Death Threats for Councilman Who Won’t Stand for the Pledge
February 12, 2007
Tom Rawles won’t stand for Bush’s Iraq policy--or for the Pledge of Allegiance, either.
He’s no leftwing protester. He’s a registered Republican and a libertarian who voted for Bush in 2000. A lawyer, he also is a member of the city council of Mesa, Arizona, and formerly a Maricopa County board member.
While he’s not worried about his own safety, Tom Rawles of the Mesa City Council is worried “about the future of freedom in this country.”
Most of his colleagues on the city council did not take kindly to his decision not to stand for the Pledge or to recite it at the January 22 meeting.
He vowed then to continue his protest until the troops come home.
So at the February 5 meeting, he remained seated and quiet while the other members rose to recite the Pledge.
He says he decided to go public with his protest after Bush acknowledged in early January that his Iraq policy could be described as “a slow failure.” Rawles terms Bush’s decision to send more troops “a slower failure.” As he puts it, “Why put more American lives in danger while we delay the inevitable?”
He says he wanted to wake people up: “I thought, if I want to get Americans to think about this war and quit becoming complacent, then I should hit them where it hurts, and get their attention.”
That he did.
His act of conscience has brought death threats: “One said, ‘Put a bullet in me,’ and the other said, ‘Bury me in the concrete my company makes.’ (I work for a company that leases land to a business that makes concrete.)”
Both of those threats came online, in reader responses on newspaper websites, he says.
He got another one over the phone, he says.
“Someone should take you out back behind the council building and beat the shit out of you,” the caller said, reports Rawles.
According to the AP, “Police briefly provided him with protection before deciding that the threats were no reason for alarm.”
“My wife was a little more concerned about it than I was,” Rawles says. “People were just mouthing off, spouting off, venting, being stupid.”
While he’s not worried about his own safety, Rawles is worried “about the future of freedom in this country,” he says. “We are so afraid of almost everything that we’re willing to trade in our freedoms for this false sense of security the government is trying to provide. We don’t seem to want any diversity of opinion. And if there is dissent, we even want uniformity in dissent.”
He compares citizens with this attitude to a herd of musk oxen.
“It scares the bejeezus out of me,” he says.
In Mesa, there is a move afoot to make Rawles face a recall.
“I can’t imagine a better final political campaign to be involved in,” he says, “than whether the First Amendment is alive or dead in Mesa, Arizona.”