A gunman took dozens of shots at several Republican Members of Congress, staffers, and Capitol police this morning, striking Louisiana’s Rep. Steve Scalise and other individuals. The members had congregated for baseball practice in an Alexandria, VA park for the upcoming annual charity match between members of the two major parties. Scalise appeared not seriously wounded.
Improbably the incident, which ended when the police detail subdued the alleged shooter after an exchange of dozens of shots, had nothing to do with politics. GOP Rep. Garret Graves, having spoken to several people involved at the scene or briefed on the incident, said the suspect approached the field, specifically asked of the party affiliation of the team, and only then began firing a rifle with a magazine. (Oh, by the way, Virginia law prohibits the use of such guns in populated areas, particularly mentioning parks and Alexandria. Yeah, that example of gun control really discouraged that attack.)
Graves opined that he thought overheated rhetoric relayed in the media had, at least indirectly, contributed to the incident. He stressed that the inflamed passions he believed behind the event found stoking across the partisan spectrum.
Perhaps, but any sentient, attentive individual would acknowledge, since the 2016 elections that resulted in complete GOP takeover of power in Washington, that visceral expressions about the unsuitability, if not conveying outright hatred, of political figures has emanated predominantly from the political left and very often aimed at Republican Pres. Donald Trump. The incident where a cut-rate comedienne on video paraded around a faux, bloodied head of Trump represents just the tip of the iceberg; there are theater productions alluding to his murder, open admissions of hatred of him and justifications made for political violence, and a rush of bogus “hate” crime claims attributed to Trump’s presence and the electoral success of conservatism.
Indeed, it appears that the apparent shooter, who subsequently died from injuries sustained during his attack, loathed Trump. Scalise, as the third-ranking Republican in the House, is seen as one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress and shared in his skepticism of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, in which the believed assailant passionately believed.
Haters will not stop being haters, but at least the mainstream media can reconsider the ways in which it facilitates such views, in coverage decisions and the propriety of remarks from their commenters. A little more balance from a media overwhelmingly negative about Trump also might help. Leftist political elites in the media, popular culture, and politics additionally could lend a hand in tamping down on the extreme rhetoric.
Graves’ call for civility merits heeding by all, but clearly most pertinently applies to the political left. Today’s sad event shows that particularly liberal elites must take greater responsibility to ensure they act to foster a climate of respect in disseminating political information and participating in political debate.