They want us to write him off as a nutter, who let his political beliefs inform his pre-existing violent tendencies, fed by a gun culture that allowed him to own an SKS rifle which he used to hunt Republican lawmakers.
But we should not move on.
Hodgkinson had an assassination list including names of Republican members of Congress such as Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Scott Desjarlais (R-Tenn.) and Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia). Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson noted that all six are members of the House Freedom Caucus.
Self-identified conservative Lisa Loomer leaped onto the stage at a performance of “Julius Caesar” in New York–but with Donald Trump as a stand-in for the doomed emperor’s assassination. Yells of “The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands!” accompanied her stupid pet trick.
No. Let’s not move on.
The blood of Steve Scalise is on our hands, collectively. And the blood of Gabby Giffords, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. And no, I’m not talking about guns, which are inanimate objects that don’t commit crimes.
But Reagan and Giffords were shot by genuine nutters who long before veered off into incoherent mental illness. The war on the mentally ill procuring lethal weapons is one we need to continue fighting, along with the war on gang bangers procuring Tek-9s and young violent black teens torturing white disabled boys live on Facebook.
Add to that the war on race-baiters of all skin colors, from the alt-right and the BLM left. And the war on drugs (I’m talking about meth, oxycodone, and heroin here, not Bill Clinton’s weed).
We are at war.
The war on cancer was metaphorical. The war between the sexes is metaphorical. The term “civil war” is a literal one. And in an actual war, killing is not only acceptable, it’s mandatory. Look, I get that language is flexible and I’ve no doubt used the term “war” in diversely interpretable ways. But if we call today’s hyper-polarized and tribal political and cultural conflict a “civil war,” then we have no words left for an actual civil war. More to the point, this week’s shooting demonstrates the difference.
Fair enough. But the word “war” isn’t limited to one where the options are kill or be killed.
In fact, we can be in a war where one side kills and the other refuses to kill except in the most extreme self-defense. Are we not familiar with Israel? Israel could defeat all of its enemies. It could certainly do away with the Palestinian threat if it engaged in the kind of occupation practiced by, say, China, or Russia (or the old Soviet Union). But it doesn’t.
I think we walk into the forests of political and philosophical thought so deep that we argue over trees way too often. We are at war, but the war is not between the Blue and Red tribes, or the Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives, or seculars and God-fearers.
Our war is between a civilized nation and a brutal one. It’s the rule of man’s discipline and compassion versus might makes right. In the crucible of World War II, before even the Battle of Britain, King George VI told “his peoples” what they were fighting for.
It is a principle which permits a state, in the selfish pursuit of power, to disregard its treaties and its solemn pledges, which sanctions the use of force or threat of force against the sovereignty and independence of other states.
Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive doctrine that might is right, and if this principle were established through the world, the freedom of our own country and of the whole British Commonwealth of nations would be in danger.
America faces this same enemy, except from within.
We cannot fight in a physical civil war to defeat this enemy, because in doing so, we’d be falling into the trap of declaring “might is right.” But there are other kinds of war, and other kinds of battle that far predate Goldberg’s lamentation “then we have no words left for an actual civil war.” Actually, we do have words for that: tragedy, cataclysm, catastrophe are a few that come to mind.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:12, that “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.” Yet Jesus did not call on His disciples to conduct violent war against them.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:
I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Civilization wins when we fight with stronger weapons than mere bullets and knives. We have a divine power, which has as its shield a philosophical, emotional, and logical argument that good triumphs over evil, that light defeats darkness, and that truth wins over lies.
The enemy isn’t “the other side.” The enemy is giving in to violence, lies, and personal attacks. We know who is serving the enemy by their words and actions.
Those who hunt Republican lawmakers are wrong, but those who leap onto stages to condemn them are also wrong. It’s simply a matter of degree. We condemn both. The president is wrong to lie and manipulate in the press and on Twitter. But those who hate him are also wrong to mock and lie about him.
God isn’t on the Republican side–or the Democrat side. Just as God wasn’t on the North’s or South’s side in the Civil War, God is on humanity’s side as He remains today. Civilization means treating others as you want to be treated. It doesn’t mean that the government has to be everything to everyone while we merrily scorn each other.
Liberals and conservatives, Christians and non-Christians, Republicans and Democrats can all agree that we shouldn’t pursue revenge, lies, and violence. We shouldn’t cancel Christmas parties because people who support President Trump might be there. We shouldn’t kick people off airliners because they support the president. We shouldn’t invent fake hate crimes to indict Trump supporters.
But we also shouldn’t defend the president when he engages in many of the same lies his detractors use. Wrong is wrong, and civilization cannot survive if we pursue such a course.
I’d say this is a good time for us to not move on. It’s a good time for the press to stop the news cycle and dwell on where we are a bit. We should look at James Hodgkinson and what produced him. Then we should humble ourselves and (yes!) pray.
This is war, and blood is on all our hands. It’s devilish to claim anyone here is clean.