Is Bernie Sanders responsible for James Hodgkinson? Using his own, stated standards, he must be!

By my standards, no: James Hodgkinson was simply loony tunes, a man who had trouble controlling his temper, coupled with the sore loser attitude among today’s American left. He had some ‘encounters’ with law enforcement due to his temper, but was never convicted of any crimes over them.

But what about by Senator Sanders’ standards? Jason Hopkins, writing in The Resurgent, noted Mr Sanders’ response to the shooting of then-Representative Gabrielle Gifford (D-AZ) in 2011, pointing out that the Distinguished Gentleman from Vermont actually sent out a find-raising letter over the shooting of Mrs Giffords:

Sen. Sanders Sends Out Fundraising Email Citing Arizona Tragedy

January 11, 2011 | By ABCNEWS.COM | Matthew Jaffe

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, today sent out a fundraising email to supporters in which he includes his analysis of the Arizona shootings that ties the tragedy to “right-wing reactionaries.”

“This horrendous act of violence is not some kind of strange aberration for this area where, it appears, threats and acts of violence are part of the political climate,” Sanders said in his letter. “Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred.”

The Vermont senator, who caucuses with Democrats, cited past Arizona incidents such as vandalism at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ district office after the health care reform vote and Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” map, as well as other outbreaks of violence like when a bullet was shot into Rep. Raul Grijalva’s office.

“In light of all of this violence – both actual and threatened – is Arizona a state in which people who are not Republicans are able to participate freely and fully in the democratic process?” asks Sanders. “Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?”

“My colleague, Senator John McCain, issued a very strong statement after the shooting in which he condemned the perpetrator of the attack. I commend him for that. But I believe Senator McCain and other Arizona Republicans need to do more,” Sanders said. “As the elder statesman of Arizona politics McCain needs to stand up and denounce the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right-wing and exert his influence to create a civil political environment in his state.”

There’s a little more at the original.

Senator Sanders asked, in his fund-raising appeal, “Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?” It’s six years later, and that question ought to be reversed, as we consider how many conservatives have been shouted down or had their planned presentations canceled, primarily around university campuses, due to left-wing protests, objections and “fears for safety?” Have left-wing radicals, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?

Remember when neo-Nazi Richard Spencer was assaulted on Inauguration by a masked “J20” protester, and the left-wing magazine The Nation called it a thing of “kinetic beauty?”

Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer Got Punched—You Can Thank the Black Bloc

A dispatch from inside the J20 protests.

By Natasha Lennard | January 22, 2017

The transcendental experience of watching Roger Federer play tennis, David Foster Wallace wrote, was one of “kinetic beauty.” Federer’s balletic precision and mastering of time, on the very edge of what seems possible for a body to achieve, was a form of bodily genius. What Foster Wallace saw in a Federer Moment, I see in a video of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer getting punched in the face.

You may have seen it, it’s a meme now, set to backing tracks of Bruce Springsteen, New Order, even a song from Hamilton. The punch, landed by a masked protester on Inauguration Day, lends itself perfectly to a beat. Spencer, who states that America belongs to white men, was in the midst of telling an Australian TV crew in DC that he was not a neo-Nazi, while pointing to his neo-Nazi Pepe the Frog lapel pin. A black-clad figure then jumps into frame, deus ex machina, with a perfectly placed right hook to Spencer’s face. The alt-right poster boy stumbles away, and his anonymous attacker bounds out of sight in an instant. I don’t know who threw the punch, but I know by his unofficial uniform that this was a member of our black bloc that day. And anyone enjoying the Nazi-bashing clip (and many are) should know that they’re watching anti-fascist bloc tactics par excellence—pure kinetic beauty. If you want to thank Spencer’s puncher, thank the black bloc.

The black bloc is not a group but an anarchist tactic—marching as a confrontational united force, uniformed in black and anonymized for security. Once deployed, the tactic has an alchemic quality, turning into a temporary object—the black bloc. On Friday, the bloc I joined in DC numbered well over 500, the largest of its kind since the antiwar protests over a decade prior. As I wrote in advance of the inauguration, if we recognize fascism in Trump’s ascendance, our response must be anti-fascist in nature. The history of anti-fascist action is not one of polite protest, nor failed appeals to reasoned debate with racists, but direct, aggressive confrontation. While perhaps best associated in the United States with the anti-globalization movement’s major summit protests nearly two decades ago, the black bloc is part of the longstanding visual language of international anti-fascism, or antifa. For example, bloc tactics have been used by European anti-fascists marching against neo-Nazis since the 1990s in Germany. The symbolic value of a large black-bloc presence at Trump’s inauguration resided in drawing a connection between anti-Trumpism and anti-fascism.

