Opinion: Why ‘back to normal’ after congressional shooting is a bad thing

A FBI lab team looks for evidence in the outfield signage at the ball field which is the scene of a multiple shooting in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday. (AP Photo / Cliff Owen)

It’s the day after. Are you back to normal?

By “normal,” I mean trafficking in the nastiness that’s come to characterize our political discourse. And if your answer is yes, you need to take some more time to think things over.

Individuals are responsible for their own actions, and the man* who opened fire at the Republican team’s practice for the congressional baseball game Wednesday morning could not cast his fault off on anyone else. We should all be clear about that. “Speech” can take many forms, but in a nation of ordered liberty violence cannot be one of them. The now-dead assailant in Alexandria is, fortunately, the rare example of someone who turned his hateful political talk into hateful, politically motivated, attempted murder.

We should also be on the same page when it comes to the history of political rhetoric in our nation. There was no distant past in which we were wholly cordial in our debates. It goes at least all the way back to the bitter election fought between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to become the second president. Adams’ son and one of his rivals, Andrew Jackson, traded insults and accusations of corruption. The 1860 election literally led to civil war. LBJ depicted Barry Goldwater as a man who would spark global annihilation. You get the point.

All that said, I do believe there is something qualitatively different about political discourse today that’s worth evaluating on its own terms, and not dismissed as rare enough (in being converted to action) and yet also common enough (in the context of American political rhetoric over the centuries) not to get overly exercised about. For while history shows the tinge of violence in political rhetoric is not new, what is new is how instantaneous and interactive political talk is now, and how inundated we are with it. It’s one thing to choose to read it in a newspaper or on a website, or to turn on the TV or radio to a political “talk” (read: “scream”) show. It’s another to have it swamp you on Facebook or Twitter, where it comes not just from politicians and talking heads — whose speech we can compartmentalize rather easily — but from our friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, classmates, parishioners. Many of them write with an assumption of agreement that does not always exist, and which does not always depart amicably when challenged. It’s even spilling over into polling places in Georgia’s hotly contested 6th District election.

In short, we have long been able to abide the emotive cries of our political class, exaggerated or not, but we are proving incapable of countenancing it on a more personal level. We’ve probably all read the statistics and polls about friendships that were ended over politics in the past year-plus; I’m not sure they’re reliable enough to quote here, but there can be little doubt it is happening to some not-insignificant extent. The result, I am afraid, is an atmosphere that makes people like the shooter in Alexandria more prone to the belief that he is acting rationally and even with the consent of others. Some of the reactions of his fellow travelers on social media suggest he was right about that.

When past acts of violence were blamed on politics, either the ideology was a twisted one well outside the mainstream (think the Charleston shooter or various other acts by white supremacists) or a confused mishmash of ideas that could only be deemed coherent in the cracked-up mind in which they existed (as in the case of the Tucson shooter of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords). The Alexandria shooter is substantively different: While he died seemingly too soon for authorities to garner any information directly from him, he left behind a long and thorough trail of writings in social media posts and letters to his local newspaper. He may have harbored a distorted view of what Republicans think and want to do, but it is a distortion widely held and propagated in America, right down to some of the reader comments on this and other AJC blogs. (I hasten to add that similar distortions toward Democrats are also prevalent, and it’s easily conceivable a similar crime could be committed against Democrats by someone who falls on the right side of the political spectrum.)

This does not translate to collective guilt in actions like Wednesday’s, but there is a bigger question here: Is this the kind of people we want to be? I sure hope not. If you agree, I challenge you as an individual — I’m not talking about some nebulous “national dialogue” here — to ensure you’re representing yourself that way.

*As has become my custom, I won’t add to his infamy by naming him here. If you want to know his name, it’s easy enough to find.

 

Reader Comments 0

600 comments
darrylwoo
darrylwoo

Thanks. I choose to be peaceful and quiet, instead of loud and "right"

Doomy
Doomy

I saw last night where Ossoff was leading by a grand total of one tenth of one percent which bodes very well for Handel. My preference would be that one of them wins by 5 or 10 votes and that we have not only a recount but an all out examination of the voter rolls to determine if dead people voted or if other people who have no business voting voted. It would be the perfect reason to clean the voter rolls up and find out exactly how much voter fraud there may be. 


Hopefully Handel wins by a tiny margin and a complete examination of the voter rolls becomes the order of the day. If Ossoff wins by a tiny margin any examination of the voter rolls would be met with screams of racism and voter disenfranchisement. So lets hope Handel wins by a tiny margin, that the results are contested by Ossoff, and that we can then scrutinize the hell out of the voter rolls. 

Doomy
Doomy

@bu22


These leftist loons get sicker in the head every day. 


