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Think Progress Scalise Shooting vs Think Progress Census Worker


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Early Wednesday morning, a gunman opened fire at a Republican congressional baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia, injuring at least five people.

Thus far, authorities haven’t confirmed any details about the assailant or his motivations, though several news outlets including the Washington Posthave reported his name is James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois. Hodgkinson died from his injuries following the incident.

Hodgkinson appears to have posted anti-Trump posts on his Facebook page and wrote letters to his local paper critical of Republican policies. Two House Republicans who were at the park for a practice ahead of Thursday night’s annual congressional baseball game say they believe Hodgkinson approached them and asked if the lawmakers on the field were Democrats or Republicans before opening fire.


But even before Hodgkinson was identified as the shooter, a number of right-wing figures rushed to place collective blame on liberals and the media for the violence.


It wasn’t just fringe figures like Walsh or Watson who did this. During a Fox News interview conducted before the shooter was identified, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) traced the violence to “political rhetorical terrorism.”

“This political rhetoric and political discourse that has led to hate, has led to gunfire,” Davis said. “I never thought I’d go to baseball practice for charity and have to dodge bullets. This has got to stop and it has got to stop today… We’ve got to ratchet down the rhetoric that we’ve seen, not only on social media, but in the media, in the 24-hour news cycle.”


Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) went a step further and explicitly pinned blame for the shooting on Democratic “rhetoric” during an interview with a Buffalo radio station.


Collins, who was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trumpduring the presidential campaign, went on to suggest the violence was an understandable reaction to Democrats’ “outrageous” criticisms of Trump.

“The rhetoric has been outrageous — the finger-pointing, just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters,” he said. “Really, then, you know, some people react to things like that. They get angry as well. And then you fuel the fires.”

Donald Trump Jr. linked the shooting with New York’s Public Theater’scontroversial production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” — a play actually meant to illustrate the futility of political violence.


There’s an obvious difference between opposing policies like Trump’s Muslim ban or a health care bill that will strip coverage for millions and advocating violence against Republicans. No prominent Democrats have done the latter, and many quickly condemned Hodgkinson’s actions.


Trump avoided playing the blame game and offered measured comments about the shooting during an 11:30 a.m. briefing at the White House.

“We are strongest when we are unified, and when we work together for the common good,” Trump said. “Please take a moment today to cherish those you love, and always remember those who serve and keep us safe.”

While the link between Hodgkinson’s political views and the mass shooting it appears he perpetrated is tenuous at best, the Daily Beast reported he was arrested for domestic battery in 2006.


Data has consistently shown a strong connection between acts of domestic violence and acts of mass violence.

UPDATE (1:30 p.m.): Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is also blaming “the left” for the mass shooting.

From the Washington Post:

“America has been divided,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who, in suit and tie, stopped by the crime scene to pray and was viscerally angry about his colleagues being attacked. “And the center of America is disappearing, and the violence is appearing in the streets, and it’s coming from the left.”
When asked whether he thought the shooting was politically motivated, King said he did not know why the gunman did what he did, but said: “I’m really not that interested to tell you the truth. If he were on his way to the morgue, it wouldn’t make me sorry at all.”






Flashback: Bachmann Spread Fears Of Scary Stalking Census Workers


Bill Sparkman, the 51-year old Census worker who was hanged to death in Kentucky, was found “naked, gagged and had his hands and feet bound with duct tape.” A witness reports Sparkman also “had duct tape over his eyes, and they gagged him with a red rag or something.” The word “fed” was scrawled on his chest in a felt-tip pen, and his “Census ID was found taped to his head and shoulder area.”

The gruesome lynching of this Census worker seems to bear a disturbing similarity to some of the worst hate crimes committed across this country. Regardless of what the motive for the killing may have been, why would a murderer(s) take such pains to so blatantly convey anger, fear, and vitriol towards a Census employee? Perhaps because some on the right have created an impression that Census employees are terrifying.

Earlier this summer, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) waged a high-profile,wildly-dishonest campaign against the Census. The Minnesota congresswoman said she was so worried about the threat of the government asking “very intricate questions” and collecting information that she would illegally refuse to fill out the form. “They will be in charge of going door to door and collecting data from the American public,” she said. “This is very concerning.” She repeatedly used inflammatory and fear-mongering rhetoric against the Census:

— “I think there is a point when you say enough is enough to government intrusion.” [6/25/09]
— “If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps.” [6/25/09]
“You will receive approximately six contacts from them [Census workers], either through phone calls or they will knock on your door. If you still do not give them the information, they said they’ll contact your neighbor to the left of you, to the right of you to get information.” [6/25/09]

Bachmann’s irrational diatribes about scary stalking Census workers quickly spawned a right-wing movement. During an interview with Bachmann, Fox News’ Glenn Beck said, “Ok, so let me talk about the Census because there’s a lot of people that are concerned with it because they don’t want to fill it out, they’re not comfortable with ACORN members coming to find out all this information, they don’t want to give the government all this kind of information.”

Conservative radio host Neal Boortz told a caller, “Most of the rest of the [Census] information is designed to help the government steal from you in order to pass off your property to the moochers. They’re looters.” Boortz urged his listeners to resist the Census workers. “If somebody comes to my — if a burglar came to your house, are you going to show him where the silverware is?” he asked. “Maybe you will if he pulls out a gun.”


The Washington Post reports that violence against Census workers is a growing concern:

Census takers who die on the job typically succumb to strokes, heart attacks and car accidents. But violence against field workers, while rare, is an ongoing concern.
The 2000 Census was marked by a spate of violence. In Indiana, a pack of dogs mauled a census taker to death. A California census taker was grabbed and forced into her car after a homeowner ordered her to leave and she lingered, trying to explain the importance of the Census. A Denver census taker was hijacked and stabbed, and in Chicago, a census taker was thrown down a flight of stairs.
This year, a county manager in New Mexico warned that many people take their property rights seriously, and some might shoot at census takers who trespass.


and btw, the census worker killed himself.
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