The “anti-capitalist, anti-fascist bloc,” Friday’s black-bloc march, was just one among a number of direct actions called by organizers of the Disrupt J20 Inauguration Day protests. Unlike Saturday’s vast Women’s March, Disrupt J20 aimed to directly impede, delay, and confront the inaugural proceedings. This message was delivered with human blockades, smashed corporate windows, trash-can fires, a burning limousine, “Make America Great Again” caps reduced to ashes, and a blow for Richard Spencer. The police responded with fountains of pepper spray, flash-bang grenades, and the mass arrest of over 200 people, most of whom now face felony riot charges. Along with the Women’s March’s joyful scenes of togetherness, the disruptions of J20 should be celebrated as an opening salvo of resistance in the era of Trump.

Emphases mine; there’s more at the original.

The Nation is an old, old political journal, one which has some respect — though not from me — which makes it somewhat surprising that they’d publish an article celebrating political violence from the left. The e-zine Salon is far newer, and generally more odious; cover editor Jeremy Binckes wrote, “Maybe the question shouldn’t be, ‘Is it OK to punch a Nazi?’ but, ‘If you don’t want to be punched in the face, maybe you shouldn’t preach Nazi values to the public?'” Salon writer Matthew Sheffield claimed that ‘neo-Nazis’ and the ‘alt-right’ are trying to bait ‘antifa’ activists into violence and thus radicalize ‘white people,’ to try to start a race war.

It’s simple: the left are celebrating violence, and still trying to make excuses to blame the right for left-wing violence.

The complete text of Senator Sanders fund-raising letter, along with a few more comments, are below the fold:

Dear Friend,1

Given the recent tragedy in Arizona, as well as the start of the new Congress, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few words with political friends in Vermont and throughout the country. I also want to thank the very many supporters who have begun contributing online to my 2012 reelection campaign at www.bernie.org.

There is no question but that the Republican Party, big money corporate interests and right-wing organizations will vigorously oppose me. Your financial support now and in the future is much appreciated. Also, please do not hesitate to convey to me any ideas that you may have with regard to how we can best go forward in terms of public policy, as well as politically. While I cannot respond personally to every comment, I will read them all.

ARIZONA: What occurred this weekend in Tucson was tragic, and I join my congressional colleagues and the entire nation in sending my condolences to the victims of this horrible attack. In terms of this savage shooting rampage, several points need to be made. First, this horrendous act of violence is not some kind of strange aberration for this area where, it appears, threats and acts of violence are part of the political climate. Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred. After all, last year, after her vote in support of health care reform, Rep. Giffords’ district office was attacked and her front window was shot out. In 2009, at an open constituent town meeting in a shopping center similar to the one in which she was gunned down, a pistol fell to the ground from the pocket of a protester attending the event. During her last campaign her opponent, Tea Party favorite Jesse Kelly, invited his supporters to an event at which they could fire live ammunition from an M-16 rifle as a fundraising device in his effort to help remove Rep. Giffords from office.

Congresswoman Giffords publicly expressed concerns when Sarah Palin, on her website, placed her district in the cross-hairs of a rifle – and identified her by name below the image – as an encouragement to Palin supporters to eliminate her from Congress. Interviewed on MSNBC at the time when the cross-hairs were posted on the web, Giffords said; “When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action.”

What should be understood is that the violence, and threats of violence against Democrats in Arizona, was not limited to Gabrielle Giffords. Raul Grijalva, an old friend of mine and one of the most progressive members in the House, was forced to close his district office this summer when someone shot a bullet through his office window. Another Democratic elected official in Arizona, recently defeated Congressman Harry Mitchell, suspended town meetings in his district because of the threatening phone calls that he received (Mitchell was also in the cross-hairs on the Palin map). And Judge John Roll, who was shot to death at the Giffords event, had received numerous threatening calls and death threats in 2009.

In light of all of this violence – both actual and threatened – is Arizona a state in which people who are not Republicans are able to participate freely and fully in the democratic process? Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions? My colleague, Senator John McCain, issued a very strong statement after the shooting in which he condemned the perpetrator of the attack. I commend him for that. But I believe Senator McCain and other Arizona Republicans need to do more. As the elder statesman of Arizona politics McCain needs to stand up and denounce the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right-wing and exert his influence to create a civil political environment in his state.

THE NEW CONGRESS: The 112th Congress convened last week. Republicans now control the House of Representatives and have increased their membership in the Senate to 47. The media and pundits will talk about a million things with regard to this new Congress, but let me stress to you what I consider to be the most important. The right-wing Republicans now leading their party are extremely confident that the political momentum is with them. They not only won decisive victories in the last election but, as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, they correctly believe that they will have a huge financial advantage in future elections because billionaires and corporate interests can now contribute as much as they like into the political process without disclosure.

