Professor John Griffin of the Art Institute of Washington (located in Arlington, Virginia) has harsh words for the Republican Representatives who voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA). On May 4th, he responded to a social media post from the Washington Post about the passage of the AHCA. The post from the Washington Post itself is noteworthy, saying, “The Republican health care bill is an act of monstrous cruelty. It should stain those who supported it to the end of their days.” However, Professor Griffin upped the ante by responding, “They should be lined up and shot. This is not hyperbole; blood is on their hands.” Later, he attempted to walk back his statements, asking for forgiveness.
Calling for the execution of those with whom you disagree politically has no place in the American Republic. Professor Griffin attempted to excuse his behavior by noting that he has a pre-existing condition and that he would die without treatment. He apparently believed the hysteria that the AHCA would not cover pre-existing conditions, but this is untrue. Rather than examine the truth for himself, he lashed out at those he thought responsible for his discomfort, calling for their deaths.
Where have we gone wrong in this country such that anyone, especially a teacher of students, feels the impulse to advocate the execution of political opponents, even if said in the heat of the moment? It is apparent over the last couple decades that the civic bonds which have held America together are losing their hold and that the country is increasingly becoming fractured along political and cultural lines. The political rhetoric has risen to such a level that many people and groups paint those who disagree with them as “evil” or “terrorists.”
What is going to be the end result if half the people think the other half are evil and undeserving of life? Other countries have gone down this path as society disintegrated and its people lost their common bond to one another. The end result is not pretty.
Our country has endured a lot to get to where we are today. Forged in the fires of a rebellion against distant rulers, our people at the time were more apt to call themselves “Virginians” or “Georgians” rather than “Americans.” Later, in the War of 1812 we began to forge a national unity as “Americans.” This was shattered during the awful years of the Civl War, only to be reformed under the pressures of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Now, however, we seem to be slipping back towards disunity as those who seek to divide us for political gains encourage us to see the “other side” as evil. We must resist these urgings and instead work to see our fellow Americans as citizens in this grand experiment which our Founders wrought, otherwise we will lose the Republic which has been handed down to us.
There are many problems facing our country, both internal and external. We must meet these problems as Americans, seeking the best interest of our country while understanding that well-meaning people will disagree about the path to take to do so. Political disagreements, debates, and arguments are fine and expected in an open society; calling for the death of one’s political opponents and the use of force to achieve political goals is unacceptable in our Republic.