Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told a Kentucky radio station this week that the bitter divisiveness of politics in America is going to lead to “an assassination.” He said in the interview “that someone is going to be killed and that those who are ratcheting up the conversation ... they have to realize that they bear some responsibility if this elevates to violence.”
Paul’s comments assume that people haven’t already been killed because of the downward spiral of Washington’s political climate.
People on social media quickly reminded him of Heather Heyer.
In August 2017, a car drove into a crowd demonstrating against a white supremacist rally called “Unite The Right” in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal who was passionate about social justice, was killed. Nineteen others were injured.
The car that killed Heyer was driven by 20-year-old James Fields Jr., a member of the so-called alt right whose mother, Samantha Bloom, told AP he supported President Donald Trump.
“I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” Bloom said.
Trump infamously didn’t renounce the white supremacists for their violence. Instead, he argued the melee involved “very fine people on both sides.”
And Heyer wasn’t the only person mentioned among those losing their lives in politically charged events. Others who were named included Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and Stephon Clark ― all people of color killed in police confrontations.
Trump has done everything from questioning former President Barack Obama’s birthplace and calling LeBron James “stupid,” to bashing victims of last year’s deadly hurricane in Puerto Rico as “politically motivated ingrates.”
Paul, in his radio interview, recalled the shooting at a June 2017 congressional baseball practice that nearly killed House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).
That violence, Paul said, is an example of what could happen.
“These are people that are unstable,” he said. “We don’t want to encourage them.” He added that “we have to somehow ratchet it down and say we’re not encouraging them that violence is ever OK.”
But with the president saying outright that violence is OK, the toll may very likely climb.