As the presidency of Donald Trump stretches into the heat of its first summer, tensions with liberals seem to be at a breaking point. Just this year, we’ve seen mainstream media commentators calling for the assassination of Trump, demanding his impeachment and encouraging bans on free speech bans on college campuses nationwide. We’ve seen rioting from masked “Antifa” protesters, the wanton destruction of public property and the spectacle of a bloodied, beheaded effigy of the president held aloft by a nationally prominent comedian. Liberals have gone from trying to rationally engage in political debate to claiming that debate is invalid and that previously unthinkable steps have now been called for.
On May 27, Jeremy Christian, an Islamophobe and supporter of Bernie Sanders, stabbed two people to death on a Portland commuter train before being captured by police. Christian’s many different social media postings made clear that he was a hardline supporter of numerous progressive causes, including Black Lives Matter, drug legalization and indigenous people’s rights.
On June 14, a man by the name of James Hodgkinson stormed a charity Republican baseball practice game in Alexandria, Virginia and shot five people including Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, nearly killing Scalise and wounding Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika, Congressional staffer Zach Barth and Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner.
Griner and her partner, Capital Police Officer David Bailey returned fire against Hodgkinson and killed him before he was able to injure any more people. Congressman Scalise was taken to Medstar Washington Hospital, where he is still listed in critical condition. The FBI later found a written list containing the names of five additional Congressmen on Hodgkinson and at least 200 rounds of ammunition in a storage unit he maintained. At the time of the shooting, Hodgkinson was unemployed and living out of a van in the Washington, D.C. area.
The above are the facts of the June 14 case that have been reported by most mainstream news outlets. But at least some of these sources have left out of the story the fact that Hodgkinson had expressed deep enmity for President Trump and Congressional Republicans on social media, where he belonged to a 13,000-strong group called “Terminate the Republican Party.”
He had also previously volunteered for the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. In fact, rather than talk about any political motivation for the shooting’s venue — which was clearly targeted by Hodgkinson for its association with the Republican Party, the incident was simply reported in many news outlets as the handiwork of a lone “gun nut” who had in the past attacked his daughter and shot at one of her friends’ boyfriends. Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas said that the FBI’s refusal to label the mass shooting a hate crime proves that there are still too many Obama holdovers working in the Department of Justice.
Compounding matters was the issue that there’s little to no denunciation of Hodgkinson among Democrats — in fact, there was even some celebration. On Fox News, host Tucker Carlson interviewed Democratic strategist James Devine, who had tweeted the hashtag “#HuntRepublicanCongressmen” in the wake of the incident. On Fox host Sean Hannity’s radio program, prominent academic author and media critic Camille Paglia blasted the Democrats’ behavior, calling the party of the Left “the most childish fraternity” and their actions “buffoonish.”
Rather than agreeing with Paglia, other progressive academics joined the hate party. At Trinity College, an assistant professor of sociology named Johnny Williams reposted to Facebook an anonymous rant from a Muslim writer saying that first responders to the Scalise incident should have let all those who were shot simply die. The rant also demanded that minorities not assist whites in times of critical emergencies, such as choking, shooting or drowning incidents. It said the proper response was not only to deny aid but to “smile” as the victim passed away, committing a “great service” to the collective “universe.” “If you see them drowning… If you see them in a burning building… If they are bleeding out in an emergency room… If the ground is crumbling beneath them… If they are in a park and they turn their weapons on each other: do nothing,” the rant reads. “Least of all, put your life on the line for theirs, and do not dare think doing so… gives you reason to feel celestial. Saving the life of those that would kill you is the opposite of virtuous. Let. Them. F***ing. Die. And smile a bit when you do.”
As well as reposting that vile message, Williams himself wrote, “It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be ‘white’ will not do — put an end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThemFuckingDie.”
In another Facebook post, Williams wrote that he’s “fed the f*** up with self-identified ‘white’s’ daily violence directed at immigrants, Muslims, and sexual and racially oppressed people. The time is now to confront these inhuman assholes and end this.”
Williams is the author of several books on race; it’s unclear what the official response to these postings will be from his academic employer. But among Democrats, civility in general seems to have gone out the window. On Twitter, author and Huffington Post contributor Malcolm Harris mused, “If the [Scalise] shooter has a serious [mental] health condition, then is taking potshots at the GOP House leadership considered self-defense?”
Michael Chabon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who wrote the 1988 bestseller Mysteries of Pittsburgh, spoke on an Israeli radio program recently, and while not mentioning the Scalise incident, he said he “hoped” that President Trump would soon have a “massive stroke” and he desired to see Trump “carted out of the White House on a gurney.” Explained Chabon, “Hope springs eternal. He’s an old guy, he doesn’t eat well; he’s overweight. He has terrible nutrition… It’s not that hard to imagine.”
Radio host Goel Pinto, who was interviewing Chabon, later said that “at the beginning [of the interview], I thought he was joking. But when I realized he was serious, I understood the harshness of his words and how much America is divided.”
In New York’s Central Park, a new production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar features a Trump-like tyrant being assassinated — and has drawn record crowds. Drawing on this talking point and others, radio host Rush Limbaugh said that Democrats had effectively “become the largest hate group in the country.”
With the recent nail-biter election of Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, some Democrats have even turned on their own party. Entertainer Cher recently tweeted, “The Democrats f***ed up so bad in their message and how old [their party leadership] is. You’ve got to pray that the old people die before young people can get involved with the party.”
With all this bitterness, it seems no wonder that Democrats have been having trouble raising funds. Recent figures show that their party’s donations are at their lowest levels in 15 years. A number of prominent party members, when not spewing violent rhetoric, have admitted that their party’s message is just not connecting to citizens. Some, like Congresswoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois and political strategist Sean Clegg, have confessed that candidates running on a pure anti-Trump platform may not be offering enough to lure voters.
“[Handel’s recent victory in Georgia] was a very rough night for [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi,” said Clegg, noting how her opponent Jon Ossoff had been tied by Democratic messaging to Pelosi. “Republican messaging against Pelosi appeared to be more effective than Democratic messaging attacking Trump. That’s a problem going forward, and it’s going to be a challenge in House races particularly.”
In an interview on NBC, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez confided that his party had “a lot of rebuilding to do.” Perhaps Perez would be wise to take a deep breath and remember an old saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar.