like a little Hitler. I’d take a gun to Washington if enough of you would go with me.” Grassley did not distance himself from the remarks.

It’s likely that most of the far-right voices who pop off at public events are just loudmouths, blowing off steam. They’re probably not literally prepared to take up arms against the United States.

But let’s not forget that the threat of political violence has been real this year. Right-wing activists have shown up at presidential events with assault rifles; they’ve made death threats against members of Congress; and they’ve painted swastikas on lawmakers’ signs. Not too long ago, conservative David Frum went so far as to accuse the “reckless right” of courting violence, imploring the right to “tone down the militant and accusatory rhetoric.”

With this in mind, when a member of Congress hosts an event, and some crank argues that Americans are being “gang raped” by U.S. officials, and that conservatives may have to “take things into their own hands,” the proper response is not for the lawmaker to say, “Good point.”

Ella Wheeler Wilcox once said, “To sit in silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.” Something for Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) to consider.