Opinion: The Democrats’ rhetoric is just as dangerous as Trump’s


WASHINGTON — This week a New York man, Carlos Bayon, was arrested after leaving threatening messages for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., promising to go after their families and “feed them lead.”

When police raided his home, they found 200 rounds of ammunition as well receipts for an assault rifle and handgun and books with titles such as “How to create a foolproof new identity,” “Middle Eastern Terrorist Bomb Designs” and “Silent But Deadly,” instructions for making homemade silencers.

This is the same Steve Scalise who barely survived an assassination attempt last year when James Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer, fired at least 70 rounds in his attack on Republicans practicing on an Alexandria, Va., field for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. Scalise was shot in the hip, spent weeks in the ICU, and had to undergo multiple surgeries.

It’s worth keeping these incidents in mind as we listen to the rising chorus of warnings that the president’s irresponsible attacks on the media will result in violence. CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta recently tweeted, “I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt.”

Let’s pray something so awful never comes to pass. But by that standard, the blood on the Alexandria field was blood on the Democrats’ hands. Before shooting Scalise, Hodgkinson joined Facebook groups such as “Join the Resistance Worldwide,” “Terminate the Republican Party,” and “The Road To Hell Is Paved With Republicans.” He posted that “Trump is a Traitor” and “Republicans are the Taliban of the USA.” Where did he get the idea to compare Republicans to terrorists? Well, just to give one example:

During the 2016 campaign, Clinton compared Republicans to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, declaring “Now, extreme views on women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans.”

And Bayon, the man who threatened Scalise and McMorris Rogers, was reportedly driven to rage over Trump’s border policies.

Let’s be clear: No individual, Democrat or Republican, is responsible for the violent actions of a deranged person. But we are all collectively responsible for creating the climate of hatred that is permeating our politics today. Those who call Republicans Nazis and terrorists, and call Trump supporters “deplorables” who “didn’t like black people getting rights” are just as guilty of feeding this climate of hate as those who call journalists the “enemy of the people.”

Here’s an idea: If we are really concerned that the state of our political discourse is going to get someone killed, then maybe people on both sides should cut it out. Journalists are not “the enemy of the people,” and don’t deserve to be called such. But while they express understandable outrage over being labeled enemies, they should also be doing a better job of calling out Democrats who compare Republicans to our actual enemies. Because demonizing our fellow Americans is not only wrong and dangerous when Republicans are the ones doing the demonizing.

Writes for the Washington Post.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Democrats should resist the urge to fight fire with fire

One measure of the effectiveness of a political movement is how it changes its opposition. And Donald Trump is in the process of driving portions of his Democratic opposition insane. Hillary Clinton — whose warmth, integrity and down-to-earth style were the largest reasons for Trump’s election — has now publicly turned against civility...
Editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon

CARTOON VIEW MIKE LUCKOVICH
Opinion: The electoral college debate

Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seeking to represent New York’s 14th Congressional District, has called for the abolition of the Electoral College. Her argument came on the heels of the Senate’s confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. She was lamenting the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito...
POINT OF VIEW: Disparity in county government contracts clearly exists
POINT OF VIEW: Disparity in county government contracts clearly exists

When I ran for the Palm Beach County Commission, part of my campaign platform was to increase contracting with small, women and minority businesses (SMWBEs). As the only minority commissioner, I take seriously my role in making sure that all county businesses have fair and equal access to county contracts. For years (decades really), minority- and...
Letters: Schoolrooms lacking, butsports facilities dandy

Paper carriers do a bang-up job I’ve lived long enough to have had four sons who were “paper boys,” and now live in a time where the paper is delivered by automobile. These folks do a superb job. For me, the newspaper is always delivered here by 6 a.m., double-wrapped (when needed) and easy to find. Thank you all for a job well done...
More Stories