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Relief about an arrest in bomb case, but concern, too

Cesar Sayoc was arrested in connection with the

Cesar Sayoc was arrested in connection with the bomb packages sent this week, officials said. Right, an officer examines Sayoc's van before it was removed. Credit: Broward County Sheriff / WPLG via AFP

No matter our politics, we as a nation must not become Cesar Sayoc. We as a nation must not put political foes in crosshairs or tolerate rhetoric that pushes people like Sayoc to threaten us with bombs.

And we must demand that President Donald Trump, who started Friday tweeting that “this ‘bomb’ stuff” was interfering with Republican momentum heading into the midterms, rise above his partisanship. That afternoon, while in the White House, the president frighteningly joined his audience’s call to “Lock him up,” regarding billionaire philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros, a target of one of the devices Sayoc allegedly sent from Florida.

Sandwiched between Trump’s disturbing statements was a moment of calm, when the president said the right things as he read from a TelePrompTer. Disappointingly, he soon returned to the fiery rhetoric that fans the flames of discontent. Such bombast can’t be divorced from the alleged actions of Sayoc, who officials say sent more than a dozen explosive devices to key Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as other Trump critics.

A van used by Sayoc was covered with pro-Trump stickers and included a photo of a target superimposed on Clinton’s face. Sayoc’s social media was full of pro-Trump comments and attacks on some who were sent bombs.

This wasn’t fake or a plot from the left, despite previous claims to the contrary. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Sayoc “appears to be a partisan.” FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed the bombs were “not hoax devices.”

Thanks to the quick, skilled work of law enforcement, we feel some relief in the capture of a suspect. But there’s little relief in knowing that if the vile debasement of our discourse continues, others might turn talk into action.

“We must never allow political violence to take root in America,” Trump said Friday. But the roots are there, and Trump waters them regularly. On this, our president won’t lead. So, we as a nation must. — The editorial board