Updated: Nov 5
A group I used to follow on social media posted: “I wish Tucker Carlson was more like Rush Limbaugh.”
The implication was clear. They were saying in a jokey way they wished Tucker Carlson were dead. I don’t like Tucker Carlson. I think he’s an absolute fear-mongering menace, but I gave the post some pushback: “You want him dead? Like, DEAD?” The response was that I couldn’t take a joke, and that “our side” has the moral high ground. I left the group.
It occurred to me that the same people making jokes about the attack on Paul Pelosi are the same ones that joke about Tucker Carlson being dead. They’re the same group. Oh, I know they’re polar opposites, politically. But they both believe that any means justifies their ends — including physical attacks. It’s the same mentality that drove January 6. It’s the same mentality that drove the man to attempt to kill Supreme Court justice Kavenaugh.
And it’s the same mentality we use to justify our hate.
When we make jokes about our political enemies getting physically attacked, it softens us up for when they really do get hurt.
If we can dehumanize our enemy enough — cast them as evil incarnate — then we can feel justified to destroy them, literally.
My first inkling that Donald Trump was trouble was after the Democratic Convention in 2016. He said of some of their speakers, "You know what I wanted to... I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard," Trump said. "I would have hit them. No, no. I was going to hit them, I was all set and then I got a call from a highly respected governor." *
Donald Trump Jr. chastened non-violent Christian conservatives late last year: “We’ve turned the other cheek, and I understand, sort of, the biblical reference — I understand the mentality — but it’s gotten us nothing. OK? It’s gotten us nothing while we’ve ceded ground in every major institution in our country.” †
In October of this year, republican candidate Pat Harrigan’s children were nearly shot when they were staying at Harrigan’s parent’s house – the same house that was filmed in a commercial by his democrat opponent.‡
If anyone was justified to commit physical violence, it was the follower of Jesus when they tried to arrest his Lord. Everyone knew that Jesus’s arrest would end with his death.
“Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword…” (Matthew 26:50b-52).
Before all that happened, Jesus probably pissed off everyone on both sides when he said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
I’m sure some wanted to interpret love in a way that looks like hate, but it was clear what Jesus meant.
On the eve of this election, we’re at a place where too many politicians are encouraging people to violence, many followers are willing to commit violence — but the real problem is the leaders and the multitudes that remain silent.
There are two groups. Not left and right, but love and hate.
*HAYDEN, MICHAEL EDISON. “Trump Says He Wanted to 'Hit a Couple of [DNC] Speakers So Hard'.” ABC News, ABC News Network, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-wanted-hit-couple-dnc-speakers-hard/story?id=40974703.
†Huckabee, T. (2021, December 21). Biblical scholar Donald Trump Jr.. tells young conservatives that following the Bible has 'gotten us nothing'. RELEVANT. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from https://relevantmagazine.com/current/nation/biblical-scholar-donald-trump-jr-tells-young-conservatives-that-following-the-bible-has-gotten-us-nothing/
‡Hammer, A. (2022, November 4). Shots fired at Republican candidate Pat Harrigan’s North Carolina home. Mail Online. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11387801/Shots-fired-Republican-candidate-Pat-Harrigans-North-Carolina-home.html
Photo credit: Angela Yuriko Smith