Abby Weaver ’19
The person who firebombed an empty GOP headquarters building is not a threat to democracy. Repressive state leadership is.
The attack on the GOP headquarters of Orange County, NC, which was carried out late at night on Oct. 17 and involved a firebomb and graffiti comparing Republicans to Nazis, received swift condemnation from both Democrats and Republicans. The office was empty at the time, so no one was injured.
To anyone who has been following North Carolinian politics over the past several years, the attack on the headquarters comes as no surprise. The policies of the conservative state government have been growing more and more repressive and have been met with increasing resistance by dissenters and advocates, liberals and radicals alike. There’s the airhorn orchestra, who assemble in front of the governor’s mansion to give him a bad headache every Wednesday, the “Moral Mondays” protests which began in 2013 to shame the state legislature and the intermittent prison abolition and anti police brutality protests.
The liberals who led and participated in much of the leftist activism of the state have been quick to distance themselves from the vandalism and condemn the bomber. They would agree with Pat McCrory, who called the bombing “an assault on our democracy.” How deeply ironic that McCrory, whose policies have decimated vulnerable people across the state, should call the bomber a threat to democracy. Under McCrory, the state has enacted policies that cause widespread voter suppression, gutted social programs and education funding, restricted abortion rights, and most recently, passed the notorious “bathroom bill,” House Bill 2.
Of course people are angry. When people are systematically stripped of their rights, they get angry. However, the performative shock and horror of moderate democrats about the bombing shows no traces of this anger.
Within an hour, Democrats raised $13,000 in donations to rebuild the headquarters — as if GOP didn’t have insurance anyway. That $13,000 could have been used to aid areas still in shock from Hurricane Matthew. It could have been donated to the legal defense funds of comrades in Charlotte, fighting police brutality. Throwing away this money was a meaningless, self-congratulatory act of appeasement toward a party which openly despises the people the Democrats claim they want to protect.
The moderate left’s constant concession and appeasement of the right wing’s ever growing violence mirrors the conditions of an emerging fascist period. It’s more newsworthy when a leftist chucks a molotov into an empty building than it is when a white power rally happens, when a militia is formed or even when a candidate advocates for his armed supporters to “watch the polls.” If you don’t like seeing violence from the left, you should be working to denormalize and end the violence of the far right, and also of the state.
Throwing that firebomb was an act of democracy. Victimless property destruction is not an act of political violence, it’s a reaction against the state terrorism that has killed countless people. It is violence when undocumented immigrants are kidnapped from their homes and families and sent away. It is violence when a city is deprived of safe drinking water. It is violence when sound cannons are used against peaceful protesters, including children, at standing rock. It is violence when a police officer kills an unarmed black person. As the moderate left co-opts the radical vocabulary of “political revolution,” we risk forgetting that social change comes around not only through legislation and state-sanctioned protest. It also comes from smashing windows — from Stonewall, to Haymarket, to Ferguson.
Whoever it was, we hope for their continued safety and freedom, as we do for all those around the world who fight back.