In Kosovo, members of the Vetevendosje party released three tear gas canisters in the Parliament chamber as Members of Parliament, or MPs, prepared to decide the demarcation of Kosovo’s border with Montenegro. The vote will clear the way for Kosovo to become part of the European Union, allowing the citizens of Kosovo to travel more easily to and from the EU. The Vetevendosje party opposes the border deal, signed with Montenegro in 2015, because it claims the deal will wrongly hand over some 30 square miles of Kosovo's territory. The party feels that their way of life is threatened by the Montenegrins. So naturally, they reacted.
As the vote was about to be taken in the Kosovan assembly, the Vetevendosje MPs did what they felt was necessary. And that was to tear gas the entire parliament in order to show their opposition and delay the vote even further.
When we think of Congress today, we think of debates over the passage of bills. The bills that make the news usually touch on topics such as gun control, healthcare, or immigration. As heated as these debates may get, we can usually trust that the discussion will be civil. Sure, we may occasionally see facebook videos or news interviews of amember of Congress ranting about how opposed they are to a certain bill, but to resort to tactics such as tear gas is unheard of.
To say that the Vetevendosje strategy was excessive is an understatement. To make things even more crazy, this is the fourth time this has happened since 2015. Kosovo has only been independent since 2008.
Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about our Congress getting out of control. We’ve have had sit-ins in recent years but can you imagine what would happen if Democrats were so against a bill on immigration that they tear gassed the Congressional chamber? Or if a Republican was fed up with talks about gun reform so he or she decided to end the meeting by pulling the fire alarm?
Civil discussion is the basis of democracy. Using intimidation tactics to push a political agenda has no place in America, especially in our legislative branch. I hope that as controversial as many of our topics or debates are, the conversation will always remain civil. Kosovo should try and uphold this principle because if its politicians can get away with tear gassing the Parliament, who knows what they will get away with next.
Wesley Rodriguez-Diep is a sophomore studying international relations.