Shortly after I heard about the shootings in Alexandria this morning, I took to Facebook and posted the following:
Today there will be a lot of hot takes on the shooting at the GOP baseball practice outside of Washington, DC today. Most of it will be crap, designed to put the left and the right at each others’ throats and perpetuate the conditions that most likely led the shooter to do what he did today. My humble request to you is to simply refuse to be a part of it. Whatever your politics, it’s obvious that we all need to tone down the personal rancor and engage each other on the issues. It is possible to do that in a respectful manner that doesn’t inflame the passions of nutjobs like the guy who shot at congressmen today.
This was before the identity of the gunman was revealed, but even then it seemed pretty obvious that he had been deliberately targeting Republican members of Congress. When his identity finally did come to light, that motive was all but confirmed by the gunman’s posts on social media. A virulent strain of hatred, all to common in our political discourse these days, was on full display as he railed on about how Donald Trump and the GOP have destroyed democracy and how the time had come to destroy them. It’s run of the mill stuff for any of us who have ever argued politics on Facebook–except that, in this case, the man decided to pick up a rifle and do something about it. Now he lies dead, and five other people are in the hospital with gunshot wounds.
Thankfully, our leadership in Washington has so far responded to the shootings with sober reflection rather than wild invective. President Trump, in his remarks this morning, called out the bravery of the Capitol Hill Police officers who defended everyone on that ball field even as they were shot and wounded themselves. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took to the floor of Congress to thank his Democrat colleagues who stood together in prayer for the victims, and was followed by Democrat minority leader Nancy Pelosi expressing unequivocal agreement with every word.
This is good. This is as it should be.
And this is how I hope it will be going forward, after the shock of this morning’s events wears off and we resume the business of governing a great country in uncertain times.
Just one question: Will the media allow it?
It’s no secret that I’ve had a lot of harsh things to say about how the news business is conducting itself these days. Their rank bias has by now become so obvious that the media barely even bother to conceal it anymore. This is almost always done in support of a liberal agenda, which means carrying water for Democrats–but there seems to be an even greater urgency in their mission to destroy the presidency of Donald Trump. Everything else is secondary to that purpose, and as a result there is no rumor, no lie, no anonymously-sourced story so outlandish that they won’t gleefully run with it so long as they think it will damage the president. That’s why we have a sizable contingent of the Democrat electorate that honestly believes Trump collaborated with the Russians to steal the 2016 election away from Hillary Clinton.
That sounds an awful lot like the Facebook ravings of the lunatic who shot up a GOP baseball team practice today.
Don’t get me wrong. The responsibility for the shooter’s crimes lies with the shooter himself, and nobody else. But the media do have to take their share of the responsibility in creating the climate that drove this guy to do what he did. People don’t go from political activism to political violence overnight. That kind of radicalization takes time–and this shooter had been marinating in a stew of media coverage that cast the president as a winner of a fraudulent election, and the GOP congress as killers who want to take away people’s health care and destroy the planet by withdrawing from the Paris climate change accord. The shooter most likely believed all these things, and the media kept feeding his delusions.
They’re not supposed to do that. They’re supposed to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the world, using their resources to give people an accurate perspective on important events. In other words, it’s their job to keep people informed–not stoke anger and fear until somebody reaches the boiling point and starts shooting the people the media have cast as the enemy.
I agree that we all need to step back from the brink of hate that brought us here–but how can that ever happen if the media keep pushing us toward it?