Over at the National Post, I link current calls for the assassination of Julian Assange with a larger history and pattern of incendiary rhetoric on the political right. You can read the article here.
A hard-drinking punch-drunk wordsmith, Pegler was addicted to verbal violence. He had a troubling habit of calling for the death of those he disagreed with. In 1933, Giuseppe Zangara tried to shoot President-elect Franklin Roosevelt. He failed but managed to kill the Mayor of Chicago and wounded four other people. Pegler later regretted the fact that Zangara “hit the wrong man.”
In a 1950 column Pegler contended that, “the only sensible and courageous way to deal with Communists in our midst is to make membership in Communist organizations or covert subsidies a capital offence and shoot or otherwise put to death all persons convicted as such.” This policy, had it been carried out, would have resulted in the deaths of ten thousand or more American citizens, a violent political purge of a sort that the United States has fortunately never experienced. In 1965 Pegler expressed the desire for Robert F. Kennedy’s murder, saying that he hoped “some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter [Kennedy’s] spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies.”
“Why is Assange still alive?” Ezra Levant asked in a column earlier this week, arguing that like the members of Al-Qaeda, Assange should be targeted for death….
Many others on the political right have called, either explicitly or implicitly for the killing of Assange. “As a foreigner (Australian citizen) engaged in hostile acts against the U.S., Mr. Assange is certainly not protected from U.S. reprisal under the laws of war,” the editors of the Wall Street Journal have argued.