Writing in today’s Seattle P-I (“We’re complacent about our own Osamas,”) New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff warns:
We don’t have to go to Saudi Arabia to find violent religious extremists steeped in hatred for all America stands for. Wake up — they’re here.
Discussing the proliferation of home-grown hate groups and violent attacks on judges and their families, Kristoff takes as a springboard the recent murder of the husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow. Suspicion immediately fell on the followers of white racist leader Matt Hale, who is currently jailed for seeking to murder Judge Lefkow. It was widely reported that postings to racist websites joyfully celebrated the murders.
And now this morning we hear about the fatal shooting of a judge in a Fulton County, GA court room.
Whether these recent acts of violence against our judiciary were carried out by angry individuals or organized hate groups, Kristoff warns of a disturbing trend that threatens to undermine our judiciary:
Threats to federal judges and prosecutors have increased sharply since they began to be tabulated 25 years ago, but the attack on Lefkow’s family, if it was related to her work, would take such threats to a new level. Who would want to be a judge if that risked the lives of loved ones?
None of this happens in a vacuum, and as anti-government rhetoric continues to grow not only in tone and volume, but in respectability, we need to be aware that there are those among us who might actually act on their anger.