A man bearing a sidearm appears outside President Obama’s Aug. 11 town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., under a sign proclaiming, “It is time to water the tree of liberty.”
That phrase of course references a famous statement of Thomas Jefferson’s, from a 1787 letter: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.”
Earlier that same day, another man is arrested inside the school building in which the president will speak. Police found a loaded handgun in his parked car.
At an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona last week, police were called after one attendee dropped a gun.
Nobody has been hurt so far. We can all hope that nobody will be. But firearms and politics never mix well. They mix especially badly with a third ingredient: the increasingly angry tone of incitement being heard from right-of-center broadcasters.
The Nazi comparisons from Rush Limbaugh; broadcaster Mark Levin asserting that President Obama is “literally at war with the American people”; former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin claiming that the president was planning “death panels” to extirpate the aged and disabled; the charges that the president is a fascist, a socialist, a Marxist, an illegitimate Kenyan fraud, that he “harbors a deep resentment of America,” that he feels a “deep-seated hatred of white people,” that his government ispreparing concentration camps, that it is operating snitch lines, that it is planning to wipe away American liberties”: All this hysterical and provocative talk invites, incites, and prepares a prefabricated justification for violence.