By June 15, 2017 Read More →

Shooting in Alexandria: Sad and sickening

By Don Smith

West Virginia Press Association

While saddened by the news of the shooting at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday, I was sickened by the hypocrisy in the comments of some politicians, cable news commentators and fellow journalists.

Don Smith
Executive Director
West Virginia Press Association

Are we really surprised that another troubled, angry and frightened individual turned to violence as a response to the ongoing political uncertainty in our country? Yes, we oppose violence and are shocked when it occurs — especially in settings such as ballparks, malls and schools that we also frequent —  but we’re not surprised.
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It’s a sad reality of today’s culture.
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Another even sadder reality of today’s culture is an overall lack of responsibility and leadership.
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Political leaders on both sides of the aisle expressed sympathy for the victims of the shooting and took a bipartisan stance: An attack against one of us, is an attack against all of us.
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Cable news commentators and other journalists talked about the “troubled” or “crazy” shooter.
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I’ve heard few, if any, talk about their own responsibility for this tragedy.
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Day after day we hear political “hate speech” and attacks from politicians, news commentators, radio hosts, journalists and bloggers. Fear is political currency and they spend wildly, telling how their political opponents want to destroy segments of society and don’t care about industries, businesses,  jobs, the working class, the poor, the elderly, the middle class or those most vulnerable.
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Yet, our political leaders and commentators are somehow surprised that one of the troubled, angry and frightened individuals in this country decided to take violent action, when the political rhetoric today stops just short of actually calling for violence.
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There are a number of people in this country who struggle to understand that line between hateful political rhetoric and a violent reality. These people get frightened and confused.
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The political leaders and commentators who are continually shouting “fire” in what has become the darkened theater of American politics should not be surprised that some members of the “audience” get frightened and take action.
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Their expressions of sympathy are expected and welcome, but an apology is needed. These leaders have intentionally, repeatedly and increasingly frightened and angered people who struggle with handling the stress.
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Our leaders need to take some responsibility. At the very least, they need to stop the hate speech and fear-mongering.
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There has always been hate and fear in this country, but there was a time when our leaders … in all fields … represented a better way, offering hope and setting an example for the masses.
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Today, too many leaders are nothing more than undistinguished reflections of those frightened and angry masses.
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It’s sad and sickening.

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