Darrell Berkheimer: Will violence, or a funeral, end incendiary talk?
August 3, 2018
How long will we allow our President Donald J. Trump to incite his supporters to violence? And then he even condones such actions in his tweets.
Isn't it a crime to incite others to violence?
But Trump has continued to use his rhetoric to whip up crowds at his rallies — even many months after a protester was beaten at a campaign event.
And he has threatened to "gently" DNA-test Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“We are becoming a society incapable of having debate anymore.”
— Sen. Marco Rubio
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Then Tuesday night at a rally in Tampa, Florida — before his speech — many in the audience harassed and threatened CNN reporter Jim Acosta. They crowded in close to him, gave him the middle finger and chanted "CNN sucks."
Acosta subsequently warned that if President Trump continues with such rhetoric, someone might be seriously hurt or killed.
And the Acosta incident was not the latest.
The very next day three journalists representing Detroit radio and TV stations were threatened as their vehicles were damaged by a bat-swinging male pedestrian. He broke windshields and a side mirror of the two news media's car and truck, which displayed the news stations' logos.
The journalists — a woman and two men — had responded to a hit-and-run crash that killed a pedestrian. The journalists immediately fled the scene in their two vehicles, and the suspect was arrested.
It was only four weeks earlier when President Trump labeled journalists as "really bad people" during his rhetoric.
But since when has it become acceptable to attack the messenger rather than the source of the event?
What will it take for the citizens of this nation to put an end to such inflammatory and provocative talk?
Must we experience violent attacks before appropriate preventative actions are taken? Will Congress finally act even then?
In another development on Thursday, CNN's Acosta asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to state that the press is not "the enemy of the people," a phrase the President has used repeatedly in attacking the media.
But she refused and instead backed the President by saying the media "continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the President and everyone in this administration."
I cannot believe members of Congress would allow one of their own to continue spouting — for weeks — such incendiary defamations against workers simply trying to do their jobs. So why are they willing to allow our President to do what I doubt they would condone among their own ranks?
And where are the condemning comments by our national religious leaders? Do we have some denominations in this country that condone such actions?
I am ashamed by the degradation of decorum and respect that our nationally-elected officials have allowed to continue unchecked. And I believe the vast majority of our citizens also are ashamed as well.
We look to our federal officials to be examples of the civility and respect that all our citizens deserve.
It was just February of last year when Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida spoke out about the lack of civility he was observing in our nation's capital and especially on the floor of the Senate.
I wrote about the incident in a March 3, 2017, commentary. A media headline about Rubio's speech said: "Marco Rubio just gave a really important speech – but almost no one paid attention."
Rubio said: "I don't know of a civilization in the history of the world that's been able to solve its problems when half the people in the country absolutely hate the other half of the people in the country.
"We are becoming a society incapable of having debate anymore.
"We are reaching a point in this republic where we are not going to be able to solve the simplest of issues because everyone is putting themselves in a corner where everyone hates everybody."
Obviously, Sen. Rubio believed back then that our senators should be setting appropriate examples of consideration and respect. I hope he feels the same today as he did then, because he needs to give that speech again.
But the big question is: When will our Congress members and our President pay attention? When will they act to stop the inflammatory rhetoric?
And if they won't, how can we expect our citizens — and even our President — to see the need to show more respect?
Will it take one or more violent attacks, and maybe even a funeral, to bring an end to such incendiary talk? I suspect similar thoughts are preying on the minds of some of our Congress members.
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He is the author of five books available through Amazon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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