In the wake of any horrible tragedy, especially one with political implications, obnoxious and odious hot takes are inevitable. Social media allows people to publicly react to terrible events in real time, often with very little reflection or filter. Unsurprisingly, some people’s instant reactions are reprehensible, and neither “side” is exempt from this demagogic impulse. One of the more dispiriting memes that started whizzing around on lefty Twitter following last week’s act of political terrorism against Republican lawmakers was neatly encapsulated by these two widely-shared tweets from prominent “resistance” figures — one a once-successful actor, the other a host on MSNBC:
The universe doesn’t joke around. The officer who saved bigoted, homophobic Rep. Steve Scalise during baseball practice was a black lesbian.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) June 17, 2017
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) June 17, 2017
Other ‘identity politics’ fetishists eagerly amplified this storyline. Let’s set aside the facts that (a) the two wounded officers — who both happen to be black — are members of Scalise’s detail and are reportedly close with his family, and (b) holding a traditional, mainstream political views on same-sex marriage does not automatically make someone a “bigot” or a “homophobe.” (Also, a newly-resurrected anti-Scalise “white supremacy” is just that: A smear). The proper conclusion to Reid’s loaded, “and yet…” clause is as follows: And yet, her race and sexual orientation were irrelevant non-factors as she performed her duty with extraordinary bravery and poise, saving multiple human beings’ lives. Period. If anything, Officer Griner’s actions represent a powerful statement against identity-based obsession: Distinctions like gender, racial heritage and sexual identity didn’t matter at all when a moment of crisis suddenly arrived. What did matter were duty, honor, courage, and humanity. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the point Takei and Reid et al were getting at. They were attacking Scalise — the victim who was still fighting for his life and in critical condition at the time — over his insufficiently ‘woke’ political views.
The implication was that it was somehow incongruous or even generous of Ms. Griner to have saved Scalise’s life, in spite of his ‘retrograde’ ideology. This is an ugly strain of victim blaming. It’s obviously insulting to the House Majority Whip, whose grievous “sins” include holding a view of marriage that is consistent with his church’s teachings, voting to replace a failing healthcare law, and supporting the Second Amendment. (By the way, contra Reid’s nasty little bill of indictment embedded in her tweet, there was never any sweeping ban on “semiautomatic weapons” in America). But this framing is also insulting to Griner, suggesting that considerations about her (assumed) politics could conceivably have interfered with her critical work in a life-and-death situation. In their rush to advertise their own surpassing contempt for conservatives, these leftists chose to exploit the work of an LGBT woman of color by clumsily applying their ever-present ‘identity’ lenses to this situation — apparently unaware of, or unperturbed by, how their spin might reflect on the two people whose gunshot wounds are still healing. Curiously, despite drawing attention to his race, Ms. Reid seemed far less interested in the motivation of the assailant — who, as she would surely point out if the shoe were on the other foot, was a big fan of her network.
If this weren’t all so execrable, it would be quite sad. These people immediately contemplated the racial and sexual dynamics at play and determined that the available details lent themselves to an escalation of, rather than a rebuke to, identity politics. Fortunately, when the chips were down and lives were on the line, duty and shard humanity transcended all else, including ideology. Thank God Officer Griner evidently held a much healthier perspective on her professional and moral priorities than did the knee-jerk partisans who are callously misappropriating her heroism to advance their own agenda. I’ll leave you with a taste of how certain elements of the Left are treating other Republican members of Congress these days:
Weeks before her close friend, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, was shot on a high school baseball field Wednesday morning, Rep. Ann Wagner reported to Capitol Police five death threats made against her this spring, Wagner says. It’s part of what Wagner, R-Ballwin, called the “hate and vitriol” that has infected public life. She said she decided to go public this week after seeing a 23-year-old aide in her district office sobbing after an abusive phone call, and after watching children in her Ballwin neighborhood scrub away chalk outlines of dead bodies that had been drawn on the driveway of her home. The children replaced them, she said, with happy faces….She said that protesters have been “vandalizing my home, showing up with masks and gravestones, and laying down on my driveway and drawing chalk outlines of dead bodies. Picketing my church at 8 and 10 o’clock Mass.” Many are protesting her vote on the Republican health care plans, Wagner said, but the list of grievances “runs the gamut.”
I’ve made clear that political rhetoric that stops short of incitement, including heated attacks, must not be blamed for the violent actions of an unhinged individuals. But because liberals ostentatiously wring their hands about conservative speech and its impact on the national “climate of hate” whenever the opportunity arises (even when Republicans are the targets), shouldn’t they be forced to grapple with how their own systemic program of dehumanizing vitriol and demonization might affect political leaders whom they casually and routinely accuse of pro-death misogyny, etc? And at what point should leaders of the “resistance” who call for ‘fighting in the streets‘ and the like be asked to draw and enforce lines of decency and propriety for their own followers? Finally, based on plenty of evidence, my assertion on Media Buzz yesterday morning is indisputably correct:
— HowardKurtz (@HowardKurtz) June 18, 2017