You Can't Do That....
"How do you sleep...?"
ST's Eden correspondent Gene filed this report:
Madison, NC. 9/24-04 - Bushites on rampage in NC
The sleepy little town of Madison in Rockingham County, NC, has been rocked by a series of incidents that are leaving people scratching their heads wondering if recent acts by Bush supporters qualify as domestic terrorism under The USA Patriot Act, or are at least intimidation in violation of First Amendment freedoms.
As reported in a full color above-the-fold front page article in The Messenger today, the local newspaper, several houses, including (some) on on the NC Register of Historic Places, were paint balled last week apparently because they had Kerry/Edwards signs in their yards. Houses in the same neighborhood that had no yard signs, or had Bush signs, were not hit by the gun propelled missiles.
On 9/16, the Eden Daily News carried a front page below-the-fold article datelined Madison which described how vandals were tearing down over 50 Kerry/Edwards signs almost as fast as they were put out. A local Democrat who had signs stolen said "Bush is the problem. He made this country divisive. We'll all have to pull together after the election is over. We've got to be bigger than tearing down signs."
In response to the article, Tommy Harrington, Chairman of the local Republican Party published a long "Second Opinion" article in the Eden News on Sept. 22nd, addressing the story. A bitter former Democrat who switched some years ago after serving as a State Highway Commissioner, Harrington launched into personal attacks on the reporter and the person quoted in her article. A practicing lawyer in Eden, Harrington made these comments about John Edwards and Congressional Democrats:
"They have divided this country, and the crime is they have done is deliberately. They are the ones who have turned other nations against us; they are the ones who have helped kill American military personnel by encouraging our enemies. It is undeniable that Mr. Kerry and his organization have given aid and comfort to enemies of this nation. Such actions as this can best be described as 'treasonous.'"
Before Harrington's article appeared, Dick Cartwright, Chairman of the local Democratic Party sent a letter to Harrington, notifying him of the sign vandalism and paint ball incident by his Republican supporters, and sent an abbreviated copy to local newspapers. Cartwright said, "I am asking you to enter into an informal agreement that you and I will do whatever we reasonably can to avoid this kind of vandalism and threat to private property for the duration of this election. I'm sure you are as embarrassed by the behavior of your supporters as we are upset by it. Hopefully, if you can speak forcefully to your people, we shall have no more of this".
Meanwhile, as the story of the paint balling incident spreads, questions begin to arise as to what can be done. Madison Police Chief Perry Webster was quoted as saying "It seem as though they were targets because of the Democratic signs in their yards. We're not going to tolerate it. We will find out who they are". He said a citizen has stepped up to offer a reward for information on the crime that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible. "We've always had removal of signs, but I don't recall any damage being done."
At the time, the area was under a tornado warning from Hurricane Ivan, and one owner was trying to relax from a busy day at school when suddenly she heard a loud noise. "I thought it was another tornado or an electric generator going out," said Sybil Landreth. But she soon discovered someone had shot her house with green paint balls. Her historic house had been recently painted, and will likely have to be repainted. Several days later green streaks ran across the light colored paint where the family was unable to clean the stains.
Mary Louise Cardwell was in her front room with her 13-year old granddaughter, staying there because her home had been damaged by a tornado. Waiting for pizza, "all of a sudden we heard something that sounded like rocks. My house was hit 14 times. I couldn't believe anyone would do that!" Another of the houses was owned by County Democratic Chairman Dick Cartwright. At least three houses were hit, all with recently installed Kerry/Edwards signs on a street where Bush signs had reigned supreme.
The question remains whether these incidents are isolated events, or part of a conspiracy organized between some who may be guilty of domestic terrorism under The USA Patriot Act, and/or violations of civil and Constitutional rights, as well as other minor misdemeanor charges of vandalism. Is this any different from selecting houses along a street to attack because of the race of the people who live there? Or does this significantly differ from burning a cross in someone's yard? It seems to be of the category of things we have learned in American to call "hate crimes."
As Cartwright said in his letter to Harrington, "We are most concerned about avoiding future incidents of this nature, since we still have six weeks to Election Day. It's clear that these incidents were politically motivated, by your supporters of George W. Bush. Needless to say, again in this case, "W" stands for "Wrong."
I don't care what your political persuasion is, this behavior has to be disturbing to upright, sensible Americans.
God help us if this is what it's come to.....
Reflections on music, literature, politics, and pop culture from retired rock musician, writer, and college professor Jim Booth. Email comments to Jim at email@example.com.
- Name: JB
- Location: Advance, North Carolina, United States
Friday, September 24, 2004
You Can't Do That....