Yesterday, in the wake of the targeted shootings of Republicans in Alexandria, I wrote about how good it was to see congressional Democrats joining with their political rivals to pray for Representative Steve Scalise and the others who were wounded in the attack. It was a rare and welcome show of bipartisanship in a time when political divisions seem to be worse than ever before, and I hoped it could continue even as the memory of the morning’s events began to fade. I also wordered how long the news media would allow that kind of unity to continue, given their agenda of sowing discord and keeping Americans at each other’s throats.
This morning, in a staff editorial, the New York Times gave us their answer:
Not all the details are known yet about what happened in Virginia, but a sickeningly familiar pattern is emerging in the assault: The sniper, James Hodgkinson, who was killed by Capitol Police officers, was surely deranged, and his derangement had found its fuel in politics. Mr. Hodgkinson was a Bernie Sanders supporter and campaign volunteer virulently opposed to President Trump. He posted many anti-Trump messages on social media, including one in March that said “Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
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.
Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Though there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.
The editorial then goes into the usual boilerplate about gun control, which is their typical dodge when they’re trying to change the subject. The subtext is pretty clear, though: Sure, it was a Bernie Bro who shot up the GOP baseball team, but it’s the Republicans’ fault because they love the Second Amendment too much.
But even that isn’t the most outrageous part of their argument. The Times here is recycling a proven falsehood by asserting that Jared Loughner was inspired to shoot Democrat Representative Gabby Giffords because of some cross hairs that Sarah Palin’s PAC placed on a map. Loughner was a diagnosed schizophrenic who believed that the government was using the rules of grammar to control his mind. A friend of Loughner also said of him, “He did not watch TV, he disliked the news. He didn’t listen to political radio, he didn’t take sides, he wasn’t on the left, he wasn’t on the right.” In other words, he had no political motive. There is absolutely no question about this.
On the other hand, here we have James T. Hodgkinson, a known progressive activist with a social media trail a mile long, who volunteered for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and literally posted on Facebook about how it was time to destroy Trump & Co.–and yet somehow the New York Times, the supposed Paper of Record, says that, “There’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack.” Are you kidding me?
Moreover, the editorial characterizes Hodgkinson as “surely deranged,” and maintains that because of this reason he should never have had a rifle in the first place. But how do they know he was deranged? There’s no evidence that Hodgkinson suffered from any kind of mental illness. In fact, his methodical approach to the attempted murders of Republicans suggests quite the opposite–that he knew exactly what he was doing. Perhaps he had just been fed a steady diet of hatred from media outlets like the New York Times, which filled him with stories about how Republicans are evil and want to destroy the planet with climate change. Or does that kind of understanding make them a bit too uncomfortable?
It’s absolutely disgusting that the Times is taking the actions of a lunatic and making them appear sane so that they can take the actions of a sane man and make them appear crazy. In their view, however, they’re just doing what they need to do to protect the narrative–which means, to everyone’s detriment, they won’t give up peddling their brand of hate anytime soon.