The Scalise Shooting: this solves nothing!

By   /   June 17, 2017  /   16 Comments

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A few days ago;

Congressman Steve Scalise, the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, was in critical condition on Wednesday night after he and three others were shot as they practiced for a charity baseball game.

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Also wounded were a congressional aide and one former aide who now works as a lobbyist, officials said. One Capitol Hill police officer suffered a gunshot wound and another officer twisted an ankle and was released from a hospital, police said.

Reports indicate that the gunman, who was shot and killed, was a Bernie Sanders supporter;

It quickly emerged the [gunman], had posted anti-Trump messages on his social media accounts and campaigned on behalf of Mr Sanders, the Left-wing Senator who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Whatever my  thoughts and feelings toward those on the Right – including this current Trump Administration – the actions of the shooter (who will  not be named here) in Washington D.C. cannot be condoned.

For at least three reasons, political assassination must never be allowed to become a social norm;

  • The person who resorts to a weapon to silence an opponent has lost the contest of ideas. It elevates the value of  an assassinated person’s ideas. In effect, they have been martyred, and history is full of examples, whether it be Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Whatever one thinks of a political opponent, they too have families who will mourn their violent death. Their partner and children do not deserve such a tragedy in their lives.
  • It’s just plain wrong.

As well, the gunman has undermined and damaged his own ideology. Supporters of Bernie Sanders will now share the odium of one disturbed assassin’s crime.

Already, those inclined toward conspiracy theories have jumped on this shooting for their own agenda;

It didn’t take long for some to connect the shooting to Sanders himself. One person in particular, Jack Posobiec — a Trump supporter who has pushed the conspiracy theory surrounding DNC staffer Seth Rich’s death — especially fueled that idea.

“Just 4 days ago Bernie Sanders ordered his followers to ‘take down’ Trump,” he tweeted.

However,

Sanders did not say that. Posobiec seemed to pull it from a CNN headline that describes Sanders’ nearly hourlong speech at Sunday’s People’s Summit.

The headline, “Sanders to faithful: Take down Trump, take over Democratic Party,” refers to Sanders’ message of resistance to the establishment rule, one that he campaigned on and since has reiterated, and his strong criticism of Trump.

Sanders called Trump “perhaps the worst and most dangerous president in the history of our country” in his speech and ended by saying, “I want you to think about the incredibly brave heroes and heroines in our history against unbelievably daunting odds who risked their lives for social justice, for economic justice, for racial justice.”

But he did not at any point say anyone should “take down” the president.

If  this blogger were of a mind to resort to invented fantastical conspiracy theories, one could posit that the Scalise shooting may have been a “false flag” black-ops carried out by Trump supporters to (a) undermine Sanders’ credibility and (b) create sympathy for Trump.

Conspiracy theories are easy to invent; they require a simple idea; a small element of truth (or a mutated variety of it); and a strand of apparent logic.

But there is zero evidence for such a conspiracy.

The plain truth of the matter is that one disturbed, angry, frustrated individual, with typical American-style access to firearms, took it upon himself to decide who lives and who dies based purely on his own prejudices.

That is unacceptable.

It was unacceptable when successive US governments assassinated political enemies in foreign lands, or the Putin government assassinated it’s critics domestically or abroad.

As a self-professed “leftie” myself, I dis-own the actions of one man. He does not speak nor act for me. If I ‘attack’ Trump and his party, it will be with words and ideas. If I ‘attack’ Trump, it will be on issues; his policies; and  his actions (or non-actions). If I ‘attack’ Trump, it will not be in such a way as to cause his family to grieve his death.

For example, I will criticise Trump because of his apparent selective morality;

Mr Trump later visited the hospital where Mr Scalise was recovering. The president then tweeted: “Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the truly great people, is in very tough shape – but he is a real fighter. Pray for Steve!”

The president, accompanied to the hospital by his wife Melania, sat by Mr Scalise’s bedside and spoke with his family.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer describeD the scene in the intensive care unit as “emotional.”

It is disconcerting that – as far as this blogger is aware – Trump never visited the sole survivor of three men who stood up to a racist bigot threatening two young women in Portland;

Pressure is mounting on Donald Trump to address the fatal stabbing of several men who tried to protect a Muslim teenager from being subject to a racist rant on a train.

