At MercRising, we try to follow stories over the longer term, to gain some understanding of what they really mean, to make corrections where necessary, or to admit error. Southern Beale brought to my attention the following story which helps to advance our understanding of the story about the man at a Tea Party rally who threw dollar bills at a counter-protestor who had Parkinson’s.
The man who berated and tossed dollar bills at a man with Parkinson’s disease during a health care protest last week says he is remorseful and scared.
“I snapped. I absolutely snapped and I can’t explain it any other way,” said Chris Reichert of Victorian Village, in a Dispatch interview.
In his first comments on an incident that went viral across the Internet and was repeatedly played on cable television news shows, Reichert said he is sorry about his confrontation with Robert A. Letcher, 60, of the North Side. Letcher, a former nuclear engineer who suffers from Parkinson’s, was verbally attacked as he sat before anti-health care demonstrators in front of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s district office last week.
“He’s got every right to do what he did and some may say I did too, but what I did was shameful,” Reichert said. “I haven’t slept since that day.”
“I made a donation (to a local Parkinson’s disease group) and that starts the healing process.”…
He said he’s fearful for his family after reading comments about his actions on the Internet.
“I’ve been looking at the web sites,” he said. “People are hunting for me.”…
“That was my first time at any political rally and I’m never going to another one,” Reichert said.
I would predict that people are not hunting for him, and will forget about him in short order. But one value of a follow-up like this is to urge people to calm down and understand that behind the vicious act, there was a human being.
As I commented to Southern Beale, anger is a drug. We have lots of addicts, and lots of dope peddlers on hate radio. (There are some on the left, though thankfully far fewer than there are on the right). Reichert is like the man who gets drunk, wakes up in the morning, and is ashamed of himself. Don’t be too sorry for him until he’s sober for a few years.
Southern Beale’s post is worth reading, because it describes two other examples of Road Rage, but what more aptly be called Right-Rage.
For people who follow history, this is best understood as a political phenomenon. The right usually uses hate as a means of intimidating or killing the opposition. Anyone who followed Honduras last year and this can see how hatred of communists, gays, indigenous people, and the poor is used to mobilize supporters to mass violence. On the left, the Gang of Four and Pol Pot’s people also did this.