The shooting that targeted Rep. Steve Scalise and other Republican Congressmen while they were practicing for a charity baseball game is reprehensible. There is absolutely no justification for violence in our society and certainly not against those who serve our country by acting as our elected leaders.
There were displays of bipartisanship all over Washington Wednesday and many openly wonder if this will cause a reset in the toxic political discourse in this country. It won’t.
I’m pretty open about my political beliefs and there are few who are more vocal of their disdain for our current President and the vile rhetoric he has employed over the past several years. Not once have I ever thought that the answer was to go shoot up a group of people or perpetrate any other kind of violence.
Here’s the problem: the radical-right fostered this environment. They didn’t denounce the vile things said to and about President Obama and after every mass shooting incident in recent memory, they would always fall back to some argument about how they were the defenders of the 2nd Amendment.
.@Judgenap: Why do we have a Second Amendment? It’s not to shoot deer. It’s to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical!
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 23, 2016
Their argument after every mass shooting is always “well, if the good guys had more guns…” it’s never “what can we do to decrease the propensity for violence.” Their answer is always the ability to meet violence with more violence.
Their supports held rallies where it was OK to have depictions of President Obama being lynched. It was OK to openly call for his assassination or that of Hillary Clinton (I’m looking at you Ted Nugent.) It was OK to chant “Lock Her Up.”
Then candidate Trump himself was perhaps the worst. At rallies all over this country he openly called for violence against those that disagreed with him and even worse, against the press. The list of examples is a mile long.
- During a rally in Kansas City, the day after a cancelled event in Chicago, he said to a protester “I’ll beat the crap out of you.”
- The following day in St. Louis after some protesters were escorted out he said ““You know, part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?”
- When asked about the propensity for his supporters to get violent with protesters he said “”The audience hit back and that’s what we need a little bit more of.”
- In Michigan as a protester was escorted out he joked that the guy shouldn’t be hurt, but if he was that those who hurt him would have their legal expenses covered by Trump personally.
- During a Las Vegas rally, he said that he’d “like to punch him in the face” regarding a protester.
- A protester threw a tomato at Trump (not ok) and his response: “Kick the crap out of him.”
- When a Black Lives Matter protester was beaten up and called racial slurs, his response was “maybe he should’ve been roughed up.”
- He said that if Hillary Clinton were elected, perhaps the “Second Amendment people” would do something about it. Not at all a veiled reference calling for her assassination.
These are just a few. He was so vehement in going after some reporters during the campaign, namely Katy Tur of NBC, that they had to have Secret Service protection just to get out of the events they were at.
Just this month a Republican candidate for congress in Montana body slammed a reporter who asked him a question. That candidate won election the next day.
All day long Wednesday certain media outlets (FOXNews) went out of their way to make political points with their coverage of the events, claiming it was due to “left-wing hate” and blaming Kathy Griffin and the current production of Julius Caesar in New York. Donald Trump, Jr. couldn’t wait to get on Twitter to start throwing blame. At the same time, you could see on the faces of the Congressmen who had been present at the ball field that they had been deeply affected by what had happened to them. They were the victims of a violent gun crime.
They were the victims of the same crime as those who live in Chicago, Kansas City, Baltimore, Ferguson, Los Angeles and countless other communities. They were the victims of the same crime that they thought could never be brought upon them. They talk like violent gun crime only happens in poor communities. They push legislation that hurts these communities and pushes them further down the socio-economic ladder.
Now that they have been the victims of a violent gun crime, they are surprised and suddenly feel the need for things to change. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Perhaps it was the only way for things to change. Perhaps it will change. Whether it does or not, members of a party who have spent years fostering hatred and violence among their ranks don’t have a moral leg to stand on when acting surprised or outraged at what happened yesterday. Senator Paul, who tweeted the above quote was actually on the field yesterday when the shots rang out. It was the direct result of their rhetoric. Now maybe they know how the kids at Sandy Hook felt.
I hope Rep. Scalise has a full recovery. I honor the bravery of the Capitol Police who stopped the shooter. I mourn the state of our country that we’ve ended up here and I desperately want us to find a way to return to a more civil course of polities. I have no faith we can actually do it.
© 2017, Matt.Thorne. All rights reserved.