The Washington Post struck out with many on social media over an article that appears to blame a right-wing Illinois shock jock for the Virginia shooting rampage by a Trump-hating, Bernie Sanders volunteer who targeted Republicans during a baseball practice.
The lengthy piece takes aim at the foul-mouthed Bob Romanik, who spews invective on the AM dial from a studio in Belleville, Ill., shooter James Hodgkinson’s hometown.
“What’s the point of this?” Buzz Feed political reporter Katherine Miller asked on Twitter. “The shooter hated Trump and there’s no indication in the story he listened to this pro-Trump host.”
Washington Examiner political correspondent and Fox News contributor Byron York tweeted, “Revision of the year: WP suggests, without evidence, Alexandria shooter was inspired by right-wing bigoted radio talker.”
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The Difference Between Those Inflicting Terror
By Brandon Blackburn; OpsLens:
Every week it seems that sadly there is a new occurrence of a person with a certain set of characteristics seeing their life ended by someone possessing a completely different set of traits who does so under the pretense of political dissatisfaction. Weekly attacks that fit the general definition of terrorism — the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.
While we define such attacks in the same broad terms, there are often so many differences between the perpetrator and the victims — political party affiliation, religion, race, gender, nationality. The list goes on. As do the efforts to determine why the tragedy took place. What compelled someone to act in such a way against someone else? Was the terror inflicted due to a reaction to a previous action by the victim and/or a group identified with by the victim?
There must be a reason. And there most certainly is. But it’s not the ones that spurn intense debate to draw ratings for TV pundits. You know, the kind that offer very little thoughtful analysis and end up alienating half of the population through unsubstantiated accusations.
Nor is it one that you can identify simply by looking at a person’s appearance or voting record. There is little difference between terrorists, regardless whether they are homegrown and walk among us or from far-away lands. Their reasoning unites us more than you might think. The one and only real hard and fast rule with these terrorists — whether it’s James Hodgkinson or Osama Bin Laden — is the belief and perpetuation of an idea that places a higher value on death than life.
While our society must always apply an identity to high profile instances of terror, these acts do not necessarily reveal the problem itself, but the symptom. Look at this month alone. The news cycle covering such events began in London with the murder of people from all walks of life gathered to attend a concert.
In the weeks to follow, the murders and attempted murders of people ranged from white Republican men to Muslim teenage girls. Each one coming with it the requisite premature packaging of the event by the media into a nice little box. The intent is to create and control a narrative to thread through each ensuing instance so that the story can be rubber stamped and the script is all but written minus a few blanks indicating “insert name here.” But the problem, as we have seen in recent weeks, is that there is not a single point of identification tying each attack together.
Keep in mind that this is not a discussion about attacks at the hands of a specific group like ISIS. This would be a subset of the larger terror mentality. Focusing on the how and the why in terms of tactic and motivation is important in bringing to justice to a specific perpetrator and event. And that is the focus of law enforcement investigations.
But if we as a society fail to examine thoroughly the what and the when, then we fail to give ourselves a chance at coming as close to eliminating future acts of terror as we can. What led to the darkness in a terrorist’s heart? Why was there decay to the point where human life didn’t matter?
What drives someone to the belief that killing someone with whom you disagree is the answer? Is it a single moment in time? Probably not, even though there are groups of individuals that appeal to and foster this mentality with their rhetoric. But a simple look at the numbers indicate the vast majority of us can be exposed to such sensationalism and manage to go about our daily lives without acting violently.
Whether you’re a supporter of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, or you worship Muhammad or Jesus Christ, think of the number of times you’ve been exposed to extreme language from those you oppose. You may have chosen to attack, but in the voting booth, not in a lethal manner.
More realistically the foundation was poured long before the act takes place. Is one born with evil intentions? Science believes that at birth some at least arrive with the propensity to be more “good” than others, based on the size of certain brain components. But the propensity for evil? That is the question we should be focused on. Because only then can we truly have a chance at winning over hearts and minds and reducing acts of terrorism.