You can now see the shooter’s anti-Trump, pro-Bernie Facebook page, since he has been identified. It’s filling up with so many hate messages so quickly that the thing crashed my browser. In the realm of brazen virtue signaling, writing hateful messages to dead people on their Facebook pages ranks high.
James T. Hodgkinson III, 66 (above), whom the Post formally calls “the suspect” (he was shot while firing at the Republican Congress members who were at their baseball practice) appears to have fit one of the three categories of potential shooters I unfairly, impulsively thought would be responsible for the attack. He was a member of “the resistance,” the “Not my President” group including many prominent public figures, celebrities, pundits, the Democratic Part leadership, distinguished professional and educators, millions of students and Hillary Clinton ,who have vowed to undermine, block and remove President Trump by any means necessary, using fear, inflammatory language, rumors, Big Lies, trumped up accusations, absurd legal theories and unprecedented insults and ridicule to poison public opinion.
Hodgkinson could have been a random madman, but he wasn’t. What does this mean? What conduct does it suggest on the part of the public, the nation and its leaders?
1. One can credibly argue that it is unfair to connect this incident to the non-stop hate focused on President Trump, and by extension his party, since November 8. One could also credibly argue that man-made pollution hasn’t been proven to influence climate change.
All I know is that I have, as Ethics Alarms documented the extraordinary push to “otherize” this President since the election and the disgraceful efforts to undo the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box, repeatedly warned that this was dangerously divisive, destructive to society and our democracy, and that if it didn’t stop, violence was all but inevitable. (I have been far from the only one to issue this warning, both here and elsewhere.) I concluded that if “the resistance” continued demonizing President Trump, and by extension his supporters, this kind of thing would happen. It happened. It happened shortly after the violent imagery surrounding the President had escalated in recent weeks. Maybe it is a coincidence. I doubt it.
I expect progressives of integrity to cease their denials and address the issue honestly, as they have largely failed to do so far.
2. Republicans need to avoid duplicating the approach used by Democrats after Rep. Giffords was shot. They should not be calling for a moratorium on criticism from the Left….that was the Democratic tactic: “Criticism of Democrats leads to murder.” The GOP and conservatives should be calling for an end to “the resistance,” and its appeal to violent revolution. They should call for a modicum of respect to be extended for the office of the President. They should express disapproval of the increasingly common practice of framing political policy decisions in extreme, exaggerated and apocalyptic terms, calculated to frighten the less discerning members of the public, as with these reactions to Trump withdrawing from the Paris climate change agreement:
“Pulling out of the Paris Agreement would be a massive step back for racial justice, and an assault on communities of color across the U.S.”—The ACLU
“TRUMP TO PLANET: DROP DEAD”—-Huffington Post
“If Trump is pulling out of Paris, he is turning his back on the public in every single US state.”—The Sierra Club
“Trump just declared war on the very idea of life on earth.” —-Grassroots organizaer Trita Parsi
“If Trump pulls the US out of the he will be committing a traitorous act of war against the American people.”—-Billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer
Boy, someone should kill this guy—you know, like in that play in Central Park! If not him, then the Republicans who are stopping us from impeaching him!
3. This shooting in my virtual backyard swallowed several planned posts. One was about this poll, in which a plurality of those polled thought that the President should be impeached for “obstruction of justice.” Gee, I wonder why they think that, given that almost none of them understand what obstruction of justice is, have read the statutes involved, know the standards, and most objective legal analysts agree that the claim is a stretch at best?
They think that because they have been bombarded by propaganda designed to make them think that. Similarly, Democrats have increasingly talked recklessly about impeachment as if it is just a numbers game, and there are no Constitutional requirements to remove a President other than “we don’t like him.” This drumbeat has been followed by a counter-point: “Don’t look now, but impeachment may not happen—unless we can get a majority in the House!” This is not a responsible nor Constitutional campaign strategy, and should not be represented as one.
Wow, if we can’t impeach this monster, and we can’t win enough Congressional seats, how else can we get rid of all those damn Republicans?
4. Then there was yesterday’s story about the NBA champion Golden State Warriors deciding to boycott the White House and refuse the traditional honor extended by Presidents to winning teams and professional and collegiate sports. It seems that the story wasn’t accurate, and that no such decision has been made. Still, this kind of act has become a pattern of “otherizing” this President, refusing to acknowledge that he is the nation’s elected leader, and withholding the formal respect that the President is owed by all Americans when he is acting in his ceremonial role as the nation’s representative.
One half of the nation refusing to acknowledge the legitimate status and authority of a President is dangerous, and that danger can express itself in many ways—as when an unstable “resistance” member decides to shoot Congressional members of that President’s party.
5. The irony is that Democrats retreating to professionally appropriate, civil and less inflammatory speech will help their cause overall. If Tom Perez can’t make his case without saying Republicans “don’t give a shit about people,” he needs to find another profession. A prominent Democrat or ten should have the integrity to tell Rep. Maxine Waters that speeches like her recent
“He is not my president. He is not your president. He lies. He cheats. He’s a bully. He disrespects us all…You deny, you disrespect, and you will find that there are people who have the courage to organize and to take back whatever needs to be taken back. We resist this president because he stands for the worst of everything. And guess what, I know that people may not quite be ready. I know some are a little hesitant. I know some are saying I’m not so sure, Maxine, that what you are saying is the right thing, but I’m saying, impeach 45. Impeach 45!..And I know that we are going to take our country back from him. I know you have the strength. I know that you have the courage. I know that each of you knows you have the power! Stay woke!”
…are not acceptable political discourse from a Congresswoman, and risk inciting violence. She can make her case without this demagoguery.
6. Expect rationalizers on the Left to argue that President Trump had “blood on his hands” because his campaign criticism of illegal immigrants and Muslim terrorists was followed by random attacks on some Hispanic and Muslim Americans. Ignoring the ethical principle that what Person X does cannot mitigate Person Y doing the same thing when it’s unethical for both, the President has dialed back his rhetoric considerably since his election. Moreover, impugning law breakers and terrorists with reckless rhetoric is not in the same category as striking matches around the kerosene of murder, assassination, revolution, and civil war.