Former Obama White House staffer R. David Edelman began his Thursday in an entirely new reality. Trump followers on the internet convinced themselves that Edelman was the anonymous whistleblower.
Things got scary blindingly fast. The Daily Beast reports on the threats.
“There were people threatening real physical harm, alluding to the fact that I will not live very long,” Edelman said. “That was obviously upsetting for my family.”
Edelman is not the whistleblower, but he learned of the picture through a friend and at first thought it was funny. Any humor in it disappeared when he searched Twitter for “Obama whistleblower photo.” It was everywhere, tweeted and retweeted.
The picture used was even more insidious. It came from his time in the Obama White House, but not the time asserted in the accusations:
Tweets with photos of Edelman’s face surrounded by circles and arrows in a picture taken from his time at the White House were racking up tens of thousands of retweets. The picture, taken as Obama White House staff reacted to Obama’s first speech after Hillary Clinton conceded the 2016 election, shows dismayed White House reacting to the election results. But as the picture circulated on social media this week, it was erroneously described as showing Obama staffers reacting to Trump’s first White House visit—and Edelman’s unhappy face was used as “proof” that the whistleblower was always biased against Trump.
I suppose the most discouraging aspect of all of this is just how impossibly easy it is to confirm that Edelman was not the whistleblower. Indeed, Edelman could not have been a candidate because Edelman left government altogether in 2017. One of the few details known to the public about the whistleblower’s identity is that he was with the CIA, on loan to the White House on NSA issues. You can’t be a “whistleblower” without being a government employee.
Justly, Edelman himself burst the bubble.
FAKE NEWS: the 'NERD' circled below is the whistleblower.
TRUE (just not news): the 'NERD' circled below is…this nerd. Me.
Left government in 2017. Sorry to disappoint, y'all. pic.twitter.com/LEGSpgrBGJ
— R. David Edelman (@R_D) November 7, 2019
Do check out that picture, and try to imagine how one could possibly believe that that entire crowd gathered to glare during Trump’s initial visit to the White House to visit with Obama. It simply defies reality.
One aspect of “reality” that we do have to grapple with is the cold war consuming our politics. If Americans on the Right have an issue with a whistleblower’s testimony, the focus should be solely upon discrediting the allegation’s substance. They have spent countless hours describing the entire matter as a “hoax.” What do death threats add to this environment? How does that threat help Trump’s cause? How does that help anyone? IF it is a hoax then he’s a non-issue.
It only “helps” in an environment where rules do not apply and anyone deemed to be an “enemy” must be intimidated into silence. It is crippling to a democracy. Our founding principles are predicated upon a voting public able to argue, sometimes vehemently in anger, and then walk away. Both sides must acknowledge lines we draw as Americans. “Freedom of Speech” doesn’t mean a damn thing when one side threatens to kill others.
Obviously it cannot be a “large number” of people that issue these threats, nor is it likely that any individual threat will be carried out. But it is all just so damned dangerous, and sad. Edelman wasn’t even the real whistleblower.
This is going to get out of hand.
Someone on the Right, ideally Trump, but someone, must solidly come forward and demand that it stop. The vast majority of Trump supporters won’t threaten witnesses. So why isn’t a prominent Trump-supporter not demanding a halt? Lindsey Graham might work, perhaps Mulvaney, or Jim Jordan, someone who has credibility with Trump supporters but is dedicated enough to try to control the danger. If anything they are demanding the opposite, knowing that threats like this are being made. Are they counting upon threats like this?
Until we hear differently, the answer seems self-evident.
Any American not afraid for the near future is not paying attention.
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