The Transom, Ben Domenech, June 15, 2017
The shooting yesterday morning at the quiet baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, where Republicans were practicing for tonight’s Congressional baseball game could have massive implications. But in the most immediate sense, it may change the way that members of Congress, particularly Republicans, approach the issue of security. There have been notes of concern for weeks now among members’ staffs about the specificity of threats to GOP members in the past months. There have been increasingly specific threats to spouses, children, and family members since the passage of the AHCA. Most members of Congress travel with no security, attended by at most a driver or random staffer. That may need to change in the current climate, where the push toward constant rage and fury has been weaponized on the internet and now in real life. Let us just be thankful that as of this moment, the only death was that of the shooter.
There can be no mistaking the political motivations here. The shooter was a fan and political volunteer for Bernie Sanders who joined a “Terminate Republican Party” Facebook Group. http://vlt.tc/2w1a He blasted Republicans as racist, and particularly reserved his rage for Trump. http://vlt.tc/2w2l He arrived in the area roughly a month and a half ago, loitering around local establishments, showering at the YMCA, and sleeping in his van. http://vlt.tc/2w2i He had left Illinois only after an incident where he was firing a rifle into his trees – one that may turn out to be the same gun he used to wound five people. And he spent all day staring at his laptop. http://vlt.tc/2w2z
Here is dramatic video footage of the moment a gunman opened fire on the GOP baseball team. http://vlt.tc/2w1j “More than 25 bullets can be heard ripping through the air in the footage, which was captured by witness Noah Nathan close to the field at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park. At one point, a man can be seen lying in the middle of the field.” That man is Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip, who remains in critical condition after a bullet shattered his hip and caused major internal injuries. http://vlt.tc/2w1f
Already, though, we see the spin from some corners that this shooting was not ideological, but just a part of grievous rhetoric escalated by both parties. The New York Times editorializes: http://vlt.tc/2w2x “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, the link to political incitement was clear. 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.”
This is simply factually untrue. Loughner was not incited by politics. He was a mentally disturbed individual who had never seen Sarah Palin’s map and was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. HuffPost clears it up: http://vlt.tc/2w2y “Loughner, Tierney said, had become obsessed with “lucid dreaming.” This is the idea that conscious dreams are an alternative reality that a person can “inhabit and control” and became “more interested in this world than our reality.” Loughner’s grudge against Giffords, Tierney said, originated not in any policy dispute but rather in her failure to correctly answer a question he claimed to have posed to her at a town hall: “What is government if words have no meaning?”
While the shooter in this case may also turn out to have had mental issues, he also ran a business, had a stable family, and didn’t have a history of diagnosed mental illness. A better comparison in this case appears to be the quickly forgotten Chick-fil-A Family Research Council shooter, convicted on a domestic terrorism charge. Mark Hemingway from 2013: http://vlt.tc/2w25 “The Family Research Council shooting is one of the few inarguable examples of politically motivated violence in recent years, yet looking back a year later, the incident has garnered comparatively little attention. Corkins openly admits he selected the Family Research Council because the Christian organization is one of the leading opponents of gay marriage in the country. He had Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack because the CEO of the fast-food chain was under fire for publicly supporting a biblical definition of marriage. Corkins said he planned to “smother Chick-fil-A sandwiches in [the] faces” of his victims as a political statement. And in case that didn’t make his motivations transparent, right before Corkins shot Leo Johnson, he told him, “I don’t like your politics.”
The sad story here is that all this is likely to get worse before it gets better. It is actually amazing to me there are not more bombings and assaults at abortion clinics, for instance, considering that the protesters outside truly believe that the inside of those clinics is a murder factory for the unborn. If you truly believe that the repeal of Obamacare or the withdrawal from the Paris deal is the equivalent of sentencing millions to death, the rationalization that can lead you to open fire on the politicians advocating for such moves is obvious. http://vlt.tc/2w29 We can only hope this shooting, which could have been much worse in outcome, is a wake-up call for those who loudly broadcast such claims.
RELATED: Virginia shooting suspect was distraught over Trump’s election, brother says. http://vlt.tc/2w1m One quote that sums up shooter’s hyperpartisan world. http://vlt.tc/2w2h Violent history revealed. http://vlt.tc/2w1r Violent outbursts, anti-GOP protests and angry messages for Trump. http://vlt.tc/2w1y Shooter’s hopes for ‘Revolution.’ http://vlt.tc/2w24 ‘It’s time to destroy Trump & Co.’: Scalise shooter raged on Facebook. http://vlt.tc/2w1o