In these tribal times, it’s easy to forget that our politicians are people.
On the night of Jan. 4, Missouri Sen, Josh Hawley tweeted that “Antifa scumbags came to our place in DC and threatened my wife and newborn daughter, who can’t travel. They screamed threats, vandalized, and tried to pound open our door. Let me be clear: My family & I will not be intimidated by leftwing violence.”
Video released by the group shows roughly a dozen people outside Hawley’s Virginia home, shouting through bullhorns. At one point, four people leave the sidewalk and approach the front door. The group, ShutDownDC, said they left a copy of the constitution on his doorstep.
“Why are you disturbing our neighborhood?” one resident can be heard shouting back at the bullhorn.
Perhaps Hawley’s tweet was hyperbolic — especially considering the only vandalism reported from the incident was chalk drawn on the sidewalk. Police eventually arrived and told the group they were violating local laws, but no arrests were made.
But put yourself in Hawley’s shoes. At the time, the senator was in Missouri. His wife and newborn were by themselves, and a group of protestors appeared at his home — after dark — with bull horns. One man with a bull horn angrily yells, “When democracy is under attack, what do we do?” The crowd responds, “Fight back.”
Four of them stepped on his property, one constantly filming Hawley’s family as they assessed the situation through a window. According to Hawley, they pounded on the door.
Taking into account last summer’s protests, and the violence and destruction that stemmed from them, it’s understandable that Hawley took a harsh tone on Twitter. The content of the protest was appropriate but becomes threatening when taking the location into context. A more appropriate place to protest would be outside the Capitol building.
The riots at the Capitol on Jan. 6 bear no comparison to the events that unfolded in front of Hawley’s home. One was an attack on our institutions, the other an invasion of an individual’s privacy and security. Both, though, are a symptom of the same sickness; agitated citizens doing as they please, emboldened by a national press corps more concerned about their brands than the truth.
Civilization doesn’t spawn civil behavior, we have civilization because people act civilly. Even though we disagree, there’s still plenty of room for respect. At the very least we should leave people’s families out of our political squabbles. As Michael Corleone says in “The Godfather Part II,” “Senator, we’re both part of the same hypocrisy. But never think it applies to my family.”