If politics gets any uglier, Florida Senator Bill Nelson said there could be an all-out war in the United States. Or, rather than a war, a genocide.
Nelson, the Democrat incumbent who is in a tight re-election bid against Florida Governor Rick Scott, said the tribalism and identity politics taking place in the United States is similar to what took place in Rwanda in the 1990s.
“When a place gets so tribal that the two tribes won’t have anything to do with each other … that jealousy turns into hate,” Nelson said, via CNN. “And we saw what happened to the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, it turned into a genocide. A million-people hacked to death within a few months. And we have got to watch what’s happening here.”
The comment is confusing on a number of levels because it sounds like he believes the American people are this close to physical, destructive, and irreparable violence. While the U.S. has seen tragic episodes of violence—just this week a man killed 11 people at a Pittsburg synangogue—these incidents are not at all comparable to the 800,000 civilians which were killed in Rwanda during the genocide.
Secondly, Nelson’s comparison seems to take a swipe at the Trump administration and Republican majorities in Congress.
Thirdly, the comment seems to only bolster the arguments of those who continue to resist, obstruct, and delay—like Senator Nelson—who seek to undermine Trump at every turn. Still, two years after the 2016 presidential election, people are refusing to accept President Trump is indeed their president. With Nelson saying the country’s current state of affairs is comparable to Rwanda ahead of the genocide of 1994, it sounds like motivation to these people on the Left and Hollywood elites who continue to threaten the president.
Asked to clarify the remark, CNN reports Nelson’s campaign spokesperson Dan McLaughlin said the comment was not to be taken at face value, but more of a worst case scenario:
Nelson’s comments came after a week of political violence. At least 14 pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democratic politicians and CNN, resulting in the arrest of a Florida man who is a fervent supporter of President Donald Trump. On Saturday, the day before Nelson’s comments, a man killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The man accused of the shooting, Robert Bowers, made anti-Semitic comments on social media and claimed Jews were helping members of the group of migrants currently heading through Mexico toward the US border.
According to McLaughlin, Nelson and his wife often talk about the situation in Rwanda as an instructive lesson on political discourse.
“Sen. Nelson and his wife, Grace, have spoken about events in Rwanda for years, because of his wife’s personal relationships there and his own trip to the country. He uses Rwanda as an extreme example of what could happen when a nation becomes totally divided. He wasn’t likening the current political climate in America to what was happening right before the Rwandan genocide.”
Several people online took issue with the comparison: