A Republican office was firebombed in North Carolina and “Vote for Trump” signs have been vandalized in Maryland—these are the indications that while US political campaigns have always been somewhat ugly and contentious, violence is being added to the list of tools this year.
Governor Pat McCrory, Republican of North Carolina, took Sunday to call the weekend firebombing of a Republican headquarters in Charlotte “an attack on our democracy,” The Charlotte Observer reports. No one was injured in the attack.
In suburban Baltimore, large Trump signs have been burned, ripped, and vandalized, according to the Howard County Times. “We have a very divided electorate this year,” the paper quoted state Senator Gail Bates, a Republican herself, as saying. “People have the right to express their opinions; they do not have a right to destroy things.”
In reference to the North Carolina firebombing, political hopefuls took to the Twitterverse, as has become the standard practice in US elections, with both the Republican and Democratic nominees for president condemning the action.
Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning @NCGOP
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016
Thank you Mr. @realDonaldTrump. We will not be silenced nor suppressed by this evil act. We will pray for those who seek to harm us.
— NCGOP (@NCGOP) October 16, 2016
The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOP office is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 16, 2016
Any attack on the machinery of our democracy is an attack on all of us, regardless of the target. While we may disagree with the main point of a sign or the campaign being promoted by workers in a certain office, we must defend without fail their right to speak.
This is America still. A lesson about how to teach terrorism to students was developed by the group Rethinking Schools, which was launched by a group of teachers around Milwaukee about 30 years ago. The organization writes:
Underlying this curricular demand for consistency [about terrorism] is the basic democratic, indeed human, premise that the lives of people from one nation [or one political party] are not worth more than the lives of people from another. A Pakistani university student, Nabil Ahmed, expressed this sentiment to the Christian Science Monitor: “There is only one way for America to be a friend of Islam. And that is if they consider our lives to be as precious as their own.”
There is only one way for Republicans and Democrats to accomplish anything, and that is if they consider lives of people in the other party to be as precious as their own. That consideration is completely incompatible with the notion of violence in any form.