House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is calling on Republicans and Democrats to commit to condemning political violence from both sides of the aisle and tone down the rhetoric after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Scalise penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal to urge Democrats and Republicans to tone down the rhetoric as he noted his experience with political violence over the course of the past four years.
In a tweet sharing the op-ed, he wrote, “This is the second time in three years, I have seen political violence firsthand. Republicans and Democrats alike must have the moral clarity to call out violent rhetoric whenever it’s spoken, not just when it’s politically convenient.”
“I am still outraged by the domestic terrorism we saw at the Capitol last week, and I condemned it immediately,” he added.
I am still outraged by the domestic terrorism we saw at the Capitol last week, and I condemned it immediately.— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) January 13, 2021
Many Democrats who were rightfully quick to condemn last week’s events were noticeably silent over the summer as Americans watched cities go up in flames.
Scalise’s op-ed was published just under a week after a mob of violent Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The breach led left five dead and forced a lockdown, which disrupted Congressional proceedings to certify the presidential election results.
He said that he is “still angry” over the events that transpired and still has security concerns for staff and lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he said, “President Trump should have denounced the attack unequivocally as it was taking place.”
While protesters overwhelmed security at the Capitol, Trump sent out a tweet blasting Vice President Mike Pence for not arrogating to himself the power to throw out electoral votes. He also urged protesters to be peaceful.
It was not until several hours after rioters breached the Capitol that Trump called on them to leave the building and “go home in peace.”
Scalise argued, “What happened last Wednesday went well beyond any candidate’s legal right to contest an election and is another glaring sign that public discourse has gotten out of control.”
“With only days to go until President-elect Biden’s Inauguration, our national temperature is far too high. A powder keg had been smoldering long before Wednesday’s events. For the sake of our country, politicians and media figures—of both parties—have to tone down their rhetoric,” he added.
The senator noted his 2017 experience with political violence when he was shot by a “deranged” individual who was “heavily influenced by the demonization of congressional Republicans by some Democratic politicians,” as he put it.
And he said he “made a conscious decision not to hold anybody but the gunman responsible for that day’s events.”
However, Scalise warned that it would be “naive to think the shooter arrived at his decision in a vacuum.”
“It would be equally naive to think that the Capitol rioters arrived at their decisions in a void. Violent rhetoric helps radicalize people. Republicans and Democrats alike must have the moral clarity to call this language out whenever it is spoken, not only when it comes from the other side of the political aisle.”
And Scalise urged political figures to cease “selectively condemning political violence.”
“I invite everyone who cares about America’s greatness to join me in learning from the mistakes of the past while building a brighter tomorrow,” he added.