Democratic Representative Maxine Waters was inciting the Trump resistance movement to make it their job to harass and intimidate officials in the Trump Administration. While this kind of behavior is not surprising from “Auntie Maxine,” it should not be encouraged or tolerated.
In this moment of heightened polarization and intense intolerance of opposing views, members of Congress should be leaders for change not inciters of the status quo.
Following the heckling of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, at Washington restaurants last week and then Press Secretary Sarah Sanders being booted by the owners of a Virginia restaurant because of her role in the Trump White House, Waters applauded the heckling and harassment.
Anyone “enabling” the administration should expect harassment everywhere they go from including at their homes until they change their immigration policy. She said:
"Already you have members of your cabinet that are being booed out of restaurants. We have protesters taking up at their house who are saying, 'No peace, no sleep. No peace, no sleep.'"
“We're gonna win this battle," Waters said to the crowd. "Because while you try and quote the Bible, Jeff Sessions and others, you really don’t know the Bible. God is on our side. On the side of the children. On the side of what’s right. On the side of what’s honorable. On the side of understanding that if we can’t protect the children, we can’t protect anybody."
Congresswoman Waters finished with a call to action:
"If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. You push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere!"
What makes for exciting rally rhetoric is not just uncivil and divisive, but it could incite people to cross the bounds of respect into violence.
It was just a year ago that Rep. Steve Scalise nearly lost his life when a gunman opened fire on the practice field aiming to hurt Republican members of Congress because he was angry with the president.
You would expect progressives to be more concerned that others might take the heckling a step too far.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gently chided Waters in a tweet:
@NancyPelosi: In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again. Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea.
Democrats may fear an electoral backlash from Waters’ comments in the midterms or they may just be tired of this rhetoric.
There’s growing consensus that disagreement with policies does not justify crossing the lines of civility and safety.
The Washington Post editorial board made it clear:
We nonetheless would argue that Ms. Huckabee, and Ms. Nielsen and Mr. Miller, too, should be allowed to eat dinner in peace. Those who are insisting that we are in a special moment justifying incivility should think for a moment how many Americans might find their own special moment. How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?
Down that road lies a world in which only the most zealous sign up for public service. That benefits no one.
This kind of language is not acceptable no matter what side of the aisle it comes from. It’s important that our leaders from both sides call it out.
In a response to Waters, President Trump made fun of her IQ while warning her not to incite violence. The joke about her intelligence was uncalled for and unnecessary.
Perhaps there’s some hope to come out of all of this. Finally, even opponents of the Trump Administration realize that their hatred and vitriol can be taken too far. Hopefully, people will come to their senses before it’s too late.