This morning, June 14, 2017, a gunman ambushed a baseball team comprised of GOP Congressmen practicing in Alexandria, Virginia for an annual bipartisan event, a game raising funds for boys and girls clubs. There were, I understand, approximately five casualties, possibly including the gunman, who was captured.
At first blush it is easy to conclude that in light of the horribly polarizing conduct of the Democratic Party leadership and the mainstream media since the 2016 elections, the attack on GOP Congressmen was the direct consequence of their exhortations. That it is the result of their polarizing politics of confrontation and hate. But first impressions are all too frequently wrong and the only sure thing in today’s world is that the event will be spun so much and in so many directions that probably nothing will be learned. That tomorrow will be business as usual, not only in the beltway but everywhere that polarized opposition has been thoroughly planned and organized. Opposition which in many cases is justified although the call for permanent, furious confrontation is not. The call for an overthrow of last year’s electoral results by any means is not. The extremist call for violence is not.
The spin will probably be directed in favor of gun control by those who have been most avidly promoting confrontation, something which may ring very hollow this time around. That’s a shame. Gun control is a reasonable means to minimize the probability of calamities such as this but its evocation while concurrently trying to stir furious polarization generating personal confrontation, character assassination, calumny and hate is not very credible. Instead, gun’s rights advocates will point out that weapons are a necessary precaution against attacks like this, and they’ll have a point. The fact is, both sides in our horribly polarized societies have valid points but we’re way too busy shouting to consider opposing viewpoints.
The elective Bush-Obama-Clinton wars have left a “human residue” of discarded military personnel trained and equipped for violent confrontation and the appeals to negative emotions broadcast in fundraising demands (some of which I receive daily from Nancy Pelosi and others on the left, probably duplicated in mirror image from the right), have resulted in a polarization that psycho-social expert Bruno Boccara and I have addressed with predictions that violence, widespread rather than isolated, is much too close to the surface of our collective psyche. That is a reality that, notwithstanding the motives for this attack, we need to recognize and address.
The one sure thing is that mainstream media irresponsibility coupled with political opportunism have to be utterly rejected if we are to continue as a viably productive and reasonably safe society. If democracy is to survive. If liberty is to remain an option. Conflict is healthy and necessary but violent conflict, however gradual, is utterly destructive. As in war, those most responsible are rarely among the victims and are almost always to be found among the mainstream media and among the ranks of our political leaders. Liberty is always among the first casualties and its loss usually leads to increased rather than decreased insecurity.
This a moment for reflection and hopefully, a wakeup call.
Hopefully the shouting will decrease, some listening will be undertaken, and civility reconsidered.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved
Guillermo Calvo Mahé is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia. Until recently he chaired the Political Science, Government and International Relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science, law, international legal studies and translation studies and can be contacted at email@example.com. Much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.