Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. issued an alarming tweet that suggested that critics of President Donald Trump including James Comey, Rod Rosenstein, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Jeff Sessions, and Loretta Lynch should be arrested. While we are living in an age of rage, such statements from a university president is deeply disconcerting. This follows a disturbing poll showing a surprisingly large percentage of Republicans believe that the President should be able to shutdown media organizations. It seems like the rising distemper in this country is turning us against the foundations of our system from due process to the free press.
In his tweet, Falwell Jr. wrote:
“Are there any grownups w/ integrity left in the DOJ? When I was a kid, I watched Repubs join Dems to force Nixon out. Now Dems won’t join Repubs to lock up Comey, Lynch, Ohr, Rosenstein, Strzok, @HillaryClinton, @BarackObama & maybe even @jeffsessions despite damning evidence!”
Why leave out Bernie Sanders and Rosie O’Donnell?
The very suggestion that criminal arrests are an appropriate response for people like Sessions or Lynch shows how grotesque our national dialogue has become. While Liberty University is often criticized for its academic curriculum and mission, Falwell is still the president of a university that represents students and faculty alike. This is an irresponsible and unwarranted comment from someone who represents an institution.
Falwell previously made a gratuitous jab at Sessions, who he called a “phony” and said that Liberty students snubbed him on a visit to the university. Why would the president of a small university ridicule an attorney general who visited his campus?
In the meantime, President Trump has again issued a new and in my view unfair attack on Sessions, tweeting he is “scared stiff and Missing in Action.” The suggestion is that Sessions should violate his recusal decision that was reached after the recommendation of his own career staff and many of us outside of the Justice Department. I have previously criticized Trump for such tweets.
The greatest danger of the increasing shrill dialogue today is to make the unthinkable thinkable — like rounding up critics or political opponents of the President. I understand the frustration and emotions are running high on both sides but we remain joined as a people by a common covenant based in the rule of law. Disagreeing with people does not make them criminals and arrests are not a way of amplifying our differences over policies or politicians.