Suspicious Packages: Result of Raging Rhetoric

By David Malcolm

George Soros, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, CNN, Maxine Waters – They have quite a lot in common. They’re all on the left of politics to varying degrees. They are all considered to be liberals. They are all critics of Donald Trump. They are all on the ‘hate list’ of Republicans, conservatives, alt-right and far-right supporters. Now they have something else in common: all were the targets of a bombing campaign.

George Soros was the first target with an explosive device discovered outside his home in Katonah, New York. Today, we have the Clintons and the Obama being sent bombs in the mail. The Time Warner building, which houses CNN amongst others, was evacuated after a package was sent (addressed to John Brennan, the former CIA chief). Recently, a package sent to Maxine Waters was discovered as well along with former attorney general Eric Holder and Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

All the devices sent were rudimentary pipe bombs, designed to kill, wound or maim the targets in question. Thankfully, the first responders and Secret Service managed to intercept all the devices and detonate them in a secure environment. Bill Clinton even sent out a tweet, expressing thanks to the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect and serve.

Details on the person or persons responsible are still unclear. The packages all appear to be connected by virtue of their design and the fact that the targets are all perceived to be ‘liberal’ to some degree. A federal investigation is now underway to determine the culprits of what appears to be a highly organised campaign of domestic terrorism.

It is hard to put into words how terrifying this must be. Such campaigns of terror are actually quite rare and most people would associate this type of action with less stable democracies or countries with a more authoritarian bent.

Plus, however rudimentary they might be, pipe bombs are incredibly dangerous. The bomb sent to Time Warner is a prime example. If it had gone off just outside the building or in transit on the streets of New York, the results would have been devastating. The fact that they didn’t is as much down to luck as it is to the sharp eyes and swift actions of the Secret Service.

Many have condemned these packages, seeing them as a result of the hatred, the bigotry, the ugliness and the divisiveness that seems to have infected American politics. Even Donald Trump came out to address this disturbing turn of events. He announced that a major investigation is underway and that top-level experts were inspecting the packages.

Inspiring stuff, certainly, as was the call for unity in the face of adversity. So was the statements that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.

It would have been more inspiring if it hadn’t been for the fact that he refused to acknowledge his own part in stirring up divisions or his own hateful speeches and Tweets. The evidence for such is overwhelming:

“Crooked Hilary…Lock her up!”
“Fake News! Enemy of the American People”
“Professional protesters…paid by Soros”
“Obama…weak leader”
“Obama tapped my phones”
“Congresswoman Maxine Water, an extraordinarily low IQ person”
“Very fine people on both sides” (Charlottesville)
“Any guy that can do a body slam, he is my type!” (referring Gianforte body-slamming a journalist)

Beyond the above examples, we have Donald Trump proudly calling himself a nationalist with no apparent understanding to the connotations the word imply. We have him encouraging violence at rallies, berating innumerable targets from the press to Democrats to America’s own allies. We’ve seen him refuse to condemn far-right groups, even when they murder a protester and cozy up to dictators while berating America’s allies.

In short, we have the President of the United States, the leader of the world’s most powerful country and economy and the moral figurehead of democracy, abusing his power. From insulting private citizens to mocking sexual assault survivors and disabled journalists alike, Trump delights in exposing and encouraging division. He tears America apart by pushing controversial issues, poking at the fault lines to rile up his base.

What makes this even scarier is that his supporters love him for it. They don’t care about dividing the country or how polarising the nation is. They don’t even seem to care about the health of their democracy or their fellow patriots. All they care about is upsetting liberals and attacking anyone who has a different skin colour. When Trump lies, they applaud. When he peddles conspiracy theories, they cheer.

Is it so surprising that we now have pipe bombs being sent to the Obamas, the Clintons, George Soros, and CNN? The President of the United States has directly, or indirectly, encouraged the divisions we now see in American society. There’s no point in calling for unity when you also fail to recognise your own part in dividing the country. Without such recognition, Trump’s words are just that…words.

But words have incredible power. Used in a certain way, they can have far-reaching consquences. When the US President speaks, the world listens. Trump should know this by now. Perhaps he does, but he doesn’t care.

The investigation will bring the bomber to justice, but the deed has already been done. The precedent has been set. Interference during elections, journalists being threatened or murdered, protestors mown down by cars: the list goes on. Now we have pipe bombs in the mail.

Unless things change real soon, this will happen again. Unless the rhetoric gets toned down or until both sides can work to heal the splits, this will happen again.

And next time, we won’t be so lucky.