The scene is becoming too familiar: a shooting occurs in some corner of America, the country reacts, blame is thrown around (often haphazardly), and nothing gets resolved.
I hate to use the word “repeat”, but each of us knows that it’s only a matter before another very public act of violence involving a firearm takes place. I desperately wish I were wrong about this, but I’m not.
On Wednesday morning, a lunatic stormed onto a diamond in Virginia and shot several individuals attending a baseball practice. The now-deceased shooter critically injured House Majority Whip, and member of the GOP, Stephen Scalise. Social media revealed the shooter’s intense love of Bernie Sanders combined with an overwhelming hatred for the new president, and Republicans in general.
Immediately, hot takes began flying around the internet: “The Republicans love guns and elected the insulting Donald Trump. They should get some blame! The Democrats keep pushing the ‘resist!’ ideology and promoting hatred, they’re entirely at fault!”
Might we back up for a minute?!
There is only one individual responsible for the violence that occurred, and that man – the shooter – is dead.
It has been more than obvious during the past year and a half that my allegiance to the GOP is nonexistent. Call it a principle-over-party thing. I do not (and did not) vote for a candidate solely based on the letter next to their name, and this irks the more cult-minded among us. I’ve always believed that winning well is more important than just winning, hence I could not vote for the GOP candidate.
The post-election reactions from those occupying the space on the other side of the political aisle have been strong. Protests and marches fill city streets around the country on various days. Looting and burning has occurred. Anti-fa maniacs choose violence to literally attack those with whom they disagree. Anonymous, fringe individuals have joked about assassination online. Kathy Griffin, a well-known idiot, did a photo shoot depicting a beheaded Donald Trump.
And we thought the campaign season was rough.
The fact is, our country is more divided than ever before. The polarizing names of “Trump” or “Hillary” dredge up a strong response from any audience. Personally, I’ve experienced intense hatred (including death threats) from both sides of the political spectrum.
Now, more than ever, we must be careful not to assign blame for the actions of one onto the many in an attempt to assuage our grief. If feels so much better to direct that anger toward an entire group we’ve already despised for a long while rather than accept the uncomfortable fact that evil walks in our midst.
Despite what feels good to Republican souls, our opponents on the Left are often not actually our enemies. Sure, they hold differing worldviews and we should defeat them in the arena of ideas and in the public square, but they are NOT seeking to destroy our very lives. There are many good men and women on the Left who live their lives, love their families, engage in their communities, attend their churches, and love their country.
Wednesday’s shooter was not among them.
I believe neither the Right nor Left can claim moral superiority. If you’ve not noticed the garbage that either side needs to clean up, you’re subscribed to something other than reality. Imperfect people make up both of these groups, and they are wicked, and selfish, and greedy, but they are also good.
The majority of those on the Left have condemned the vile deeds which took place in Alexandria. The shooter represented himself alone.
If the GOP chooses to believe the entire American Left walked onto that baseball diamond early Wednesday morning, then they are no better than those who claim all Second Amendment supporters have blood dripping off of their hands each time a shooting occurs.
If we choose to ascribe blame where it does not belong, then we should look in the mirror and realize we are all extremists.