An act of ‘po­lit­i­cal terrorism’

Our view: Re­sponse to N.C. fire­bomb­ing is a re­minder of our val­ues

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND VOICES -

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.

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