WASHINGTON — Have you followed the drift of the mainstream media as to what provoked James T. Hodgkinson to attempt the massacre of the Republican House baseball team as it practiced in Alexandria, Virginia, last week? Not the Democratic team, not the Washington Nationals but the Republican team. Well, it was not necessarily Hodgkinson's politics, we are told. After all, they were pretty much mainstream progressive. According to the MSM, Hodgkinson had a "Volatile Home Life in Illinois." That is the way The New York Times put it on the front page on Sunday.
There was an allusion to strong drink. Anger and violence were also mentioned as features in his rural Illinois home. Moreover, Hodgkinson was described as abusive toward the foster children that he and his wife of 30 years had under their care. One of the children committed suicide by lighting herself afire. Another died of a drug overdose. And he reportedly dragged his grandniece around by her hair. Hodgkinson was also charged with property damage and a couple of misdemeanor counts in recent years. It makes one wonder what the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services — which the Times mentioned in blase fashion — is good for.
Yet, as I say, the MSM is soft-pedaling this lunatic's politics, and I can see why. There was nothing particularly unusual about them. He could have been one of Bernie Sanders' nondescript supporters at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia last summer. In the world of the American left, there is nothing extreme about carrying placards denouncing the rich or the giant corporations. There is nothing too extreme one might say about the environment, or the plight of the poor, or the fate of the LGBT community.
And why not bring the whole family down to Central Park in New York for a little Shakespeare in the Park? This month is "Julius Caesar," and featured in place of Caesar is the president of the United States, who dies of multiple knife wounds onstage. Why didn't someone, say, The John Birch Society, think of such a skit back in President John F. Kennedy's day? On the other hand, the whole family can curl up in front of the TV and watch the comic geniuses Stephen Colbert or Bill Maher test the limits of the First Amendment.
The fact is that Hodgkinson was, in many ways, just another progressive — note that they do not call themselves liberals anymore. I wonder why. Is the word "liberal" too tainted by defeat or too moderate? Or is it that the left pretty much agreed with me when I titled my obituary for liberalism "The Death of Liberalism" in 2011?
Actually, that Hodgkinson is pretty much a standard-issue progressive ought to give everyone the creeps. His politics are no different than those of a local librarian, a schoolteacher or a union guy back in 2014, when it was so fashionable to be a member of the angry left. In 2011, there was the Occupy movement, and now, in 2017, there is the Black Lives Matter movement. What separates Hodgkinson from Bill Ayers, the bomber of the Pentagon, except that Ayers tried to kill more people? The left has been on a steady evolution toward homicide, and there are a lot more Hodgkinsons out there than we care to contemplate.
Truth be known, the American left, and that includes most of the MSM, has become quite morbid in its fascinations. The whole way it talks about poverty, the environment, immigration, race — practically any social problem — is morbid. I look at The New York Times and the Washington Post every morning. They sit there on my breakfast table. Rarely does their front page not feature what the political philosopher Kenneth Minogue called a "suffering situation": several starving Africans; a corpse or two from some hellhole; an impoverished Appalachian family with at least one child, his head shaved because of cancer or some other horrible malady; a gay couple that has suffered a setback. I could go on, but you get my point. The MSM is obsessed with misery, social strife and — dare I say it — political correctness.
As long as these values dominate and there is no mitigating alternative, the public had best be armed.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.