The man authorities believe mailed more than a dozen pipe bombs to political leaders and supporters who tend to paint themselves blue is reportedly a rabid fan of both the president and vice president, and seems to listen very closely to what Donald Trump has to say.
The moment Cesar Sayoc was arrested last week and his van covered in political literature and imagery made its way onto the front pages of newspapers nationwide, many of the left issued a collective “I told you so,” and then acted as if political extremism — if that is indeed what all of this terror represents — is limited to one side of the spectrum.
For every person who wants to share his or her voice through violence and terror, there are many more who might agree with that person politically, but has no intentions of doing anything more than writing a strongly worded letter to the editor, or even hitting the streets and protesting. Democrats, Republicans, the extremes and everything in between — it doesn’t matter.
But President Trump is not helping matters at all. He hosts political rallies as if it’s the waning days of the 2016 election all over again, and not only creates an encouraging environment for tough talk with violent overtones, he participates in it.
Last June, California congresswoman Maxine Waters — one of the people targeted in the alleged mail bomb plot — quoted more than a dozen separate instances when the president seemed to encourage violence.
“I’d like to knock the crap out of them.”
“Try not to hurt him, but if you do, I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it.”
“I’d like to punch him in the face.”
There’s a reason why leaders — presidents in particular — have to be careful what they say. It’s because their words are virtually more powerful than any others. Even words you might find on newsprint backed by barrels of ink. Love the president or hate him, you’re listening to what he has to say, and maybe even taking cues from the words escaping his lips.
That’s why this dangerous rhetoric must stop.
Mr. President, you are not a reality television star anymore. This isn’t the Howard Stern radio show, and it’s not an audition to end up on Page Six.
This is our country, and it requires a lot of responsibility to maintain the power your words have. So please, Mr. Trump, start being more responsible.