Salon: 'Sociopathic' GOP Should Learn From 'Bigot' Scalise's 'Baptism By Fire'

In an article posted yesterday, Salon politics writer Chauncey DeVega trashed Republican Rep. Steve Scalise as a "bigot" and accused the Republican party of being a "sociopathic" entity that has "weaponized" the Scalise shooting and is "drunk on conspiracy theories and other hallucinogenic beliefs."

He also repeated the discredited claim that Scalise spoke to a "white supremacist" group in 2002, and even went so far as to claim that he was an "honored guest" for the racist group.

DeVega began his June 22 article, titled, "Steve Scalise is a Victim of Political Violence -- But That Does Nothing to Excuse His Hateful Politics," by recounting the shooting attack on Republican congressional members in Alexandria, noting that two Capitol Hill police officers heroically came to their defense.

Speaking of the two officers, the Salon political writer then continued:

David Bailey is a black man. Crystal Griner is a black lesbian. Steve Scalise is a white Republican man. He has also long been associated with racist movements and causes. As reported by Salon, in 2002 Scalise was an honored guest at a meeting of a white supremacist group founded by David Duke.

Not mentioned by DeVega is that even liberal outlets like Slate, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast have run stories that undermined claims that Scalise spoke to the white racist EURO organization that were based on three eyewitnesses, a promotion flyer for the conference, and a newsletter writeup after the event that did not mention Scalise's presence.

And, as the article noted that Scalise made a "tepid, obligatory apology for attending the conference," it did not note that the Republican admitted that he was actually not sure whether he spoke to the group -- as he recalled that he had spoken to many groups in the same hotel without always knowing exactly what they were about -- and may have just made the apology to cover his bases. It was not until later that evidence and testimony surfaced that he was not a part of the EURO event after all.

The Salon article then became more harsh as it continued:

Scalise is also a bigot who does not believe that lesbians and gays should have full rights and equal citizenship in America. As the Washington Blade recently reported, "Scalise has built over the course [of] his tenure in Congress since 2008 among the most anti-LGBT reputations of any lawmaker."

After recalling that the Republican congressman has a record of opposing liberal agenda items on gay rights, DeVega argued that it was appropriate to speak out against the Louisiana Republican in spite of his current suffering as he obnoxiously referred to his shooting injury as a "baptism by fire." DeVega:

And undoubtedly some observers would rather avoid the inconvenient facts about Scalise's personal politics, throwing them down the memory hole, as though his injuries and baptism by fire offer some type of absolution.

He then opined: "These objections are misguided."

A bit later, the political writer wondered if Scalise and Republicans would have a "grand epiphany" and change their ways as he claimed that "racism" and "bigotry" drive the Republican party's agenda:

As he recovers from his injuries, will Steve Scalise experience a grand epiphany about his beliefs and how they hurt people like David Bailey and Crystal Griner, as well as their families and their broader communities?

Will the Republican party and its leadership reflect on how David Bailey and Crystal Griner risked their lives to save Steve Scalise and his colleagues and reject the racism and other types of bigotry that drive their party's agenda?

He soon further descried conservatives as he added:

Modern conservatism is also extremely anti-intellectual. As a movement, today's version of American conservatism -- as well as the Republican party -- is divorced from reality and drunk on conspiracy theories and other hallucinogenic beliefs.

The Salon writer branded the GOP as "sociopathic" as he continued:

In addition, today's Republican party could be called sociopathic. American conservatism has become increasingly authoritarian and tribal. Consequently, it's followers have little if any sense of linked fate and sympathy with those they consider "the other," including people of color, gays and lesbians, the poor or Muslims.

DeVega then used the words "racist" and "bigot" again, and accused "white conservatives" of feeling an "animus" toward minorities:

Ultimately, this is not an after-school TV special from the 1980s where the racist or bigot realizes the error in his ways and becomes a changed person because a stranger came to his aid. Steve Scalise, like other white conservatives, may have affection for an individual black person or perhaps feel love for individual LGBT children and family members, while still maintaining deep animus and hostility toward both of these groups collectively.

After quoting President Donald Trump's recent declaration that "We are strongest when we are unified," the politics writer mocked the President as he added: "Those words should turn into ashes in his mouth."

The Salon writer then charged that Republicans had "weaponized" the Alexandria shooting as he concluded the article:

Given the politics of Trump and the Republican party, that "we" cannot possibly be read as including black people, immigrants and gays and lesbians. Trump's comments serve as a neat summary of how the American right wing is willing to weaponize the Alexandria shooting to serve its own narrow, divisive and dangerous goals.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Thursday, June 22, article from Salon:

David Bailey is a black man. Crystal Griner is a black lesbian.

Steve Scalise is a white Republican man. He has also long been associated with racist movements and causes. As reported by Salon, in 2002 Scalise was an honored guest at a meeting of a white supremacist group founded by David Duke. Scalise reportedly went so far as to describe himself as being like "David Duke, without the baggage." He eventually offered a tepid, obligatory apology for attending the conference.

Scalise is also a bigot who does not believe that lesbians and gays should have full rights and equal citizenship in America. As the Washington Blade recently reported, "Scalise has built over the course [of] his tenure in Congress since 2008 among the most anti-LGBT reputations of any lawmaker."

[quotes from the Washington Blade]

Some observers have argued that highlighting such facts is inappropriate, mean, untoward or overly insensitive behavior toward a man who is lying in a hospital bed, trying to recover from life-threatening injuries. Others say Scalise's voting record is irrelevant and the focus should instead be on healing the country's rancorous political atmosphere.

Many of these same voices, I would suggest, ignore how this situation has been caused almost exclusively by Donald Trump, the Republican party, and the right-wing media. And undoubtedly some observers would rather avoid the inconvenient facts about Scalise's personal politics, throwing them down the memory hole, as though his injuries and baptism by fire offer some type of absolution. 

These objections are misguided.

(...)    

As he recovers from his injuries, will Steve Scalise experience a grand epiphany about his beliefs and how they hurt people like David Bailey and Crystal Griner, as well as their families and their broader communities?

Will the Republican party and its leadership reflect on how David Bailey and Crystal Griner risked their lives to save Steve Scalise and his colleagues and reject the racism and other types of bigotry that drive their party's agenda?

The answer to both questions is most likely no.

Conservatives do not practice systems-level thinking. Modern conservatism is also extremely anti-intellectual. As a movement, today's version of American conservatism -- as well as the Republican party -- is divorced from reality and drunk on conspiracy theories and other hallucinogenic beliefs. This nurtures a willful blindness to how macro-level political decisions about public policy actually affect individual people on a day-to-day basis.

In addition, today's Republican party could be called sociopathic. American conservatism has become increasingly authoritarian and tribal. Consequently, it's followers have little if any sense of linked fate and sympathy with those they consider "the other," including people of color, gays and lesbians, the poor or Muslims.

Ultimately, this is not an after-school TV special from the 1980s where the racist or bigot realizes the error in his ways and becomes a changed person because a stranger came to his aid. Steve Scalise, like other white conservatives, may have affection for an individual black person or perhaps feel love for individual LGBT children and family members, while still maintaining deep animus and hostility toward both of these groups collectively.

After the shooting in Alexandria, President Donald Trump issued a statement where he proclaimed, "We are strongest when we are unified." Those words should turn into ashes in his mouth.

Given the politics of Trump and the Republican party, that "we" cannot possibly be read as including black people, immigrants and gays and lesbians. Trump's comments serve as a neat summary of how the American right wing is willing to weaponize the Alexandria shooting to serve its own narrow, divisive and dangerous goals.

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