53-year-old Ricky Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche were killed after they tried to stop Jeremy Christian from hurling abuse at two women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

A third passenger, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was wounded.

Ted Wheeler, the Portland mayor, and the FBI have condemned the killings.

The President has not mentioned the attack by Christian, a man who has been described as a white supremacist, yet Mr Trump has continued to actively use social media.

Tweets since the attack include his “big results” from the trip to Europe, “fake news” and health care, and he has even praised the newly-elected Republican representative in Montana who allegedly assaulted a Guardian journalist at a campaign event. 

Veteran journalist Dan Rather made an appeal on Facebook for the President to name the “brave Americans” killed in the attack, and his post has been commented on and shared more than 340,000 times.

“I wish we would hear you say these names, or even just tweet them,” Mr Rather said. 

When there was a comment from the White House, the supposed tweet from Trump was – irony of ironies – apparently  “fake”. It was most likely written by a White House staffer;

After pressure mounted on Donald Trump to comment on the racist attack in Portland, Oregon that left two men dead on Friday, the president said on Monday the attack was “unacceptable”.

Trump’s words were broadcast on the @POTUS Twitter account, rather than the more commonly used @RealDonaldTrump, on Monday morning, shortly before Trump marked Memorial Day with a speech at Arlington national cemetery in Virginia.

“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable,” the tweet read. “The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”

The @POTUS  tweet does not sound like Trump’s style of writing on that particular medium.

Have I ‘attacked’ Trump?

Yes I have. And for damned good reason. But no violence was used.

No one died. No blood was spilled.

This is how a contest of ideas should – must! – take place in a civilised society.

Otherwise we are still cave-swelling barbarians – albeit with high-tech weapons, reality tv, and delusions of civility. To be a gun-wielding maniac, whether from the Right or Left, is to surrender to our worst urges. No intelligent thought, creative imagination, or insights required.

When one of “Our Own” from the Left or Right resorts to violence, we have to own that person. In this case, the Left has to take ownership of the Washington gunman and remind ourselves; this is not the way.

When a  Norwegian neo-fascist terrorist murdered seventyseven people in his own country, we demanded that the Right take responsibility for his actions.

The Left should  do no less.

Final note

After the attempted assassination of President Reagan, on 30 March 1981, US Congress passed into law the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. The Act restricted access to firearms and was supported by President Reagan, and passed into law by President Clinton on 30 November 1993.

After this attack on one of their own, Republican lawmakers might re-visit their recent history when it comes to gun-control.

A bullet makes no distinction between Republicans and Democrats. Only the person wielding the gun does that.

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References

Reuters: Scalise in critical condition after attack by gunman at baseball field

The Telegraph:  Donald Trump visits Steve Scalise in hospital after Republican congressman shot at baseball practice

The LA Times: How fake news starts – Trump supporters tie Bernie Sanders to Alexandria shooting using a fake quote

The Independent:  Portland attack – Calls mount for Donald Trump to address fatal stabbing of ‘brave men’ who tried to protect Muslim teenager on train

The Guardian:  Portland attack – Trump says victims stood up to ‘hate and intolerance’

Wikipedia: Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act

Previous related blogposts

The Portland Heroes – the indomitable human spirit at its finest

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16 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    The left are being encouraged by lots of money from George Soros “the master crook” to conduct civil dis-obedience in our society.

    The left are shooting themselves in the foot and hardening the resolve of soft voters who are scared and gravitating towards Donald Trump away from this ugly attempted murder and civil dis-obedience.

    The left who have been now aligned with rich money must distance themselves from that dirty Soros money first to regain their moral high ground else the people will see them as tainted.

    • The left are being encouraged by lots of money from George Soros “the master crook” to conduct civil dis-obedience in our society.

      Really?! I’m yet to see any of that cash, CG.

      Anyways, what’s wrong with a bit of civil disobedience? We need more of it to shake up governments, whether the Nats in Wellington or the Trumpistas in Washington.

      • CLEANGREEN says:

        OH FRANK!

        NO-ONE WOULD CONSIDER YOU AS A ‘RADICALISED URBAN ACTIVIST CAUSING SERIOUS PHYSICAL HARM TO ANY INDIVIDUAL’,

        (ME FOUND WITH GRIN) – FRANK.

