America has been compared to many times and places in the age of President Trump, from Nazi Germany to the Jim Crow south; Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has a new one: pre-genocide Rwanda.
According to CNN, Nelson feels that tribalism in American politics is boiling to the same heated toxicity that Rwanda saw in the 1990’s, when the Hutu majority government systematically murdered an estimated 1,000,000 members of the minority Tutsi and Twa population. Following that horrific ordeal, the armed Rwandan Patriotic Front took control of the country and turned another 2,000,000 Hutus into displaced refugees. It is considered one of the worst mass slaughters in history, being that it occurred over just three months.
Nelson made his comparison to Rwanda on Sunday while speaking at the Convent Missionary Baptist Church in Florida, where he was accompanied by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
“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. “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.”
While Bill Nelson sees signs of pre-Rwanda, his campaign spokesman Dan McLaughlin told reporters to see it as an illustration of the worst-case scenario.
“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,” McLaughlin told reporters. “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.”
Sen. Bill Nelson’s call for unity may have been a result of his current re-election campaign against Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a race that has now become increasingly tight, according to the latest polls, which show him above Scott by just one point. From The Hill:
Forty-seven percent of likely voters said they would vote for Nelson if the race were held today while 46 percent said they would vote for Scott. Seven percent reported they are undecided.
Eighty-one percent of likely Democratic voters said they will vote for Nelson in the upcoming election, compared to the 86 percent of likely Republican voters who say they will throw their support behind Scott, according to the poll.
Most recent polls have found the two tied.
The one big difference between Rwanda and the United States, fortunately, is that America is not an ethno-state of competing tribes, but rather a marketplace of competing ideas. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party’s rhetoric of identity politics that focuses on race over ideas puts the country further into the former camp over the latter.