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Posts Tagged ‘divisive’

Five years ago if someone had described an ongoing effort to unseat a sitting president — complete with salacious allegations about collusion with hostile foreign nationals — would any of us have believed it?

Five years ago if someone had described a leading political candidate under active FBI investigation — with the director of the FBI issuing an unprecedented public comment in the lead-up to the election — would any of us have believed it?

Five years ago if someone had said that a grassroots campaign with a passionate following involving a long-term U.S. senator would be undermined by no less than the Democratic National Committee — would any of us have believed it?

Five years ago if someone had said that a foreign power would stage demonstrations on American streets for and against our presidential candidates — while unleashing bots, hackers and fake news on social media — would any of us have believed it?

With each scandal-of-the-day rocketing out of newsrooms at breakneck speed, it is difficult to step back and appreciate how downright bizarre the past four years in American political history have been. Taking the long view while in the midst of the fray isn’t easy — but it’s a necessary step if we want to learn anything constructive from one of the most contentious periods in modern American history.

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In a move that has sparked controversy nationwide, Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, has successfully promoted a bill that requires state law enforcement, among related jurisdictions, to aid in federal immigration law enforcement. The state senator’s most outspoken critic, Roger Mahony, Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, writes on his blog:

I can’t imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation. Are children supposed to call 911 because one parent does not have proper papers? Are family members and neighbors now supposed to spy on one another, create total distrust across neighborhoods and communities, and report people because of suspicions based upon appearance?

Mahony’s words are provocative — arguably, even, a cheapening comparison to the horrors Communist and Nazi victims experienced. Yet they come on the heels of an audacious personal attack: The Los Angeles Times reports Sen. Pearce told syndicated radio talk show host Michael Smerconish “This guy has a history of protecting and moving predators around in order to avoid detection by the law. He has no room to talk [on the illegal immigration issue].”

Sen. Pearce may be well within the protections of the First Amendment, but he has far overstepped the bounds of responsible speech. Cardinal Mahony, however, has some confession of his own to do: Dredging up a very painful historic reality in contrast to a hypothetical and alarmist outcome.

It’s time for a time-out.

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