Recent political events bring to mind a mantra from my childhood: namely, “Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but Names Will Never Harm Me.”
In general, it may well be that words are harmless. However, when they come in the form of what was meant to be a chilling threat, they are very dangerous – to say the least.
Our nation has become entangled in class warfare and an increase in racial division brought on by the language and/or actions of political leaders at the highest levels, media representatives, union officials, and others, including Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Following the tragic event in Tucson last January in which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded (and a Federal Judge and 9-year old girl killed), President Barack Obama called for civility in political discourse. That request has fallen on deaf ears, but has not curtailed loud action.
Not long before that unfortunate event, American citizens seeking to curtail what they believe to be excessive government spending and expanding federal government control over their lives evolved into an essentially decentralized group. This is the “Tea Party,” which rapidly became the focal point of attacks from those who pursue a diametrically opposed agenda.
Among other things, the Tea Party was labeled (and continues to be so labeled) as “AstroTurf,” “unpatriotic,” “terrorists,” fear mongers,” and “Nazis.” Regrettably, the source for these terms reached as high as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
With the passing of time – particularly in view of Tea Party influence in the 2010 elections – opposition to the group from Democrats and Liberals began to accelerate. It would appear that the factors of a declining economy, stagnant job creation, and the falling popularity of President Obama combined to bring focus on the Tea Party as a diversionary tactic.
Recently, several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have labeled the Tea Party as being racist, wanting to see “blacks swinging from trees,” “wanting to bring slavery back (or words to that effect),” and other terms of endearment. Indeed. Rep. Maxine Waters stated “The Tea Party Can Go To Hell.”
Perhaps the crowning episode to date in this attempt to attack Tea Party Americans occurred over Labor Day weekend. On that occasion, Teamster Union President Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. used a profane term towards the Tea Party and urged the union members present to “Take Them Out.” That same day, Vice President Joe Biden called the Tea Party and Republicans “Barbarians at the Gate.”
Not to be outdone by his Vice President, President Barack Obama has seemingly forgotten all about his appeal for “civility,” and told the union audience that he was “proud of Hoffa.”
Make no doubt that both Hoffa and Biden effectively issued marching orders to union members. Like it or not, while names cannot harm us, calls to “Take Them Out’ can literally lead to bones being broken – particularly as the summer of 2012 draws close and unemployment continues to be a serious problem.