Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bernie Sanders Supporter Shoots Republican Representatives and Police

There is much that will come out on this story in the next few hours, let alone the next few days. Some details may change. Right now all we know is that a progressive Bernie Sanders supporter, James Hodgkinson, shot at Republican members of Congress and Capitol Hill Police. 

Hodgkinson allegedly asked whether the Representatives, who were preparing for a sporting event, were Democrats or Republicans before he started shooting. Hodgkinson was wounded in a shootout with police and has since died.

James T. Hodgkinson has been identified as the shooter who opened fire on Republican members of Congress Wednesday morning at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, the Washington Post reports. Hodgkinson, 66, is from Belleville, Illinois, the newspaper reports. A motive for the shooting is not yet known, but Hodgkinson’s Facebook page shows someone who had a high interest in politics, who supported Bernie Sanders during the presidential election and expressed anger with President Donald Trump and Republican Congressmen.

The gunman was shot by two Capitol Hill Police officers who were at the scene as a security detail for Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, who was among those shot. The two police officers were also wounded, along with a staffer for Rep. Roger Williams of Texas and a lobbyist. Scalise and the officers are expected to survive.

Two Congressmen, Rep. Jeff Duncan and Rep. Ron DeSantis, described an encounter with a man who asked them if those practicing were “Republicans or Democrats” before the shooting. DeSantis, when shown a photo of Hodgkinson, confirmed he was the man who approached him, CNBC reports. Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said his officers and Capitol Police officers exchanged fire with the gunman.

The man suspected of opening fire on Republican members of the congressional baseball team early Wednesday morning was distraught over the election of President Trump and traveled to Washington in recent weeks to protest, his brother said on Wednesday. The suspect, James Thomas Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., died in a Washington hospital after a shootout with the police. “I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” his brother, Michael Hodgkinson, said in a telephone interview shortly after he received the news on Wednesday. 

Now there already have been and will be more people on the left who will take the opportunity to make fun of those shot, celebrate the shooting, claim that this is not terrorism, or start saying "Well, what about X?" as a way to change the narrative. You don't have to like Steve Scalise, a morally vacuous man who has played footsie with the Klan and white nationalists, or Republicans in general to understand that some people are literally playing with fire.

People had no problem getting that concept when the execrable Sarah Palin used bullseye pictures to list members of Congress who needed to be, in her opinion, taken out. Well when some people use apocalyptic fire breathing eliminationist language about the danger and wickedness of Republicans or view each and every conservative plan or program as tantamount to apartheid, ethnic cleansing, or Nazi inspired genocide, it's not too surprising when someone else acts on those statements.

It's worth repeating over and over and over. The only justification for violence is imminent self-defense. That's it. There is no moral justification for shooting someone who has not initiated force against you. And despite the fevered rantings across some blogs or websites, someone voting, legislating, thinking, or writing in a way you don't like is not initiating force against you. I may have more to write on this later because it touches on something I've been thinking about a lot lately. 

Maybe it is time for the US to break up. If we are at the point where people would rather change representatives by shooting them instead of voting them out then we might need to undergo a resorting and separation.

Even if you are a person who despises all Republicans or conservatives and thinks that liberals must be more aggressive and get into conservatives' faces, you should still oppose Hodgkinson's actions and the worldview which nurtured him. I would just ask you to look around and ask yourself which group of people, liberal or conservative, is armed to the teeth, and which one isn't. Consider which group of people, liberal or conservative, makes up the majority of the police and military officer corps. The country as a whole loses if political violence becomes normalized. Some people styling themselves "The Resistance" might discover that they don't have as much muscle as they thought they did once bullets start flying. Again, whether we like it or not, Trump is President. The Republicans hold the House and Senate. The way to change that is to organize and vote in 2018, 2020, and beyond. Throwing tantrums and shooting people won't work. All that does is (1) make conservatives double down on their paranoid persecution complex and (2) invite retribution.

When you write posts like this, unfortunately some people tend to think that you're being overly solicitous of racists/conservatives/republicans or other "bad" people. Not at all. Someone can read the various posts on police violence and conservative ideology to see where I'm coming from politically. I do not like Scalise. But it just can't be said enough, shooting people because you disagree with their politics is wrong. And it doesn't matter if your target is a racist Republican or a "virtuous" Democrat. If US citizens can no longer agree on that basic civic principle then we might as well call it a day.
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