The shooting on Wednesday at the Congressional baseball practice in Virginia was a deplorable act that should be condemned by everyone. I hope that Representative Scalise and everyone else who was wounded will fully recover from this heinous act.
However, while initially calling for unity following the shooting, some Republicans have tried to place the blame for this act of violence, committed by a Bernie Sanders supporter, on the Democratic resistance to Trump and the GOP agenda. In an article on BusinessInsider.com, GOP Congressman Chris Collins of New York said Democratic political opposition to President Donald Trump had ‘”gone too far.”
“I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric,” Collins said. “The rhetoric has been outrageous: The finger-pointing, the tone, the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters, really then, some people react to things like that, people get angry as well, and you fuel the fires.” Collins also said he would carry a gun in public in the incident’s aftermath.
Well, Congressman Collins, to your arrogant and false accusation, I must simply reply, “BULLSHIT!” And, by invoking the title of a well-known Billy Joel song, We Didn’t Start the Fire! Apparently the shooting of a white fellow Republican and House colleague has affected your perception and your memory. Please allow me to respond with the thing Trump and the GOP hate most — the truth!
While America unfortunately has a long history of political violence as pointed out in a NewRepublic.com article, a story on Newsweek.com put the onus for our current situation right where it belongs — The new era of political thuggery dates to raucous Trump campaign rallies last summer, when the candidate urged supporters to “lock up” his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and promised to pay the legal fees of those who often scuffled with protesters and berated journalists.
The NewRepublic article further reinforced that view. Trump encouraged his supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters, and even suggested he would pay the legal fees of followers who assaulted his critics.
An ongoing pattern of threats and violence is further documented in the Newsweek.com story. “America’s cold civil war is heating up, with countrywide reports of incidents of political violence. In addition to a congressman-elect “body-slamming” a reporter in Montana and regular clashes between protesters in the streets, two announced Democratic political candidates have now withdrawn their challenges to Republican incumbents, citing death threats.” [It should be noted the congressman-elect who body-slammed the reporter in Montana was Republican Greg Gianforte.]
In addition, Trump and the GOP have embraced many supporters who are are known for threatening violence against Democratic officials. According to a WashingtonPost.com story yesterday, Ted Nugent, who now says he will tone it down, threatened Barack Obama during his first run for the presidency by saying he should “suck my machine gun.” And when President Obama was running for reelection in 2012, the rocker said during the National Rifle Association convention that, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” The statement attracted the attention of the Secret Service.
And the previously cited Newsweek article also notes that earlier this year, one of Trump’s favorite broadcasters, Alex Jones, threatened on air to “beat” Democratic Representative Adam Schiff and told the California congressman to “fill your hand”—a reference to taking up a pistol. An attorney with expertise in federal law told Newsweek at the time that the threats appeared to break a federal law, U.S. Code Title 18, Section 115, which makes it illegal to threaten to assault a U.S. official and provides a penalty of up to six years in prison. Jones was never charged.
And these are a just a few instances of the violent rhetoric and threats that have come from Trump supporters and those who align with the far right wing of the GOP. No, Representative Collins, trying to blame Democrats for the political violence is the ultimate in hypocrisy. The GOP and especially the tea-publicans have created this environment of extremist threats to energize your constituencies and get out the vote. And now you’re reaping the unpleasant benefits.
These extremist tactics and positions have left a wide swath of America feeling threatened with losing their health care, their social security and their rights through discriminatory policies in voting, employment and more, so you can give more tax breaks to the rich, let religious extremists walk all over the rights of everyone else, and strip away environmental and financial regulations so corporations can grow rich by poisoning the environment and cheating consumers. So also know, Representative Collins, that while we condemn Wednesday’s shooting and other acts of violence, we will not go quietly into the night and let your party run roughshod over our rights. We will protest, we will rally, and we will march PEACEFULLY!
The Divine Miss Briby