The Demented - and Selective - Game of Instantly Blaming Political Opponents For Mass Shootings
All ideologies spawn psychopaths who kill innocents in its name. Yet only some are blamed for their violent adherents: by opportunists cravenly exploiting corpses while they still lie on the ground.
At a softball field in a Washington, DC suburb on June 14, 2017, a lone gunman used a rifle to indiscriminately spray bullets at members of the House GOP who had gathered for their usual Saturday morning practice for an upcoming charity game. The then-House Majority Whip, Rep. Steven Scalise (R-LA), was shot in the hip while standing on second base and almost died, spending six weeks in the hospital and undergoing multiple surgeries. Four other people were shot, including two members of the Capitol Police who were part of Scalise's security detail, a GOP staffer, and a Tyson Foods lobbyist. “He was hunting us at that point,” Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) said of the shooter, who attempted to murder as many people as he could while standing with his rifle behind the dugout.
The shooter died after engaging the police in a shootout. He was James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old hard-core Democrat who — less than six months into the Trump presidency — had sought to kill GOP lawmakers based on his belief that Republicans were corrupt traitors, fascists, and Kremlin agents. The writings he left behind permitted little doubt that he was driven to kill by the relentless messaging he heard from his favorite cable host, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and other virulently anti-Trump pundits, about the evils of the GOP. Indeed, immediately after arriving at the softball field, he asked several witnesses whether the people gathered "were Republicans or Democrats.”
A CNN examination of his life revealed that “Hodgkinson's online presence was largely defined by his politics.” In particular, “his public Facebook posts date back to 2012 and are nearly all about his support for liberal politics.” He was particularly "passionate about tax hikes on the rich and universal health care.” NBC News explained that “when he got angry about politics, it was often directed against Republicans,” and acknowledged that “Hodgkinson said his favorite TV program was 'The Rachel Maddow Show' on MSNBC.”
Indeed, his media diet was a non-stop barrage of vehement animosity toward Republicans: "His favorite television shows were listed as 'Real Time with Bill Maher;' 'The Rachel Maddow Show;' 'Democracy Now!’ and other left-leaning programs.” On the Senate floor, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) divulged that Hodgkinson was an ardent supporter of his and had even “apparently volunteered” for his campaign. A Sanders supporter told The Washington Post that “he campaigned for Bernie Sanders with Hodgkinson in Iowa.”
The mass-shooter had a particular fondness for Maddow's nightly MSNBC show. In his many Letters to the Editor sent to the Belleville News-Democrat, reported New York Magazine, he “expressed support for President Obama, and declared his love for The Rachel Maddow Show". In one letter he heralded Maddow's nightly program as "one of my favorite TV shows.”
While consuming this strident and increasingly rage-driven Trump-era, anti-GOP media diet, Hodgkinson “joined several anti-GOP Facebook groups, including ‘Terminate The Republican Party’; 'The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans’;, and 'Join The Resistance Worldwide!!'" Two of his consuming beliefs were that Trump-era Republicans were traitors to the United States and fascist white nationalists. In 2015, he had posted a cartoon depicting Scalise — the man he came very close to murdering — as speaking at a gathering of the KKK.
Once Trump was inaugurated in early 2017, the mass shooter's online messaging began increasingly mirroring the more extreme anti-Trump and anti-GOP voices that did not just condemn the GOP's ideology but depicted them as grave threats to the Republic. In a March 22 Facebook post, Hodgkinson wrote: “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co." In February, he posted: “Republicans are the Taliban of the USA.” In one Facebook post just days before his shooting spree, Hodgkinson wrote: “I Want to Say Mr. President, for being an ass hole you are Truly the Biggest Ass Hole We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office.” As NBC News put it: “Hodgkinson’s Facebook postings portray him as stridently anti-Republican and anti-Trump.”
Despite the fact that Hodgkinson was a fanatical fan of Maddow, Democracy Now host Amy Goodman, and Sanders, that the ideas and ideology motivating his shooting spree perfectly matched — and were likely shaped by — liberals of that cohort, and that the enemies whom he sought to kill were also the enemies of Maddow and her liberal comrades, nobody rational or decent sought to blame the MSNBC host, the Vermont Senator or anyone else whose political views matched Hodgkinson's for the grotesque violence he unleashed. The reason for that is clear and indisputable: as strident and extremist as she is, Maddow has never once encouraged any of her followers to engage in violence to advance her ideology, nor has she even hinted that a mass murder of the Republican traitors, fascists and Kremlin agents about whom she rants on a nightly basis to millions of people is a just solution.
