I woke up to the horrific news that a man who volunteered for Bernie Sanders shot at Republicans while they were practicing for the annual congressional baseball thing. Two congressmen were wounded along with a lobbyist and a legislative something or the other, and the gunman was shot and killed by the police. Two police officers were also wounded. Looking at my Twitter TL which is mostly filled with ardent Dems, I saw two trends happening, neither of which were good. One, screaming at Republicans who were, naturally, casting the blame on Democrats, saying in effect, “You started it!” Two, Clintonites shitting on Bernie and his supporters. Again. Still.
I have many things to say, and my thoughts are not the most coherent right now, so I’m just going to muddle my way through it. Let’s start with number one. I’ve seen way too many, “No way are the Dems to blame in any way for this bullshit. It’s all Republicans and their strong allegiance to the NRA.” I’ll acknowledge the obvious–yes, the Republicans are mostly to blame for the lack of gun control in this country, with a healthy assist from the Dems (this seems to be the one truly bipartisan issue), but to deflect all blame is bullshit and hypocritical. It’s the same thing some Dems did after the Kathy Griffin stunt. Many denounced her actions, but many said it was fine because Republicans weren’t outraged by all the ‘kill Obama’ memes that were being circulated while he was president. I feel trite for saying this, but two wrongs do not make a right, and ‘the other side is doing it’ is a cop-out.
I will also say that Republicans are not as quick to distance themselves from their nutters as Democrats are. Sanders issued a full statement this morning saying he was sickened that the shooter had volunteered for his campaign and that there was no room for violence. I can’t recall a single Republican making a similar statement after a right-winger went on a shooting spree. In fact, they’re quick to say, “Let’s not politicize this” when it’s a right-wing shooter, but how quickly they’ve jumped on the ‘Democrats are to blame’ train in this case. So, yes, I get the impulse to push back hard and deny the accusations.
However. If we on the left want Republicans to take accountability for the rhetoric that flows from their side when a right-wing dude* goes on a shooting spree, we had damn well better take a hard look at ourselves when the situation is reversed. I’ve seen an increase in violent rhetoric from the left, or at the very least, callous disregard when it’s expressed if it’s aimed at this president or this congress, and it makes me uncomfortable. I’m not trying to be all morally superior here, but we’re supposed to be better than that. I’ve written about this before, but if we are disgusted by Republicans who laugh at pictures of Obama effigies being lynched, then we have to be equally disgusted with Kathy Griffin’s beheading shtick as well. And, as I’ve said, many on the left were quick to denounce it, but several felt compelled to defend her by saying the Republicans had done worse in the past.
This isn’t even about going high when they go low: I just don’t feel good about myself when I give in to my impulses to stoop to that level. I don’t like hypocrisy, especially when I find it in myself. I am not saying we shouldn’t stand up to this administration or this congress, but I am saying we should be mindful of our words. They do have an impact, and our collective increasing tendency to be as intolerant as our Republican counterpart is not a good look on us.
As to the second trend, it just makes me so fucking tired. “Bernie and his supporters have to take responsibility for this.” Oh, really? Like Muslims when a Muslim person commits terrorism? I’m not equating the two in terms of discrimination, obviously, but the mentality is the same. This guy was a Sanders supporter, so therefore, all Sanders supporters are tainted with the same brush. It’s OK, though, because Sanders supporters are all cis white males, so it’s OK to slag on them in such a manner.
Watching the circle jerk by some Clintonites is even more infuriating than the grandstanding by some Republicans on this matter. The fact that the Clintonites can’t see their own hypocrisy isn’t surprising, but it’s still frustrating. There have been one or two mass shooters who were thought to be Obama supporters, and I never saw Clintonites (who were Obamabots before this) say boo about that. Again, if it’s your team, it’s OK. In this case, however, the team is Team Clinton/pragmatics and not Team Democrat.
It’s dispiriting to me that for all the sip service Democrats give for tolerance, our individual capacity for it is decreasing. I know I’m more rigid in my way of thinking now than I was five years ago, but at least I recognize it. One accusation about Democrats is becoming more and more true, our tolerance is severely limited. I’m not saying we should accept everything and everyone under the sun, but individual Democrats are now issuing purity tests that are making me uncomfortable. You have to accept what the party says without questioning it, otherwise you’re a traitor to the party. One thing I saw repeated on Twitter about the DC shootings (paraphrased): If you say the Dems are in any way to blame for the shooting, you’re weaponizing the Republicans party line.
I went on a mini-rant about using the word weaponizing in this matter because it’s a way to shut down the conversation. The person who tweeted it has already made up his mind (and I’m pretty sure it was a him), and there’s no point in replying to him. That’s the problem with much of political talk these days–we’re already preaching to the converted. I’m more convinced than ever that social media is mostly used to reinforce preexisting beliefs.
Anyway. I’m done with social media for today (6/14/17). Between this, the San Francisco killings, and the shooting in Brooklyn (not to mention the London fire), my can is gone, and it’s not even dinner time. Let’s hope there are no more shootings until then.
*And it’s nearly always a dude. Overwhelmingly so. Mostly white and a sizable majority of them have been lifelong domestic abusers.