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Russell Olson: Critics Are Terrorists

Last updated on 2013.02.17

Senator Russell Olson has a really thin skin. He can't stand debate and criticism on his Facebook page. He still blocks me from following my state senator on Twitter.

And now he calls critics of his voting record "terrorists":

Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson didn't mince words when I asked him about the people sending out robocalls and postcards attacking him and others.

"I think they're terrorists. They want to ambush and never say who they are," Olson said [David Montgomery, "Terrorists and Nazis," Political Smokeout, August 20, 2012].

Absurd. The CIA follows this statutory definition of terrorism:

The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents [CIA, "Terrorism FAQs," updated July 13, 2012].

I have my disagreements with the thesis of the robocalls, postcards, and e-mails criticizing Olson and his SDGOP leadership pals for their voting records. However, by no responsible stretch of the imagination can anything the anonymous critics have done be called violence. The voting record attacks are more truthful than the demonstrable lies we are hearing from Mitt Romney on President Obama's offer of flexibility to states on welfare requirements.

Rep. Stace Nelson, a Republican running for District 19 House, has publicly criticized other Republicans for not closely following the Republican platform. His attacks align with those made in the anonymous robocalls and mailings. He ridicules Senator Olson's "terrorism" cries:

On the other side, Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, took offense to the use of the term "terrorist."

"Oh my goodness. That's ridiculous. That diminishes the actual terrorist threat," Nelson said. "If Sen. Olson feels that someone questioning his voting record is a terrorist... we're supposed to be representing the individual voters. That comment is offensive to me" [Montgomery, 2012.08.20].

Rep. Nelson inkles toward his own hyperbole, telling Montgomery that Olson and the GOP leadership enforce the party line with tactics like "the stuff you see in Third World countries and Nazi Germany." Yes, we can all shout "Godwin's Law!" But check the wording: Nelson doesn't say "Olson is a Nazi"; he says the GOP leadership exhibits similar behaviors. Olson skips the like and says of his critics, "They're terrorists." There's a subtle difference, but it matters.

Russ, calling anything you don't like "terrorism" is as intellectually and politically irresponsible as calling anything you don't like "Communism" or "socialism" or "Marxism." You mislead and miseducate the citizens you serve... and you make yourself sound stupid.

Update August 21, 22:14 MDT: Interestingly, Rep. Nelson has not weighed in on whether his friends at Liberty TV displaying Mein Kampf are Nazis.


  1. Dougal 2012.08.21

    Russ Olson and his vacant hairline are running scared and out of control like a grade school pansy. Put the smackdown on him, Stace!

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.08.21

    Hey, Dougal, neither you, I, nor Pat Powers is in a position to make hairlines a voting issue. Forget the vacant hairline; focus on the vacant head.

  3. Julie Gross (NE) 2012.08.21

    --Russ, calling anything you don’t like “terrorism” is as intellectually and politically irresponsible

    Is that anything like when you cannot coherently respond to a post, you call it a "red herring"?

    [CAH: Julie, I have no obligation to indulge your efforts to get us away from the topics that you can't win on.]

  4. Justin 2012.08.21

    Hard to find a winner in the tallest midget contest. This is boring, I want to see the bearded lady.

  5. Justin 2012.08.21

    And there she is!

  6. Steve Sibson 2012.08.21

    "Russ, calling anything you don’t like “terrorism” is as intellectually and politically irresponsible as calling anything you don’t like “Communism” or “socialism” or “Marxism.”"

    You are not comparing apples to apples. What is going on politically in America does fit the definition of Communism, socialism, and Marxism.

  7. larry kurtz 2012.08.21

    Sibsonism: the truth is out there....

  8. larry kurtz 2012.08.21

    so, janklow wiring the schools was fascism, then?

