Shortly after the arrest of the MAGA bomber, I went to Facebook to see what my Facebook focus group of conservatives friends was saying. Before the arrest, I saw lots of posts guessing that the bombs sent to Democrats was a false flag operation. They were sure that the bombs were sent by a Democrat or Democrats in an effort to alter the trajectory of the election.
The posts I found were disturbing. One guy, who is a UVA graduate, was posting that the whole episode was made up. He had supposed photos of the bomber with Democratic leaders with tags saying the bomber had long supported Democrats. Other pages were full of posts about the “invasion” caravan being funded by George Soros and progressive groups. The people posting them were, for the most part, college educated and very middle class.
One post with a long stream of comments attacked Shepard Smith, Chris Wallace and Juan Williams of Fox News for reporting the news. The consensus was that they needed to be fired or moved to CNN. In other words, the only people they believed on Fox News were the commentary crews like Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Fox and Friends.
Less than 24 hours after I was reading these posts, a deranged anti-Semite driven to rage by the reports of the Soros funded caravan murdered eleven Jewish people at worship in Pittsburgh.
I’m tired of hearing about both sides. It’s one side—the right side—that’s dangerous in this country. Students illegally toppling monuments to white supremacy is not equal to sending bombs to political leaders. Shouting at Republican leaders in restaurants is not the same as shooting people in a synagogue.
As Andrew Gillium said of his opponent in the Florida governor’s race, “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist, I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.” The corollary to that is that not all Republicans are racists, but Republicans can’t win without the support of racists. And news outlets like Fox News and talk radio fan the flames of racism with increasingly less subtle dog whistles.
When I point fingers, I’m not pointing at strangers. I’m pointing at people I’ve known all of my life, including some of whom are my kin. And they’re not all uneducated working class white people, either. Many are respected members of their communities.
They’ve always harbored racist tendencies but since their side lost the civil rights battles of the 1960s and 1970s, they’ve generally kept their rhetoric under wraps. They set up segrationist academies after integration and when those failed, they grudgingly sent their children to public schools. They used, and use, the n-word regularly in private, but not in public. Now, they’re getting more bold. They have a president who thinks like them and a television news outlet that reflects their views and validates their feelings 24 hours a day.
The caravan is their current rallying point. Fox commentators call it an invasion force bringing diseased terrorists to destroy our country. To put it in perspective, all of the immigrants in the caravan wouldn’t fill up the end zone section of a large football stadium.
A Fox News story from two days ago says, “Pence calls out caravan’s connection to the left” and these people believe it. Supposedly responsible conservatives leaders are silent or even encouraging. Former White House spokesman Ari Fleisher says the caravan is about “ the rule of law.” What BS. The caravan is a bunch of scared and hungry people running from failed or failing states and is getting smaller as people seek asylum in Mexico. These caravans happen fairly regularly and have never been covered like this until Trump and Fox News portrayed them as an assault on our country.
Progressive activists chasing politicians out of restaurants is not acceptable, but it’s also not comparable to the racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism animating the right. MSNBC might push a liberal perspective but they don’t have the vitriol that spews from Fox News hosts and guests. College students might be wrong in shouting down speakers with whom they disagree, but they don’t demand locking up political opponents or call the free press the “enemy of the people.” The President of the United States does.
It’s not both sides. It’s one side that is threatening our democracy and the only people who can stop it are supposedly responsible Republican leaders who are sitting on their hands hoping to control the courts or for bigger tax cuts for corporations. The Democratic Party may have a very vocal left flank, but it’s not controlled by it. The GOP is now the party of Trump with a vicious propaganda machine that demonizes opponents and tramples on the ideals that have made this country a beacon of light in the world.
Our country has never been perfect, or even close to it. We embraced slavery, Jim Crow, the subjugation of the American Indians and numerous other horrors. However, our story, and what makes us great, is overcoming our demons to make a more perfect union that offers opportunity and hope for people of all backgrounds. To continue on this path, we’ll have to defeat Trumpism and the fear mongers at Fox News and on talk radio. To succeed, we’ll need responsible Republicans and conservatives to call them out unabashedly without qualification. Otherwise, we can throw our idealism on the ash heap of history.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >