Does VA Shooting Signal Growing Violence From ‘Emergent Hard Left’?

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The Virginia shooting targeting Republican lawmakers highlights a trend terrorism experts have been monitoring: the ramping up of violence committed by the left, the Kansas City Star reports. “This is something we’re very concerned about,” said Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino. “The violence is not indigenous to just one side of the political spectrum. While other entities are farther along, this emergent hard left has coalesced. And we can’t just ignore it.” The Belleville News-Democrat reported that shooter James Hodgkinson belonged to anti-Republican groups on Facebook. Among them: “The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans,” “Donald Trump is not my President” and “Terminate the Republican Party.”

Hodgkinson had volunteered on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. The Vermont senator said he was “sickened by this despicable act.” In California alone, there have been 20 cases since 2015 of violent public confrontations on political issues, including meetings involving members of Congress. Levin said, “There’s now a splintering of a violent left which buys into the rhetoric of violence, public displays of violence and confrontations, and conspiracy theories.” Social media has amplified the acceptance of violence. “We even have academics saying that violence is justified as resistance,” Levin said. Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism described the shooting as “left-oriented terrorism.” Pitcavage warned law enforcement executives this month of “increased activity from people on the left who are very angry about the Trump administration,” adding that, ‘There’s a real chance for increased violence coming from the left.’ But little did I know that my prediction would be confirmed so quickly and in such a shocking way.”

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