By Jon Vitale

Elm Staff Writer

A Kentucky man was arrested last week for allegedly drawing a firearm on a couple, Terry and Cherrie Pierce, for wearing those iconic Make America Great Again hats popularized by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. James Michael Phillips, the perpetrator, was taken into custody by police after an alter- cation with the couple outside Sam’s Club in Bowling Green, KY.

As described by Mr. Pierce, Phillips gave him and his wife the middle finger outside the shop, solely because of their hats. When Pierce asked why he made the obscene gesture, Phillips reaffirmed it was entirely on account of their hats. Pierce then returned the rude gesture, at which point Phillips drew his firearm, pointed it at the couple, and said “it’s a good day for you to die.”

Phillips eventually returned the gun to his holster and left the scene. Surveillance footage did not capture the confrontation, but police found a 40-caliber Glock handgun in Phillips’s pocket, which he was licensed to own. He also had a concealed carry permit. Phillips was promptly arrested and is being charged with first degree wanton endangerment.

This incident speaks volumes about the current political climate in this country. Pierce said he was “blown away” by how divided we have become as a nation.

No matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, it is difficult not to agree with him on that point. Division in this country is only increasing, and confrontations like this serve to widen the gap even more. Pierce proudly affirmed his continued support for the president, which he said has only been enhanced by this incident, if anything.

Political advocacy must not take the form of threats or violence. There is nothing ethical, tolerant, or justifiable about forcing political beliefs on others via force. Such an action should qualify as a hate crime, and the principle applies universally, regardless of political affiliation.

In our hot and tumultuous political discourse, there is a lot of talk about tolerance, and how important it is for us to be tolerant of all groups. This principle of tolerance, however, must also be applied to tolerating opposing points of view. Despite the left’s claims of being on the side of tolerance, incidents like this show that left-leaning individuals are more than capable of intolerance and violence in their own right.

It is important to remember that any point of view, no matter how much you might personally disagree with it, should be challenged with thought, not with force. Using force to silence different ideas is indicative of authoritarianism, something none of us want to see taking root in the United States. For Phil- lips to do what he did as a response to a political difference was extremely dangerous and somewhat hypocritical.

Of course, men like Phillips do not represent the political left as a whole, and to say he does would be ludicrous. However, he is a gloomy example of how divided we have become, and of a greater trend that people on both fringes of the political spectrum are becoming more accepting of violence to accomplish political goals.

No matter where we all fall on individual politics, we have to come together and work to stop this trend before it gets out of control.

The Elm

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