Touchy subject of would-rather-not proportions: threats made against the 44th American President. There are fine lines between free-speech and danger. The New York Times reports on the people who draw them seeing an early spike, but still being strong concerns.
Of course, when your job is to protect the President of the United States, and the first black one at that, it goes without saying, but "strong concern" is the default position. Early on, however, it was really, really bad: one such threat resembles most of them, and take a guess what kind it was. Ready? Yeah: White, former Marine, even had a name for it. "Operation: Patriot." Scary, much?
The Marine, Kody Brittingham, a 20-year-old lance corporal, wrote that he had taken an oath to "protect against all enemies, both foreign and domestic." In a signed "letter of intent," tucked away in his barracks at Camp Lejeune, he identified a "domestic enemy" he planned to eliminate last winter: President Obama.
Creepy white domestic terrorists are the worst kind of creepy. They're not even exotic. And they're predictable in their lameness, too, all creeping out of the woodwork whenever a Democrat gets elected to office. The White House and Secret Service, before Obama was in office, started intercepting a number of threats raising "deep concern." As the Secret Service almost never comments on procedure as a matter of policy—if ever—it's probably safe to assume this was a euphemism for "record amounts."
Though the threats peaked early, they're still trying to discern the difference in how seriously to deal with, say, the Arizona pastor who prayed for Obama to die and the airport security guard in New Jersey who has an arsenal of 43 guns and hollow-point bullets at the ready. That's this charmer, John Brek, who only went to jail for 29 days.
Interestingly enough, Rahm Emmanuel is the guy Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano—whose agency has overseen the Secret Service since it was taken over from the Department of Treasury in 2003—reviews everything accumulated by their Internet Threat Desk with every week. Rahm—scary in his own right—is the one sorting through these things, which is somehow reassuring. But there've been far more and far worse ones than we've been privy to. This is where it gets interesting:
A review of dozens of court records and police reports by The New York Times uncovered an array of cases, most of which did not gain public attention even as they rang alarm bells at some of the highest levels of the government. Some involved suspects with a history of violence or mental illness and easy access to guns and explosives, while others involved men whose menacing talk was ultimately deemed to be just that by the authorities.
You know the old saying: Guns don't shoot people, gun-owners shoot people with guns. Both are subject to malfunction and are terrifying. The number of threats against the President spiked again this summer, and naturally, the Secret Service sees the depressed economy as the impetus behind the increased amount of threats. Yet between the Party Gatecrashers incident, the report of the way-more-than-we-knew numbers, and the increased likelihood of this country spawning more and more people who are scared, angry, hungry and pissed with each dollar they find themselves short, we're a long way from any security climate resembling normal.
The further we go, the deeper the hole to fall: especially after the presidency of George W. Bush, which openly encouraged and provoked fanaticism and Christian extremism from the top, electing a black president was never not going to come with these problems. The only comfort anyone can take in this is, I guess, that it didn't stop people from doing so.