"A Democratic strategist from Union County is defending his use of the hashtags #HuntRepublicanCongressman and #HuntRepublicans, saying they are meant to be a metaphor about "hunting" Republicans out of Congress and not an endorsement of Wednesday's attack on the Republican congressional baseball team."


http://www.nj.com/union/index.ssf/2017/06/democratic_strategist_defends_hunt_republicans_twe.html


And of course Devine did this just hours after the shooting. 


"Just hours after a leftist gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer, a lobbyist, and two Capitol police officers, Mr. Devine took to Twitter to smear the Republican congressman.

“In 2002, Scalise was a speaker at the European-American Unity & Rights Organization (EURO), a group founded by David Duke. #HuntRepublicans,” Mr. Devinewrote, repeating a refuted claim.

“We are in a war with selfish, foolish & narcissistic rich people. Why is it a shock when things turn violent?#HuntRepublicanCongressmen,” he wrote."

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

I'm convinced that breckenridge is a flaming hard lefty but too cowardly to come out and admit. It appears from his recent posts that he's trying to sneak his way out of the closet.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Feb 7, 2017 -  Voters oppose 60 - 37 percent President Trump's order suspending immigration of all refugees from any nation to the U.S. for 120 days, the independent Quinnipiac  University Poll finds.

Voters also oppose 70 - 26 percent Trump's order suspending indefinitely all immigration of Syrian refugees to the U.S.

Trump's executive order on immigration will make the nation more safe, 38 percent of voters say, while 39 percent say it will make the U.S. less safe and 21 percent say the order won't affect safety.

The executive order on immigration is intended to be a ban on Muslims, voters say 51 - 45 percent. Mainstream Islam is a peaceful religion, 58 percent of American voters say, while 26 percent say Islam encourages violence. 

And of course the response from the extremist-tards will be "oh that Quinnipiac, everybody knows they lean left" or "oh you just can't believe anything the polls say."

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge  It's hard to imagine given the radical Islamic activity in the world and what we've been seeing in the U.K. along with Western Europe that those polls reflect accuracy.

breckenridge
breckenridge

March 5, 2017 Gallup - Results show that the majority of Americans do not believe two of the main aims of Trump's environmental policy -- increasing production of energy in the U.S. and keeping it cheap -- should be prioritized over environmental protection. In particular, 59% of Americans agreed that protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of limiting the amount of energy supplies, up from 41% in 2011. And 56% of Americans said that protection of the environment should be prioritized over economic growth.

So much for being settled last November. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

You can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which hand has something in it.

The results of last November determined our course which Trump is taking.

Until Trump ends his second term, the course is set.

Live with it.

breckenridge
breckenridge

The Daily 202: Most Republicans in the Georgia special election are willing to give Trumpcare a chance

They have no idea what the legislation will look like since it's being crafted in secrecy, but they're willing to give it a chance anyway.  Huh.  There are a lot of stupid losers in that House district.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

No

The stupid losers are the ones who think what comes out of the Senate will be the final bill.

It has to go to Reconciliation in The House.

Your post is more evidence of how LibProgs are led around by the nose.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb @breckenridge 

I'm am neither a democrat nor a republican.  And yes, supporting a bill that one has no idea what is contained therein does qualify one as a stupid loser. 



RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb We have to pass the bill, in order to know what is in it.  Did you have a problem with that?


The way I look at it, is no matter how bad it is, it can't be worse for America than Obamacare.  Change is good.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb

You are only fooling yourself with that line of neither a Dem or Repub.

You are a LibProg, there is no doubt about that.

Back in the day we called people as you fickle, but that does not apply in your case.

You are definitely on the Left, the only fickle is in your rhetoric.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb 

The Trump positions on climate change and immigration are not majority positions.  

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb

No again.

That was settled last November.

And before you go off on how Hillary got more popular votes......

what counts is the Electoral College which truly represents the wishes of the majority of the Nation.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb @breckenridge 

You are completely full of chit. It doesn't have a goddam thing to do with the election last November. 

The vast majority of Americans are dead set against the Trump immigration policy as it pertains to the short list of Muslim countries. And the majority of Americans believe in the science behind climate change.


Stop trying to make your extremist positions seem mainstream.  They are anything but.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb Then he will be defeated in a landslide in 2020, so what's your problem.  You are putting a lot of stock in what the establishment wants you to believe, however.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge @JohnnyReb

As I continue to post, LibProgs win polls and lose elections.

You have nothing but stacked-deck polling to cling to.

There will be another example of the Left losing when today is complete.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Judicial Watch FOIA requests for Susan Rice documents on her requests to unmask Americans, specifically Trump and his campaign team have encountered another corruption within the Obama administration.

The Obama bunch has reported back the documents were shipped to the Obama Library and won't be available for five years.

Anyone who has the stupidity to post the Obama administration had no scandals should experience their keyboard instantly erupting in flames.