It would be madness to try to assign moral or political blame to them. If we were to create a framework in which prominent people were held responsible for any violence carried out in the name of an ideology they advocate, then nobody would be safe, given that all ideologies have their misfits, psychopaths, unhinged personality types, and extremists. And thus there was little to no attempt to hold Maddow or Sanders responsible for the violent acts of one of their most loyal adherents.
The same is true of the spate of mass shootings and killings by self-described black nationalists over the last several years. Back in 2017, the left-wing group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) warned of the “Return of the Violent Black Nationalist.” In one incident, “Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed Dallas police officers during a peaceful protest against police brutality, killing five officers and wounding nine others.” Then, “ten days later, Gavin Eugene Long shot six officers, killing three, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.” They shared the same ideology, one which drove their murderous spree:
Both Johnson and Long were reportedly motivated by their strong dislike of law enforcement, grievances against perceived white dominance, and the recent fatal police shootings of unarmed black men under questionable circumstances, specifically the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota . . .
Needless to say, the ideas that motivated these two black nationalists to murder multiple people, including police officers, is part of a core ideology that is commonly heard in mainstream media venues, expressed by many if not most of the nation's most prominent liberals. Depicting the police as a white supremacist force eager to kill black people, “grievances against perceived white dominance,” and anger over “the white supremacism endemic in America’s system of governance from the country’s founding” are views that one routinely hears on MSNBC, CNN, from Democratic Party politicians, and in the op-ed pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Yet virtually nobody sought to blame Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Jamelle Bouie or New York Times op-ed writers for these shooting sprees. Indeed, no blame was assigned to anti-police liberal pundits whose view of American history is exactly the same as that of these two killers — even though they purposely sought to murder the same enemies whom those prominent liberals target. Nobody blamed those anti-police liberals for the same reason they did not blame Maddow and Sanders for Hodgkinson's shooting spree: there is a fundamental and necessary distinction between people who use words to express ideas and demonize perceived enemies, and those who decide to go randomly and indiscriminately murder in the name of that ideology.
Since that 2017 warning from the SPLC, there have been many more murders in the name of this anti-police and anti-white-supremacist ideology of black nationalism. In June of last year, the ADL said it had “linked Othal Toreyanne Resheen Wallace, the man arrested and accused of fatally shooting Daytona Beach Officer Jason Raynor on June 23, to several extremist groups preaching Black nationalism." He had “participated in several events organized by the NFAC…best known for holding armed marches protesting racial inequality and police brutality.” He had a long history of citing and following prominent radical Black anti-police and anti-White ideologues." Also in June of last year, a 25-year-old man named Noah Green drove a car into a Capitol Hill Police Officer, killing him instantly. The New York Times reported that he follows black nationalist groups, while a former college teammate “recalled that Mr. Green would often talk to fellow players about strategies to save and invest, emphasizing the need to close the wealth gap between white and Black America.”
Just last month, a self-identified black nationalist named Frank James went on a terrifying shooting spree in the New York City subway system that injured dozens. He had “posted material on social media linked to black identity extremist ideologies, including the Nation of Islam, Black Panthers, Black Liberation Army, BLM and an image of black nationalist cop-killer Micah Johnson.” Angie Speaks, the brilliant writer who voices the audio version of the articles for this Substack, reported in Newsweek that James had “posted prolifically on social media and hosted a YouTube channel where he expressed Black Nationalist leanings and racial grievances." In 2019, The New York Times reported that “an assailant involved in the prolonged firefight in Jersey City, N.J., that left six people dead, including one police officer, was linked on Wednesday to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement,” and had written “anti-police posts.”
Most media outlets and liberal politicians correctly refused to assign blame to pundits and politicians who spew anti-police rhetoric, or who insist that the U.S. is a nation of white supremacy: the animating ideas of these murders. Yet in these cases, they go much further with their denialism: many deny that this ideology even exists at all.
