My first thoughts upon learning that Republican congressmen were targeted today by a gunman at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia were:
A) I hope the shooter wasn’t a Democrat.
B) I hope the shooter wasn’t a Muslim.
C) What kind of arsenal did the shooter have?
D) How are we going to spin this?
If I’m being honest, concern for the victims didn’t register on my alphabetical list until down around X, Y or Z, and that’s a sad commentary, not just about me, but probably about you, because I’m betting if you’re alive and reading this in Donald Trump’s America, your thought processes were along the same lines.
We now know that 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Illinois was the shooter. He was an avid supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ failed presidential bid.
We’re still not sure about Hodgkinson’s religious beliefs, but I very much doubt he was a Muslim. I plead guilty to profiling.
We know the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is now tracing Hodgkinson’s arsenal, listed tentatively as one rifle and one handgun. If I’m being honest, I’m wondering how a political party that stood resolutely against gun controls after 20 babies were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., will react now that members of its own caucus have tasted hot lead. Furthermore, if I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I’m thinking about how the words “assault weapon” were nowhere to be found in the initial report, and I’m betting that Republicans and the NRA have made note of that, too.
From social media, we already know that the spin will be that a liberal Democrat went off his nut and targeted god-fearing Republicans. If I’m being honest, I’m admitting that if the shoe was on the other foot, liberal Democrats — and I am one — would be saying the same things about the red-hatted horde.
I’ve seen images from Hodgkinson’s Facebook page before it was taken down. Images like these:
I see memes like those every single day on my Facebook feed, and if I’m being honest, I’ll tell you that I’ve posted some just like it. And if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll be honest and admit that you have, too.
If I’m being honest, I’ll tell you The Shinbone Star was my idea, and that I greatly enjoy bashing the bejesus out of Donald Trump and the Republicans.
But I’ve never wanted to kill them.
What I want — and what I hope my readers glean not just from my writing, but from that of all our contributors — is that we badly want to defeat Trump and the Republican agenda. We want to grind them into the dust and make them the briefest chapter in our nation’s history books.
But we want to accomplish that through the ballot box, not with a gun in our hand.
I abhor today’s violence, and more than that, I abhor what these times have done to me and to my nation. People were shot today on a baseball diamond for crying out loud, while playing at America’s Pastime. That in itself is bad enough.
My hope for myself and for my nation is that one day soon, we can all stop thinking about the spin.