Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and four others were injured Wednesday morning when a gunman opened fire on a baseball practice field in Virginia, where Republican Congressmen had gathered to prepare for their upcoming match against Democrats.
The perpetrator, who died from injuries sustained during the attack, was later identified as James T. Hodgkinson. He belonged to several anti-Republican Facebook groups including one called "Terminate the Republican Party.”
The Facebook group reportedly celebrated his attack on the Congressmen, with one member writing, “And it’s one, two, three shots you’re out at the old ball game!!!”
Hodgkinson, who campaigned for Bernie Sanders last year, has a long history of posting anti-Republican rhetoric on social media. In 2015, he wrote that Scalise should “lose his job.” Two days before the attack, he wrote that President Trump is “the biggest ass hole we have ever had in the Oval Office.”
Bernie Sanders says he is "sickened" by Hodgkinson's behavior. “Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.”
Hodgkinson is not your run of the mill Bernie Sanders supporter. He reportedly was an alcoholic with a history of domestic abuse and violence. His actions cannot be attributed to any political movement, nonetheless it is important to understand how this hostile environment developed.
This attack is one example of the tense political rift which has been developing in the United States for years. Both sides of the political spectrum are now being filled with extremeists and normal folk who are becoming increasingly fed up with the staus quo.
Although some conservatives used this attack to put blame on liberals, there was an overwhelming sense of community in Washington after the attack. Sometimes it takes a horrific event to get people to work together. The peace and comradery may be short lived, but the issues which led to the attack are still very real. Repulicans in the Senate are working tirelessly to pass a Healthcare bill while keeping the public, Democratic senators and even some moderate Republican senators out of the loop. The lack of empathy and understanding from this administration is causing fear across the globe.
The horrendous acts by Hodgkinson should in no way be exused. However, the members of Congress need to remember the bills they pass affect millions of lives. When access to Healthcare and resources are taken away in order to give tax cuts to the rich people will be understandably upset. When the house passed the American Health Care Act, which will leave millions of people without healthcare, they commited an act of violence against the most vulnerable American citizens, the elderly and the poor. Acts of violence will always lead to more violence.