Friday, June 16, 2017
Needle in a Hate Stack
A massacre was barely averted Wednesday (although at the time of this writing, multiple victims are still fighting for their lives) when a "lone wolf" terrorist opened fire on Republicans - because they were Republicans - who were practicing on a baseball field for an upcoming charity game.
The hate-filled gunman, killed by police, is thought to have been "self-radicalized" by violence-promoting materials easily found on the Internet and posted by the incendiary imams of Left-think, a group which sadly includes many liberal politicians, most mainstream "news" outlets, and virtually all social media platforms.
The shooter hadn't bothered to hide his political anger from others because he didn't have to. So pervasive is anti-Trump (and Republican and conservative) rhetoric and calls for violence on social media that his many posts and re-posts on the subject didn't strike anyone as out of the ordinary. He was just a needle in a hate stack.
Let that appalling thought sink in for a moment.
We wish we were over-generalizing, but we don't think we are. As a case in point, we want to share a sad exchange which we were party to on Facebook about 3 weeks ago. A lifelong friend (of more than 60 years) who, like the shooter, is an avid Bernie Sanders supporter, posted an article headlined: "House Republicans Admit Fearing For Their Lives From Growing Civil Unrest." The sub-heading was "You reap what you sow, and Republicans sure have sowed quite a bit of anger."
Our liberal friend added "When their actions threaten the very lives of the constituents they are supposed to be serving, what do they expect? They have gone crazy ramming devastating legislation through. They deserve to be fearful." Ouch.
Far from receiving any social disapproval, these comments were reinforced by her online community. Our friend's adult daughter posted "I find myself actively wishing harm on these people at every turn. I want karmic justice. I want these fucking monsters to suffer." Her adult son posted "This is their karma," and a sister derided the Republicans as "Snowflakes" for being concerned about the pitchfork-and-torch crowd.
And suddenly, we found ourselves in the position of those "good Muslims" we keep hearing about. Should we report this group enthusiasm for violence to someone? To who? To what end? And is that really the kind of America we want to live in? Or should we simply reach out to the perpetrators and try to change their minds?
Actually, we'd already tried doing that but couldn't get any traction...and we eventually got tired of being called a hater. Instead, we stopped "following" this person (and others) on social media, solidifying the walls which increasingly divide our nation, while reluctantly accepting the idea that some of those endorsing violence on the Left may be, to borrow Hillary Clinton's unsubtle terminology, both deplorable and irredeemable.
We hope that isn't the case with our friend, whom we know to be a decent and good-hearted person. And to be fair, her family has very real problems with health and financial issues, and legitimate (if too often misguided) reasons to be unhappy with the bureaucratic mess in Washington. Neither she nor her family members are bad people - far from it - but a tidal wave of false and angry narratives are leading them, and too many others, in bad directions.
We can and should continue calling for greater civility in public and personal discourse as well as greater journalistic responsibility in the media (as we've done in this space for almost a decade), but we don't think either is likely to happen at this point.
Because "America's favorite pastime" is now an entirely different ballgame...and we're afraid that the gunman in Alexandria just threw out the first pitch.
Posted by Stilton Jarlsberg at 12:01 AM