By Quiana Fulton
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Wednesday, our public servants were violently attacked. Except, this time it wasn’t a man or woman with brown skin who swears allegiance to Allah. Nor was it a man or woman who worships in the “deep state” of Pepe the Frog and Alex Jones conspiracies while swearing allegiance to right-wing conservatism.
Instead, the perpetrator shares the same political ideals as 50 percent of the country. Yesterday a liberal supporter who volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign attacked a political servant, capital police officers, and Hill staffers. Yesterday, our political divide came to its breaking point.
Earlier today, as GOP congressmen were on the field practicing for tomorrow’s Congressional Baseball Game—which raises funds for charity, most recently $60,000—a madman released several gunshots at the representatives. Based on reports, the shooter might have intentionally sought out GOP officials.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot in the hip and immediately taken to the hospital, where he received surgery and is in critical condition from sustained injuries. The two Hill staffers and two capital police are recovering, too. As the events unfolded, Sen. Rand Paul commented that if it weren’t for the capital police, everyone would have been dead on the field.
What a tragic day for our country, and our democracy. Thankfully, the victims will heal, but what will it take to heal the deeper divide festering in our democracy, where the party comes before country, and the “us versus them” mental complex achieves victory daily?
If Violent Rhetoric Has Evil Effects, We Need to Stop It
For years, the Left has focused on the racism and demagoguery on the Right that they believe led to the election of Donald Trump. Certainly, Trump’s comments about how “Second Amendment people” could do something about Hillary Clinton, or that he could assassinate someone on the street and still get elected, didn’t help negate such stereotypes. Neither did depictions from radical conservatives of Barack Obama being burnt, lynched, or hung from a noose ease tensions between the Right and Left.
When former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin released a “crosshairs” target map of 20 congressional districts under faces of Democratic lawmakers with the text “Don’t Retreat, Instead – Reload,” liberals immediately chastised the violent, disgusting act “critics saw as a winking approval of violence,” wrote Max Fisher of The Atlantic. Liberals’ anger at Palin was justified, considering that soon after Gabrielle Gifford, a Democrat, was shot in the head and 13 others were wounded, including six killed.
Of course, Palin isn’t responsible for that tragedy, but I agree with Andrew Sullivan that her “inflammatory rhetoric has poisoned the discourse and has long run the risk of empowering the deranged.” Like our actions, words have consequences.
If “inflammatory rhetoric” poisons the well of civility, then certainly liberals bear some responsibility for Wednesday’s hideous assault against Republicans. Since last November, liberals (including myself) have engaged in rhetoric and disdain against Trump and conservatives for myriad reasons. But some of the arguments and intense conversations, especially on social media, have been utterly gruesome. This rhetoric I’ve personally refused to partake in, like pondering the assassination of the president.
Let’s Recall Some Recent High-Profile Cases
Recently, comedian Kathy Griffin received condemnation for taking a photo with a fake severed, bloody head of President Trump. Although I refused to engage in the collective outrage against Griffin because I tend to give comedians more leeway, I certainly understood the anger and dismay. Threats against a sitting president are uncalled for, and anyone engaging in such behavior deserves a visit from the FBI, along with losing work and endorsements, as was the case for Griffin.
Political commentator and activist Reza Aslan parted ways with CNN after he called the president “a piece of sh-t” in response to Trump’s Muslin ban. As a citizen and pundit, Aslan has every right to disagree with conservative policies, but he’s also a public figure and should have considered the large platform he’s created and been given. Aslan missed an opportunity to debate ideas and discuss practical solutions to terrorism. Instead, he took the bait and became a partisan hack.
To this day, liberals refuse to accept that Trump won the presidency, despite the interference of the Russians. We’ve engaged in mindless conversations about how Clinton won the popular vote, Trump is a moron, and Republicans are heartless. None of these arguments over semantics resolve real peoples’ problems, such as economic disparity, affordable health care, lack of job opportunities in urban and rural areas, climate change, and an out-of-control prison system. This so-called resistance movement that’s supposed to be about ideas, liberalism, and fighting to preserve democracy looks more like a war between progressives and Clintonites. The only thing that unites the Left is hate for Trump.
Meanwhile, there’s a “deep state” festering on the Left too, and it’s angered about Trumpcare, among other things. Instead of intellectual debates between the parties and creating a space to express our frustration responsibly and legitimately, we instead retreat and divide and play the blame game.
Sanders isn’t responsible. He’s been responsibly engaging in conversations on practical progressive ideas, and strictly condemned this violence. Despite past rhetoric, Trump isn’t responsible for this recent attack either. In fact, he gets the severity of this tragedy: “Many lives would’ve been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman, despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault,” said Trump in a statement from the Diplomatic Room at the White House. In my opinion this shows Trump is growing to understand his responsibility as president and commander in chief.
We liberals have been too busy arguing with and hating on “the others.” We’ve done what we accused the Right of doing. And what has that gotten us?
Liberals, it’s time to have a serious talk about the dangers on the Left to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.