Scalise shooting – unity and recriminations

It is no surprise to see condemnation of the shooting of the republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise from across the political divide.

CNN: GOP House Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition

But there have already been political swipes.

Dan Balz: After the shootings, calls for unity amid recriminations and finger-pointing

In the charged environment of 2017, it took only a few hours for a baseball diamond to be transformed from a peaceful practice field to a horrific crime scene and then to a vivid symbol of the tensions between the angry politics of our time and the better angels of the American people.

From President Trump to congressional leaders of both parties to ordinary citizens came calls for prayers for the victims of the shootings in Alexandria, Va., praise for the Capitol Police officers who prevented an even worse tragedy and, above all, words of reconciliation and unity.

But barely on the edges of those remarks was another round of recriminations and a renewed debate about what has brought the country to a point of such division, what is to blame for what happened on that baseball field shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday and what, if anything, can be done to lower temperatures for more than a few minutes.

Large taps of anger can’t be just turned off, even after wake up calls as serious as the shooting of a politician.

The country has been in this place before, perhaps too many times after violence that has left Americans feeling shaken and insecure. At those times, elected officials have reached across the aisle, embracing one another in friendship and unity. Ordinary citizens have rallied behind those leaders as one nation, vowing to put aside partisanship and recalling what it means to be an American.

The 911 attacks united and galvanised the country, for a while.

Trump spoke as other presidents have done in times of tragedy or terrorism, saying, “We are strongest when we are unified and when we work for the common good.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) called on his colleagues to set an example. “Show the world we are one House, the people’s House, united in our humanity,” he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) implored her colleagues to make the Congressional Baseball Game an occasion “that will bring us together and not separate us further.”

But their are too many people in the US with their own entrenched agendas.

But with past as prologue, other voices and other emotions threatened to drown out the words of the nation’s leaders. Six years ago, after the shootings that left then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) badly wounded and six others dead, it was the political right that was on the defensive.

Those on the left charged that the incendiary rhetoric aimed at then-President Barack Obama and his supporters during his early years in office gave rise to a climate that made violence possible.

But the sides have changed.

On Wednesday, it was the political left that became a target from some on the right. The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson III, who was pronounced dead at a hospital after the shootout, was a longtime critic of the Republicans and a particularly harsh critic of the president. His Facebook page included angry and vulgar words aimed at Trump.

Some Republicans viewed the shootings as evidence that the president’s critics have crossed the line of decency in their opposition and fostered a climate that could produce what happened on Wednesday morning.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and a strong supporter of Trump:

Speaking at midday on Fox News Channel, decried what he called “an increasing hostility on the left,” whether from comedians, from artists, from politicians or from ordinary citizens posting their views on social media.

“You’ve had a series of things that send signals that tell people it’s okay to hate Trump,” he said. “And now we’re supposed to rise above it?”

Some major irony there as he justifiably condemns hostility from the left against Trump, but ignores Trump’s own record of hostility against opponents and critics, notably but not only directed against Hillary Clinton – and also Trump’s deliberate efforts to stir up hatred against Clinton and promoting some fairly extreme consequences.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whose many past statements have inflamed the debate about illegal immigration, was near the Capitol when the shootings took place.

Without referring to the shooter, he said critics of the president have created a climate of hate that threatens the country. He pointed to the massive demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere the day after Trump was inaugurated, and protests that have continued since.

Without referring to the shooter, he said critics of the president have created a climate of hate that threatens the country. He pointed to the massive demonstrations in Washington and elsewhere the day after Trump was inaugurated, and protests that have continued since.

“America has been divided, and the center of America is disappearing and the violence is appearing in the streets and it’s coming from the left,” he said.

Some of it is certainly coming from the left, but division and intolerance has also come from the right as well.

Just last week: Fearing for her life, Iowa Democrat abandons race to unseat GOP Rep. Steve King

The Democratic candidate running against anti-immigrant Republican Congressman Steve King (IA) announced Saturday that she is dropping out of the race for her own safety.

In a Facebook post published Saturday night, Kim Weaver wrote, “Over the last several weeks, I have been evaluating personal circumstances along with the political climate regarding this campaign. After much deliberation, I have determined that the best decision for me is to withdraw my candidacy for the US House race in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.”

She explained that beginning during her 2016 campaign, she has been receiving threats of physical violence and murder, and said that “recent events at my home” were forcing her to re-evaluate her decision to run against King.

“While some may say enduring threats are just a part of running for office, my personal safety has increasingly become a concern,” Weaver said.

King didn’t mention this when criticising hostility from the left.

Back to the Balz article:

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), whose district cuts across central Illinois to the Mississippi River just above Hodgkinson’s home town of Belleville, was on the baseball field when the shootings took place.

