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Elderly man charged in assault says poster of Obama as Hitler sparked incident

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The Sushi Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:55 PM
Original message
Elderly man charged in assault says poster of Obama as Hitler sparked incident
Seattle Times

EDMONDS, Wash. As a child in Armenia, Henry Gasparian witnessed firsthand the horrors of Nazi Germany. Two uncles were killed, his father wounded and a brother starved to death during the German invasion and occupation of the Soviet Union.


So when Gasparian, 70, saw a poster of President Obama with a Hitler mustache near the entrance to the Edmonds Farmers Market Sept. 5, he concedes his reaction was "personal and emotional."

He tried to grab the fliers being passed out by supporters of Lyndon LaRouche, a perennial presidential candidate who has likened Obama's health-care proposals to the Nazi extermination of Jews and other "undesirables."

Two young LaRouche workers told police that Gasparian repeatedly pushed them and grabbed one of their arms. Gasparian said it was they who first pushed him.

Now Gasparian is charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in Edmonds Municipal Court for what he describes as an attempt by "an old man to say you cannot insult the president with this outrageous campaign."

The Edmonds incident has been echoed around the country over the past few months. LaRouche supporters have disrupted town hall meetings on health care, including most famously, the young woman who asked Rep. Barney Frank in August why he supported a "Nazi health care plan." The Massachusetts Democrat replied, "On what planet do you spend most of your time?"

The LaRouche Political Action Committee Web site says "Stop Obama's Nazi Health Plan" and encourages visitors to download the Obama-as-Hitler poster and take it to town hall meetings.

In Washington state, LaRouche workers have set up tables outside of post offices, at the Evergreen and Puyallup fairs and other public venues.

The local LaRouche activists declined to comment on the Edmonds incident and referred questions to the national office. Nancy Spannaus, a spokeswoman for the LaRouche PAC, defended the Obama-as-Hitler posters saying they are an "honest emblem of what the administration policy represents."

She said the Obama plan is premised on the idea that some people cost too much to keep alive, a charge the Obama administration and health-care advocates say is untrue.

But the heightened rhetoric and extreme views surrounding the public debate are raising alarm among political observers and groups that monitor hate speech and threats against minorities.

Hilary Bernstein, Pacific Northwest community director of the Anti-Defamation League, a national civil rights organization, worries that the language first propagated by LaRouche backers, who espouse a far-right political point of view, is now entering the mainstream debate.

"What used to be so fringe is making its way into talk radio, blogs, YouTube and other news sources that people see as legitimate," she said.

David Domke, a University of Washington professor who specializes in political communication, said that while people have been saying terrible things about politicians since the country's beginnings, "the intensity and depth of feeling today seems to be at a dangerous point."

"We have conversations now in the same way we go to war. We have to demonize the other person," Domke said.

Local political leaders are also dismayed by the likening of Obama to Hitler.

Jim Kellett, chair of the Snohomish Republican party, saw the LaRouche activists outside the Everett, Wash., post office this summer. Kellett, who has toured a concentration camp in Germany and visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., said, "If they understood what the Holocaust was about, it's really unconscionable to make that kind of comparison."

He said he has told people opposed to the health-care proposals "to be civil and come armed with the facts."

Henry Gasparian said that he had seen news reports that included the images of Obama as Hitler, but wasn't prepared when he saw the poster outside the crowded Edmonds market.

The police report says that Gasparian yelled at the LaRouche activists from his car, "flipped them off" and repeatedly yelled obscenities. The activists told police that he returned on foot and assaulted them without provocation.

Gasparian left the scene after the confrontation, but said he drove past the table about two hours later. When he saw a police officer nearby, he said, he stopped and questioned him about the activist's right to use the Nazi imagery.

The LaRouche workers saw Gasparian and identified him to the officer as the man who had earlier assaulted them. That's when Gasparian was handcuffed and arrested. He said three or four patrol cars surrounded the intersection of Fifth and Main "as if they had caught Bin Laden."

Aramis Gasparian, 29, bailed his father out of jail 8 hours later. He said his father had never had more than a speeding ticket before this incident.

"It's shocking, to say the least. He's 70 years old," the son said.

Gasparian immigrated from Armenia in 1993, the same year both his parents died. A classically trained musician with degrees in English and journalism, he settled in the Seattle area and found jobs in sales until health concerns forced him to retire.

A week after his arrest, Gasparian was still emotional. He said he recalled his miserable childhood in Armenia, where, because of the war, some days he had no more to eat than a small piece of sugar or bread.

