We all are well aware that politics is a rough-and-tumble business. That’s fine to a point, but increasingly in this country “rough-and-tumble” has been crossing the line into vicious, personal attacks, in many cases bigoted. For instance, recently two Virginia politicians, from wildly opposite sides of the aisle, have been subject to utterly appalling, unacceptable ad hominem attacks.
Let’s start with Del. David Ramadan (R), who I disagree with on the merits of his argument (about a Republican “loyalty oath” for the 2016 presidential primary — see here for more on that subject) and on just about everything else, but who absolutely should not have to endure bigoted, Islamophobic, even threatening crap like the following (note: keep in mind that there are many, many more messages on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. just like the following…a torrent of raw, anti-Muslim bigotry from Trump supporters and others against the highly conservative David Ramadan; also see Virginia Lawmaker Faces Wrath of Donald Trump Supporters in the NY Times).
As I said, utterly disgusting — but not surprising, coming largely from supporters of a candidate (Trump) who has worked to stir up bigotry, animosity, anger and even violence among his supporters in recent months. Unfortunately for our country, it appears to be having an effect.
Now, on to Virginia AG Mark Herring (D), whose announcement the other day on concealed carry gun “recipcrocity” with other states has also ushered forth a deluge of disgusting, virulent hate against him. For instance, just a few “highlights” from Herring’s Facebook page, YouTube, etc., include the following (just to give a flavor for the vitriol and level of commentary we’re talking about):
- “Merry Christmas douchebag…The exact same day Governor Mcawful gives prisoners more phone privileges. That’s right hardened criminals with blood on their hands, have more rights than law abiding citizens. You are foolish, stupid…”
- “You are a colossal idiot. In no state can these people you mention hold a concealed carry license, with the exception of dui which doesn’t make some one a criminal. This is a violation of the 2nd by a liberal fascist. Plain and simple. It harms the people of your state that hold a license since they will stop recognizing our license. I am sure as a fascist you don’t care about that.”
- “AG Mark Herring hates the military (“You’re a douchenozzle…We’re gonna tear you apart.”)
Which reminds me; for all the cyberutopians who claimed that the internet would lead to a flourishing of high-quality “citizen journalism” and constructive political engagement, yes there is some of that, but unfortunately the intertubes have also unleashed a culture of vitriol, ignorance, bigotry, idiocy, etc. upon our country. On balance, it’s hard for me to see how much of this is a positive change from pre-internet days. Back then, if you wanted to launch the kinds of attacks we see against Ramadan and Herring, at least you had to go to the (time-consuming) effort of type up a letter, sticking it in an envelope, putting a stamp on it and mailing it. Sure, there was still insanity back then too, but a lot less of it than there is now…