Shooting broke out amid partisan rancor

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

You are a dead man.

Liberal, globalist CUCK! You piece of (expletive). Looser. I did not misspell the word. Many people have called me looser on Twitter, instead of loser.

These were some of the minor insults and threats sent my way for a political decision I made a few months ago. I was a Republican member of the Electoral College who declined to vote for Donald Trump. Insults do not bother me, but as we saw this week, threats and angry rhetoric can turn into action.

In Virginia on Wednesday an assailant shot at members of Congress and their staff during a baseball practice, wounding five people. James T. Hodgkinson, the gunman who died after the shootout, had been posting angry rhetoric against President Trump on Facebook.

Last month, a man shouting anti-Muslim slurs attempted to attack two Muslim women on a commuter train in Portland, Ore. He stabbed three men who were trying to intervene, killing two of them. The women had not spoken to the killer.

In another incident that some are calling a lynching, a white man in Maryland killed a member of our armed forces because of the color of his skin.

These acts of violence are indefensible. Period.

And Kathy Griffin’s violent photo of a mock beheading of the president was wrong too, even though the violence was pretend. All of these have no place in civil society.

For some though, jersey color seems to block their vision. Many of us seem more interested in the political viewpoints of the assailants than in the violence.

In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s shooting, which left Rep. Steve Scalise in critical condition, Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King said, “The violence is appearing in the streets, and it’s coming from the left.” But earlier this month, King’s Democratic opponent in his race for re-election, Kim Weaver, dropped out because she had received death threats and she feared for her safety.

Some members of Congress are urging each other to carry guns for protection. Given how few can shoot straight with their words, I worry about their handling of firearms.

Their collective silence was egregious after a right-wing vigilante commandeered the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant with an assault rifle because of fake news reports linking Hillary Clinton to an alleged child sex ring operating in the basement.

Here in Dallas, people attacked me for my political decision, gaining ammunition from similar fake news purveyors. In at least once case, the fake news was spread by a local news outlet.

Trump likes to complain about CNN or The New York Times as fake news. There is no question journalists get it wrong from time to time, and some fail to correct their mistakes.

But fake news has metastasized. Many of us find our own echo chambers to repeat the voices we are comfortable hearing. Then fake news reinforces our own opinion biases, and some people no longer care about facts. For a few, the echo chamber augments the voices in their heads that they shouldn’t listen to at all.

When I was an elector, I worked hard to inform myself and to make the best decision I could on behalf of those I represented. I do not regret it, despite the abuse. I am not in Washington, and the East and West Coasts are many hours away; I am hardly an elite, as many have accused me of being. Part of me wishes I really could get money from George Soros, as some have wrongly speculated. But those were false rumors among people who didn’t want a conversation. They wanted to scream.

If you think representatives aren’t listening maybe try listen yourself. Arguments do matter. Facts still matter. To whom do you listen? If the only voice you listen to is your own viewpoint, you will get it wrong. If you are more interested in which team is saying something, you will get it wrong.

The echo chamber on both sides has been strong the past several election cycles, and it’s time for the petty complaints, the anger and the threats to go away. They do not serve a republic like ours. They only diminish the greatness of America.

Christopher Suprun is the Texas presidential elector who would not cast his ballot for Donald Trump. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.