Violence and Threats of Violence Against Politicians Continues Despite More Serious Response

Apr 08, 2010, 08:00 ET from

NGOs Call on Media, Political and Religious Leaders to Amplify Efforts to End Hostilities

WASHINGTON, April 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) known as the Stop Domestic Terror campaign ( praises efforts by religious leaders and the Department of Justice to address the rising tide of extremist threats and violence. The coalition, representing groups with over one million members, calls on the media and political leaders to take stronger stands against intimidation and violence.

The arrest Monday of a man accused of making death threats against Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is the latest sign that government and law enforcement are beginning to treat more seriously the threats of violence that the Stop Domestic Terror campaign has been warning about for months.

Last summer the coalition asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to aggressively target those who commit violence, and urged both the media and religious leaders to speak out against such anti-democratic behavior. In December, the DOJ announced that hate crimes and threats of violence are now a "top priority," after years of neglect.

The DOJ recently showed progress on that promise by arresting nine members of an "end of times" militia group that was planning violence against Americans in order to kick off a "widespread uprising against the government."  

Progress is coming from the religious community as well, with 114 prominent religious leaders signing a "civility covenant" ( calling for an end to the heated rhetoric of political discourse.

Yet the tide has not yet turned. The tea bagger movement has endorsed threats, hate and anger as a political weapon, and the GOP has hitched its political fortunes to this hate machine, adopting Nixon's Southern Strategy, which exploited opposition among the once segregationist South to the civil rights movement. Over the past month, we have seen white Americans spitting on Black Congress members, calling them foul names, and cutting gas lines and making threats against other politicians. The Republican Party refused a call by the Democratic National Committee for a new civility agreement. Sarah Palin put Democrats in crosshairs on her website and told her followers to "reload." Right-wing media are supporting this behavior as "patriotic."  

"Law abiding Americans do not advocate violence against fellow Americans," said campaign spokesperson Brad Friedman. "As Americans, we all need to engage in a vigorous debate of the issues based on facts and reason rather than fear and prejudice. We are calling for civility and urge everyone to agree to conduct themselves accordingly.  Violence, threats, McCarthyism, bigotry and hate are relics of past losing battles and must be rejected. Thousands of citizens have spoken out against the tyranny of violence by joining our Stop Domestic Terror campaign. We urge everyone to sign on and to send a letter to Congress demanding that the media act in the public interest rather than fanning the flames of violence.  We urge political leaders, media organizations and more religious leaders to condemn threats, violence and incitement of violence."