John Colson: Hit and Run | AspenTimes.com

John Colson: Hit and Run

John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly

So, the gates have flown open, the horses have started down the track, and the race for the White House truly has begun.

Within a couple of months we should know whether the U.S. electorate is still so locked into the Jim Crow outlook on life that not even the lowest presidential and party approval ratings in recent memory can overcome a knee-jerk racist fear over the prospect of a black man as leader of the Free World.

We also should know whether the kindred spirits of Sirhan Sirhan, John Hinckley and whoever it was who shot JFK are alive and well in the land.

For those who keep their heads well-buried in the sand, authorities have trumpeted the news of several alleged plots, or at least threats, to kill U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president.

One of the cases involves some sap in North Carolina who is accused of calling Obama “the anti-christ” at a Waffle House restaurant, and later repeating that or similar remarks at a bar. The sap, one Jerry Blanchard, has been indicted and tossed in jail and is being defended by one Lawrence Hewitt, dad to Ashton Hewitt, an Aspen resident and an advertising representative for The Aspen Times.

The other case involves what one radio talk-jock called “the three stooges” ” Tharin Gartrell, Shawn Adolf and Nathan Johnson ” three alleged meth-heads who are said to have been overheard spouting racist threats against Obama during a night of partying. The three also are said to have amassed a small arsenal of weapons and ammo, along with assorted militaristic and communications gear. All three were arrested the week of the Democratic National Convention in Denver after Gartrell was nabbed in a traffic stop in a pickup loaded with some of the attack-type gear. None of the three has been charged concerning the murder-plot allegations, and one, Gartrell, was set to be released to a halfway house on Sept. 3, according to news reports.

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Another case involves a man in Miami, Fla., where Raymond H. Geisel is charged with threatening Obama with statements made during a bail-bonds training class July 31. An affidavit also says Geisel threatened to put a bullet in President Bush’s head, which shows his non-partisan nature.

Court records reportedly show Geisel possessed ammunition, body armor, a combat-style hatchet, tear gas, a loaded 9mm handgun and loaded magazines. He claims to be a collector, and said he was using the gun for his bail-bonds course.

Geisel, who reportedly told an agent he was just joking, has been in custody for a month.

And then there was the matter of a Somalian-born Muslim from Canada, Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, 29, who, according to various reports, crossed into the U.S. back in July, made his way to Denver with what was said to be a pound or more of cyanide in his possession. The man then mysteriously died in Denver, a supposed suicide, on Aug. 15. His body was found in a hotel two blocks from the state capitol, and authorities have ruled him out as a potential terrorist or assailant against anyone linked to the DNC.

So, is all this mere coincidence? Has our national water supply been universally tainted with some kind of nut-juice? Do the cops know more than they’re saying?

I sure as hell don’t know, but what I do know is this ” ever since Obama became a credible threat to the white power structure in the U.S., the wires have been singing with everything from off-color jokes to sincere worries that the senator from Illinois is dead-center in someone’s rifle sights. And I, for one, say those concerns are valid.

What the potential for an assassination says about our national psyche is not just scary, it is pathetic and disgusting.

And what is worse, too many of the names and personalities involved in this kind of madness seem to be centered on Colorado. Hinckley was from Evergreen, radio host Allen Berg was shot to death in Denver by white supremacists, and now the three stooges and the mysterious Dirie all end up here.

Connections? You tell me.

jcolson@aspentimes.com

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