I live in Danville-Virginia. This is my Congressman. And this is simply unacceptable.
Republican Tom Garrett (pictured, left) is a first-term Congressman from Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. It is a large, sparsely-populated area that encompasses much of Central and Southside Virginia. Its major metropolitan areas include Danville, a former tobacco and textile town that is in the middle of an economic and social transition—and Charlottesville, a prosperous, left-leaning town dominated by the presence of the University of Virginia. Other than that, it is a largely rural and reliably-conservative district.
Garrett no doubt expected a spirited town hall this week in the wake of his vote in favor of the American Health Care Act—the House’s attempt to replace Obamacare. I feel sure the Congressman didn’t expect one out of every five attendees to be a police officer or a security guard. The Roanoke Times estimated 40 police officers plus private security were on hand for the gathering at a church in Moneta-Virginia…a small community nestled on the north shore of Smith Mountain Lake. Garrett did not request this. They were there because of Capitol Police. They are investigating death threats against Garrett. Politico cited one anonymous email that began “this is how we’re going to kill your wife.” Another described how some anonymous assailant planned to bash Garrett’s head in, then take a chainsaw to his body.
Rest assured, this is plenty bad enough. But it’s not the worst thing to come out of all this. What’s worse is the number of what I assume are otherwise-functioning adults who are attempting to justify the threats. Oh, they aren’t coming out and saying they agree with it. No, they are taking the tactic that we’ve heard so often from those explaining away other issues. You remember when two Muslims were shot while trying to attack a Texas show where people were drawing the prophet Muhammad? The mantra from some following that was, “I support Free Speech; but…” We heard similar things earlier this year when Milo Yiannopoulos had to be secreted away from a planned speaking engagement on the Cal-Berkley campus. “Yeah, he has the right to speak; but…”
Far too many comments from the Roanoke Times editorial, the Politico article and from Congressman Garrett’s own Facebook page are borrowing from this caveat-laced declaration. Far too many are saying, in so many words, “Yeah, the death threats are bad; BUT what do you expect when you’re taking away people’s health care?”
For the time being, let’s disregard the pros and cons of AHCA. We have completely lost the ability to respectfully disagree. Decent people will not be content with living under death threats because someone commits the sin of disagreeing with you about a policy issue…no matter the importance. If you are trying to convince me that your idea is a good one, while you endorse death threats against people and their families, I am not going to listen to you. In fact, I will actively oppose you. If your goal is to win hearts and minds, explaining away threats of violence will prove counter-productive. You will repel far more people than you will attract.
This is what happens when we allow the Government to control so much of our lives. We react like children when that same government decides to make changes. When you gleefully place a faceless entity in charge of some of your most intensely-personal decisions, there is going to come a point in time when they do something you do not like. But you do NOT retain the right to threaten.
The wiser course would be to give this faceless entity as little control over you as possible…but people will have none of that.
If you are super-upset about what will happen under Trumpcare, let this be your lesson. Don’t put the government in charge of something you think is important for your personal well-being. Eventually, people you do not like will be in charge of it.