Opinion: Political violence is an attack on us all

(AP)

A grim-faced President Trump offered the nation appropriate words of unity and deep concern this morning in the wake of an ambush attack on Republican congressmen at a ballfield in Alexandria, Va. The president also thanked those in the Capitol police who had risked their lives to bring the attack to the end, and offered prayers for the victims.

“We may have our differences, but we would do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s Capitol is here because above all, they love our country,” the president said.

The gunman, identified as 66-year-old James “Tommy” Hodgkinson of Illinois, had been armed with an semi-automatic assault weapon of some sort, along with a pistol. He was eventually shot and killed. Four others, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and two Capitol guards, were wounded but are expected to survive.

Hodgkinson, who volunteered in the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and later supported Jill Stein, apparently acted out of anti-Republican political animus. Based on his statements on social media and elsewhere, Hodgkinson saw Trump in particular as a traitor to his country.

Sanders made clear in passionate remarks on the Senate floor that he was “sickened by this despicable act.”

“Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values,” Sanders said.

Every day, of course, an average of 26 Americans are murdered with firearms, and mass killings have become much too familiar. Today’s target was Republican congressmen. Tomorrow’s may be schoolchildren, or black parishioners, or a gay nightclub, or college students, or concert-goers, or … you get the point.

However, politically motivated violence poses a special type of threat because it is an attack not just on fellow human beings but on the system and process of government, on the community that holds us together. That’s why the words of unity from President Trump, Senator Sanders and other top leaders across the political spectrum are so important. It’s why the baseball game between congressional Republicans and Democrats must, and will, go on tomorrow night as scheduled.

Based on what we know, Hodgkinson attempted to impose through violence what he felt could no longer be obtained through debate, representative government and the ballot box. And that’s the danger that is courted by some on both the left and right who like to tell us that the system is irretrievably broken, and who set out to ensure that it remains broken. As faith in the system recedes, violence can come to seem a more and more viable response.

As Sanders noted, that “runs against our most deeply held American values.”

In another sense, though, Sanders is wrong. A strain of American thought popular in some quarters holds that political violence is not only an acceptable means of forcing change, but that the right to engage in that violence is protected in the Constitution. We need to deal with that as well.

By chance, one of those attacked on the ballfield this morning was U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Here’s what Paul tweeted almost exactly one year ago:

What happened Wednesday morning on that ballground in Alexandria was that noxious, destructive theory put into action.

Once you validate that theory, once you claim that Americans have an inherent right “to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical,” you don’t get to control who decides to exercise that right, or when, or who the target might be. Under that theory, individual citizens have a constitutional right to decide on their own when a government becomes tyrannical, and are acting legitimately and even patriotically if they turn to violence in response.

Well, hogwash, they don’t have that right. Hodgkinson didn’t have that right. Two-bit right-wing militia groups such as the sadly dangerous “III Percenters” here in Georgia don’t have that right. Nor do they have the constitutional right to the type of high-powered weaponry needed to make armed attacks on government more effective.

Violence is not an acceptable response to political frustration, and no amount of romantic, vigilante-style claptrap can change that fact, regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum.

Reader Comments 0

1818 comments
Leah-
Leah-

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F-15
F-15

Yes, it is an attack on us all because it is an attack on our government.   But is that really the point?  


The attack on our government started on Jan 21st by the Democrats who openly have stated that their goal is to resist Trump at all costs.  Wednesday, we saw what those costs can be.  


The complicit media that now regards ethical standards of the 4th estate to be "optional" is the major crack in the governmental structure.  There are now no checks and balances.  There is no faith in the media.  This is not a minor development.  


The difference between the United states and a dictatorship had been the checks and balances offered by that media.  Now we have each party controlling it's own outlets that people have no choice but to believe.  But in one week, CNN ran three different stories that were proven to be completely false and not any sort of recant was ever offered.  


It isn't the government that will turn this around.  It is the journalist who decide that they have had enough. "Do not ask me to write yet another story based on leaks that we cannot verify as being true."  that's all it would take for our country to turn around.  Is there a journalist in the mainstream that has the spine to speak out?    


Sadly, so far.  Not a chance.  

Darken-Rahl
Darken-Rahl

So shall we continue to come to familiar places like this everyday so we can continue to be used as pawns pushed around on the board by people like Bookman, Maddow, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. who continue to fan the flames of hatred and discontent every day? You like being labeled, corralled, manipulated, exploited, or vilified to suit someone else's pitiful need to ad fuel to the flames of hatred disguised as the pursuit of justice and equality? Wake Up! Free you mind and don't tow the line! "How long? Not long, cause what you reap is what you sow!"


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkp7tkeu22I

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Figmo, if you're still around:

I never found your re-post.

Could you summarize the noble gesture to which you laid claim?

I'll try.

In short, we should raise a ruckus about dumping Facebook posts in here because it is totally unfair to people posting on Facebook. 

It is dishonest, maybe even legally questionable, for the AJC to feed Facebook comments on what is basically a public forum with people usually using their real names, to a more closed forum where people are usually posting anonymously, and not even informing the Facebook participants of this exposure.


[on edit] And yes, I realize that most in here just care because they find the FB posts to be a huge annoyance. It is. However, it's usually over in a few hours at most; also, the AJC rarely dumps a Jay-piece into their FB page feed until well after Jay's gone live, which means we've already gone off-topic by then anyway.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

And when I was half-seriously talking about going to some of the Facebookers' walls and posting some of the weirder/funnier stuff in here to mock, it was mostly to raise consciousness of how unfair the AJC is being.

