Not even Adam Schiff knew the price he would have to pay for going into politics. Of course the Congressman must have known there would be the usual daily slate of importunate partisan hectoring and slander. That’s always gone with the territory. But no one prepared him for death threats.
Even so, Adam Schiff understands he is a public figure and public figures must endure the slings and arrows of outrageous distortion. But he drew a line in the sand at the feet of anonymous nonpartisan election workers doing a patriotic service for their country, when he tweeted Friday night:
Trump put a target on the backs of two nonpartisan election workers.
Both got death threats. It’s sick. Sadly, I know what it’s like to be threatened because of Trump’s lies.
After Jan 6, people need to wake up to the threat of political violence.
It’s real – and increasing.
Before Donald Trump destroyed her life, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss loved her job. She worked for years as a temporary worker when in 2017 she was offered a full time position at the Fulton County Elections Office in Georgia. Shaye cried tears of joy when she got the promotion. She was proud of what she did and proud of who she worked for.
During the election of 2020 there was so much to do and so few people to do it Shaye was able to get her mom, Ruby Freeman, a part time job with the election office. One night in November of last year both women volunteered to stay late to finish up. Their honest and innocent effort was caught on video and that video was used by Rudy Giuliani and other promoters of Donald Trump’s Big Lie to falsely accuse both women of election fraud.
Giuliani appeared at a hearing with Georgia lawmakers and showed snippets of the video and repeatedly identified Moss and Freeman by name, calling them “crooks” who “obviously” stole votes. The efforts of both women were innocent and routine. There was absolutely not one shred of evidence to support the lie that they were up to something nefarious.
But when you invent a lie about fraud you must by definition implicate human beings as fraudsters because only human beings can commit fraud. Giuliani and other evil people like him understood this and decided to destroy the lives of two decent and innocent women in their headlong pursuit of illegally restoring Donald Trump to power.
Naturally the false identification of the two women came with devastating consequences. After Congressman Jody Hice, a Georgia Republican, fanned the flames when he tweeted, “Caught on candid camera. Say it with me … F R A UD,” both women began to receive hundreds of threatening emails and phone calls.
On December 6 a panicked and terrified Ruby Freeman called 911 after hearing loud and persistent banging on her door just before 10 p.m. There had been banging the previous night as well. Freeman begged the dispatcher for assistance. “Lord Jesus, where’s the police?” she asked, according to the recording, “I don’t know who keeps coming to my door. Please help me.”
Ruby Freeman quit her temporary election job. Her daughter, Shaye Moss, took time off. Moss, a 37-year-old mother, was known for her distinctive blonde braids, so she changed her appearance and avoided going out in public after her phone number and picture was widely circulated online. Trump supporters also threatened Moss’s teenage son by phone in tirades laced with disgusting racial slurs.
Trump and Giuliani are indifferent to the human cost of their lies. The havoc and heartbreak they have created in the lives of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss are beneath their notice. Trump has done similar things to other innocent people for years without so much as a backward glance or a shred of remorse. For people like Donald Trump, destroying lives with obvious falsehoods has become routine. It’s just another day at the office.
The efforts of Trump and Giuliani, that have ended in the destruction of both women’s lives, are enthusiastically supported by many religious people. Many of those people ironically want the words “Thou shalt not bear false witness” chiselled into plaques that adorn the walls and plinths of courthouses and government buildings across America. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.