Our opinion: Hate violence plagues our nation

Maybe it is because news travels faster these days, but it seems as though the amount of hate-motivated violence is increasing lately. Tensions are at a boiling point. We’ve been told everything is a matter of “politics,” and certain folks seem to enjoy fanning the flames.

But in an era where we also have failed to overcome the stigma surrounding mental illness or improve access to mental health care, fanning those flames has proven deadly.

A couple of Ohio incidents include Darrin Johnson, 26, of Cincinnati, who was recently charged with a federal hate crime after he allegedly assaulted an Asian-American college student, blamed the student for COVID-19, and threatened to kill him. Johnson is accused of saying “go back to your country” (to an American), using an anti-Asian slur and punching the student, who was preparing for a run.

Austin Combs, also 26, of Okeana, is accused of having shot and killed a neighbor because he thought the man was a Democrat.

“He’s come over like four times confronting my husband because he thought he was a Democrat,” the victim’s wife told dispatchers after she heard shots and saw her husband lying in the yard. “Why? Why? Please, I don’t understand.”

Nationally, we’re still talking about what happened to Paul Pelosi, who was reportedly attacked inside his own home by David DePape, 42, and a Canadian national who may have been in this country illegally. DePape, we are told, wasn’t looking for Paul. He was looking for U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

As we move forward from Election Day, it is essential we do better. Political disagreements are as old as humanity. Inciting people to violence over them is, too. But we’re supposed to be better than that, here and now. In fact, we’ve all got a responsibility to act like adults, to listen to one another, to be working toward a common good. And we’ve got to pay attention to early warning signs that someone is capable of such violence, that they are in need of help before they become a danger to themselves and others.

After the attack on Paul Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “horrified and disgusted,” and rightly so. We’ve got to be horrified and disgusted by the kind of rhetoric that inspires these people to violent action, too


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