It’s all the fault of Donald Trump and his heated rhetoric, at least that is what the talking heads on TV want you to think.
If only President Trump were not so aggressive, so violent in his rhetoric then these pipe bombs wouldn’t be in the mail.
It’s a simple response to a horrifying situation.
I can’t imagine having a package like that sent to my home or office and I don’t wish it on anyone.
But to blame this all on Trump or the heated rhetoric of the right is plain wrong.
Can Trump be over the top at times? Yes.
Does he call out his political opponents by name? Yes.
Does that mean he is responsible for this? No.
Political rhetoric is ramped up on all sides, not just the right.
Yet in the media blame game it only seems to go one way.
Two way street.
Consider the heated rhetoric of the left.
It was just two weeks ago that former Attorney General Eric Holder, one of the people that had a package sent to them called for violence. He paraphrased a famous Michelle Obama line while speaking to a group of Democrats.
“Michelle always says ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them!” Holder said.
Did he mean that literally? Of course not but it is still heated rhetoric, violent rhetoric. And the crowd of partisan Democrats loved it, they roared with approval just like Trump’s crowds do.
Calls for civility ring hollow.
What about Hillary Clinton?
Clinton was speaking in Florida shortly after the news of the bomb sent to her New York home broke. Clinton called for civility on political discourse.
Earlier this month she told CNN in an interview that there was no room for civility unless Democrats were in charge.
“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” Clinton said “That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”
So civility can only happen if the left is in charge?
Maxine Waters is also a target of this serial bomber and she is giving interviews blaming Trump’s rhetoric. Yet earlier this year she encouraged her supporters to harass members of the Trump administration any time they are out in public.
Violence in our politics is never acceptable.
It’s not just the rhetoric on the left but also actions.
In June 2017 it was a left wing activist, Bernie Sanders supporter and vocal critic of Donald Trump named James Hodgkinson that opened fire on a baseball practice of Congressional Republicans.
Representative Steve Scalise was seriously injured in that attack. He almost died.
Was that attack due to Trump’s rhetoric?
Political violence is not new and not confined to one side. It is also never acceptable.
Yet I can tell you that in my long experience covering politics it has mostly been political violence from the far left.
From the riots and burned out cars in the streets of Toronto during the 2010 G20 meetings to the three day pitched battle for the streets of Quebec City during the summit of the Americas in 2001 or various meetings of international leaders that I’ve covered, it has been radical left wing groups and activists that have reacted with violence.
I don’t recall left wing politicians being blamed for those riots. I don’t remember Bernie Sanders being blamed for Steve Scalise being shot.
Yet now, once again, the media has an easy target. Blame the right.
As I write we still don’t know who is behind this or what their motivations are.
We can guess but guesses are often wrong.
Words matter and political leaders need to be aware of what they are saying but if we are going to call for a calming of the rhetoric, let’s acknowledge that it needs to be on all sides.