There’s nothing like a tragedy to bring out the worst in people. For the most part, the minutes and hours following the news that a shooter had opened fire on the Fort Hood military base in Texas were flooded with outpourings of prayers and well-wishes amid the updates on victims and the shooter’s identity. But it didn’t take long for nastiness to seep through the solidarity.
Pat Dollard delivered one of the first, and arguably the most offensive, reactions to news of the shooting shortly after it broke. Following a few tweets on the developing situation at Fort Hood, the Hollywood agent-turned-war correspondent-turned-Breitbart contributor and conservative pundit brought this ugliness into the Twitterverse:
Dollard’s comment received a considerable backlash almost immediately, though, sickeningly, it also got plenty of favorites, too. Once Mediaite Editor in Chief Andrew Kirell called out Dollard’s tweet as “worst possible reaction from the cesspool that is Twitter,” Dollard tried to distance himself (kind of). He tweeted:
despite having just been tweeting updates about the shooting moments earlier. Still, Dollard didn’t delete the tweet or make any effort to clarify it, so does it really matter why he wrote it?
Runner-up for worst reaction ever is that of Allen West, who appeared to be looking for any reason—logic notwithstanding—to pin responsibility for the shooting on President Obama. Despite Fort Hood officials stating that they did not believe the shooting was related to terrorism, Fox News’s Sean Hannity asked West Wednesday night to consider the “big picture of combatting evil in our time,” wondering whether “we’ve gotten too far away from 9/11 that we don’t remember the impact of that day.”
Sure, that’s part of it, West, a former U.S. representative and current conservative talking head, replied. But also, “We have a civilian leadership that does not want to recognize that an enemy exists,” he said. “If you look at what’s happening in the Crimea, when the president says that Vladimir Putin is operating from a position of weakness. So, if you don’t want to admit that there’s evil, if you don’t want to admit that there is an enemy, then you don’t have the right type of security protocols in place.”
Obviously, it was only a matter of time before the breaking news subsided and the gun-control debate reignited. Wednesday night, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, took to Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show to call for concealed-carry on military bases.
“This is the deal, Megyn. Al Qaeda and terrorists and jihadists are targeting our military bases. That is a fact,” McCaul said. Reminder: The only official statement at this point regarding the shooting ties to terrorism was that there probably were none. Still, McCaul, went on, “And if they are trained in warfare, they can carry weapons in warfare, it seems to me that there is some logic to allowing them to carry weapons on a military base where they can defend themselves.”
Soon-to-be-former Rep. Steve Stockman echoed his fellow Texan’s sentiments, blaming the ban on guns at military bases for the violence that occurred Wednesday.
“Only the most out-of-touch radical would try to disarm soldiers,” he said in a statement Thursday. “It’s time to repeal this deadly anti-gun law before it creates another mass killing. This is another tragedy created by anti-gun activists.”
For her part, Megyn Kelly refused to give the shooter’s name on her show Wednesday night, despite the fact that he’d already been identified. She did, however, choose to surmise that “The nationality of the shooter, it sounds Hispanic, Latino,” based on his name.
Meanwhile, over at InfoWars, conspiracy theorists extraordinaire Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones have connected the dots, not between the shooting and the gunman’s struggles with depression and anxiety, but between the shooting and the “psychiatric drugs” the gunman had been taking to combat his mental illness.
“Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley acknowledged that Fort Hood gunman Ivan Lopez was taking psychiatric medication before the shooting, underscoring yet again the clear and consistent connection between mass-shooting incidents and SSRI drugs,” they wrote, Thursday. The connection to which they are referring, by the way, has only been reported by fringe blogs and conspiracy-theory sites, not unlike InfoWars.