  9. Stace Nelson 2012.08.21

    The comments legislators made calling voters questioning their voting records “terrorists” was grossly offensive to me as a Republican, as a veteran who protected bases my Marines and my family lived/worked on, as a federal agent who lived the nightmare of trying to protect service members and their families from that horror overseas for near two decades, and as a father with two children currently in the military with one of them down range in the Middle East. Their efforts to play the victim of their own voting records, trivialized the deaths of thousands of Americans at the hands of actual terrorists, as well as the work of all those brave Americans who have put themselves in harms way these many years to protect this country from those real life monsters. I had the same visceral reaction to the same asinine comments when they were made by members of the Obama administration about conservatives:

    The over the top reaction to voters’ questioning their public voting records, in an effort to intimidate voters’ questioning them (quell freedom of speech), on top of the dishonest corrupt actions of House Leadership lying and claiming I threatened to kill Nick Moser to illegally try and expel me from the House, are something from corrupt third world countries and that very evil empire I mentioned.

    These politicians’ over the top reactions show they intuitively know their records reflect poorly on themselves. Thus the distractive wailing about the unimportant detail of who dared point out their public voting records, and the frantic efforts to find someone to attack to distract from the real issue of their public voting records.

    Those that voted to strip the college benefits from our National Guardsmen via 2011’s SB 188, as those South Dakota soldiers were deployed in the Middle East facing REAL terrorists, SHOULD be ashamed of themselves.

    To understand my feelings behind this, those that actually put their lives in harms way to deal with terrorists stand at their father’s grave bawling out of guilt for doing their duty overseas and not being their when their hero died:

  10. Julie Gross (NE) 2012.08.21

    Of course, when Bozo Biden calls Tea party folks "terorists", he's just being Joe, right?

    Then of course, he denied saying it, but I doubt Plugs Biden remembers much of what he says.

  11. larry kurtz 2012.08.21

    but ecoterrorists like Monsanto inflict legitimate rape on South Dakota's wetlands and watersheds every day: i love the smell of napalm in the morning.

  12. Justin 2012.08.21

    So naturally the non hypocritical response is to call them Nazis? That will be sure to offend nobody.

  13. Rorschach 2012.08.21

    The bearded lady comment sailed right over her head, Justin. Made me laugh though.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.08.21

    Justin, I'm willing to grant a distinction: Olson said flat out "They're terrorists." Nelson compared suppression of dissent to tactics in Nazi Germany. Nelson did not say "They're Nazis." It's a slight difference, but worth noting.

  15. Owen Reitzel 2012.08.21

    I read your link Stace but almost clicked out when I saw it was the Christian Colalition site.
    So Timothy McVeigh was not right-wing and he was not a home grown terrorist? Hmmm

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.08.21

    I'm not sure what point the Christian Coalition is trying to make about Timothy McVeigh. Let's be clear: McVeigh was a terrorist. He used violence. The Obama Administration did not say conservatives were terrorists. The Administration was speaking of watching for potential terrorist activity. I'm not fond of all this fear-mongering, even when the Obama Adminstration does it, but there's a difference between being watchful for security threats and labeling people who send postcards "terrorists," as Russ did.

    The injudicious use by others of the word does not excuse someone else's, Biden's or Olson's. But you know, when Tea Party Republicans threatened to shut down the government and cause genuine harm to millions of Americans by the chaos that would ensue, they came closer to threatening violence than anyone Russ is talking about. Still not there, but the analogy fails by serious degree.

  17. Bryce Rausch 2012.08.22

    Calling them terrorists without framing it better is going too far, like that crack job on youtube the other day with "Mein Kampf" on his desk when he dressed up as a judge and looked like we were watching him have a stroke.

  18. Justin 2012.08.22

    I've got my own acronym for RINO: Representing Ignorant Neocons Only.

    I really find it offensive that these looney tunes are far more concerned with who has the more conservative principles but could give half a care about what their constituents want.

  19. Douglas Wiken 2012.08.22

    Legislative idiots have stretched nearly anything into being terrorism. A kid brings a knife to school to peal an apple and she becomes and 8-year old terrorist. An idiot leaves a note pad with a threat against an SDSM&T Dean's house, and they charge him with terrorism instead of mental illness and stupidity.

    Terrorism charges help fill prisons that Republicans build in order to get contributions from the prison industry and judges view it as a cornfield baseball diamond. If they build them, we will fill them.

    Meanwhile as we put more and more people into prison, the costs of that mindlessness prevents funding education. It is a wonderful circle of stupidity and corruption-- moral, ethical, and intellectual.

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