The Obama administration was one scandal after another in the true sense of Chicago politics. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

End Times radio broadcaster Rick Wiles reacted the shooting of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and others while they were practicing for an upcoming congressional baseball game  by calling for the Democratic Party to be disbanded and for liberal members of the press to be “rounded up”.

The fact that he believes in the End Times idiocy certifies him as a stupid loser, and invalidates anything he may think about anything.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Expanded role for Spicer, oversee all Trump communications operations


The role would be new for a White House, and one Fox Business said is equal to a deputy chief of staff.


Remember the monkey media telling you all winter long and all spring long that Spicer was a dead man walking? Does the monkey media ever tire of being completely and categorically wrong? Of course not, they know their sap readership is totally clueless and most likely can't even remember Spicer's name.


JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

They took away his role and gave him a token position so that they don't look in disarray. We'll never hear from Spicer guy again.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 

You really have a thing for monkeys.  Must be you're a big believer in evolution.  As opposed to, you know, the evolution denier stupid losers.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Well less then 12 hours to game time. Probably by this time tomorrow or a bit later folks will be either crying their ossoff or laughing their ossoff.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@SGTGrit Hopefully he is working and spending his ossoff in vain.  I love to see the oligarchs in the Dem party waste their money tilting at windmills.

Doomy
Doomy

@RafeHollister @SGTGrit


Gonna be funny if Ossoff doesn't win considering the vast sums of money the Dims have invested in this one race for one seat that even if they win it they'll just lose it in 18 months. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

If tossoff wins the race to represent the 6th District, will he move to the 6th District or to kalifornia, to be with his sponsors?


You know, the people that bought his election.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@AndyManUSA#45 Well, I'm not sure, but I know one place he will not move, Guam.  His mentor Hank Johnson has warned him away from that danger.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

R.I.P. Otto Warmbier. Never focus hating your enemy, only focus on destroying him. The N.K. regime needs to be destroyed. General Mattis, you know how to do that.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@SGTGrit


If he knew how to he would have done it already. There are no easy options. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@McGarnagle @SGTGrit  As long as we keep telling ourselves there are no easy options we will soon run out of options that will only leave the hardest options with the hardest of consequences.. Think about it.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@SGTGrit @McGarnagle


I agree. Problem is getting everyone else on board. Meaning South Korea, China, Japan. We cannot go at this alone regardless of what Trump says.


If North Korea was located nearby like Cuba. We would have wipe Kim off the map. Castro lucky he never got a hold of nukes.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@McGarnagle @SGTGrit  I'm only a former infantryman and recon Marine, so I couldn't even begin to lay out any kind of strategic plan to remove the N.K. regime. However, there are military minds who can. I think it would mostly be sudden and overwhelming air power. It would need to be sudden and decisive. A ground war would only potentially draw China into it not unlike Korea, circa early 1950's. I'm afraid we're now faced with the implementation and not the planning. I'm certain the planning has gone on for the past several years.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit @McGarnagle  I believe there are ways and plans that have been drawn thought out and redrawn for years. The ROK's are tough from my experience and I'm sure we have special ops teams comprised of them who could infiltrate into areas and  neutralize much of the N.K. offensive positions.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @McGarnagle The NK has a very large number of long range artillery batteries in caves north of Seoul. Millions living in Seoul. Millions living in NK, people with a bad government. How many of those do we kill? Unless China wants to replace the Kims we're stuck.

Doomy
Doomy

@SGTGrit @McGarnagle


North Korea wouldn't last long. They lack the fuel reserves and the logistics to wage a prolonged war. If I recall correctly they only had enough fuel to fight maybe a week or so. 

Doomy
Doomy

@Starik @SGTGrit @McGarnagle


That's true. They could do some serious damage very short term with those artillery pieces. But I think our aircraft would take them out in very short order. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit @McGarnagle  Something is coming to a head. I certainly don't know the how, what, when or where. But something I believe will happen during the Trump presidency. Just a feeling. China won't react unless they believe our intention goes beyond the N.K. regime removal to include occupation of the country.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@SGTGrit @Starik @McGarnagle Biggest thing to remember is that we have 3 carrier groups in the vicinity, which means there are 210 something FA/18E Super Hornets available for duty. They can take out quite a few artillery pieces with just one run. One volley from an artillery piece reveals it's exact location and it ain't going to run away. 


Still, many people, many innocent people will die in the first few hours and days. It's best to let China solve this and they should.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@AndyManUSA#45 @SGTGrit @Starik @McGarnagle  I should have said that they view it as our problem requiring their involvement. But they're content to let it build to a point where it could get unintentionally out of their control.

Doomy
Doomy

@Starik @AndyManUSA#45 @SGTGrit @McGarnagle


We've got those new bunker buster bombs that are designed not just for busting bunkers but caves as well. Wouldn't be a problem taking out their artillery I would think.