TAR HEEL VIEW: GOP office attack defies nation’s values

Nothing makes sense anymore.

That was our first response last weekend when we got word that the Republican Party Headquarters in normally tranquil Hillsborough was firebombed by a person who as of this writing is still unknown to law enforcement.

Fortunately, the building was unoccupied at the time of the incident, which sparked a fire and several thousand dollars in damages. But make no mistake, the flaming bottle thrown through a window of a political party office is a throwback to some of the worst symbolic acts in our nation’s history. It is a heinous attack on all Americans who believe in liberty for all, free speech and the value of our democratic form of government.

A swastika and the words “Nazi Republicans leave town or else” were painted on an adjacent building making it even more clear that this was an act of political terrorism.

“The other week I was called deplorable. I was called a deplorable person. If I’m deplorable, what could this person right here be?” asked Daniel Ashley, chair of the Orange County Republican Party.

Immediately leaders of the state Democratic and Libertarian parties reached out to their Republican counterparts. After all, in today’s toxic political environment, any party could find itself in the same situation. Also, Hillsborough is being joined by state and federal law enforcement in investigating this crime. We’re also glad to see that Gov. Pat McCrory is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

Such high-profile attention is warranted. This type of political violence is a direct assault on the values we hold dear as a nation, values we can only hope aren’t being swept away in a sea of venomous bile and rage expressed not only on social media comment threads and online message boards but by national political leaders who really should know better.

And it’s not getting better.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that a man was arrested in Hendersonville for making threats against the Henderson County GOP. A caller to the Times-News told us she received a robo-call from a group who started the conversation by stating that “You have been identified as a ‘deplorable.’”

This kind of agitation sparked by national political rhetoric helps no one and also diminishes us all as Americans.

The one positive emerging from the firebombing in our neighboring county is the show of support by all political parties. Of particular note was a GoFundMe page started by Democrats in another state to help the Orange County GOP reopen a headquarters. The $10,000 goal was exceeded within hours.

We seldom call upon the public for action but in this case we believe all Americans should condemn this attack in forceful but not hysterical terms.

But we also note that this kind of incident, one that is unusual in our history, provides yet another window into the darkening soul of American politics. This is the kind of violence seen in Third World nations, not the United States.

Orange County GOP chairman Ashley is correct in saying, “Someone is attacking me. They’re attacking my constitutional right to do what I want. And if they’re attacking me, they’re attacking everyone.”

Anything else makes no sense and most of all we want America to make sense again.

The Burlington Times-News

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