This week, like most Americans, I spent days glued to the news. I was desperately trying to understand what was happening in my hometown of Boston. Several of my closest friends found themselves in the center of this nightmare, mere blocks from the firefight in Cambridge, on lockdown at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and most terrifyingly, at the finish line on Marathon day. While all my loved ones came out without a scratch, many residents lost lives, limbs and were robbed of their sense of safety.
Tragedies like this bring out the best and worst in people.While the Boston Police showed us what true American heros look like, State Representative Nate Bell (R-Ark.) showed us how dark and ugly hyper partisanism in this country can be. While an estimated 381,000 Americans were put on lockdown and told not to leave their homes for any reason, many Americans took to twitter. Most expressed shock, fear, anger, and above all a desire to help. State Representative Nate Bell had a decidedly different sentiment.
“I wonder how many Boston Liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi capacity magazine,” he tweeted. He later apologized, but failed to realize one major thing.
The residents of Boston were not cowering. We are not a city that cowers.
The Boston Police department did not cower. Not while homemade bombs were thrown at them and over 200 shots were fired. Not when the bombs exploded during the Marathon and they, along with other first responders, ran towards, not away from the scene. Not when one Brookline police officer brought milk to a family with very young children during the lockdown. Not when they spent hours combing the city of watertown and managed to take the suspect in without additional loss of life. Not when one of them lost his life defending public safety.
The medical community didn’t cower, as they faced amputations and wounds more commonly seen in war. Not when some of the best hospitals in the country were surrounded by SWAT teams and placed under lockdown. Not when medical personnel worked to save both innocent civilians and terrorists as their professional ethics require. Not when one young medical professional, an old friend of mine, braved the lockdown to go to work insisting she had to be there to help. First I told her she had acted like an idiot, then I realized the word I was looking for was hero.
The residents of Boston who stayed in lockdown for a terrifying day that turned a major metroplis into a ghost town did not cower. They took proper safety precautions to ensure there were no terror targets available and they got out of the way so that Boston Police could do their job. They didn’t cower, they acted responsibly during a crisis.
The only coward to be found here is one craven Politician thousands of miles away, using his digital platform to promote his stance on gun control to score cheap political points. While Yankees fans wore Red Sox hats, Boston residents opened their home to stranded marathoners, and people around the world chipped in to help the wounded pay for medical expenses, the only thing Nate Bell could think of was his own agenda. I find the banning of high capacity magazine guns to ordinary civilians common sense, and I question how they would have been helpful in a densely populated urban area during a terrorist attack, but that’s not what is disturbing here.
What is disturbing is that an elected public official felt it was okay to insult over 381,000 people who were still in harm’s way. These comments came while Boston was still in lockdown, before the manhunt had concluded. A major American city was under attack and a public official chose to insult its people, accusing them of “cowering.” He had the heartlessness to attack the beliefs of people under attack and to bring partisan politics into public safety. What if someone had responded by deciding not to “cower” and to walk into the streets of watertown wielding their gun? The consequences could have been deadly.
Worst of all, Rep. Nate Bell felt the need to refer to people in lockdown as “Boston Liberals.” On a day when most of America felt they were Bostonians now, Rep. Nate Bell felt the need to separate liberals from the rest of America. On a day when New Yorkers wore Red Sox caps, children in Kabul sent their condolences, and the whole world stood still praying for the positive outcome that police from liberal Boston delivered, one elected official pushed through all the solidarity, all of the outpourings of love, all the hopes for a peaceful resolution to remind us all that most of Boston votes for Democrats.
I grew up in Boston, but I live in Washington, D.C., a place that is at times astoundingly partisan. I have worked in political campaigns and seen first hand how partisan this country can be. I thought nothing could shock me anymore about how some Americans talk about each other. I was wrong.
Rep. Nate Bell’s comments were not only unkind and inappropriate, they are the definition of Un-American. They go against our values. We may not agree on much in America, but I think that we can all agree that in times crisis, in the midst of a terrorist attack, who we vote for and whether we are liberal or conservative does not matter because we are Americans, and our fellow Americans are in harm’s way. The partisan ties should fall away until the last bomb has fallen, the last shot has been fired, the last family notified of their worst fears realized. Then and only then, if we truly must, can we begin to hate other Americans again. That is the worst of what Rep. Nate Bell did, he showed us all that he hated his fellow Americans, and hated them so much he couldn’t even show them sympathy while they were in the midst of a terrorist attack.
I am publicly calling for Representative Nate Bell to resign from office. I believe him to be unfit to lead, unfit to represent the great people of Arkansas, and unfit to serve as a public figure in the great institution of American Democracy. I hope the people of Arkansas will join me in calling for his resignation.