“The made-up 'Black Identity Extremist' label is the latest example in a history of harassing and discrediting Black activists who dare to use their voices to call out white supremacy,” claimed the ACLU in 2019. PBS quoted a lawyer for an advocacy group as saying: “We're deeply concerned about the FBI's 'black identity extremist' designation. This is mere distraction from the very real threat of white supremacy...There is no such thing as black identity extremism.” The same year, The Intercept published an article headlined “The Strange Tale of the FBI’s Fictional ‘Black Identity Extremism' Movement,” which claimed over and over that there is no such thing as black extremism and that any attempt to ascribe violence to this ideology is a lie invented by those seeking to hide the dangers of white supremacy.
It is virtually impossible to find any ideology on any part of the political spectrum that has not spawned senseless violence and mass murder by adherents. “The suspected killer of Dutch maverick politician Pim Fortuyn had environmentalist propaganda and ammunition at his home,” reported CBS News about the assassin, Volkert van der Graaf. Van der Graaf was a passionate animal rights and environmental activist who admitted “he killed the controversial right-wing leader because he considered him a danger to society.” Van der Graaf was particularly angry about what he believed was Fortuyn's anti-Muslim rhetoric. As a result, “some supporters of Fortuyn had blamed Green party leader Paul Rosenmoeller for "demonizing Fortuyn before he was gunned down in May just before general elections.” In other words, simply because the Green Party leader was highly critical of Fortuyn's ideology, some opportunistic Dutch politicians sought absurdly to blame him for Fortuyn's murder by Van der Graaf. Sound familiar?
During the BLM and Antifa protests and riots of 2020, an Antifa supporter, Michael Reinoehl, was the leading suspect in the murder of a Trump supporter, Aaron J. Danielson, as he rode in a truck (Reinoehl himself was then killed by federal agents before being arrested in what appeared to be a deliberate extra-judicial execution, though an investigation cleared them of wrongdoing, as typically happens when federal agents are involved). In 2016, The New York Times reported that “the heavily armed sniper who gunned down police officers in downtown Dallas, leaving five of them dead, specifically set out to kill as many white officers as he could, officials said Friday.” The Paper of Record noted that many believed that anti-police protests would eventually lead to violent attacks on police officers: it “was the kind of retaliatory violence that people have feared through two years of protests around the country against deaths in police custody.”
Then there are the murders carried out in the name of various religions. For the last three decades at least, debates have been raging about what level of responsibility, if any, should be assigned to radical Muslim preachers or Muslim politicians when individuals carry out atrocities and murders in the name of Islam. Liberals insist — correctly, in my view — that it is irresponsible and unfair to blame non-violent Muslims who preach radical versions of religious or political Islam for those who carry out violence in the name of those doctrines. Similar debates are heard with regard to Jewish extremists, such as the Israeli-American doctor Baruch Goldstein who “opened fire in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, killing 29 Muslim worshippers.” Many insist that the radical anti-Muslim speech of Israeli extremists is to blame, while others deny that there is any such thing as “Jewish terrorism” and that all blames lies solely with the individual who decided to resort to violence.
To be sure, there have been a large number of murders and other atrocities carried out in U.S. and the West generally in the name of right-wing ideologies, in the name of white supremacy, in the name of white nationalism. The difference, though, is glaring: when murders are carried out in the name of liberal ideology, there is a rational and restrained refusal to blame liberal pundits and politicians who advocate the ideology that animated those killings. Yet when killings are carried out in the name of right-wing ideologies despised by the corporate press and mainstream pundits (or ideologies that they falsely associate with conservatism), they instantly leap to lay blame at the feet of their conservative political opponents who, despite never having advocated or even implied the need for violence, are nonetheless accused of bearing guilt for the violence — often before anything is known about the killers or their motives.
In general, it is widely understood that liberal pundits and politicians are not to blame, at all, when murders are carried out in the name of the causes they support or against the enemies they routinely condemn. That is because, in such cases, we apply the rational framework that someone who does not advocate violence is not responsible for the violent acts of one's followers and fans who kill in the name of that person's ideas.
