Yet again terrorism strikes, and this time it is in Alexandria, Virginia. The attack occurred during the Congressional Republican’s charity baseball practice on Wednesday. The shooter opened fired across the field, wounding five, including house majority whip leader Steve Scalise. Luckily, as of now those shot are being treated with no deaths reported. The only death comes by way of the shooter himself. The brave officers of the Capitol police force quickly responded to the gunfire. And could not apprehend the assailant alive.
The shooter has been identified as 66 year old James Hodgkinson from Belleville Ill.
Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan both delivered emotional remarks in the House this morning. Proving that the politicking and theatre we are accustomed too only goes so far. While aggressive rhetoric is appealing for TV and campaigns, true violence is sobering. Unity is something both Speaker Ryan and Pelosi spoke about. And the US Congress seems united in this moment as Americans.
Now a very predictable question will be debated across the mainstream news media and twitter alike. “What was the motive?” This is an important question. Posts on the shooters Facebook page paint a sad picture for those on the Left. It turns out Mr. Hodgkinson is a part of many far-left Facebook pages. Participates in posting anti-Trump and anti-right wing memes. And was a volunteer on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Of course, the blame for this attack cannot be on Senator Sanders. Who is “sickened” by this horror. But, it will utilized online against his supporters, and those on the left in general. It will work because, as with any terror attack, people put their blinders on. No one wants to admit that perhaps our politics can go to far. Yet, I expect this to be a small minority as the motive appears more than clear.
This terror attack will be perversely used as vindication for the alt-right. The reason is that this attack lines up with their narrative of increasing left-wing aggression. This shooting being the climax. And can you deny that? It is clear this attack is politically motivated. This is what can happen when unstable people are fed violent political rhetoric. It is an unfortunate reality that violence is frequently peddled in our politics. Progressives on social media paint their opponents as nothing less than evil. It isn’t the competition and disagreement of ideas in which some dream it would be. What has been said about the right is as dehumanizing as what the left believes it is subject to daily. If you believe it is not, consider these two recent examples. Kathy Griffin posted a picture with a decapitated President Trump. She did this at a time where beheaded Americans is a reality, not medieval fiction. Also, take the performance of Julius Caesar in an NYC park, where Donald Trump is stabbed repeatedly. Can it honestly be said things like this don’t matter? Of course not.
Words matter. It is true that the pen is sometimes more powerful than the sword. It is also true that sometimes the pen can cause others to take up their swords. That reality should be acknowledge. It has become all too commonplace for our politics to demonize others. Hateful memes characterize swaths of people as evil. While I agree that we cannot pin the blame of the actions of a madman on any one person, we cannot ignore it. Violent leftist rhetoric led a man to shoot a US congressman. The left uses Timothy McVeigh to convey the danger of violent partisanship. Unfortunately, the right just found their Timothy.
It is important now more than ever that we reiterate the importance of decency. The United States is built upon disagreement. The ability to disagree safely is a beautiful outgrowth of our democracy. As Americans, we need to stop with the hate. Quit the ad-hominem attacks and stop with never giving the other side the benefit of the doubt. If anything can be learned from this tragedy, it’s that we need to get back to a time where disagreement isn’t a call for a death sentence.
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