Written on a door in the U.S. Capitol Building was a chilling warning about the dangerous state of journalism today: “Murder the media.” A Texas woman took to social media threatening the mob would move on to the news media after they stormed the Capitol.
Outside, journalists were attacked for doing their job, their equipment smashed to the cheers of the mob. The cables from one TV crew were tied into a noose.
All this took place in Washington on Wednesday as Trump loyalists heeded his call to go to Congress, egged on by false claims of election fraud. They view the media as the enemy of a free democracy when they are the ones waging war on democracy.
It is a threat to all our freedom when journalists become targets. Journalists have repeatedly exposed the lies and corruption of the Trump administration, and have led all of us through the pandemic with the information we need to stay healthy.
Their safety is our safety. The past year at least has certainly shown us that.
We must not be complacent in Canada, either. A Trump supporter in Vancouver punched a journalist covering a rally there this week. Even more worrying, and what can never be forgotten, is that the Proud Boys – the racist group behind much of the violence in Trump’s Washington this week – was founded here in Canada.
The roots of what happened in Washington run deep here. The replacement of Trump with a new president in a matter of days will no more mean the end of division in that country as it will in ours, or the threats that come with it.
There are those in this country all too willing to engage in the same hate, and far too many right-wing politicians are playing footsie with such groups while too many Conservative leaders, so-called, remain unwilling to call them out for it.
The bedrock of our democracy is a free and open media. We have seen this week how fragile all that is. Unifor stands in solidarity with all the journalists risking their own safety to tell us these important stories this week and every week – even as we watch in horror.