Indeed, this perfectly sensible principle was enshrined by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 1982 unanimous free speech ruling in Claiborne v. NAACP. That case arose out of efforts by the State of Mississippi to hold leaders of the local NAACP chapter legally liable for violence carried out by NAACP members on the ground that the leaders’ inflammatory and rage-driven speeches had “incited” and “provoked” their followers to burn white-owned stores and other stores ignoring their boycott to the ground. In ruling in favor of the NAACP, the Court stressed the crucial difference between those who peacefully advocate ideas and ideologies, even if they do so with virulence and anger (such as NAACP leaders), and those who are “inspired” by those speeches to commit violence to advance that cause. “To impose liability without a finding that the NAACP authorized — either actually or apparently — or ratified unlawful conduct would impermissibly burden the rights of political association that are protected by the First Amendment,” ruled the Court.
This principle is not only a jurisprudential or constitutional one. It is also a rational one. Those who express ideas without advocating violence are not and cannot fairly be held responsible for those who decide to pick up arms in the name of those ideas, even if — as in the case of James Hodgkinson — we know for certain that the murderer listened closely to and was influenced by people like Rachel Maddow and Bernie Sanders. In such cases, we understand that it is madness, and deeply unfair, to exploit heinous murders to lay blame for the violence and killings on the doorsteps of our political adversaries.
But when a revolting murder spree is carried out in the name of right-wing ideas (or ideas perceived by the corporate press to be right-wing), everything changes — instantly and completely. In such cases, often before anything is known about the murderer — indeed, literally before the corpses are even removed from the ground where they lie — there is a coordinated effort to declare that anyone who holds any views in common with the murderer has “blood on their hands” and is essentially a co-conspirator in the massacre.
A very vivid and particularly gruesome display of this demented game was on display on Saturday night after a white 18-year-old, Payton Gendron, purposely targeted a part of Buffalo with a substantial black population. He entered a supermarket he knew was frequented largely by black customers and shot everyone he found, killing 10 people, most of them black. A lengthy, 180-page manifesto he left behind was filled with a wide variety of eclectic political views and ideologies.
In that manifesto, Gendron described himself as a "left-wing authoritarian” and “populist” (“On the political compass I fall in the mild-moderate authoritarian left category, and I would prefer to be called a populist”). He heaped praise on an article in the socialist magazine Jacobin for its view that cryptocurrency and Bitcoin are fraudulent scams. He spoke passionately of the centrality and necessity of environmentalism, and lamented that “the state [has] long since heavily lost to its corporate backers.” He ranted against “corporate profits and the ever increasing wealth of the 1% that exploit the people for their own benefit.” And he not only vehemently rejected any admiration for political conservatism but made clear that he viewed it as an enemy to his agenda: “conservatism is corporatism in disguise, I want no part of it.”
But by far the overarching and dominant theme of his worldview — the ideology that he repeatedly emphasized was the animating cause of his murder spree — was his anger and fear that white people, which he defines as those of European descent, were being eradicated by a combination of low birth rates and mass immigration. He repeatedly self-identified as a "racist” and expressed admiration for fascism as a solution. His treatise borrowed heavily from, and at times outright plagiarized, large sections of the manifesto left behind by Brenton Tarrant, the 29-year-old Australian who in 2019 murdered 51 people, mostly Muslims, at two mosques in New Zealand. Gendron's manifesto included a long list of websites and individuals who influenced his thinking, but made clear that it was Tarrant who was his primary inspiration. Other than extensive anti-Semitic sections which insisted that Jews are behind most of the world's powerful institutions and accompanying problems, it was Tarrant's deep concern about what he perceived is the disappearance of white people that was also Gendron's principal cause:
If there’s one thing I want you to get from these writings, it’s that White birth rates must change. Everyday the White population becomes fewer in number. To maintain a population the people must achieve a birth rate that reaches replacement fertility levels, in the western world that is about 2.06 births per woman….
In 2050, despite the ongoing effect of sub-replacement fertility, the population figures show that the population does not decrease inline with the sub-replacement fertility levels, but actually maintains and, even in many White nations, rapidly increases. All through immigration. This is ethnic replacement. This is cultural replacement. This is racial replacement. This is WHITE GENOCIDE.
Within literally an hour of the news of this murder spree in Buffalo — far too little time for anyone to have even carefully read all or most of Gendron's manifesto, and with very little known about his life or activities — much of the corporate press and liberal pundit class united to reveal the real culprit, the actual guilty party, behind this murder spree: Fox News host Tucker Carlson. So immediate and unified was this guilty verdict of mob justice that Carlson's name trended all night on Twitter along with Buffalo and Gendron.
