For the first time in its 126-year history, the Arizona Republic endorsed a Democrat for president. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise—there hasn’t been a single major newspaper across the land to offer its support for Donald Trump. Its editors knew there would be backlash—but they weren’t quite prepared for the fire hose of violence and hatred to which its staff would be subjected. Here’s a little taste:
YOU’RE DEAD. WATCH YOUR BACK.
WE WILL BURN YOU DOWN.
YOU SHOULD BE PUT IN FRONT OF A FIRING SQUAD AS A TRAITOR.
On Sunday, Republic president Mi-Ai Parrish responded to the antagonists, at once enumerating the threats of violence inflicted upon her staff while recounting the ways in which those threats have been received:
To the anonymous caller who invoked the name of Don Bolles — he’s the Republic reporter who was assassinated by a car bomb 40 years ago — and threatened that more of our reporters would be blown up because of the endorsement, I give you Kimberly. She is the young woman who answered the phone when you called. She sat in my office and calmly told three Phoenix police detectives what you had said. She told them that later, she walked to church and prayed for you. Prayed for patience, for forgiveness. Kimberly knows free speech requires compassion.
To those who said we should be shut down, burned down, who said they hoped we would cease to exist under a new presidential administration, I give you Nicole. She is our editor who directs the news staff, independent of our endorsements. After your threats, Nicole put on her press badge and walked with her reporters and photographers into the latest Donald Trump rally in Prescott Valley, Ariz. She stood as Trump encouraged his followers to heckle and boo and bully journalists. Then she came back to the newsroom to ensure our coverage was fair. Nicole knows free speech requires an open debate.
To those of you who have said that someone who disagrees with you deserves to be punished, I give you Phil. Our editorial page editor is a lifelong Republican, a conservative and a patriot. He was an early voice of reason, arguing calmly that Donald Trump didn’t represent the values of the party he loves. Phil understands that free speech sometimes requires bravery.
Barring some cataclysmic changes in the polls, Trump will not win the election. The bad news is that the pernicious effects of his detestable campaign have opened a Pandora’s box of hatred, emboldening the worst among us to express the darkest and nastiest parts of their psyches. Kudos to Parrish for fighting back with poise and class.