‘A Moment For Reflection’ — Congressional Shooting Gives DECENT People A Chance To Speak Out

Written by Steve Pauwels on June 17, 2017

Two generations ago, the addictively quotable George Orwell observed: “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” Were the English novelist/journalist to survey Western Civilization, 2017? One can only speculate what fresh, head-shaking epigrams he’d generate.

One thing for certain: the heinous shooting this week of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise and four others practicing baseball is affording priceless opportunity for restating “the obvious”:

— Whatever contentious cause-and-effect debate might rage around this atrocity, the shooter — deranged, sixty-six-year-old, Bernie-Sanders-supporting James Hodgkinson –, and no one else, is ultimately responsible for this mayhem.

— Much of the fashionable legislation adored by anti-Second Amendment types wouldn’t have made much, if any, difference in this incident. Reportedly, the malefactor primarily used a legally obtained long gun. Not a machine gun or “automatic” weapon, but a “military-style” or “assault-style” rifle. Translation: a standard-issue rifle tricked out to look a bit scarier than a normal, workaday hunting implement.

Popularly touted laws hindering concealed-carry of handguns or limiting their ownership wouldn’t have touched the rifle-toting Hodgkinson — even if he’d a mind to obey them under any circumstances. What do the gun-grabbers want to do? Bar possession of all long guns? No rifles, no shotguns, ever, for commoners? Millions of hunters who eat/breathe/drink their beloved outdoor hobby would hardly stand for that.

— Hodgkinson was a startlingly b-a-a-a-d Liberal. Despite the threadbare, lefty boilerplate he favored in frequent editorial page rants and on Facebook, the dude liked and used his firepower. You can register passion for big, scary guns a flagrant profanation of cherished liberal orthodoxy — even if the weapons-enthusiast never aspires to would-be mass-murderer status.

— An unbudging segment of the firearm-loathing Left is resolved never to acknowledge what’s right in front of them: Good guys with guns will, on balance, minimize the havoc wrought by bad guys with guns. Exhibit A? Uber-partisan Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer’s breathlessly marveling that Republican “Whip” Scalise’s security detail happened to be present when the bullets started flying. “I could not be more grateful that Capitol Police were there … to prevent this attack from being any worse”.

Good catch, Senator. Thank God for that life-saving contingency — but connect the dots, please: If regular folks were freely permitted to bear firearms whenever and wherever they go, there’d be no need to merely hope an armed “expert” turns up when needed. Really, the uncomplicated, remorselessly logical conclusion is not that elusive; at least not for those willing to face up to it.

If elected officials like the New York senator would simply step back from their unyielding crusade to reduce their constituents to self-defense-deprived fish-in-a-barrel, casualties of criminal pandemonium would be minimized — just as, happily, they were on that Alexandria, VA ball field when level-headed individuals equipped with guns used them in an honorable cause.

— I repeat: Hodgkinson is responsible for the near-massacre.

— This lawless act is an abomination; inexcusable conduct not to be tolerated in a civilized First World society. Did I mention, Hodgkinson is unalterably culpable?

Still, a cascade of snarling, harm-fantasy rhetoric directed indefatigably toward Republicans, Conservatives in general, and Donald Trump in particular, has become de rigueur among Progressivism’s ranks. That surely hasn’t helped.

At mildest, it can encourage reckless, even bloodthirsty, behavior among imbalanced “social warrior” or big-government zealots. Months upon months of hostile, anti-social hi-jinx by Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Kathy Griffin’s grisly Trump-decapitation gimmickry, NYC’s “Shakespeare in the Park” assassination of Trump-cum-Julius Caesar, plus a plethora of high-profile, celebrity-generated threats against the current president, at the very least, have greased the rails for making Hodgkinson’s strain of viciousness more likely. Again, the gunman is the culpable party here — but these poisonous precedents issuing from Liberaldom’s cliques certainly nurture his ilk.

The internet and social media are aflame with proper indignation. My fellow “right-wingers” are fully justified denouncing malignant, belligerent Leftist vitriol; where within-bounds criticism/disagreement has strayed into active death-wishes for non-Liberals.

To my fellow God-and-Country-loving patriots, however, I’d pose two questions: Are we going to be consistent? Or lapse, instead, into the hypocrisy which is also status quo among our Lefty adversaries? If hostile pronouncements and outright violence are scandalous when disgorging from supporters of Obama, Hillary, Schumer, et al — is the verdict the same when the offender votes straight “R” or sports a MAGA cap?

Last month, then-GOP candidate in Montana’s special congressional race Greg Gianforte committed legal battery against a British journalist he found irksome. Gianforte punched the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, breaking his eye glasses; “body slammed” was the eyewitness-affirmed description of the incident. This was no incidental jostling — physical assault, no doubt.

A slippery campaign statement initially aimed to pin the blame on the journalist. For the record, that’s defined as “Bearing false witness against your neighbor” — a lovely detail when considering substantial Gianforte support remains rooted among Evangelicals, who normally take a jaundiced view of violating the Ten Commandments. Of course, any excuse mitigating the Repub’s guilt wilted when Gianforte himself, after snagging the seat, apologized for his misdeed; even more so when he pled guilty and was sentenced to community service and anger management classes.

Confronted with their guy’s embarrassing episode, numbers of prominent conservative spokespeople dismissed the matter as trivial, sometimes joking about it or actually defending it. Observers were treated to indefensible crap like “Gianforte showed how real men react!”, “That reporter needs to toughen up!” or what’s becoming a cancerously tedious stand-by: “Liberals act this way all the time!”. I was heartsick to hear normally decent Constitutionalists glibly concocting excuses for Gianforte’s misbehavior; or, should I specify, his crime.

Similarly disgraceful have been energetic efforts from some advocates of limited government and traditional values to ignore or even rationalize the statements of then-candidate/now-president Donald Trump when, on more than one occasion, he vocally pined for violence against rude, anti-Trump protesters. I’d challenge my fellow conservative die-hards: If it had been Hillary, BHO, Harry Reid or any pugnacious Lefty luminary hankering for bodily harm on the opposition, you’d all be coming out of your skin in righteous umbrage, talking about standards for elected officials, citing our Founders’ statements which enshrine the essentialness of stellar moral character. Because it was Donald Trump, however? Silence, shoulder-shrugging; or worse: excuse-mongering.

The Party of Law and Order? Hmmm. We set it all aside when emotionally inconvenient or politically costly?

When Dem true-believers, socialists and commies model menacing behavior, we launch requisite and full-throated denunciations. When the perpetrator plays for Team R, it ought to make no difference; the response should be the very same.

If, God forbid, a conservative version of Hodgkinson were to internalize Gianforte’s gladiatorial example or Donald Trump’s déclassé, incendiary verbiage as motivation for a murderous attack on any Democrat or Progressive, the thug would be responsible. But I’d like to assume principled folks on the Right would unreservedly repudiate any verbal or behavioral sloppiness from our side which might have goosed it along.

Further to that, I’d like to assume we’d reliably be censuring such fecklessness even now and henceforth — before any of our supposedly like-minded allies violently act out on it. No murkiness permitted; instead, making telescopically transparent that anarchy and barbarism are unwelcome, not to be cultivated in our circles.

I’d like to assume we’d be doing Orwell proud: restating what once was “the obvious”.

photo credit: torbakhopper hillary clinton ice-picking donald trump : ishootwindows, cliff’s variety, castro, san francisco (2015) via photopin (license)

Share if you agree we must restate the obvious concerning what’s acceptable and what isn’t in political debate and discourse.

Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.