The examples of liberal pundits instantly blaming Carlson for this murder are far too numerous to comprehensively cite. “Literally everyone warned Fox News and Tucker Carlson that this would happen and they fucking laughed and went harder,” decreed Andrew Lawrence of the incomparably sleazy and dishonest group Media Matters, spawned by ultimate sleaze-merchant David Brock. “The Buffalo shooter… subscribed to the Great Replacement theory touted by conservative elites like Tucker Carlson and believed by nearly half of GOP voters,” claimed The Washington Post's Emmanuel Felton. “See if you can tell the difference between [Gerdon's manifesto on 'white Replacement’] and standard fare on the Tucker Carlson show,” said Georgetown Professor Don Moynihan. “The racist massacre in Buffalo rest [sic] at the feet of Donald Trump, Tucker Carlson, and the GOP,” decreed Hollywood's nepotism prince Rob Reiner. The shooter was inspired by “a white nationalist conspiracy theory that Tucker Carlson has defended on his show,” was the verdict of The Huffington Post's Philip Lewis less than six hours after the shooting spree began. And on and on.
That Carlson was primarily responsible for the ten dead people in Buffalo was asserted despite the fact that there was no indication that Gendron even knew who Carlson was, that he had ever watched his show, that he was influenced by him in any way, or that he admired or even liked the Fox host. Indeed, in the long list of people and places which Gendron cited as important influences on him — “Brenton Tarrant, [El Paso shooter] Patrick Crusius, [California Jewish community center killer], John Earnest, [Norwegian mass murderer] Anders Breivik, [Charleston black church murderer] Dylann Roof, etc.” — nowhere does he even allude to let alone mention any Fox News host or Carlson.
To the contrary, Gendron explicitly describes his contempt for political conservatism. In a section entitled “CONSERVATISM IS DEAD, THANK GOD,” he wrote: "Not a thing has been conserved other than corporate profits and the ever increasing wealth of the 1% that exploit the people for their own benefit. Conservatism is dead. Thank god. Now let us bury it and move on to something of worth.” In this hated of conservatism, he copied his hero Brenton Tarrant, who also wrote that “conservatism is corporatism in disguise, I want no part of it,” adding about conservatives:
They don’t even BELIEVE in the race, they don’t even have the gall to say race exists. And above all they don’t even care if it does. It’s profit, and profit alone that drives them, all else is secondary. The notion of a racial future or destiny is as foreign to them as social responsibilities.
So desperate and uncontrolled was this ghoulish attempt to blame Carlson for the Buffalo shootings that my email inbox and social media feeds were festering with various liberal pundits demanding to know why I had not yet manifested my views of this shooting — as though it is advisable or even possible to formulate definitive opinions about a complex mass murder spree that had just taken place less than five hours before. “Still working on your talking points to defend your buddy Tucker or are you holding off on trying out your deflections until the bodies get cold?,” wrote a pundit named Jonathan Katz at 6:46 pm ET on Saturday night in a highly representative demand — just four hours after the shooter fired his first shot. Demands to assert definitive opinions about who — other than the killer — is to blame for a mass murder spree just hours after it happened can be called many things; "journalistic” and "responsible” are not among them.
As it happened, I was on an overnight international flight on Saturday and into Sunday morning; I deeply apologize for my failure to monitor and speak on Twitter twenty-four hours a day. But even if I had not been 40,000 feet in the air, what kind of primitive and despicably opportunistic mindset is required not only to opine so definitively about how your political opponents are guilty of a heinous crime before the corpses are even taken away, but to demand that everyone else do so as well? In fact, Katz was particularly adamant that I opine not just on the killings but on the list of pundits I thought should be declared guilty before, in his soulless words, “the bodies get cold” — meaning that I must speak out without bothering to take the time to try to understand the basic facts about the killer and the shootings before heaping blame on a wide range of people who had no apparent involvement.
