By now everyone knows about the shootings yesterday of Republicans practicing for tonight’s Congressional Baseball Game, a Washington annual charity event.
A sixty-six-year-old white guy named James Hodgkinson went to the ball field, checked to make sure that morning’s practice was GOP–the Democrats had practiced earlier–and once players were on the field, opened fire. Majority Whip Steve Scalise is in critical condition. Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika, shot in the chest, is in critical condition. Congressional staffer Zack Barth was wounded. Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner were wounded, Griner by gunshot and Bailey in the conflict. Bailey and Griner were also praised by every witness for their heroism. The Capitol Police detail was assigned to Scalise as Whip; if Bailey and Griner had not been there, according to rapid consensus, the shootings would have been a massacre. Hodgkinson was shot by police and died of his injuries in a hospital.
Much has already been discovered, in increments, about the shooter’s anger issues and track record of seemingly petty personal and business conflicts.
Whether he had what could be designated a clinical mental illness remains to be determined, along with any other questions about his health. What is certain is that he had traveled to Northern Virginia from Illinois and had taken up a white-van-type post of sorts near the baseball diamond.
And every indication so far is that in his already unbalanced or fragile mental state he went over the edge in the hype around the 2016 election.
[Visual images readily available. I decided not to insert them here.]
I for one have no doubt whatever that the febrile rhetoric amplified through, or coming from, media outlets contributed to his deterioration.
What’s heartbreaking (for me) is that some of the worst is coming from people who do not hesitate to present themselves as enlightened–progressive, champions of tolerance, People Who Know Things. The puffery I could stand, but some of the worst is coming from people I genuinely thought better of. Chagrined at finding out they weren’t on firm ground (championing the Clintons), they seem to know no concept of boundaries, of everyday justice. There have been indirect and less-indirect wishes for violence ever since the election. Every individual in every occupation is exhorted to hashtag-RESIST. Table any question as to whether people who went along with George Bush’s Iraq invasion would have had the nerve to stand up against an actual dictator. Table the question whether the sneaks now glorifying petty rule-breaking and back-stabbing would have had the guts to join the historical Resistance.
What the hashtag-Resistance seems to boil down to, right now, is a new elevation of the-rules-are-for-other-people into glorious doctrine. Last night’s WaPo article about the Bob Mueller investigation is perhaps a petty example. Not only are the rules for other people, but we are divinely supported in our view that the rules are for other people.
This is a bogus call to arms.
Full disclosure: Being human, I couldn’t help being amused in a way that Mueller’s team is leaking in so many places. More on that later.
[Update June 15]
To prevent any misunderstanding–the above is not intended to assign blame to Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign. There is too much sneaking at a much less macro level, joined with far too much overheated rhetoric at the macro level.