On the night of Saturday October 15th, the Orange County Republican Campaign Headquarters was firebombed in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Hillsborough is the county seat of Orange County, which is a liberal (very liberal) county in North Carolina.
You can read the New York Times coverage of the firebombing here. Hillsborough is where we live.
When I first heard of the firebombing, I didn’t know it happened here. It is so unlike this town, that it never occurred to me. Once I did hear of it, I was shocked and a little scared. Now that I’ve had time to think about it more, I’m mad.
Although we haven’t lived here long, I don’t think this was done by someone in town. I think it happened here because this is the county seat, and there are a lot of Orange County buildings here. The people here are amiable and helpful. My impression is that no one here is so dense as to believe that this sort of hateful action could actually promote their argument for the best candidate.
This sort of thing is dangerous for three reasons.
Using violence against someone who doesn’t agree with you – politically or otherwise – is undemocratic. We have a system in place to resolve these differences in a way we all have agreed to: voting. We may not like who gets voted into office, but we accept it. The best possible way to be accurately represented is to volunteer and vote. Volunteer to pass out leaflets, to help work at rallies, to march in peaceful protests, to go door-to-door. Vote for the candidates that represent your views. That is democracy. Using violence to attempt to achieve your political goals is undemocratic – it is what happens in unstable countries with dictators and civil war.
Further, the accusation of Nazism against the local Republican office is offensive to all Americans. While the current Republican candidate may spout dangerous and deeply troubling rhetoric (and the GOP supported him for far too long), the evil of the National Socialist German Workers of the 1930s and 1940s is so far beyond what the vast majority of Republicans believe and hold true as values, that the accusation becomes noise, lost in a hateful act. Donald Trump may say whatever floats into his candyfloss head, and he may shout into the echo chamber of a small group of people filled with genuine hate, I don’t believe that America has to stoop to terrorism to stop him, which brings us to the next point.
It lends credence to a narcissist’s narrative
As far as Trump is concerned, he is a heroic, beleagured little guy fighting the institution. He is so narcissistic that he literally cannot understand that he is a old, rich, white man who thinks it is acceptable to take as much as possible from society without contributing to it in any way (other than littering our cityscapes with trashy buildings) – in other words, he is not unlike any other traditional candidate. The way he differs is that he doesn’t give a shit what he says; he will contradict himself, he will incite violence and hate, he will lie, he will condone sexual assault. In his mind, people are out to tear him down because they’re jealous of his success and his version of the truth. Unfortunately, when things like this firebombing happen, they feed his personal narrative of being persecuted. Quite aside from what it does to this one idiot, it feeds into a dangerous trend – which is the next point.
It represents a dangerous escalation
As a human, I am so relieved no one was hurt by this firebombing. How easily someone could have been working late, or even sleeping in the office. I am incredibly grateful we aren’t dealing with grevious injuries – or worse – the death of a fellow human. But now we do need to be aware that there are people out there who will feel completely justified in retaliation. As a staunch democrat and feminist, I am worried. As a parent, I am worried. As a member of this town, I am worried. As a friend of other humans, I am worried.
I don’t believe a member of this town would do something so unethical and unAmerican, but just as I can conceive that an out-of-towner would travel here to sow violence and distrust, so can a second person from out of town.
In a political climate where sheriffs are tweeting about revolt, where Trump keeps repeating illogical rhetoric about election rigging that is mind-bogglingly dumb, upping the ante is dangerous – both physically and to our entire political body. It invites retaliation, but it also forces the Republican political party into a sharp and uncomfortable corner where they must choose between doubling down on a vapid, vain, sexual predator, or risking the dissolution of their own party as they know it.
So what is realistically next? Well, we have to turn away from violence. We have to accept that people who disagree with us on policy are allowed to, and people who disagree with us violently will face due process. We must work hard to support a fair and just system by making sure all of our ideas are represented, and accepting the outcome. We must work to remove from our most important offices people who do not believe in justice for every American, who would turn away those who would strengthen us as a nation, and who would deny basic rights to humans. We should demand that our diverse voices are better represented; a two-party system is too falsely dichotomous, pitting people who are fundamentally not different against each other. We should face that our nation has a history of discrimination and continue to work towards reconciling that – not fan the flames of hatred and discrimination. We should work harder to see the world through each others’ eyes, and less through only our own lens. We should act like a nation united, and less like spoiled children.