They were from the right wing, or the left wing, or the Russians.
Or the Chinese or the Iranians or some transnational cause that doesn’t like us much.
The bombs. The ones that went to the Democrats.
They were a psychological operation, a political terrorism, intended either to silence one side, or to bring it sympathy, or to further sow division and strife in our society.
It was either a crank in a Make America Great Again hat, or the counterintelligence arm of the Antifa, or it was foreign operatives who are finding it harder to buy Facebook ads.
They appeared at a variety of doors and mail rooms on Wednesday, crude, seemingly non-operative devices that were meant to approximate bombs. Two went to the families of former presidents, two more to a California congresswoman, another to a left-leaning cable broadcaster, and a former attorney general, and the man who is the largest non-governmental funder of Marxist and anarchist causes in the world.
It read like a list of Trump enemies.
And a list of those who have been the most incendiary in their condemnation of Republican voters and officials. People who have, for their side of things, been the most strident in advancing the rhetoric of intolerance, confrontation and, in the minds of some, even violence.
Which makes it look like somebody on the right decided to strike.
And that is the most likely explanation of what happened.
And it cannot be tolerated. Americans have always been robust, emotional and confrontational in their politics. It is, after all, a nation born in violent revolution. But it is also a Republic guided by a Constitution intended to focus and resolve volcanic disagreements in electoral process, rule of law and judicial review. We have always fought. We have never been civil. The press has always been political. We have always gotten our dander up.
But we don’t do violence.
At least not those of us who love our country and our fellow man.
We will shake our fists, but we will not swing them.
And those who do, must be condemned by the society and its laws. A crime like this is an attack on our Republic, our Constitution, and the freedom of us all. In the face of political violence – even the psychological violence of these devices – Americans must be united in their condemnation.
The greatest likelihood is that soon the authorities will arrest a person or group from the disgruntled right.
But that is not the only possibility.
A person or group from the enraged left could be behind it, in an attempt to turn the electorate against Republicans 10 days before the election.
Additionally, as we have learned over the last two years of the interest by foreign intelligence agencies in fomenting disunion in the American populace, this act would achieve that end. If the Russians threw money into extremist groups on both sides of the last American election, I wouldn’t put something like this past them.
But whatever the source, we should be united against this act of political terrorism.
And that’s what it was.
These devices had explosive powder and were in pipes, but they were plastic pipes, not the metal necessary for a true “pipe bomb.” And there were detonating devices, but they were unset timers, not the motion-sensitive detonators typically used with pipe bombs. And while there are plenty of places on the Internet that explain how to make a pipe bomb, these devices didn’t follow any of those instructions. And so you had at least eight deployments without any explosions.
But terrorism doesn’t require explosions.
Especially if its objective is division and strife.
These devices didn’t have to kill anyone, they just had to inspire anger and finger pointing.
Which is where we ought to step back and assess the situation. If “an enemy hath done this” – of whatever stripe or motivation – ought we to play into his hand? If it was a Trump lover, or a Trump hater, or a foreign enemy, should we crown the operation with success by allowing it to manipulate us?
Not if we’re smart.
Rather, we should remind ourselves that our politics, while passionate, must be driven by the right passion – not by hatred of opponent, but by love of country. We should be engaged in patriotism, not fratricide.
We must remember that in our culture and country we strive to treat people the way we want to be treated, and that we feel called to love our neighbor – no matter what campaign lawn signs he puts up. Further, our faith reminds us that, “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
And you can’t do the right thing the wrong way.
You can’t make the country better by fighting against your fellow citizens.
This was an act of terrorism, of whatever origin, and it was meant to throw salt in the open wounds of our political division as we approach an election. It is on Election Day that we are freest and most powerful, it is when “We the People” truly are sovereign. Turning that into a day of rage would serve the cause of evil.
And we mustn’t allow that.
No matter who’s behind it.