By Max J. Castro

The last year has seen the rise of a movement based on anger and hatred. The Tea Party represents only the most visible sector of that movement, which includes anti-immigrant groups, militias, and other varieties of fanatics. The rise of Barack Obama, the meltdown of the financial system, the bailout of Wall Street, and the health care bill exacerbated an anger fed by the economic crisis.

This is a very dangerous cauldron which feeds into the delusions of those who would attack the Holocaust Museum or fly a plane into an IRS building. Right-wing radio and Fox News represent the institutionalized component of the hate machine. The hatred is aimed primarily at “Washington,” yet in the halls of Congress, some of the virulent themes of the Tea Party are voiced by members in barely disguised fashion. The people expressing these feelings are almost all white.

Recent studies by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have documented the alarming rise of right-wing hate groups. The environment is ripe for violent actions.

From this standpoint, the probable passage of a health care bill will only make things worse. It will likely pass by a narrow party line vote and after bitter sparring. For those on the far right, the health care bill symbolizes the epitome of “Washington” running roughshod over the people. The level of invective and rage will rise.

We may be confronted with a moment of peril for the nation. What does the hatred of “Washington” ultimately signify? Who sits at the top of the heap in Washington?

It may be bad form to bring it up, but the United States has a long and sorry history of assassinations. Several presidents, candidates, civil rights leaders, even rock stars have been the object of assassins. The lone wolf, driven by his own demons and encouraged by the climate of hate is the greatest danger. As president, Barack Obama has been demonized to a frightening extent, making things worse. He has been depicted as a devilish figure and called both a Bolshevik and a Nazi.

Such a scenario would not only be tragic but would tear the nation asunder. The progress that has been made in race relations would be reversed. America would be shaken to its roots. Violence would erupt.

So, for the “Patriots” that have created this climate, it’s time to dial back. It is time for Republicans in Congress to take a more responsible attitude instead of trying to take advantage of the surge of the Tea Party. And it is past time for the rest of us to fight back against those who poison the air waves and imperil the nation.


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