(CNN)It’s easy amid the nearly hourly revelations of new mail bombs being sent to prominent Democrats and others who have been heavily criticized by President Donald Trump to lose sight of the big picture here: We are dealing with an act of political terrorism the breadth of which we haven’t seen in a very long time.
While there’s still lots we don’t know — who did this, when, why and how — what we do know already makes this a major moment in the political history of our country. Ten packages containing rudimentary but functional pipe bombs were sent to two former Democratic presidents, a former Democratic vice president, a California congresswoman, a former attorney general in a Democratic administration, an actor who has been an outspoken critic of the President, a prominent liberal donor and a media organization Trump has singled out for criticism.
The goal of these bombs was to kill or maim. Period. So what we know is that we are dealing with a coordinated attempt by a person or person(s) to inflict grievous harm on not only the most recognizable faces in the Democratic Party but also on Trump’s highest-profile critics.
Even if we draw zero conclusions about why these people and organizations were specifically targeted and whether any blame can or should be doled out to Trump for weaponizing partisanship and polarization, we are still dealing with an absolutely critical moment in the history of our politics.
And while this is the broadest act of obvious political terrorism we’ve seen since at least the 2001 anthrax attacks, when politicians and members of the media received envelopes filled with the bacterium, (five people died and 17 were injured during those attacks), it’s not the only incident in recent years.
Last summer, a man whose social media presence made clear that he was staunchly anti-Trump began shooting at a baseball practice of congressional Republicans — nearly killing Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) in the process. In December 2016, a man stormed a local Washington, DC, restaurant and fired an assault rifle — under the auspices of investigating the debunked “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory regarding Hillary Clinton and a pedophile ring supposedly being run out of the establishment. In Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist marchers violently protested the removal of a Confederate monument — leading to the death of a counter-protester.