Fear tactics being used before midterm elections


Elizabeth White

The political climate these past two years has been menacing. Alt right vs. alt left groups have gone way past healthy political debates and discussions, and broken into hate speech, death threats, and now, sending bombs to the homes and offices of Trump critics, like left-wing political figures, supporters, and even media.

The FBI has discovered at least 14 homemade pipe bombs, with potentially more to be discovered. Nobody has been harmed. The man alleged to be responsible for the construction and mailing of said bombs is Cesar Sayoc, a Florida Trump supporter and alt-right conservative.

The “suspicious packages” were sent to George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, actor Robert De Niro, former CIA director John Brennan, former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, former director of national intelligence James Clapper, Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, and lastly Democratic donor Tom Steyer, the CEO of an organization that I work for, NextGen America, that advocates for young people to go out and vote.

Several of the bombs were sent to CNN in New York, and ironically the building had to be evacuated while newscasters were reporting about the bombs sent to the Clintons and Obamas. After the first series of bombs had been sent I wondered how far it would actually go; suffice to say I was surprised to learn it was actually the CEO of the organization that I proudly work for, an organization that has registered many voters on Sierra Nevada College’s campus, would be a target.

Not only is this fear-mongering towards leftists before the midterms, but it is also a message to alt-right wing groups: eliminate anyone who disagrees with you.

Trump’s response to this scandal was one that would determine the fate of U.S. political discourse; it would either perpetuate and thereby encourage domestic terrorism or it would shut down his persona and idea that the left is the culprit. Trump addressed the bomb scandal at a rally on Oct. 27 stating that “The media has a major role to play, whether they want to or not.”

This statement was followed by an outcry from the crowd, shaming the media and chanting “CNN sucks.”

Trump responded with “They do. They have a major role to play as far as tone. The media’s constant unfair coverage, deep hostility, and negative attacks only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate.”

He then went on to describe Democrats as people who wreak “violence and mayhem.”

This statement made it especially clear that he would not hold himself accountable for the number of times he has perpetuated hate against Hillary Clinton, where he mentioned time and time again to “Lock her up!” or when he challenged Obama to reveal his birth certificate.

Just before Sayoc was arrested, Trump even had the audacity to insinuate that the bombs were fraudulent and tåhat the whole thing had been orchestrated by the left in order to play victim – then Sayoc was found and taken into custody. It was later that they found Sayoc’s van, which was plastered with pro-Trump decals and anti-CNN, anti-left propaganda. Many of these decals had pictures of notable political figures and liberals with targets on their faces and bodies, several of whom had received the explosive devices. Sayoc also attended a Trump Rally in 2017. A photo depicts him wearing a pro-Trump shirt and a sign that read “FAKE NEWS AND DISHONEST MEDIA CNN SUCKS.”

Fast forward to 2018, CNN was reporting about the bomb scandal while one of the bombs had been delivered to its New York studio; during the reporting the building had to evacuate and the news was delayed.

Trump has actually accomplished his goal of shutting down CNN, even for just a little while, without even lifting a finger. He has spewed hate and ignorance about the media, and people who hang on the fringes of society eat up every last word and use it as an excuse to incite violence on those that Trump deems unworthy. Trump even praised Republican congressman Greg Gianforte for assaulting a journalist, saying “Any guy that can do a body slam… he’s my guy.”

Trump has cultivated an unhealthy, and even dangerous political climate. Some who identify as Republican are afraid to be vocal because they’re afraid of being called a racist Trump supporter, and liberals stand under constant verbal abuse from the president and sometimes hateful attacks from alt-right groups. As someone who is very politically active, I have also found hostility in my own life because of it.

For the past few weeks I’ve decorated my door with stickers and posters encouraging students to vote, and I also put up a sign that endorsed one of the incumbents here in Nevada. Around the sign I wrote positive messages such as “Stand up for Women,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Stand up for Immigrants,” “First Majority Female Legislature,” “Love is Love,” “Love Conquers All,” etc. Every time I come back to my room, something gets erased. The other day I came back to my room and everything had been erased, a line had been drawn through “Stand up for Women,” and my posters had been torn down and scattered across the floor of the hallway.

This needs to stop. It is important to be politically active, it is important to care, and it is important to make your voice heard. It is not okay to vandalize other people’s things, body slam journalists, or incite violence against people just because they disagree with you. But above all, it is imperative to spread love and positivity because that is more important than anything that could ever come out of politics.


Elizabeth White is a junior international studies major.