Yesterday, James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter, almost committed a massacre by shooting at Republican congressmen and staff at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. Fortunately, Capitol police prevented the massacre by killing him.
One would think it is reasonable to evaluate whether the toxic political environment had anything to do with encouraging leftists such as Hodkinson from taking violent action against Republicans. Must we remind ourselves of the Kathy Griffin beheading “art”, Snoop Dog assassinating Trump in a rap video, and Madonna dreaming about burning down the White House?
Alas, it appears that for the mainstream media, it is far more important to maintain the fairy tales in their minds than to understand the facts for what they are.
In the interest of brevity and sanity, I will focus only on three examples of the mainstream media pursuing herculean efforts to maintain their narrative. At least what’s left of it.
First, let us turn to MSNBC counter-terrorism analyst Malcom Nance, who attempted to turn the shooting into a gun control issue.
“The most important thing we need to understand from this is this is what happens when you have an over proliferation of guns,” Nance told Brian Williams, “and it is to be expected to a certain extent.”
There are two obvious problems with Nance’s argument. First, as I’ve mentioned before, but for the Capitol police shooting Hodgkinson, the situation could have been far, far worse. Second, Nance has personally contributed to the toxic political environment when he tweeted that should ISIS should send a suicide bomber to a Trump property in Istanbul.
That tweet alone should disqualify Nance from commenting on political violence in the US.
Next, we turn to an opinion piece written by Stephen Stromberg in the Washington Post, in which he attempts to use content-free rhetoric to paper over a clearly partisan attack.
Headlines are calling it the “GOP baseball shooting.” But when James T. Hodgkinson III opened fire Wednesday morning on Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and a group of other GOP members of Congress, he was not just attacking Republicans. He was attacking the republic.
Early reports suggest partisanship may have motivated Hodgkinson. He apparently campaigned for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and hated the way Republicans have been running the government. These are not remarkable characteristics. What made Hodgkinson different from thousands of other Americans was his apparent conclusion that his feelings justified a treasonous assault on the legislative branch of the federal government. This deranged conviction seemingly led Hodgkinson to turn his back on civilized society and embrace the cruel barbarism of force.
More than perhaps any other institution in the country, the legislature represents the notion that
Ok, I’m just going to stop right there. He is clearly attempting to portray Hodgkinson’s shooting as an attack on the legislature, and using high-falootin’ rhetoric to do it. However, eyewitness accounts clearly indicate that he wanted to attack Republicans.
A GOP lawmaker said Wednesday that the alleged gunman in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice that wounded five asked whether “Republicans or Democrats” were on the field shortly before the attack in Virginia.
Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., told CNBC that a man came up to him and Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., at the practice and asked if the players on the field were Republicans or Democrats.
“We both agreed that that individual who came up to us and asked if it was Republicans or Democrats … is the same individual police have identified,” DeSantis said. “That picture is the same guy that we saw.”
The man approached him and Duncan in their car and asked who was playing, and Duncan responded that they were Republicans, DeSantis said.
“We both kind of shrugged it off, by the time we got back to the Hill when news broke we immediately called each other and said that guy was … we’ve got to report that,” he said.
It is simply irresponsible for Stromberg to ignore a central fact and attempt to whitewash a clearly political attack against a particular political party. What makes this all the more galling is that he is attempting to do so in one of the nation’s leading newspapers.
I mean, if one didn’t know any better, it’s almost as if the Washington Post had an agenda or something.
New York Times
Now we save the best, or worst, for last.
Simply put, the New York Times published one of the slimiest editorials that I can recall reading. It accomplished the never-never land trifecta of insisting on moral equivalency on the flimsiest of circumstances, arguing that gun control is still relevant, all while maintaining the air that liberals still hold the principled high ground.
No wonder Paul Krugman writes for them.
I will address each of my charges in turn.
The editorial attempts to make a parallel between the Alexandria shooting and the shooting of Gabby Giffords in 2011.
Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But no connection to that crime was ever established.
Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Liberals should of course be held to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.
There are two rather obvious objections to these two paragraphs.
First, if Palin’s map had nothing to do with Jared Lee Loughner’s attack, what is the point of the bringing it up? The only reason would be to somehow show an equivalence between the attacks, when none can be made.
In fact, the editorial board of a major American newspaper was so intent on demonstrating that link, it overstepped its bounds, resulting in the following correction:
Correction: June 15, 2017
An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that a link existed between political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established.
Second, to what liberal standard of decency are you referring? The left’s rhetoric during and after the election has been nothing but personal and virtiolic. To characterize the liberals’ need to be accountable in the same manner they hold the right accountable is downright laughable.
The editorial also argues that the shooting somehow demonstrates the need for gun control.
Was this attack evidence of how readily available guns and ammunition are in the United States? Indisputably. Mr. Hodgkinson, by definition, should not have had a gun, but he was licensed in his home state, Illinois. And in any event it would have been easy for him to acquire a weapon in Virginia, which requires no background checks in private sales, requires no registration for most weapons and has few restrictions on open carry.
It’s pathetic how flimsily the New York Times constructed this strawman.
Let’s put aside the fact that someone had to shoot Hodgkinson and Loughner to prevent their respective attacks from being worse than they actually were.
Every human being has a natural right to protect themselves. If someone believes that carrying a concealed weapon would provide that protection, so be it. If someone were to harm someone else with that weapon, intentionally or not, that person should be held accountable through the law. Otherwise, the second amendment simply codifies the natural right each and every American has.
However, the New York Times attempts to portray that natural right as some nefarious attempt by gun lobbyists to increase sales. Such a strawman may work on idiot liberals who don’t know how to think for themselves. However, it doesn’t stand under reasonable scrutiny.
What moral high ground?
Finally, the tone of the editorial is that in which the editorial board attempts to demonstrate that the left still has the moral high ground. Hence, its nods to liberal standards of decency.
However, one can make a reasonable assumption that the Times knows that the Alexandria attack shatters any illusions the left may have about the ground on which it stands.
In short, the left knows they are in hot water. They just don’t know how to spin this yet. And unfortunately, they seem to be more interested in maintaining the narrative than constructing a dialogue.
If Hodgkinson ends up being the only one who dies from the Alexandria shooting, we should count ourselves incredibly fortunate. Now would be an excellent time for everyone to slow down, and do some soul searching.
The rhetoric has been running too hot for too long. In fact, there have been suggestions that we have been building towards a civil war in the US, and I can’t say that those suggestions are wrong.
Nevertheless, we have an opportunity to slow down and evaluate how we have been communicating.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it does not appear that the mainstream media will be assisting us in this necessary exercise.