Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Live,” former Obama administration Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said “our leaders” have to accept responsibility that their words can inspire violent acts like the shooter who allegedly killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Johnson said, ‘There is, without a doubt, a rising tide of hate and violence based upon racism, bigotry, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism in this country and now across the planet. Most recently, the Dutch attack and then New Zealand. When I read, for example, the manifesto left by the Coast Guard officer who was arrested last month, in Maryland, I could not help but think that he and others who have turned to violence felt as though, in their own deranged mind, they were emboldened and encouraged to do so by some very large voices that perhaps would even condone what they’re doing, in their deranged minds. And so without a doubt, there’s a correlation between what these people who turn to violence feel they should do and the rhetoric that we actually see online. And so, what I’ve been advocating is that our leaders, those who command a microphone, have to raise the level of civility and accept responsibility for their words, which lead to certain actions. In the minds of certain deranged people, it makes violence inevitable. And so our leaders have to accept responsibility for this. People do listen to their leaders.”
He added, “As we enter the election season, I think it’s incumbent upon voters, as a prerequisite for the job of elected office to demand that those who command a microphone except responsibility and the consequences for their words. Words do matter. People do listen. And so, when our leaders lower the standards for civility and behavior, all the rest of us feel like we’re entitled to do the same thing. And unfortunately, for those who are dangerously deranged, it makes violence inevitable.”
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