Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The shots heard round the United States

I awoke this morning to the news that Louisiana Representative Steven Scalise had been shot, along with two officers from his United States Capitol Police security detail and two other persons, while attending practice for an upcoming Congressional charity baseball game. 

I would like to say that I am shocked, but I am not. In fact, I am honestly surprised that it has taken as long as it has to happen. I actually broached on this topic in my first book: Perfect Pawn.

While the shooter is ultimately responsible for his actions this morning, I lay the blame directly at the feet of both the politicians and media for creating the environment that led up to this attack.  An examination of the shooter’s social media account highlights all of the inflammatory talking points which most of us have become immune to. I say most because obviously some folks, like the shooter, take the hyperbole to heart and it is exactly why I say that the politicians and media both bear complicity in this heinous act. To be fair, I draw no distinction along either party line or news outlet, as this has been building for decades.

Maybe I take these issues more seriously than most because I spent five years doing dignitary protection in New York City.  I worked closely with members of the Secret Service, State Department DSS and the aforementioned Capitol Police dealing with potential threats to protectees. You learn early on in that business that it doesn’t take much to push some folks over the line. Many times it is a personalized affront; where they feel that the subject of their hatred has wronged them in some way. However, the alarming trend that I am seeing now is that people are being told, by both the media and politicians, that they have been wronged.

We have always been a politically divided country. In fact, I previously wrote about this topic regarding the problem with political parties and one excerpt in this post was written five years ago, almost to the day. It explains how they are dividing us for their gain.

While it is true that there has always been politically motivated incivility in this country, the direction we have been heading, over the last two decades, has sadly been all too clear for some of us. The vilification, and outright demonization, of individuals, for political gain or ratings, has created the world we live in today. What is changing is the level of inflammatory rhetoric that is being used.

Over the past few months we have seen some folks in the entertainment world blasting the President. Mock assassinations, beheadings, as well as a host of verbal tirades that are meant solely to dehumanize him. Because once you have dehumanized a person you can do anything you want to him with impunity. If you need a case study in this type of behavior look no further than Nazi Germany and their treatment of the Jews.

Now, I will be the first one to say that no politician should be protected from the people’s disagreement. We have a right to air our opposition to anything we might disagree with. I am a gun owner and fully support the 2nd Amendment. I also served in law enforcement for over two decades so I do have a significant understanding about crime and safety in America. But I also understand that, while there are around 55 million gun owners in America, there are around 325 million people in the United States and many of them do not. What is within our control is how we discuss the issue. If you simply choose to yell at me with nothing more than regurgitated talking points in all likelihood I will just walk away. That doesn’t mean you have won anything, it just means that I value my time and breath.

Spend longer than five minutes on any social media platform or the comment section of any online news organization and you will see just how ‘uncivil’ we have become to one another: Libtard, Teabagger, Left-Wing Loon, Right-Wing Nut Job, and these are the nice things, most is simply unfit to print.  What is truly sad to me is that we simply cannot have a difference of opinion. Once someone says they don’t believe in something they are immediately labeled and castigated.

So what is the purpose of all this vitriol? Well, at the end of the day it basically comes down to two things: Power & Paychecks.

The media sows the seed of discontent because it drives ratings. They want viewers or readers and you attract them with bold rhetoric or headlines. It doesn’t have to be true, or even address the real issues; it just has to be salacious. Ratings and readerships equal bigger paychecks for those involved. Politicians want power, so they appeal to their base. They vilify the other side as being hardliners, when they are in the minority, so that you will re-elect them. If you re-elect enough of them they get the power, but they still vilify the other side as being obstructionists. They count on you being too confused to see that each is only one side of the same political coin. Why? Because they really don’t have the desire to fix anything nor to address the real problems we are facing.

As I sit here writing this I wonder to myself if this is even worth it? Will anyone stop and actually listen?

The problem is that no one really wants to think they have been duped. We want to think we are smarter than that, but we are like the parents who refuse to believe that their child was really at fault for something, even when the cops bring them home. We make excuses for the bad behavior as we seek to blame someone else like the teachers, cops or the amorphous system, whatever that might be. Because God forbid we should admit that a) we didn’t raise them right or b) that they truly are personally responsible for their bad behavior.

So should we be surprised when the media and politicians wring their hands and feign shock when something like this happens. Neither group will take responsibility, even though they have been fanning these flames for some time now. No, now the blame game begins and first up is: Guns!!

Almost immediately the anti-gun folks, like Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, seized the moment and began re-directing the narrative by attacking guns. As if the gun, and not the shooter, was responsible.

Never one to lose a political opportunity, McAuliffe twice said "we lose 93 million Americans a day to gun violence." Not exactly sure where he resides, but the United States would be devoid of life within a business week with those numbers.  I think the number is actually 93, but even that is political math. If you're interested, read this post on Stat's & Gun Control.

McAuliffe then went on to say "there are too many guns on the street," but then added that the issue shouldn't be raised today, after he himself had raised the issue today.

Hypocrisy…………Shocking, I know.

Now my news feed is filled with politicians saying: ‘An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us’ and ‘I pray we can resolve our differences’……. That’s so refreshing and wholly disingenuous. What’s spurring on this sentiment is that it hit too close to home and they realize that if someone on the left target someone on the right that those roles could easily be reversed next time and that is downright terrifying to them. Prior to today it was all rhetoric, today it is reality. Welcome to the world you have created.

My fear is that we have crossed a line that we cannot undo. It’s like opening Pandora’s Box and then lamenting how we should have left it closed. Too late.

The first shot in anger is always the toughest, the second and third become much easier. I pray that won’t happen, but the odds are not good. What needs to be done is for the folks to step back and apologize for the daily doses of enmity that they have been dishing out. They need to apologize to the American people that they have been fanning the flames for their own gain, not for the people, but that would take personal responsibility and I don’t think they are mature enough for that.


I pray that this was a one-time event, but in my heart I truly believe this was just the opening salvo.

Kudo's to the men and women of law enforcement who prevented this from being a massacre, by doing what they do everyday: putting themselves in harm's way and protecting the innocent.