Ignoring the Signs in Alexandria: Baseball, Bullets, and Bloodshed
James “Tommy” Hodgkinson must not have seen the signs. They were hard to miss in the Alexandria, Virginia, neighborhood known as Del Ray where he gunned down Republicans playing baseball.
“Practice Kindness” yard signs are ubiquitous in Del Ray.
If he did see the signs, Hodgkinson must not have taken them very seriously.
Del Ray prides itself on being a diverse and progressive neighborhood. In 2016, Hillary got 4,549 votes in Del Ray and Trump just 883.
Another house (with a United Nations flag and a “Proud Democrat” sign) a few blocks from the baseball diamond has a “Little Free Library,” a birdhouse-shaped hutch where one can take and give books. Next to it is a chalkboard: “Kindness Is Everywhere, I Saw It Today When…” it says, inviting folks to complete the story.
“Traffic stopped for me to cross,” says one answer. “Friends came to my defense when an infernal troll targeted me on FB.”
A good chance that last spat involved politics.
Since Trump’s win, yard signs have sprouted up in front yards all over Del Ray, just blocks from the shooting scene.
“Practice Kindness, Build Communities” is the most common. Here's another: “Make America Kind Again.”
Then there's this long-winded cause-cornucopia: “In this House We Believe Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, No Human Is Illegal, Science Is Real, Love is Love, Kindness is Everything.”
Another banner posted at the ball field before the shooting captures lots of causes (some in Arabic), including: “In the Future I Hope That Coming Out Doesn’t Exist Because Everyone is Just Who They Are.” In the photo below you can see the baseball field in the background.
There was also: “No Matter Where You are From, We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor.” No sign in Del Ray may say more.
Which brings us back to ball field shooter James Hodgkinson, because he was apparently a neighbor to everyone in Del Ray for the last few weeks while living out of his van.
We now also know Hodgkinson was a dedicated soldier in the #Resist movement. His rage at Trump and Republicans led him to abandon his life in Illinois and travel to Alexandria. He lived in this overtly welcoming community in a van loaded with ammo.
We may never know what led him to live a vagabond’s life in Del Ray, but I suspect it wasn’t the custard at The Dairy Godmother.
Hodgkinson had murder on his mind, and his trek to the Washington, D.C., suburbs points at a small universe of targets. He came to kill Republicans -- the more conservative, the better.
There’s no disputing that Hodgkinson’s political views were right at home in Del Ray – even the New York Times headline “In Congressman’s Shooting a-Like Minded Gunman Shakes a Liberal Enclave” makes that plain enough.
Nothing was strange enough, it seems, about his daily showers at the Alexandria YMCA, his chats with the ex-mayor, and the fact that he worked on his laptop all day at the Y, to trip any additional scrutiny or questions.
No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.
I also used to live in Del Ray, and I visited the site of the shootings today. An orange pole marks the spot where Representative Steve Scalise fell. The bullets that blasted into the YMCA landed in a pool where I spent many hours.
It’s hard to square all these calls for civility with the bullet holes and blood.
Now instead of just on yard signs in Alexandria, the calls for civility are coming from everywhere, with the loudest on the Democratic side of the aisle.
On the afternoon of the shooting, MSNBC and CNN played what amounted to a tape loop: “Chance to come together. Dial down the rhetoric. Civility, and more civility.”
How many times on June 15 did we hear that the shooting gives us a chance to start again?
Noble aspirations, of course.
So let’s give them one last chance to practice what they started preaching on June 15.
The civility can start the next time they talk about voter fraud.
Of course, the Left doesn’t believe voter fraud is a serious concern. Fine. But they go much further.
I’ll name names in a moment, but the left not only disputes the threat of voter fraud, but demonizes anyone who thinks it is a serious issue. And when I say demonize, I mean demonize.
Take my friend Hans von Spakovsky. It isn’t hard to find articles in purportedly credible left-of-center publications calling him a “vote-suppression guru” or even a Nazi.
The latter attack is particularly repugnant considering his family’s repeated history dealing with the Gestapo. Even the relatively milder charge of “vote-suppression guru” carries with it the connotation that Hans deliberately seeks to prevent eligible voters from voting, and that he teaches others to do the same.
All of this is not only uncivil, it’s defamatory.
The radical writer Ari Berman doesn’t hesitate to demonize anyone who talks about the problem of voter fraud. “Few people in the Republican Party have done more to limit voting rights than Hans von Spakovsky,” Berman writes in a breathless column in the The Nation designed to sabotage Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court – all because the justice said something nice about Hans.
Ari Berman didn’t see the signs in Del Ray either, it seems. And I doubt Berman will end the uncivil personal attacks on von Spakovsky before scorpions start giving rides to frogs.
It’s who Ari Berman is.
Perhaps critics of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will spread kindness and build community after June 15. Kobach is a co-chair of President Trump’s election fraud commission and has been a leading election integrity advocate for years.
Before June 15, to the left that meant Kobach was a Klansman. Before June 15, Kobach was “the most racist politician in America,” the King of Voter Suppression (by Amrit Cheng of the ACLU), shady, and a “hate group figure.” If that wasn’t enough, Kobach was the feature in a Vanity Fair piece headlined “Trump Team Outlines Plan to Turn America Into a Racist Police State.” Naturally, Vanity Fair portrayed Kobach as the architect of the "racist police state" blueprint.
Let’s see what they call von Spakovsky and Kobach after June 15.
Here’s my best guess: the same uncivil things they were called before June 15.
After all, by any means necessary, right? You can’t expect them to stop Rule Thirteening folks just because someone further along the crackpot continuum shot up a ball field and a couple of congressmen, can you?
Don’t expect genuine and civil debates about voter fraud, election integrity, or the very real threat of alien voting in our elections before June 15, or after June 15. Name calling is easier than substantive discussion.
Too bad. It would be a chance for Democrats and the #Resist Left to practice what they preach, even if they preached it for just one day.