An act of ‘political terrorism’
Our view: Response to N.C. firebombing is a reminder of our values
The firebombing of a Republican Party headquarters in North Carolina over the weekend was despicable. The spray-painted message accompanying the act, “Nazi Republicans, leave town or else,” places it squarely in the context of what North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Dallas Woodhouse called “political terrorism.” Whoever did it and whatever their motivations, they have injected more anger and fear into an election season that has already seen far too much of both.
Fortunately (with the exception of Donald Trump’s tweet blaming the act on “Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems”) the reaction from across the political spectrum has been to reaffirm the importance of peaceful, constructive political debate. Hillary Clinton and the North Carolina GOP exchanged respectful messages in the aftermath of the bombing; the Democratic nominee tweeted, “The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOPis horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe,” and the state party responded with thanks for her “thoughts & prayers.” Individual volunteers came to help clean up, and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, called the bombing “an attack on our democracy” and pledged all assistance possible to help in the investigation.
Several Democrats set up a GoFundMepage to collect donations to help rebuild the damaged office and surpassed their goal of $10,000 in pledges within 40 minutes. “This is not how Americans resolve their differences. We talk, we argue, sometimes we march, and most of all we vote. We do not resort to violence by individuals or by mobs,” the organizers wrote. “So, let’s all pitch in, no matter what your party affiliation, and get that office open again quickly.”
Notwithstanding the comments from a few misguided liberals who criticized any move to help the Republican Party, the effort was a reminder that even amid one of the ugliest presidential elections in recent times, Americans are continuing to stand up for what they believe is right, even when it’s difficult.
After The Arizona Republic endorsed Hillary Clinton — the first Democrat it has ever supported for president — reaction from some was swift and harsh. It wasn’t just threats of canceled subscriptions but threats of physical violence. In the face of that ugliness, Mi-Ai Parrish, the president of The Arizona Republic and Republic Media, wrote a stirring defense of her paper’s journalists and their determination to perform their vital role in our democracy, regardless of the criticism.
One anonymous person who called the paper referred to Don Bolles, a Republic reporter who was killed by a car bomb decades ago, and promised more of the same because of the endorsement. Ms. Parrish wrote that the young womanwhotookthe call not only calmly recounted the details to the police but also went to church to pray for the caller. She “prayed for patience, for forgiveness,” Ms. Parrish wrote. She told the story of a news editor who stood at a Trump rally as the candidate “encouraged his followers to heckle and boo and bully journalists. Then she came back to the newsroom to ensure our coverage was fair.” She wrote about her own experience as the daughter of an immigrant who had grown up “under an occupying dictatorship, with no right to an education, no free press, no freedom of religion, no freedom to assemble peaceably, no right to vote. No right to free speech. She raised a journalist who understood not to take these rights for granted.”
On the other side of the country, conservative radio host, author and blogger Erick Erickson has lost listeners and advertisers since he became an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump’s candidacy. But worse, his children have been yelled at in their school and community and have faced protesters showing up at their home. Mr. Erickson wrote this month that the turmoil of this political season coincides with serious health problems for him and his wife that have forced them to confront their mortality and contemplate the lessons they wish to leave for their children. His answer was that they should trust in their faith and live by their values, even if it means they must stand alone. “I hope my children know that winning isn’t everything,” Mr. Erickson wrote. “Not losing yourself to the world is vastly more important. Pressure will be brought to bear and it can be unpleasant. But integrity has to matter. Doing what’s right is always more important than doing what’s liked.”
In an election year like this one, marred by intimidation, vandalism and even violence, we risk losing sight of what makes our democracy so exceptional. We cannot allow that to happen.