U.S. Congressman Eric Cantor said Thursday that he believed many of the threats leveled against him since he assumed office may be in part to the fact that he is Jewish.
"There's been a lot of reports of threats and the potential for violence against members of Congress," said Cantor, who is the only Jewish Republican Congressman and serves as the minority whip in the House.
"Let me be clear, I do not condone violence. We condemn violence - period," he said. "I've received threats since I assumed elected office not only because of my position but also because I am Jewish. I have never blamed anyone in this body for that - period. Any suggestion that a leader in this body would incite threats or acts against other members is akin to my endangering myself, my wife and my children."
Cantor said that recently he was "directly threatened" on Monday, when someone shot a bullet through the window of his campaign office in Richmond, Virginia.
"I?ve received threatening emails," he continued. "But I will not release them, because I believe such actions will only encourage more to be sent. It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain.|
"Security threats against members of Congress is not a partisan issue and they should never be treated that way. To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible," he added.
"I am not naive enough to think that letters, statements or press releases will prevent anyone disturbed enough to commit violence from acting," said Cantor. "But I do know that such letters, statements, and press releases can very easily fan the flames. By ratcheting up the rhetoric, some will only inflame these situations to dangerous levels."
With the reconciliation bill sent back to the House of Representative for the final vote and the controversial healthcare reform marking its first days after President Barack Obama's signature as law of the land, Congress democrats are expressing concerns over their personal security - and the security of their families.
Some of these concerns were made public following Wednesday?s meeting of the Democratic Caucus with representatives of the FBI and the Capitol police.
Some lawmakers received threats by fax, phone or email; a brick was thrown through the window of the Democratic Party?s Cincinnati office; while the House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters that: "The incidents of threats whether in person or through telephones or through other communication devices, have given great concern to members, for the safety of themselves and their families."
House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a statement saying: "I know many Americans are angry over this health care bill and that Washington Democrats just aren't listening, but, as I?ve said, violence and threats are unacceptable. That?s not the American way. We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change. Call your congressman, go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, make your voice heard - but let?s do it the right way.?
Cantor, meanwhile, called on the Democrats to stop using those threats as a "political weapon".
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