Are liberals freaking out as much over the town halls as conservatives did over the 60’s?

Seems to me they are. And guess what, the country survived the 60’s even though conservatives were saying it was TEOTWAWKI. There were times in the 60’s when it seemed revolution was just round the corner. Conservatives were thinking that then, as well as radicals.

Omigod, those town hall crazies have been talking about killing parents and carrying guns into meetings. All true, of course. Yet back in the 60’s, Jerry Rubin said “kill your parents,” the Black Panthers carried guns everywhere, and the Weather Underground was blowing stuff up. Conservatives were terrified and thought the end of the Republic was near. It wasn’t.

I mean, what’s actually happening now? A few town hall meetings got invaded by a well-organized few intent on disrupting things. Tempers boiled over. A couple of punches got thrown. Doesn’t sound much more dangerous than a rowdy bar on Saturday night. Some perspective is needed here. The Mongol hordes are not at the gates, as some liberals apparently fear.

As for the ominous charge that shadowy business and political interests are behind the town hall protesters, trying to manipulate things things their way. Well, of course they are. Marxist parties were doing the same during the Iraq antiwar protests. But none of them can put people in the streets unless those people believe in the cause and want to be there. The town hall protests are genuine enough. But progressives seem to be over-reacting.

  • ~ Hunter S. Thompson, Wave Speech.

    San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run … but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. …

    History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

    My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. …

    There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. …

    And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. …

    So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

  • UJ

    Nice try, Bob, but I think you’re underestimating the serious national security threat of right wing terror attacks, from which some 90+ people have died so far in 2009 alone. The FBI and other security apparatchiks regularly infiltrated and investigated left wing activist groups during the 60’s, and yes, even during the Bush years. I don’t see what’s unreasonable at all about using the same institutions which are designed to protect and secure our democracy to target right wing terror groups just the same as they have targeted left wing groups. There is near certainty that lives will be lost in this situation, whereas it was almost lunacy to suspect violence from Code Pink, ANSWER, etc.

    Can we not investigate the finances of FreedomWorks and Koch industries? Can we not tap the phones of the folks calling for gun violence? Why not? I supported you 100% on engaging the tea parties on the merits, and respecting their views and values, but this is not politics, this is national security. Do I think the Republic will crumble? Not a chance. Do I think people will die? Absolutely.

    I urge you to watch messages from Ayman al-Zawahiri and Randall Terry back to back and then tell me you see no security threat from these groups. Is there some major difference I’m missing between angel Saudi Petrobarons funding terrorism and American Petrobarons (Koch industries) funding terrorism?

    We can debate the differences between Liberalism and conservatism all day long, along with countless legitimate arguments on the merits of the proposed Health Care reform. But the moment violent terrorism comes into play, in which real people will really die, it NEEDS to be addressed by the national security apparatus. Otherwise, why do we have them in the first place?

    And just in case it’s not 100% completely clear, I DON’T CARE about the politics of the situation. If Toys For Tots was engaging in the same activities, I’d say sic the FBI on them, too.

    • UJ

      I would also point out that the FBI and police services regularly assassinated left wing leaders during the 1960’s. Get it? Maybe I’m not loony tunes for wanting the Treasury Dept to take a peek at FreedomWorks.

    • Oh, I suspect the feds already are investigating and infiltrating right wing extremist groups. But I don’t see the town hall protesters as being in that category.

      And were a serious right wing attack to happen, I’ve no doubt the government would come down on the extremists as hard as they did on the Black Panthers.

  • DJ

    Curbing civil rights was wrong when Bush used the [perceived and cultivated] threat of extremist attacks to do so. It was wrong when Nixon used the supposed threat of revolution to do so. And it’s still wrong when someone of a different political stripe does it. I said (loudly and often) following 9/11 that if we permit our government to remove our freedoms as a result of terrorist threat, then the terrorists have already won.

    To use an analogy, it’s wrong when someone gets murdered– but it’s even more wrong if our government executes someone who’s innocent in the [supposed] pursuit of justice. We cannot create utopia through legislation, or surveillance, or repression, or civil religion. A life worth living will never be without its risks.

    I come from the “Live Free or Die” state, and I would much rather take my chances with terrorists (foreign or homegrown) than allow the government to infiltrate my life. I’ve visited police states. I wont live in one. The government has no legitimate business spying on me or anyone else, unless and until it is proven that there is a conspiracy to violently overthrow a freely elected government. Not my politics, not my religion, not my cub scout troop. “Guilty by suspicion” doesn’t fly here, period.

    Liberty doesn’t just mean we get 999 channels on cable– it means we have both the right to the pursuit of happiness without government interference, and the responsibility to hold liberty more dear than our comfort, our security, and even our lives.

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