Put it this way--how would YOU feel if you found out that there was a complete parallel universe where your comments were being published, but you couldn't see anyone replying to them?

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Visual_Cortex

They're here by invitation and likely don't care what folks think of them, so I'm kewl with them having their voices heard. 

Don't assume they don't know what's goin' down.

I usually exit until the dump is over.

Not calling them dumps, mind you.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Please tell @Fan4500 that Trump name calls every day and while you are at it let @Fan4500 know that Trump led one of the biggest witch hunts of all time called the birther movements.  

Fan4500
Fan4500

@StraightNoChaser @Fan4500 You consider the "birther movement", the biggest witch hunt of all time?

You should watch the news more,maybe read some history books.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@AvgGeorgian @Fan4500 @StraightNoChaser The"birther movement" is not ONE of the biggest witch hunts of all time.

The current witch hunt is.

How many people have to testify before you will believe just one of them?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Fan4500 @AvgGeorgian @StraightNoChaser

One of means one of some. You seem to think one of means the only one.


You are missing the big picture - read up om Mueller's team and their expertise in financial crimes to get an idea of what the investigation is about.

elgrunir
elgrunir

MOVE IT, people!

SHEEEEEEEEETZ

rimsky
rimsky

I read this following a while back.  Thought about time and place to publish it again.


Hello, welcome to the psychiatric Hotline. If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.
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If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5 and 6.
If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want, so please stay on the line so we can trace the call.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press, no one will answer.
If you are anxious, just start pressing numbers at random.
If you are phobic, don't press anything.
If you are anal-retentive, please hold.

OldJacketFan
OldJacketFan

@rimsky 

Love this! My wife found it years ago and we have periodically laughed WAY too much reading it again! 

rimsky
rimsky

@OldJacketFan @rimsky I copied but did not remember that you must have posted it.  Funny stuff in light of our present WH occupants.

KUTGF
KUTGF

The interviews suggest that Mueller sees the question of attempted obstruction of justice as more than just a “he said, he said” dispute between the president and the fired FBI director, an official said. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/special-counsel-is-investigating-trump-for-possible-obstruction-of-justice/2017/06/14/9ce02506-5131-11e7-b064-828ba60fbb98_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-banner-low_trumpmueller625pm:homepage/story&utm_term=.1c7e00605720
________

Not good for Trump....  And Trump now refers things to his personal attorney, who may soon also be under investigation for claiming he had a hand in getting US Attorney for NY fired to protect Trump.

gotalife
gotalife

The gop are saying the exact same things the dems said aftrer Giffords was shot.


The gop toned it down for about a week then returned to the hate.

Paul42
Paul42

So, td1234, presidential approval ratings don't measure how many people approve of the job the president is doing?

They measure how courteous the people are?!?

You might want to go take a nap.

td1234:  "For more than 9 months Obama received over 40% approval ratings from Republicans. Trump is not and has not received the same courtesy. "

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@Paul42 

td cannot wrap his head around the empirical fact that even a lot of Republicans liked Obama, because he was a good President.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Paul42

Over 40%? I'm having a hard time squaring that with what I see on the Gallup timeline here.

http://www.gallup.com/interactives/185273/presidential-job-approval-center.aspx

Let's see--nine months, call it 270 days, but Obama was only at 50% approval 222 days into his first term.

Don't wanna nitpick too much but I don't think you can get there with, still, 40% of GOP voters getting your back. That'd mean an awful lot of not-happy Democratic voters disapproving.

I think the standard narrative still applies--America felt good about Obama, but the GOP went to work straight away with the "I hope he fails" business as expressed by Rush Limbaugh.

skydog12
skydog12

Like got said below, Scalise is k k k. He has forgotten he made a speech for David Duke, but he is on record.


I resend my prayer for this guy. It is between him and Karma now.


ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@skydog12 Let the prayer stand. Just don't let the tragedy whitewash the real character of the man.

skydog12
skydog12

@ScubaSteve @skydog12


Nah, I`m standing by my call back. It would be hypocritical of me to hope this guy comes back to do more harm.

gotalife
gotalife

Actions speak louder than words gop.


Their civility is just talk with no actions.

gotalife
gotalife

trump still can't stop tweeting about his case.

Paul42
Paul42

"All based on fake stories and lies confirmed by the Director of the FBI.

LOL"

I remember a time when trolls would come here and at least make a pretense of trying.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

fan4500: "nothingburger"


What level of conversations with Russia would you call "significant"?

What level of conversations with Russia would you call "illegal"? 

What level of conversations with Russia would you call "treason"? 

Would it apply equally to Republicans and Democrats? 


Truly curious. 


Paul42
Paul42

@LogicalDude

Remember, what led to much of this was Team Trump saying there were NO conversations, period.  About ANYTHING.  As in NONE.

When all those declarations turned out to be lies, people began wondering "what are they hiding?"

Fan4500
Fan4500

@LogicalDude @Fan4500 Doesn't matter. You believe what you believe, no matter what I say. Apparently you weren't around during the Cold War and know what Russia has been doing for decades. Our Congressman have been talking with Russian contacts for years. Look at the "handshake meeting" by Sessions blown way out of proportion. After it was answered by Sessions, the Democrats turned to other things very quickly, kind of like they were already prepared to move on to other subjects because they knew there was nothing about his "contact"

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Fan4500 @LogicalDude

I think there may be crooked financial dealings behind the whole Russian thing. The denying that "innocent" meetings took place and the push by Trump to stop the investigation are the real problems.