Davis condemned what he called “political, rhetorical terrorism” practiced by both sides. He appealed passionately for everyone to step back and find a better way to hash out and then resolve their differences.

“Is this America’s breaking point?” he asked on CNN. “It’s my breaking point. We’ve got to end this.”

But when it again becomes a blame game between left and right the end looks nowhere in sight.

Wednesday’s shootings can act as a temporary circuit breaker to some of the hostilities, and Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game can become an emotional and poignant coming together.

But will that be enough to prevent a swift return to the kind of debilitating political conflict that has become so accepted as the norm? History shows how difficult that could be.

Some of the reactions to yesterday’s shooting also show how difficult it could be.

 

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15 Comments

  1. I see NYT has published a retraction on an old dot joining “blame Palin for Loughner’s violence to Gifford” article from years ago. In addition there is a good deal of moral equivalency going on on both sides. Particular opprobrium is reserve for the NYT, citing their editorial hypocrisy over their Scalise stance.

    “The New York Times published its editorial in response to yesterday’s vicious, violent, and explicitly political attack on Congressional Republicans — an attack that wounded four and left Representative Steve Scalise in critical condition in a Washington-area hospital — and it is abhorrent. It is extraordinarily cruel, vicious, and — above all — dishonest. The editorial doesn’t just twist the truth to advance the board’s preferred narratives; it may even be libelous, a term I choose carefully……

    Let’s be blunt. In its zeal to create moral equivalencies and maintain a particular narrative about the past, the Times flat-out lied. There is simply no “link to political incitement” in Loughner’s murderous acts. The man was a paranoid schizophrenic who first got angry at Gabby Giffords years before Palin published her map. The Times editorial board didn’t have far to go to understand Loughner’s motivations; it could have asked . . . New York Times reporters. In an excellent reported piece published just days after the Tucson shootings, the paper described Loughner’s mental illness and nonsensical political beliefs in disturbing detail. For example, as he descended into the depths of his disease, he not only spewed bizarre and incoherent political ideas, he rejected conventional math and grammar. In short, he broke with reality:

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448664/new-york-times-steve-scalise-shameful-editorial

    Reply
    • Brown

       /  June 16, 2017

      Superficially this is correct but when your liberal mates encourage such foolishness its easy to go to the next level and go full retard. Respectful behaviour is no longer expected when you don’t get your own way because its so unfair when you are always right and don’t get your own way and the ice caps are melting and we are all going to drown / freeze / melt / cook and it will be even worse if you are trans gender.

      The world is so screwed up it would be funny were it not so serious.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  June 16, 2017

        That comment would be too if it didn’t effectively categorise so much competing thinking or different views to yours as ‘liberal’ & thus singly potentially dangerous in this way, or otherwise condemnable. Holders of deeply conservative or far right views can be just as deadly.

        Reply
  2. Ray

     /  June 16, 2017

    “He rejected conventional math and grammar ”
    As well as “spewing bizarre and incoherent political ideas.”

    And which frequent writer on this site does this remind us of

    Reply
    • You tell us.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  June 16, 2017

        Not me, I would never say ‘math’ instead of ‘maths’.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  June 16, 2017

          Then you may just be a tad long-winded Kitty. 😉 To me they’re both acceptable useable & intelligible contractions of the word “mathematics”. One is just more English, & the other more American.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  June 16, 2017

            Why leave the ‘s’ off ” It’s pointless. It takes no longer to say maths. We are not part of America, we shouldn’t be aping their speech.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  June 16, 2017

              It does actually take longer to say maths. Try it. The s has to be pronounced distinctly, separately from the th, which is extra time.
              We are not part of England either. So we can say WTF we like as long as other people know what we mean.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 16, 2017

              Math-es ?

              It may take a fraction of a second longer, but math sounds silly as an abbreviation of mathematicS. I loathe the way that American
              misuse of words is taking over the English language.

            • Gezza

               /  June 16, 2017

              🌸

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 16, 2017

              I like the s. Maths deserves a hiss.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 16, 2017

              Yessssss…..

            • PDB

               /  June 16, 2017

              “Math and maths are equally acceptable abbreviations of mathematics. The only difference is that math is preferred in the U.S. and Canada, and maths is preferred in the U.K., Australia, and most other English-speaking areas of the world.

              Neither abbreviation is correct or incorrect. You may hear arguments for one being superior to the other, and there are logical cases for both sides. One could argue maths is better because mathematics ends in s, and one could argue math is better because mathematics is just a mass noun that happens to end in s.”

              http://grammarist.com/spelling/math-maths/

  3. lurcher1948

     /  June 16, 2017

    Scalise didnt know he was addressing a KKK meeting a closet RACIST,a good old white southern boy

    Reply

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