Several GOP members of Congress who were targeted last week in a horrific act of gun violence at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia agree that if not for the Capitol Police, who stopped the gunman (who later died from gunshot wounds), many among them and their aides might be dead.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La), the House Majority Whip, was critically wounded and, thankfully, his condition has been upgraded from critical to serious, as he continues to recover.
This was an outrageous attack by an angry, disturbed man whose motives appear to be political ― and political violence is always unacceptable. And it was yet another in a long list of mass shootings in a nation in which it’s too easy to get weapons that can inflict massive damage.
“Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told MSNBC, regarding the heroism of the Capitol Police.
Special Agent Crystal Griner took a bullet in the ankle, and her partner, Special Agent David Bailey, also was shot. Both are expected to fully recover.
After we learned more about the officers, including the fact that Griner is an African-American woman who is married to a woman, actress Martha Plimpton was among many who took note, with comment.
The voting record Plimpton pointed to is one that is brutally hostile toward LGBTQ people, African-Americans, women and civil rights in general. Scalise voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act; co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman; voted against including LGBTQ people in hate crimes protections; co-sponsored a bill to have states’ definition of marriage supersede a federal definition and, well, the list goes on and on.
Scalise, who, in 2014, had to defend himself against links to a David Duke-founded group ― he said he didn’t recall giving a speech at the white supremacist European-American Unity and Rights Organization conference in 2002, called it a “mistake” and said he regretted it ― like much of the GOP, has voted for bills that would harm the poor and disenfranchised and, disproportionately, African-Americans.
It understandably caught my eye then when Pat Robertson’s virulently anti-LGBTQ Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) sent out a tweet highlighting a quote from Michigan GOP congressman Steve Bishop: “The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God...”
I felt I had to correct the record.
“If God saved the members of Congress, then God is a black lesbian ― or is working through her.”
And that of course led to the responses from the right I received, like those that many others received who had made a similar point ― such as Martha Plimpton, George Takei and MSNBC’s Joy Reid ― that it doesn’t matter that Griner is married to a woman or is black, and that we were “obsessing” over her sexual orientation and politicizing a tragedy.
But it’s not only Scalise’s own voting record, which demonizes and jeopardizes the rights of people like Crystal Griner, American heroes, that warrants pointing out some basic facts about an officer who saved him. It’s the ugly hypocrisy of religious conservatives like those at CBN, a platform for Robertson, who has said the most grotesque and defamatory things about LGBTQ people imaginable, that is astounding.
They rush to thank “God” in a tweet and ignore the fact that a woman who, according to Robertson’s and his network’s own beliefs and pronouncements, is among those in our society who are evil and destined to hell and damnation (attacks that harm LGBTQ children every day) helped save the day. And that makes it important to focus on these truths.
If God saved the members of Congress, then God is a Black queer woman ― or is working through her. And they need to know that.
Follow Michelangelo Signorile on Twitter: www.twitter.com/msignorile