His father, drafted by the Soviets to fight the Nazis when Gasparian was just 1 year old, returned home six years later, unrecognizable, injured both physically and mentally.

Historical accounts say that a half-million Armenians fought for the Soviets against the Germans. Half were killed, including Gasparian's two uncles.

"I saw Hitler's soldiers. I saw swastikas every day. To call Obama stupid, even criminal, OK, that's politics. But Hitler? It's hurting to anyone no matter who is president," he said.
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DJ13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:59 PM
Response to Original message
1. I believe this is the poster he was rightfully upset about

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paulsby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:20 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. i've long argued
that hitler comparisons suck .

they sucked with bush. but they were common

they are orders of magnitude worse when applied to obama. and they are still common.

as to the rouchies, i'll quote the dead kennedys "in a real third reich, you'd be the first to go"



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notadmblnd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:02 PM
Response to Original message
2. Who funds this LaRouche organization?
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Louisiana1976 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:06 PM
Response to Original message
3. LaRouchies are douchies....
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sinkingfeeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:12 PM
Response to Original message
4. They're hate-driven liars and much closer on the right to Hitler than Obama.
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Jokerman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
5. I'll be happy to contribute to his defense fund.
While I don't condone violence, even against the LaRouche nut bags, given this man's history I can understand why he would be upset.
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paulsby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. he'll get a small fine
and probation, probably with the stipulation that his record is wiped clean upon completion.

that's par for the course for a minor assault and first time offender in this jurisdiction

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izquierdista Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:25 PM
Response to Original message
8. "Without" provocation?
I believe many court cases in many countries have established that yelling, parading, and taunting with Nazi symbols is "provocation".
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JohnWxy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
9. the Larouche acolytes seem to prefer to live in a world of their own creation. They are not the
least bit interested in talking about the real world. They are just like the people who swear they have been taken into alien space craft and have been subjected to wierd medical experiments.

There really is no hope of having a rational conversation with these "Outer Limits" reality-deniers.



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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
10. How can we contribute to Mr. Gasparian's defense?
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JohnWxy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:31 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Link to Seattle times and picture of Gasparian. Maybe they will print something more re this incl
defense fund. You can also post a comment to the article. One other person said the same thing about a defense fund.





http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/20098820...
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nolabear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
11. I hope they make a case for chronic PTSD.
I don't know how any judge with a conscience would impose much of a fine on this man, but the horror of what the Jews went through in the holocaust, and the legacy that it has left for them, their children and grandchildren is almost unimaginable. I've given the Larouche crowd a piece of my mind more than once for that stupid poster. It's cruel, and it underscores just how uninformed they choose to remain.
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 06:12 PM
Response to Original message
13. Sometimes it takes a courageous 70-year old to start a revolt. Thank you, Mr. Gasparian.
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Libertas1776 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:39 PM
Response to Original message
14. Just saw this
on Countdown. Bravo to this courageous man. :applause:

There was only one Hitler, and there will always be only one Hitler, and this man experienced his atrocities firsthand. He knows what is and what isn't. He is right, the Hitler labels on Obama are wrong, and they were wrong when used on Bush. And they will be wrong with every future president we shall ever have.

and those LaDouche cult members can go drives themselves off a cliff.
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whyverne Donating Member (734 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:56 PM
Response to Original message
15. Did we finally find a hero?
If he gets fined I hope he refuses to pay it and makes them lock him up.

You want him to claim a mental disorder? Screw that. They're the ones who are crazy.

They are provoking people to violence. They are yelling "fire" in the theater.

If there's a fight every time these provocateurs show up, then the cops will get sick of them too.

Public safety issues will overcome any free speech crap from these lunatics.

If I wasn't a single dad, I'd do it myself.

Egg them, paint ball them, throw urine at them.

The barbarians are at the gates, and as usual we got our side defending their rights.

"They are just a bunch of pansies. Come on everybody! Let's go and meet the pansies!"
King Julian in "Madagascar"
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lumpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:14 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. I understand your anger. I feel it also.
I'm afraid this hate mongering must not continue or there will be mayhem.
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lumpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:09 PM
Response to Original message
16. It should be a hate crime for anyone to be referenced as Hitler.
It is in many European countries. It is more than offensive to those of us who lived during those times. Hate parading as free speech would not have been tolerated by the founders of this nation. There will come a time when this sort of repulsive behavior will not be tolerated in this country. It cannot exist or we will become a nation of criminal anarchists and it will contribute to the destruction of this country. What a horrible insidious way to bring about the radical division of Americans.
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