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Dangerous rhetoric

When Andrew Joseph Stack III flew his small aircraft on Feb. 18 into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, I thought, “Did right-wing reactionary rhetoric (e.g., tea party) incite him?”

Then on February 28, New York Times writer Frank Rich wrote, “What made the kamikaze mission eventful was less the deranged act itself than the curious reaction of politicians on the right who gave it a pass – or, worse, flirted with condoning it.”

Rich cites Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who said on the day after, “… it’s (IRS) an agency that is unnecessary …. and when we abolish the IRS, it’s going to be a happy day in America.”

And Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who implored an audience to “take a 9-iron and smash the window out of big government. …”

And Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.), who wants “people in Minnesota armed and dangerous.”

It is unfair to assert a causal connection between tea party “populism” and the immoderation of some Republican conservatives as one denounces the other, yet the latter appears to have co-opted the former in the persona of Sarah Palin.

John Hagney