When Floyd Corkins went into the offices of the Family Research Council to shoot the place up and kill as many Christian conservatives as he could, he gave credit to the SPLC for directing him to his target.
The SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) publishes a "hate" map, listing every real or imagined hate group in America and letting unhinged people know right where to find them.
The SPLC, it turns out, has another fan in the man who tried to massacre as many Republicans as he could find at a baseball practice yesterday in Washington, D.C. James Hodgkinson was a supporter of the work of the SPLC and followed them on Facebook.
SPLC's president Richard Cohen naturally and predictably disavowed any influence or responsibility whatsoever, though it has been stirring up hatred by demonizing groups like FRC and the American Family Association for years. "The SPLC," he said, "condemns all forms of violence." They're like a guy who gives gasoline and matches to a teenager and then feigns innocence and utter shock when the kid burns down a house.
The assassin—former FBI investigators are now suggesting strongly that the shooting was "politically motivated"—belonged to virulently anti-Republican groups, including one which expressed an ominous determination to "Terminate the Republican Party," a goal James Hodgkinson took all too literally. That Facebook group remains unrepentant, posting this question after the shooting: "How many likes can this Liberal Hero get for us [sic] grand sacrifice to the Progressive cause?"
Hodgkinson, whom a neighbor described as a "hardcore Democrat," had a lengthy police record, including a domestic battery incident in which he was reported to have punched a woman in the face. He slashed a neighbor's tires right before last fall's election because the neighbor often had pro-Republican signs in his yard. In March of this year, police visited his property in Illinois because neighbors heard him fire off about 50 rounds, a number eerily similar to the number of shots fired yesterday in D.C. Was it a dry run?
Authorities say he had been in the D.C. area since that incident, living out of his van, and apparently planning his next move from the YMCA across the street from the baseball field where the shootings occurred.
Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican from New York, received a threatening email at her congressional office: "One down, 216 to go..." "Your own lives are forfeit," the email goes on. "Good riddance." Lefties on Twitter lit the place up with statements like 'It's a shame more Republicans weren't shot.'
Breitbart lists 15 occasions (warning: language alert) on which celebrities called for violence to be done to Trump and other Republicans. For example, Kathy Griffin had herself photographed holding Trump's severed and bloody head; Madonna said she'd often thought about "blowing up the White House;" Snoop Dogg shot Trump in the head in a video; Robert De Niro said he wanted "to punch him in the face;" and actor Mickey Rourke threatened to beat him with a "Louisville slugger."
Liberals with their inflammatory and incendiary rhetoric cannot escape culpability here. Just a month ago, Dr. John Griffin, a professor of Media Arts and Animation at the Art Institute of Washington, said Republican House members who voted to repeal ObamaCare should be "lined up and shot," and went on to insist "That's not hyberbole. They have blood on their hands." The low-information media, naturally, has not reported on Dr. Griffin's remarks.
And let's not forget Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald who "wished death" on Republicans on May 5.
And lest you think these are just crackpot aberrations, don't forget that Bernie Sanders raised money off the accusation that Sarah Palin's congressional map was so incendiary it was to blame for the shooting of Gabby Giffords. The New York Times, the Atlantic, and the New York Daily News all piled on, also laying the blame on the John McCain's vice-presidential running mate. Well, if irresponsible rhetoric is to blame for politically motivated shootings, who is to blame now?
Not to be outdone, CNN's sister network, TNT, even after the shooting, is sponsoring the Shakespearean play in New York that features a Trump look-alike getting brutally stabbed to death in the final scene. A neighbor of Hodgkinson's speculated that "this Democratic rhetoric made him snap."
Now of course Hodgkinson must be held to full account for what he did. There was evil in his heart, which conditioned him to listen to the wrong voices. "A wicked man," says the Proverbs, "gives heed to false lips" (Prov. 17:4). He has already faced the Judge of the living and the dead, and I can assure you he was not able to beat the rap by blaming those who were engaging in irresponsible rhetoric.
But at the same time, a knowledge of human nature teaches us that there are other James Hodgkinsons out there who can be set off by inflammatory rhetoric, and those who engage in it will have to account for their malicious speech one day before the same Judge. The Bible also says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (Prov. 18:21), whether that fruit is life-giving or life-destroying.
Democrats, who normally race to the nearest microphone to condemn Republicans for not disarming American citizens, have been strangely silent. Sen. Chris Murphy, who filibustered for 15 hours on behalf of gun control legislation when 49 homosexual Muslims were slaughtered at an Orlando nightclub in 2016, said only that we must not "politicize" this tragedy, something he was all too eager to do just a year ago.
Democrats are anxious not to use this incident by using it to push gun control, for the simple reason that such a push would only remind people that one of their own was responsible for what could have been a massacre if it weren't for a good guy with a gun.
The problem yesterday was not too many guns but too few. Only two individuals—Rep. Scalise's security detail —were in a position to use force to stop the shooter. If not for that security detail, he could have picked off dozens, one by one.
As conservatives, we believe that change comes through ballots, not bullets. There is no place in our society for vigilante justice in political matters—or any other matter—and we must resolve as a culture to settle our political disputes the old-fashioned way: using reason, persuasion and the vote.
Bryan Fischer is host of the two-hour "Focal Point" program on American Family Radio.
This article was originally published at AFA.net. Used with permission.
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