Herald-Whig View

Hatred over political differences has got to stop

Posted: Jun. 16, 2017 11:30 am

THE nation continues to reel from Wednesday morning's horrific shooting rampage involving members of Congress practicing for a charity baseball game on a public field in Alexandria, Va.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was fielding balls at second base when he was hit in the hip, underwent a third surgery Thursday morning. Doctors said a bullet fractured bones and tore through internal organs. Scalise also suffered severe blood loss and remained in critical condition.

David Bailey and Crystal Griner, two Capitol Police officers who courageously returned fire, sustained relatively minor injuries, as did a congressional aide, and they have been released from hospitals. A congressional aide-turned-lobbyist, Matt Mika, was shot multiple times and critically injured, and he remained hospitalized.

Police identified the shooter as James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old home inspector from Belleville, Ill., who had several minor run-ins with the law in recent years and belonged to a Facebook group called "Terminate the Republican Party."

Authorities said it was too early to determine a motive, but over social media he had lashed out at President Donald Trump and the GOP.

As the Minneapolis Star Tribune appropriately wrote, there are mass shootings every day in this country -- 154 this year -- and each one is its own tragedy, to be grieved and regretted.

But, the newspaper continued, there is something especially chilling and loathsome about a shooter ambushing elected officials who are just playing a little summer ball, as many Americans do, hoping to have some fun and raise money for local charities.

We agree.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a third-term Republican from Taylorville, was in the batter's box at the time of the shooting. Immediately afterward he attributed the motives of the gunman to heightened partisanship in the current political climate.

"This hatefulness that we see in this country today over policy differences has got to stop," Davis told CNN. "I believe that there's such a hatefulness in what we see in American politics and policy discussions right now. This has got to stop.

"We can disagree on how to govern. That's what makes our country great, but I'm here because we're all Americans."

Clearly, there is an increasing corrosiveness gripping American politics, creating a growing gulf between left and right. However, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin urged his colleagues "to come together to lift each other up and to show the country, show the world that we are one House, the people's House, united in our humanity."

Words fail after such a senseless attack. Perhaps the unity and civility on display the past two days can continue and lower the harmful rhetoric that fuels this type of mindless rage.