For years, I have written about our age of rage where people believe that they now have license to attack others in restaurants, hurl threats on social media, and even damage the front doors of those who hold opposing political views. These attacks have been fueled by politicians like Maxine Waters who encourage people to hound conservatives. Howard Dean is the latest leader to rationalize such threats. After Rep. Elise Stefanik revealed a threatening note left on her car, Dean chided her as bringing about such threats by voicing her opposing political views.
Stefanik shared a photo of a note left on her car which said, “Rot in Hell FASCIST PIG,” on Twitter Saturday.
The response from Dean was as rapid as it was rabid:
“I don’t condone this, but ‘as ye sow, so shall ye reap.’ There is no excuse for the note writer or for you. You are a shame to your district and to a democratic United States.”
“As ye sow, so shall ye reap” appears to refer to Stefanik supporting President Trump, including her questions at the Trump impeachment hearing. The statement belies the faux condemnation preceding it. To carry on with Dean’s biblical theme, Dean did not “cast the first stone” but he certainly picked it up and threw it a second time.
What was equally disappointing was the response from George Conway, the husband of Kellyanne Conway who has emerged as a leading critic of Trump. Conway tweeted “@EliseStefanik is lying trash. Please give to her opponent.” Conway, a lawyer, recently (and correctly) denounced the threats of Sen. Chuck Schumer against two Supreme Court justices, as I did in a column. Yet, Conway lost that high ground with this personal attack on Stefanik. I fail to see why threatening members of Congress is more excusable than threatening members of the Court.
The problem with this age of rage is that it gives people license to break free from any expectation of civility or decency. The fact is that people like the rage; they are addicted to it. The response to this note is simple for any mature and decent adult: it is wrong. Period. Instead, much like Schumer’s “apology”, people like Dean equivocate while others like Conway attack. It is merely the shades of rage that have obscured any reason in our political discourse.