by John Hawkins | March 10, 2005 4:25 pm
To be honest, I’m surprised this sort of incident doesn’t happen all the time given the malevolent and crazy rhetoric that’s tossed around on the left these days:
“This week, though, a Tampa woman learned that simple Bush-Cheney bumper sticker can bring trouble, if not danger, from a total stranger.
Police say Michelle Fernandez, 35, was chased for miles Tuesday by an irate 31-year-old Tampa man who cursed at her as he held up an anti-Bush sign and tried to run her off the road.
His sign, about the size of a business letter, read:
Never Forget Bush’s Illegal Oil War Murdered Thousands in Iraq.
“I guess this was a disgruntled Democrat,” Tampa Police spokesman Joe Durkin said. “Maybe he has that sign with him so he’s prepared any time he comes up against a Republican.”
Police arrested Nathan Alan Winkler at his home on N Cleveland Street near Hyde Park within an hour of the incident.
After finding the antiwar sign in his car, they booked him into the county jail on one count of aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, Durkin said.
…Winkler, listed in jail records as a contractor, could not be reached Wednesday. Durkin said Winkler told police officers he got upset with Fernandez because she “gave him the finger.”
Fernandez told the Times Wednesday that “whatever gestures I made, I made them because I was trying to figure out why he was honking at me and pointing to his sign.”
“At first I didn’t know why he was screaming at me,” she said. “Then it clicked.”
In her frantic nine-minute call Tuesday to a 911 dispatcher, Fernandez said it was the Bush Cheney ’04 bumper sticker on her green Ford Expedition that set the other driver off.
“I was just almost run off the road by a man,” she told the dispatcher at 5:14 p.m. She was taking her son, 10, and daughter, 3, to a ballfield.
“He just ran me off because I have a Bush bumper sticker in my car. He had some type of – he drove up next to me with – he had a sign on it like hanging from his – from the passenger window, that said something about the war in Iraq. . . . I’m shaking like a leaf.”
Durkin said Winkler started following Fernandez at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Armenia Avenue shortly after 5 p.m.
“He told our officers that he just got mad at her, so he went after her,” Durkin said.
As Fernandez drove south on Armenia, the other driver pulled alongside her in his black 1996 Nissan, beeping his horn and “flailing his arms,” according to a police report.
He held the antiwar sign up to his passenger-side window, she said, following her along busy streets in south and west Tampa and veering into her path, forcing her to swerve to avoid a collision. She pleaded with the dispatcher for help and tried to get away by running through stop signs and changing directions.
“Oh, now he’s following me! I’m gonna get back on Kennedy now. I don’t know what to do!” she told the dispatcher, her voice rising.
At one point the man pulled his car in front of Fernandez’s, got out and started running toward her, Fernandez told police.
“He just pulled over next to me, he’s stopping the car, it’s ridiculous, this man!” she said. “He’s running after my car. Oh my goodness, he’s a fanatic, he’s in the middle of the street!”
She drove along Arrawana Avenue and Habana Street, then back onto Kennedy Boulevard, but she couldn’t shake him, Durkin said.
“He’s trying to hurt us. Look at this, what a moron,” she said. “Look at him! . . . Idiot!”
Before I dig into this, I’d like to emphasize the right is not blameless when it comes to lightly tossing around highly charged words; for example, I think the “T-word” — treason — is used much too freely by some people on the right. People who commit treason should be hung, so that’s not a word you want to use unless you mean it.
Still, that being said, do you remember when Tom Daschle was accusing Rush Limbaugh and other radio hosts of ginning up death threats against him by calling him “an obstructionist?” Well today, Bush and other Republicans get called a whole hell of a lot worse than “obstructionists.”
Today, words like “Nazi” & “Fascist” are routinely used to describe Republicans by the left on the internet. The losing Democratic candidate’s wife intimates that the election was rigged. The DNC chairman, Howard Dean, says that, “this is a struggle of good and evil. And we’re the good.” A popular syndicated cartoonist and columnist like Ted Rall tells his readers that, “Lefties just don’t seem to get this fundamental truth of politics: Not only has there never been a revolution without violence, but there’s never been meaningful social change without violence or at least the threat thereof.” Ward Churchill, a professor who referred to the innocent people murdered in the Twin Towers as “little Eichmanns” is slobbered over by the likes of Bill Maher.
Well, if your opponents are evil Nazis, little Eichmanns who are rigging elections and violence is the only way to create meaningful social change, then you don’t have to be a rock scientist to figure out what the next logical step is going to be. And this sort of rhetoric is fast becoming, if it’s not already, the rule, not the exception on the left.
But if you portray your political adversaries not just as people who disagree with you, but as the devil incarnate, then it shouldn’t surprise anyone that some people, like Nathan Alan Winkler, take that rhetoric seriously and act on it. There will be more Nathan Alan Winklers before it’s through unless something changes on the left…
Hat tip to Michelle Malkin on the story.
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