But this is exactly the morally sick and exploitative liberal mentality that drives the discourse each time one of these shooting sprees happen. Rachel Maddow had far more known connections to Scalise's shooter James Hodgkinson than Carlson has to Gendron. After all, as Maddow herself acknowledged, Hodgkinson was a fan of her show and had expressed his love and admiration for her. His animating views and ideology tracked hers perfectly, with essentially no deviation. And yet — despite this ample evidence that he was influenced by her — it would never occur to me to blame Maddow for Hodgkinson's shooting spree because doing so would be completely demented, since Maddow never told or suggested to anyone that they go out and shoot the political enemies she was depicting as traitors, Kremlin agents, plotters to overthrow American democracy and replace it with a fascist dictatorship, and grave menaces to civil rights and basic freedom.
The attempt to blame Carlson for the Buffalo shootings depended entirely on one claim: Carlson has previously talked about and defended the view that immigration is a scheme to “replace” Americans, and this same view was central to Gendron's ideology. Again, even if this were true, it would amount to nothing more than a claim than the shooter shared key views with Carlson and other conservative pundits — exactly as Hodgkinson shared core views with Maddow and Sanders, or the numerous murderers who killed in the name of black nationalism shared the same views on the police and American history as any number of MSNBC hosts and Democratic Party politicians, or as Pim Fortuyn's killer shared core views with animal rights activists and defenders of Muslim equality (including me). But nobody is willing to apply such a framework consistently because it converts everyone with strong political views into murderers, or at least being guilty of inciting murder.
But all bets are off — all such principles or moral and logical reasoning are dispensed with — when an act of violence can be pinned on the political enemies of liberals. If a homicidal maniac kills an abortion doctor, then all peaceful pro-life activists are blamed. If an LGBT citizen is killed, then anyone who shares the views that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had until 2012 about marriage equality is blamed. If a police officer unjustifiably kills a black citizen, all police supporters or those who dissent from liberal orthodoxy on racial politics are decreed guilty. But liberals are never at fault when right-wing politicians are murdered, or police officers are hunted and gunned down by police opponents, or an anti-abortion group is targeted with firebombing and arson, as just happened in Wisconsin, or radical Muslims engage in random acts of violence. By definition, "moral reasoning" that is applied only in one direction has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with crass, exploitative opportunism.
Though it does not actually matter for purposes of assigning blame, it is utterly false to claim that Carlson's ideology — including on “replacement” — is the same as or even related to the views expressed by the killers in Buffalo or New Zealand. Indeed, in key respects, they are opposites. Both Tarrant and Gendron targeted citizens of the countries in which they carried out their murder spree. They justified doing so on the ground that any non-white citizen is automatically an "invader," regardless of how long they have been in the country or how much legal status they have. “It would have eased me if I knew all the blacks I would be killing were criminals or future criminals, but then I realized all black people are replacers just by existing in White countries,” Gendron wrote.
To claim that Carlson ever said anything remotely like this or believes it is just an outright lie. Indeed, with great frequency, Carlson says that the priority of the U.S. Government should be protection of and concern for American citizens of all races. Tarrant and Gendron believe and explicitly say that any non-white citizen of a European country is automatically an “invader” who must be killed and/or deported to turn the country all-white. Carlson believes the exact opposite: that the proper citizenry of the United States is multi-racial and that Black Americans and Latin Americans and Asian-Americans are every bit as much U.S. citizens, with all of the same claims to rights and protections, as every other American citizen. His anti-immigration and "replacement” argument is aimed at the idea — one that had been long mainstream on the left until about a decade ago — that large, uncontrolled immigration harms American citizens who are already here. There is no racial hierarchy in Carlson's view of American citizenship and to claim that there is is nothing short of a defamatory lie.
But even if these liberal smear artists were telling the truth, and Carlson's view of immigration and “replacement” were similar or even precisely identical to Gendron's, one could certainly say that Carlson holds immoral and despicable views. But he would still no more carry blame for the Buffalo murders than liberal pundits have blood on their hands for countless massacres carried out in the name of political causes they support and theories they espouse, whether it be animus toward the police or anti-imperialism or opposition to Israeli occupation of the West Bank or the belief that the United States is a fundamentally racist country or the view that the GOP is a fascist menace to all things decent.
The distinction between peaceful advocacy even of noxious ideas and those who engage in violence in the name of such ideas is fundamental to notions of fairness, justice and the ability to speak freely. But if you really want to claim that a public figure has "blood on their hands" every time someone murders in the name of ideas and ideologies they support, then the list of people you should be accusing of murder is a very, very long one indeed.
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