  2. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell says:

    “The actions of the shooter…cannot be condoned.”

    Strong stuff.

  3. Francesca says:

    Well, we have come to a sorry pass if this even needs saying
    having said that, thanks for saying it
    Endless rants against Trump don’t get to the bottom of the failed system that produced him.
    Blaming Russia ditto.
    But it certainly can inflame a few unhinged hotheads

  4. darth smith says:

    frustration and anger boils over when you realize you have been shafted the elite need to realize the pitch forks are coming the current system has left million behind a mob is not left or right wing its simply the mob

    • It may sound trite, Darth, but that’s why we have the vote in Western-style democracies. So we wouldn’t need mobs, pitchforks, guns, etc. The vote is more powerful than the gun because it confers legitimacy.

  5. Siobhan says:

    Isn’t this a mental health issue as much as anything??
    Why on earth would anyone feel the need to say they don’t ‘condone’ this sort of thing?
    This poor guy is no different than many the so called ISIS terrorists in the West, such as Man Haron Monis, they are broken people flailing around in a broken system and society just waiting to go off in the name of…whatever.

    • Siobhan, there is an old saying, “Silence implies consent”. I want to make sure there is no consent to such extremist behaviour from thoe on the Left.

      There may well be a mental health problem involved, as with the Norwegian shooter.

      But we don’t know that yet. (Though by definition, anyone who indulges in this kind of action, probably does have mental health problems.)

      However, the current narrative has been framed in a political context (alleged Democrat/Bernie Sanders supporter) and this is how I’m responding to it.

  6. Andy says:

    I’m glad you write this Frank. I demonstrates that you are a decent man, not that I ever thought otherwise

    I fully agree we need to keep the battle of ideas alive and recognise we all see the world through different lenses

    • Thank you, Andy.

      It was a difficult one to write. This one wasn’t so much about facts and figures and hard data… it was more on an emotional level. That takes more care. It would be so easy to understate or melodramatise or exploit the situation.

      I had started writing it, but got stuck. Your prompting me on another page gave me the ‘hurry up’ to get it done.

      Thanks, again.

  7. Mike in Auckland says:

    Yes, sad that, the US is full of people that seem to have gun slinging tendencies built into their DNA.

    But there are so many other forms of dealing with issues, kind of ‘contact sports’ for politically minded folk, I presume:
    https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=riots+occupy+wall+street&tbm=isch&imgil=S0RSFPZKm_515M%253A%253B4usOqBPDu0tFyM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fnj1015.com%25252Fpolice-clashes-mar-occupy-wall-street-protests-video%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=S0RSFPZKm_515M%253A%252C4usOqBPDu0tFyM%252C_&usg=__K4_ikJYelPwe8WwnGsUcGBmuDC8%3D&biw=919&bih=592#imgrc=S0RSFPZKm_515M:

  8. Iain Mclean says:

    Frank;

    It might be worth considering this.

    “The tragic shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise [R-LA] by James Hodgkinson underscores how freakish these type of incidents really are. The story goes that James was a loner from Belleville, Illinois. The narrative continues that he was a strong Bernie Sanders supporter. He also worked on Bernie’s presidential campaign. Ironically, Bernie believed in gun control. Unfortunately, James was able to purchase a rifle and gun with the proper ID. Police in his hometown had warned him not to shoot his gun around his quiet suburban neighborhood.

    We are led to believe that nothing in this narrative indicates a calculating assassin who went out of his way to scout out Congressman Steve Scalise’s routines and activities. Why Scalise from the state of Louisiana? Is there more info that we need to understand regarding this incident? Does the public understand the congressman’s strong stance against child trafficking. What else is going on in the Swamp currently? Sessions hearings among other things.

    There is no question in my mind that Mr. Hodgkinson spent over a month in Virginia monitoring the behavior and activities of the third most powerful Republican congressmen. The assailant knew how to target a large number of Republican Congressmen practicing baseball for a charity event in Virginia, a state into which he had purposefully moved into in order to execute a mass killing of Republicans or other targets of opportunity [baseball field in Alexandria, Va.].”

    http://stevepieczenik.com/loaned-wolf-shoots-congressman-scalise/

    Cheers.

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