Yesterday history was made with the election of America's first black president, and though Barack Obama won with the promise of hope it is a real concern that he may suffer because of hate. Even before America voted, not only did Obama garner the earliest Secret Service security detail of any presidential candidate in history, he had been the target of numerous threats and assassination attempts. One such threat was posited by Ray Larsen, a high ranking Ku Klax Klan official who promised if Barack Obama "is elected President he'll be shot sure as hell." Now for the sake of his safety as President-elect and soon to be President, it must be assumed that Barack Obama's life is in danger like never before.
The recognition of possible threats against Barack Obama began in May 2007 when a congressional advisory board decided that the black candidate for the Democratic nomination at the time deserved Secret Service protection. Though there were no credible threats, the accumulation of hate material and the size of crowds Obama was generating, determined the step to be in his best interest. And thus within just three months of declaring his intention to run it made Obama the earliest presidential candidate in history to have received such security. The decision proved necessary as ever since the Secret Service has had to investigate over 500 death threats.
These investigations continued and on August 25th three people were arrested in connection to a plot to kill Barack Obama as he gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver Colorado. However as the investigation continued police found that though the individuals had made threats, they believed there was no real intent to carry them out. On October 22 a more valid assassination attempt was quashed by Tennessee police after they stumbled upon two neo-nazis planning an elaborate killing spree ending with Barack Obama.
Perhaps though one of the more demonic threats was uttered in May 2008 by Ray Larsen, the International Imperial Wizard of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in an interview with a Fox Chicago news station. Though his threat was indirect, it is nonetheless chilling. When asked about any negative feelings towards Barack Obama Larsen stated:
"Well I'm not gonna have to worry about him because somebody else down South is gonna take him out...If that man is elected President he'll be shot sure as hell...The hate will be so deep from down South it'll definitely be a Southerner."Adding to the danger related to any such threat motivated by racism that same news segment reported that the number of hate groups similar to the KKK in the United States grew by 40% since the year 2000.
In Abingdon, Virginia during this past election one incident showcased such hostility, where a homemade sign for Barack Obama was vandalized, changing it to read, "KKK, KKK, Kill 'bama"
If these racial tensions were not enough, accusations of Obama being a terrorist were made by various McCain supporters and others during the election campaign. This was not helped by the repeated references of the association between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, a former domestic terrorist, by Republican nominees John McCain and Sarah Palin. The combination of such racial animosity and hate speech climaxed in multiple Republican rallies where supporters were heard yelling in response to Obama's name, "Kill him!" Though such extreme language can be attributed to the freedom associated with the anonymity of being in a crowd, the underlying and irrational hate is still clearly made evident.
The threat of assassination for Barack Obama and the United States is made the more real when one considers since it's creation America has suffered four Presidential assassinations and the additional attempts on eleven other Presidents. And perhaps what adds to the danger of this threat is the wide range of motivations behind these, from John Wilkes Booth's racist and political intent to Garfield's assassin Charles J. Gaiteau's directive from God to John Hinkley Jr.'s insane facination with Jodie Foster, making assassinations just that much harder to predict.
Barack Obama like the great men before him has immense power to change America and the World, and that is what always made the office of presidency a target for those troubled and desperate individuals who are willing to do anything to achieve their ends. However just as Barack Obama made history as the first black president he now faces threats on an unprecedented scale.
Assassinations of American Presidents
The first was of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate spy. Though the plan was originally only to kidnap Lincoln, hearing the President had began advocating voting rights for Blacks, Booth became fanatically determined to kill him.
In 1881 James Garfield was assassinated just four months after taking office by a dejected statesman Charles J. Guiteau who claimed God had commanded him to do it. An interesting fact is that Guiteau purposely purchased two of the finest revolvers he could so that when he was caught they would look good in a museum.
William McKinley was killed by Leon Czolgosz in 1901, he was motivated by a speech he heard a few days before by Emma Goldman, a famous anarchist.
The last and most infamous assassination was that of John F. Kennedy in 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald. Though his motivation is not known exactly, it is thought he was motivated by an extreme hostility towards America and its ideology. It should also be noted he too like Guiteau saw himself as doing a great thing.
In regard to assassination attempts on Presidents, one of the most serious was in 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt was shot, his life most likely saved by the bullet being slowed by a package of speeches and a metal glasses case. Another serious attempt was in 1981 when Ronald Reagan and three others were shot by John Hinckley Jr. in Washington DC, the assassin was later to be found insane due to his fanatical obsession with Jodie Foster. Other recent assassination attempts targeted the likes of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
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