Montana GOP Politicizes the Nice Attack—Within Moments

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Last night, within moments of the news of the Nice attack hitting the news, Montana Republican Party chair Jeff Essman took to Twitter to attack Hillary Clinton for somehow being responsible for the horrific event. He tweeted:

There is certainly a time and place to debate foreign policy decisions and their relationship to terrorism, but Twitter isn’t the place and while French first responders were still picking through the crowd for survivors isn’t the time. It’s difficult to take the Republicans seriously when they talk about protecting the sanctity of life, given that every tragedy seems to offer another excuse for political attack.

Essman’s tweet also reveals the emptiness of what passes for a Republican agenda today. It’s all fear, all the time. Why should we vote for Donald Trump? Because we should fear Mexican workers. Why should we deny civil rights to children? Because mythical fourteen-year-old boys will choose to publicly identify as transgender and terrorize girls in locker rooms? Why should every American arm herself to the teeth, training be damned? Because, even though crime rates are historically low, we should be terrified all the time.

It’s not an agenda; it’s not a plan for the future. It’s just the manufacture of terror at every turn that drives GOP politics.

Essman later expanded on his remarks, saying that the elections will be decided on Jobs, Economy, and Safety, themes he earlier used in his endorsement of Donald Trump. One is left to assume that Essman and the Montana Republicans who support Trump are so afraid that they will work to support Trump’s on-again, off-again support for the exclusion of Muslims from the United States, or worse yet, Newt Gingrich’s authoritarian call yesterday to deport all Muslims who believe in the tenets of their religious faith.

We have a history of responding with fear like this in the United States. During World War II, of course, we rounded up Japanese-Americans and locked them in prison camps while their sons fought heroically for the ideals of a country whose idealism had been betrayed by fear. We were wrong to demonize all Japanese then, to let political expedience and exploitation of base fear drive our policies then, and we’re wrong to do it today.

In the past century, the United States has fought two world wars, both punctuated with unimaginable atrocities, against Germany. Only the worst kind of bigot would assume that all Germans were incapable of living peacefully, or that in the moments after a devastating attack against civilians that the time was right for political recrimination divorced from reality, but by the logic of the fear mongers in the Republican Party today, we should have rounded up all the Essmans and Hochbergs, either in 1918 or 1945 and sent them home, to keep us safe.

It’s politically easy to demonize Islam, especially to an audience fed a steady diet of conspiracy theories and misinformation in the conservative press. It’s easy to demonize Secretary Clinton, especially to an audience who believes that she is the AntiChrist.

Is it too much to ask, though, for people like Jeff Essman and the Republican Party to wait 24 hours before they do? It would seem so, and that’s one of the reasons political discussions are so debased in this country today.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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Publius II
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Publius II

Spot on, round up Essman first! My grandparents came from Germany after WORLD WAR ONE, and anti-German sentiment was alive and well and especially in Montana, with fear-mongering sedition acts that punished totally innocent people who’s only fault was having a German name…….note, Trump is really DRUMPF, and his grand-pa ashamed of being German in the 1880s when Germans and other Europeans were vilified, so Grandpa Drumpf changed the name for convenience, to DODGE scrutiny just like his sleazy grandson!

Bob Williams
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Bob Williams

What’s this?
It’s some men that feel socially and unconsciously
uncomfortable in unisex Bathrooms!

?Therefore uncomfortable men should have
the right & privilege
of Government enforced binary bathrooms?

Welcome to new age conservatism,
serving needs and creeds of uncomfortable men.

https://www.psychologytoday.com

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