At this moment, Karl Rove and other Republican operatives are organizing big money interests to become financially involved in the next election in a way that will completely revolutionize campaign financing. Republicans now believe that no matter what they do or say, they will be able to buy many seats in Congress because of their financial advantage.

How amusing it is, then, that Hillary Clinton spent roughly twice as much as Donald Trump, just to lose a presidential race she was very heavily favored to win.

Further, and equally important, the right-wing media echo chamber of Fox TV and talk radio (Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, etc.) are becoming increasingly effective in transmitting a reactionary world view to the tens of millions of Americans who watch or listen to them every day. For many of these Americans, the only news that they receive comes from these extreme right-wing commentators.

While the progressive community has made some significant media gains with excellent websites and informative blogs, compelling television news and commentary on MSNBC and some fine and engaging radio talk shows, we would be very naïve not to understand that our progressive analysis of contemporary political issues is being overwhelmed by the right wing. We have some good shows on MSNBC; they have a network. We have over a million radio listeners to Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz; Rush Limbaugh has 14 to 25 million, and Sean Hannity has 13 million.

Is it the fault of conservatives that the left are so drearily boring? However, when Mr Sanders said that the right has “a network,” referring to the Fox News Channel, the left have MSNBC, CNN — which has recently gone all-anti-Trump, all-the-time — ABC, CBS and NBC, along with the vast majority of the metropolitan daily newspapers.

All of which brings me to what the Republican agenda, pushed by an extreme right-wing, will likely be in the coming Congress. And here it is. The Republicans in this Congress, in a way unprecedented in modern American history, will begin a political assault on the very foundations of modern American society. Yes, of course they will continue their usual day-to-day efforts to give tax breaks to billionaires and cut back on programs desperately needed by the middle-class, but now they are prepared to go much further. Now, in a very well-orchestrated effort, they are determined to undo virtually all of the major pieces of social legislation passed since the 1930s, and move this country back to a time when workers, the elderly and the poor had virtually no protections against the vicissitudes of life. They want to return this country to a time when large corporations and the rich had all the power – economic and political. They do not simply want to repeal the Health Care Reform bill passed last year. There are many Republicans in Congress who believe that any federal efforts in health care are unconstitutional. This means, over a period of time, completely eliminating Medicare, Medicaid and other public health programs. In other words, if you’re sick and you don’t have a lot of money, you’re on your own. Good luck.

They do not want to simply cut back on Social Security. They want to privatize it. With the backing of Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson and others, the Republicans are not just pushing to raise the retirement age for Social Security and cut benefits in the short- term. Their long-term goal is to create a situation in which the retirement accounts for workers will be administered by Wall Street – at great profit for financial investment firms. And when the stock market crashes and you lose your retirement savings, you’re on your own. Good luck. They do not want to simply deny the extension of unemployment benefits to workers who lost their jobs in this recession – the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression seven decades ago. Some of them want to eliminate the concept of unemployment compensation. Their position is: Lose your job? You’re on your own. Good luck.

And on and on it goes. Whether it is Social Security, health care, environmental protection, education or workers’ rights, the Republican Party is now prepared to dismantle virtually all of the protections that workers and the middle class have successfully fought for over the last 75 years.

Today, in the United States, while the middle class collapses and poverty increases, the richest people in our country have never had it so good. In 2007, the top one percent earned 23 percent of all income in our country – more than the bottom 50 percent. The top one percent also owns more wealth than the bottom ninety percent. While in recent years we have seen a huge increase in the number of millionaires and billionaires in this country we continue to have, by far, the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world.

But, for my Republican colleagues, all of this is not enough. They need to help the rich get more, more and more. That is what their agenda is all about. Needless to say, as Vermont’s senator, I will do all that I can to defeat this disastrous set of policies. And I will be joined in this effort by other members of the Senate, and by many members of the House. But we can’t do it alone. We’re all in this together. I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,
Senator Bernie Sanders

If you read what Senator Sanders has written, it’s clear that he blamed conservative positions and speech for the attack on Representative Giffords. OK, fine: he was far from the only leftist to do so. But if the Distinguished Gentleman from Vermont is ideologically consistent, then he must be responsible for the attack by his groupie on Representative Steve Scalife (R-IL) and other Republican congressmen doing nothing more threatening than practicing for a baseball game.
_____________________________________________

  1. The source for Senator Sanders’ fund-raising letter did not include the paragraph breaks. I have edited it to add paragraph breaks, which may not correspond to the original, but I have not edited or omitted any of the text.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *