Fair and Unbalanced

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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: Have we reached a breaking point or just agreed to call a brief truce?

Littwin: Have we reached a breaking point or just agreed to call a brief truce?

In the aftermath of the horror that played out on a Virginia baseball field, we can — and should — step back for a day, maybe a few days, and remember amid all the hateful talk that we are, as the president rightfully reminded us, one nation and one people.

But even as we do so, even as a nation prays for those who were shot and wounded, we’ll know we’re not fooling anyone, least of all ourselves. This is the sad, heartbreaking truth.

We are, of course, united in horror at the direct attack not only against real people with real lives, but against our democratic system, an attack that David Frum called in The Atlantic an attempted “veto by murder.”

That someone would attack Republican lawmakers, presumably because they’re Republican, on a baseball diamond, as if to reinforce the idea that this is an attack on American values, is nearly beyond imagination. That Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican whip, should lie critically wounded on the field is almost too much to take in. And yet there it was:  Capitol police engaged in a firefight during early-morning practice for a charity game between Democrats and Republicans.

And the fact is that the first thing we wanted to know, the very first thing, was whether the shooter was a Democrat. And when we learned that the shooter, James T. Hodgkinson III, was a Bernie Sanders volunteer who loudly opposed Donald Trump and came to Washington from his home outside St. Louis to register his unhappiness by unleashing a mass shooting, it shouldn’t have been beyond our imagination at all.

We have, of course, a long history of assassination in this country. And we have only to go back six years to the attack on Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords, to the murderous attack that left dead a federal judge, a 9-year-old and four others. Following that attack, we asked ourselves whether the political rhetoric had grown too hot, whether a crazed gunman like Jared Loughner was pushed, whether we needed to take a hard look at ourselves and decide whether this is who we are.

Well, we looked. And apparently it was. And the rhetoric, meanwhile, has grown worse, and you can argue whether Hodgkinson’s decision to bring guns to a baseball field should be blamed on anti-Trump rhetoric or on one man’s confusion that turns normal political opposition into abnormal rage or the fact that a man once arrested for domestic abuse still had access to those powerful guns.

What you can’t argue is that we’re worse for the political anger that is bred on talk radio and cable news and social media and wherever else you look. You can’t argue, either, that we elected a president whose lock-her-up campaign was based on promoting fear and who, not two weeks ago, unaccountably involved himself in a Twitter war with the Muslim London mayor even as his city was mourning its dead.

We have become hardened, somehow. And even with fine speeches from Paul Ryan, who asked the House “to show the country, to show the world that we are one house, the people’s house, united in our humanity,” and from Nancy Pelosi and from Donald Trump, there was already finger-pointing and blame-making.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), whose district lies just north of Hodgkinson’s home in Belleville, was on the field when the shootings took place. Still in his baseball uniform, he took to CNN to call out “political, rhetorical terrorism” and then asked what for Davis was no longer a rhetorical question: “Is this America’s breaking point? It’s my breaking point. We’ve got to end this.”

But are moving speeches and heartfelt pleas for comity and an agreement to go ahead with the charity baseball game enough? In San Francisco on the same day, a man shot and killed three co-workers and himself at a UPS facility. In Washington on the same day, a hearing had been scheduled in the House on making it easier to buy silencers for firearms.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, which sadly keeps track of these things, there have been 1,399 mass shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2013. A mass shooting, by this definition, requires four people other than the shooter to have been hit. In those shootings, at least 1,564 people were killed and more than 5,500 wounded. The latest Washington shooting is just one more.

But no one was talking gun control in the aftermath of the shooting. Gun control, in and of itself, isn’t really the issue. Gun-violence control is the issue. But here we go back to the rhetoric and to warnings of gun grabbing and of the need for the Second Amendment to protect ourselves against the government or to the president tweeting after the London knife and car attack that, you see, it’s not about guns at all.

There’s no one who can rationally argue that gun violence isn’t among the greatest problems in the country. Watch the baseball-field video. It looks like a war zone. Check out the Chicago murder statistics. They might as well have come from a war zone. But it’s a non-starter in Congress even after Congress becomes a direct target. So, what does it mean to ask whether we’ve reached a breaking point? It is a question we do need to ask ourselves, but there isn’t much point asking until we’re actually ready to find an answer.

Photo by MarineCorps NewYork via Flickr: Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

2 Comments

  1. RW Boehm on said:

    Hey Mike, I guess you had some column inch or word count limitation…
    “What you can’t argue is that we’re worse for the political anger that is bred on talk radio and cable news and social media and wherever else you look. You can’t argue, either, that we elected a president whose lock-her-up campaign was based on promoting fear and who, not two weeks ago, unaccountably involved himself in a Twitter war with the Muslim London mayor even as his city was mourning its dead.”
    You missed ABC, NBS, CBS, CNN, The NY Times , Washington Post, The View, Huffington Post, Clinton’s deplorable & unredeemable rant, Obama’s you’re a racist claims and guns & bibles insults, the DNC’s unending investigation, attacking, obstruction and stonewalling of the elected president’s agenda.

    But I’m sure glad you pointed out the evil radio talk show and cable news rhetoric that causes all the trouble.

    Your bias is pretty blatant.

  2. Don Lopez on said:

    Clown car loses its taste for peanuts and Cracker Jacks..

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “(Mr. Trump) won’t be president. He was sliding in the polls before the video, and the video now means that he has no way to climb back. Which independent voter, which suburban woman, which Main Street Republican on the fence is going to vote for Trump now?” – Mike Littwin

    }{

    On the day after Thanksgiving in 2015 Robert Lewis Dear entered a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and killed three people, including a police officer, and wounded nine others.

    In response, Mr. Littwin voluntarily gave up his Thanksgiving weekend and wrote three columns in five days in a politically motivated frenzied effort to link the killings to Republican rhetoric on abortion. He framed it this way:

    “If you believe that words matter, then you have these to consider: Various Republican presidential candidates have called the (Planned Parenthood) “barbaric” (Marco Rubio) and a “criminal enterprise” (Ted Cruz) in which “children” are “grown and killed for their body parts, to be sold for profit.

    For those wondering about motive, however, law enforcement sources have been leaking to various news media that Dear talked of “no more baby parts” when explaining his actions to officials. The “baby parts” would presumably lead back to the videos. One source told The Washington Post that although Dear rambled through the interviews, he was “definitely politically motivated.””

    Mr. Littwin was forced to abandon his Republican-rhetoric-made-him-do-it narrative after admitting “apparently (Robert Lewis Dear) didn’t need to hear heated talk from anyone to act.” He then attempted to extract his pound of flesh by backing an attempt to recall Adams County state Rep. JoAnn Windholz who,after the shootings, pointed to Planned Parenthood as the real culprit.

    That recall effort was abandoned.

    Fast forward to earlier this week when a lone gunman who authorities identified as James T. Hodgkinson III shot four members of the Republican congressional baseball team in an attack the New York Times said was, “probably motivated by divisive political rhetoric”

    Now, of course, Mr. Littwin has no interest in knowing, “If you believe that words matter”

    According to the New York Times, Hodgkinson “was said to be distraught over President Trump’s election” Yet, amazingly, today Mr. Littwin, who about eighteen months ago willingly gave up a Thanksgiving weekend in a failed effort to link Republican rhetoric to a Planned Parenthood shooting, doesn’t want to discuss the link between political rhetoric and shootings. The reason is clear: All the vile political rhetoric is coming from the left and when faced with inconvenient truths Mr. Littwin simply ignores them.

    Last month California Democrats joined in a chorus of “F— Donald Trump” and then gave President Trump a middle-finger salute.

    Pure class.

    And this from realclearpolitics.com:

    “Unfortunately, it’s not hard to find left-wing tweets advocating violence against President Trump and Republicans. And the “arts” community contributes its share. Comedian Kathy Griffin posted a picture of herself holding a likeness of the bloody severed head of the president. In New York, Shakespeare in the Park’s staging of “Julius Caesar” features an orange-haired Caesar being stabbed to death by political rivals.

    And there have been multiple violent threats and some actual instances of violence against Republican House members. Virginia’s Tom Garrett canceled town halls in response to a message that said, “This is how we’re going to kill your wife.” The message to upstate New York’s Claudia Tenney was, “One down, 216 to go.”

    A Tucson school official was arrested for threatening that Arizona’s Martha McSally’s “days are numbered.” A woman was charged with felony reckless endangerment for trying to drive Tennessee’s David Kustoff’s car off the road.”

    And while Mr. Littwin continues to criticize President Trump for fear-mongering, ”we elected a president whose lock-her-up campaign was based on promoting fear” he continues to use the very same technique. Guess his intent in this hysterical, unhinged quote:

    “What does matter, and what I’m arguing, is that Trump’s presidency is a danger to the country and to the world and that to pretend otherwise is to be a part of that danger.“

    Allow me to answer that: Mr. Littwin’s sole intent is provoking F-E-A-R. Fear not only of President Trump but fear of all those who support our president.

    So how does Mr. Littwin reconcile his dislike of fear-mongering with his use of it? That’s easy, he doesn’t! He just ignores it and as do the members of the Colorado Independent’s Board of Directors. It’s one of the advantages of working for a nonprofit “news” site: You can claim to “take the role of journalism as a public trust seriously” while practicing something far different.

    Is it any wonder that Mr. Littwin is no longer interested in exploring the link between political rhetoric and violence now that the dangerously explosive rhetoric is coming from his team?

    Representative Steve Scalise (R- Louisiana) the majority whip of the House of Representatives remains in critical condition.

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Green light a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Foundational

    Veterans Day – November 11, 2017

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