The Shooting of Steve Scalise
If you haven’t been living in a cave, you’ve heard that several Republican congressmen who were practicing for the annual charity baseball event became targets of a deranged shooter. Rep. Scalise was not the only congressman shot. Others — along with security staff — were also shot, but Rep. Scalise’s name has become associated with this horrible shooting because he remains (as I write this) in critical condition. I’m confident I won’t be the only one blogging about this.
Normally, when violence like this occurs, Democrats and liberals blame Republicans and conservatives for inciting unstable people to violence. (Rush Limbaugh appears to get more than his share of blame.) This time, Republicans and conservatives are blaming Democrats and liberals for their vicious rhetoric against President Trump and Republicans.
Normally, Republicans and conservatives decry the defamation by their opponents. Now the Democrats are pointing out that they never condone violence.
I would like to try to bring some sanity to this. First, I would like to point out something liberals and Democrats won’t like: the shooter James T. Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders volunteer and liberal who spoke and wrote against Mr. Trump. His motives are clear. National Public Radio (NPR) may not want to point this out, but other less biased media were quick to report it.
Perhaps I do NPR a disservice. Perhaps they acknowledged Mr. Hodgkinson’s motives when I wasn’t listening, but the day of the shooting I heard them speak at length about him during my drive home from work. At the time, they seemed puzzled about his Mr. Hodgkinson. Other media had already reported his association with the Sanders campaign. NPR seemed unaware of it. I haven’t heard them report on this yet. This was not a random act of violence, but you might not know it if all you do is listen to NPR.
Bernie Sanders vigorously condemned the violence, but that doesn’t obviate the fact that the motives of this shooting can be directly linked with the vitriol of political rhetoric in ways past violence could not be.
That being said, it isn’t Bernie Sanders fault that a man who supported him is unbalanced. Senator Sanders didn’t pull the trigger, and no one can justly accuse him of inciting violence. No one should attempt to lay the blame for this at Nancy Pelosi’s feet. Liberals aren’t jointly responsible when a liberal hits a Trump supporter, trashes a Starbucks, or takes a gun and shoots someone.
Someone might point out that this hasn’t stopped liberals from tarring conservatives with that brush with less evidence to support their assertion — but conservatives need to concede that their political opponents aren’t responsible for this violence any more than Republicans would be responsible if an unbalanced conservative shot Nancy Pelosi.
And yet, I understand that a New Jersey Democratic political strategist named James Devine has created two new hashtags: #HuntRepublicans and #HuntRepublicanCongressmen. “We are in a war with selfish, foolish & narcissistic rich people,” Fox News reported that he wrote. “Why is it a shock when things turn violent?” It’s hard to credit it, but there appears to be a certain segment of the left that believes shooting Republicans is an understandable — if not acceptable — form of resistance. I am confident that Mr. Devine is a minority in his party, but I am concerned that the minority might be bigger than I would like.
And I have some facts to keep my fears alive.
And what facts might they be?
Let’s also be honest about this: as I’ve said in past blogs (Should you be concerned?, Inarguable Inauguration Chaos, Is There No End to This?, and Seriously, This Is Scary.) the violence since the 2016 election has been overwhelming if not exclusively from the political left, not the right. This has got to be embarrassing to liberals who wouldn’t hurt a fly and wouldn’t know how to point a gun, but when President Obama was elected, there were no riots. Despite their fears that the hatred on the right for President Obama might mean he would be assassinated and never live out his term, he survived eight years. No one shot at congressional Democrats when they were playing polo.
But since the 2016 election, our nations seems to have reached a new level of partisanship in which violence has become acceptable — at least to enough people that it cannot be ignored.
What about the future?
We’re only 6 months into this presidency. Is this going to continue for another 3 1/2 years? My goodness! What if President Trump decides to run for another 4 years? What if he wins? Will there be more riots? Will Trump supporters continue to be refused service in restaurants or be beaten by socialist zealots in the streets? Will California finally secede? Will Professors berate their college students yet again rather than teach their class?
What gives me hope
I have had many polite conversations with people at the other end of the political and religious spectrum. Reason prevailed and courtesy was the norm. This proves that all of us can do it. We can disagree, even fundamentally, and still be polite. I’ve seen it, and I still see it.
The question is: which way are we going? It appears that we are losing civility. Can we recover the civility we have lost, or will we degenerate into Uncivil War?
Only time will tell.