There is rarely a shortage of issues to write about in Arlington, or Virginia more broadly. But today, none of them seemed appropriate.
I have worked on Capitol Hill for most of the past two decades where members of Congress and staff are generally able to work together in a civil manner across party lines.
We care about our community. And we greatly appreciate that our ongoing safety and security is owed to the Capitol Police officers who are prepared to run into the line of fire. Speaker Paul Ryan rightly said yesterday something that cannot be understated, “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
Sadly, yesterday’s shooting is not the first attack directed at our community during my time here. In 1998, Capitol Police officers Jacob Chesnut and John Gibson were shot and killed while protecting Members of Congress, their staff and visitors in the Capitol building.
On September 11, 2001 as the Pentagon was already on fire, United Flight 93 was almost certainly headed toward the Capitol before being taken down by heroic passengers.
In October of 2001, deadly anthrax was mailed to Congressional offices.
In 2011, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot while hosting a public event in Tucson, Ariz.
And then yesterday, there was an attempted massacre on a baseball field in Alexandria as Republican Members of Congress were preparing to play a game that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity.
Those of us who work here are thankful for the Capitol Police officers who stepped into the line of fire to stop the attack, and we are praying for the injured, all the while knowing “there but for the grace of God, go I.” This was exemplified by the prayers of the Democratic baseball team practicing on another field immediately upon hearing the news.
Many want to immediately assign blame on the means used to carry out this attack, on political rhetoric, or on people other than the shooter. It is a natural reaction to immediately look for an explanation of why someone would ever consider using a bomb, gun, knife, or even a vehicle driving down a sidewalk to kill fellow human beings.
But this act was pure evil carried about by a madman, and it cannot ever fully be explained to those of us who believe that every human life is precious. Today, it must simply be condemned.
As we move forward with time for proper reflection, we can consider what causes such attacks to take place: the tone of our politics; the anger fomented on social media; the threat from radical groups; and the state of our mental health care system. And if we can do that without attempting to score political points, we may actually make progress toward healing in our nation.