A Capitol Hill Police officer stands his post at the entrance to the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 14, 2017, after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., and others, were injured in a shooting during a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.
Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

GOP baseball practice shooting: What they are saying about political rhetoric

In the wake of the shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday, there have been increased calls for political unity in the country.

The shooting, however, has led many to ask if the increasingly nasty public rhetoric helped to fuel the fire that led to the wounding of Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, and four others.

Here is what a few media outlets are saying about the current political climate and the shooting on Wednesday.

Political climate is normalizing  violence

Fox Business News

“House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was among multiple people shot in Alexandria, Virginia Wednesday morning, raising concerns the aggressive political climate in the country could be normalizing violence. 

“The level of personal vitriol … you’re actually dehumanizing people,” former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino told FOX Business. Bongino, who was an agent for 12 years, says the intense level of political disagreement has contributed to an increase in political violence. “When you dehumanize people you make this an acceptable means of political protest.”

Rep. Scalise, as a lawmaker in a leadership position, had a security detail with him Wednesday morning as he participated in a GOP baseball practice for an upcoming charity game. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News Wednesday if those officers had not been there, “it would have been a massacre.” ”

Scalise critical as shooting stokes fears of rhetoric-fueled violence

Fox News

“The left-wing gunman whose rampage on a Virginia baseball diamond Wednesday left a congressman in critical condition and three others shot appears to have been driven by political rage critics fear is only increasing.

James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill., who was gunned down by police to end the shooting at Simpson Field in Alexandria, Va., appears to have maintained two Facebook pages, each replete with profane anti-Trump posts. Critics say the pages offer a snapshot into the frightening hate that has pervaded politics since Trump's contentious election win last November.

... “When liberal leftists support the assassination of President Trump on stage what do you expect to happen,” Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said. “Hate speech and actions incite this kind of violence. It is time for Democrats like Reps. Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and many of the talking heads at CNN and MSNBC to shut up.” ”

Which came first -- The violence or the rhetoric?

The Huffington Post

“Who or what do we blame? (This is a rhetorical question, by the way).

Because honestly? Blaming is a moot point. On June 14, 2017, human lives were put in unnecessary harms way, in what might have become a devastating massacre if not for the Capitol Police. We can hopefully all agree that there is nothing more devastating in life than the loss of life - especially when that loss is sudden, cut short, tragic, or at the hands of a deranged person with an assault rifle.

Unfortunately, it seems one of the only things that jars our country out of a complacent lull anymore is a mass shooting. And then how do we make sense of it? We try to figure out who or what to blame.”

Some on right blame anti-Trump rhetoric for shooting

Politico

“As reports spread online that shooting suspect James Hodgkinson had expressed anti-Republican sentiments, some conservative political figures and alt-right news outlets began speculating on whether Wednesday’s attack on a GOP congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., was connected to left-wing rhetoric against President Donald Trump.

Almost immediately, reports began to surface from members of Congress at the practice that, just before the shooting, someone had asked them whether the people playing on the field were Republicans or Democrats.

Authorities have not confirmed whether that person was the shooter, but some on the right quickly blamed what they said was heated rhetoric from the left surrounding Republicans and President Donald Trump.”

Did anti-Trump rhetoric inspire James Hodgkinson?

Newsweek

“Three months before James Hodgkinson picked up a gun and targeted Republican members of a congressional baseball team as they practiced in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday, he signed a petition calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. And before the presidential election, he apparently volunteered for Bernie Sanders’s campaign and called for Hillary Clinton to cede the Democratic nomination to the senator.

Hodgkinson, a former home inspector from Belleville, Illinois, died from injuries he suffered during the shooting, Trump said in a televised statement. Five people who were playing baseball were hospitalized, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. A congressional staffer and two Capitol Police officers also were injured.

Since the election in November, lawmakers and others have claimed that Trump’s rise and rhetoric has “emboldened” people on the right to attack those on the left and commit hate crimes. But conservatives say they are under physical threat too. Because of Hodgkinson’s apparent political leaning, conservative commentators are saying Wednesday’s incident is part of a violent trend by some on the left that does not get as much attention.”

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