I normally don’t pay much attention when high-profile conservatives such as Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin label President Obama a racist for sparking the national debate over the black Harvard professor arrested by Cambridge police. That is, until I read a story that made me wonder if there really is a cause and effect between what people as Beck and Malkin propagate and the nuts out there who carry this diatribe to extremes.
The story was written by a friend, San Diego Union-Tribune reporter David Hasemayer, about a La Mesa, Calif., man who was convicted yesterday of making threats against Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. What struck me was the defense offered by Walter Bagdasarian, 47. He said he was drunk on wine at the time of his online rants and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
In a racially laced diatribe last October, Bagdasarian said the country would fall apart during an Obama presidency and suggested assassination. His Internet bulletin-board postings and e-mails included racial slurs, profanity and references to a high-powered rifle often used by military snipers, court records show.
Now, Beck and Malkin had nothing to do with Bagdasarian’s conduct nor did they imply the president ought to be shot. But similar, more inflammatory diatribes were commonly floating throughout the Internet. Such nonsense is sick minds are reinforced by racist comments coming from Mt. Olympus the likes of which are the Becks, Malkins and Rush Limbaughs.
On the day Obama won the election, Bagdasarian wrote an e-mail under the heading “And so it begins.”
“Pistol .?.?. plink plink plink. When you use a 50 cal on a (racial epithet) car, you get this,” the message said. It contained a link to a YouTube video showing a junked car exploding after a propane tank in the vehicle was shot with a .50-caliber rifle.
When agents searched Bagdasarian’s home, they found six guns — three pistols and three rifles.
U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff debunked Bagdasarian’s drunken defense, and found him guilty on two counts of making threats against a major candidate for president of the United States. He will be sentenced Oct. 26 where he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Now let’s review what Beck said on the Fox morning show Tuesday. In a discussion about Obama claiming Cambridge police “acted stupidly” for arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., Beck said Obama exposed himself as a person with “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” Later: “I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people,” Beck said. “He has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.”
Meanwhile, Malkin appeared on this morning’s Today Show. She called Obama a racial opportunist while promoting her book citing corruption in the Obama administration.
Folks, playing the race card is getting out of hand. That goes for all parties, including Professor Gates who yelled during his confrontation with police: “Is this the way you treat a black man in America?”
It offends law-abiding citizens such as the neighbor, as a gesture of goodwill for her friend, who made the 911 call in the Gates case and later was lambasted in the media for remarks police said she made but she didn’t as tapes of the call proved.
Lucia Whalen, at a press conference today, said that the only words she exchanged with Sergeant Crowley in person were, “I was the 911 caller. “She said that he responded, “Stay right there.”
Whalen, 40, her voice cracking, said she was deeply hurt by the reaction to the incident on July 16. She said she and her family had been the target of threats, which led her to speak out.
“When I was called a racist, I was the target of scorn and ridicule because of things I never said,” she told the reporters. She added, “The criticism hurt me as a person but also hurt the community of Cambridge.”
I would hope Whalen’s words would weigh heavily on Gates, Obama, Beck, Malkin, Limbaugh, and, yes, even the cops, before they start throwing around Molotov cocktails with highly sensitive racial overtones as if they were pieces of confetti tossed from a high-rise during a parade.
Words from people of higher authority have consequences. Just ask Walter Bagdasarian whose only excuse was he was drunk. What’s the excuse for those other parties to this farce?
Jerry Remmers worked 26 years in the newspaper business. His last 23 years was with the Evening Tribune in San Diego where assignments included reporter, assistant city editor, county and politics editor.