Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thoughts on the Shooting in Alexandria on Wednesday

Shooting victim Steve Scalise at a white supremacist gathering.
To avoid any misunderstanding, I am utterly opposed to the use of violence to solve political differences.  Thus, I abhor the shooting of Congressman Scalise this morning along with two members of the Capitol police and several Congressional staffers.   The gunman, whom authorities have identified him as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, from Belleville, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis, obviously should not have been allowed to possess an automatic rifle given his checkered history of violence, including misuse of firearms and violence against women.  Nonetheless, Hodgkinson reportedly had acquired and owned the weapons involved legally.   So who has championed unrestricted gun ownership?  Congressional Republicans, of course.  Today, they got a taste of the results of their self-prostitution to gun manufacturers.  Despite this Republican drive to abolish common sense gun control laws - a hearing had been set for today to loosen restrictions on buying gun silencers - many on the right are blaming the shooting on too much anger among Democrats and the media.  The hypocrisy is stunning for several reasons. First, Steve Scalise of all people has not standing to complain about fanning hatred.  As I reported more than two years ago, Scalise has an ugly history of supporting white supremacist groups.  And then there is the mushrooming of right wing hate that has been legitimized by Der Trumpenf├╝hrer. For Republicans to whine about fanning hatred and gun violence is to ignore their role in fostering the atmosphere for violence and unlimited guns in the hands of those who should not have them.  A piece in Think Progress looks at the GOP hypocrisy.  Here are excerpts:
Republicans in Congress and the White House have been attacking the media all year, but one House member just tried to pin the blame for a mass shooting on the fourth estate.
Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) told Fox News Wednesday afternoon that “the media is complicit” in acts of violence like the mass shooting targeting members of Congress “if they keep inciting, as opposed to informing.”
Fox News anchor Melissa Francis then played a clip from Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) who said some of his best friends are Democrats and that the House passes a lot of bipartisan legislation, “but it’s the major issues that lead to political discourse that has in my opinion, led to such an uptick in just hateful, hateful rhetoric of all sides, and I stand here today and say stop. We have to stop.”
Bergman was attempting to pin the blame for the shooting on the media without offering much proof. The media, as a group, has been abused and demonized by Bergman’s party.
Greg Gianforte, who will still join Bergman’s caucus despite the fact he pled guilty to physically assaulting a journalist the day before, is the latest and most direct example of politicians attacking the media for doing their jobs. 
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) joked about shooting reporters at a gun range last month. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) traced the violence that happened on Wednesday in another Fox News interview to “political rhetorical terrorism.”
Before and after becoming president, Donald Trump has used rallies to deliver brutal attacks on the media. He has baselessly accused the media of purposely covering up extremism attacks it didn’t want people to know about. He’s attacked them as his “opposition party,” and at rallies, directed the overflowing rage of his supporters at the media pen, causing some journalists to get direct threats. Trump’s Twitter attacks targeting journalists like Megyn Kelly and Katie Tur resulted in death threats. He defended his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, when he was arrested for simple battery of a Breitbart reporter. The NRA, of all groups, has recently mimicked Trump’s rhetoric, telling members its job is to give “the media the big fat black eye it so often richly deserves.”
It is most ironic that these remarks were made to Fox News, a purveyor of lies, alt-right misinformation and fake news.   As I said above, perhaps the Republican Party is reaping the fruits of what it has sown for many years now and since the beginning of the Trump campaign in particular.  My best wishes to the staffers and police who were injured.  Perhaps the staffers may want to reconsider who and what they are working for.

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