Home > Uncategorized > Violence is the road to the destruction of our democracy – posted 11/6/2022

Violence is the road to the destruction of our democracy – posted 11/6/2022

The violent assault on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stands out as a watershed event. It highlights the seriousness of the threat of far right domestic terrorism. Speaker Pelosi is the highest ranking government official to be victimized. Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent, such violent assaults on any political leader are unacceptable in a democracy.

The reports from the San Fransisco police and the FBI show that the goal of the attacker was to kidnap the House Speaker. He told the police after his arrest that he planned to interrogate and torture the Speaker. If she did not tell him the truth as he saw it, he was going to break her kneecaps. By breaking her kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, The attacker believed this would show others in Congress that there were consequences for their actions.

In his police interview, the attacker said that he considered Pelosi the “leader of the pack” of lies told by Democrats. The Washington Post has reported that the attacker, David DePape, had a “voluminous blog” that was “filled with deeply racist and antisemitic writings – as well as pro-Trump and anti-Democratic posts”.

The attacker did fracture the skull of an 82 year old man with a hammer. Politics aside, this was a vicious assault on an elderly man but instead of any thoughtfulness or self-reflection, the response of many Republicans was to spin baseless conspiracy theories to deflect blame. This is in keeping with the Republicans not owning the hate they have been spewing against opponents. It leads deranged people to act.

It should not be surprising that the MAGA movement produces David DePapes. The movement has been propelled by hate and fear of its enemies. Its enemies are not simply people with whom they disagree. MAGA turns its enemies into ridiculous dehumanized caricatures: satanic pedophiles, blood drinkers and groomers.

In assessing how our media has dealt with the Pelosi event, I do not think the context has been appropriately defined. Over the last seven years, former President Trump has stoked political violence and he has used his political rallies to train his followers to see violence in a positive light. He has been helping to create a mass psychology that sees violence as acceptable.

The Pelosi attack must be seen inside the context of Trump’s continuous vilification of his political enemies. Trump called Pelosi “crazy Nancy”, “sick woman” and he has said “she’s got a lot of problems, a lot of mental problems”. On November 7, Trump called Pelosi “an animal”. I think Trump particularly has demonized Pelosi because she has frequently called him out and clearly has gotten under his skin.

Among January 6 defendants, over ten voiced death threats against Pelosi. Greg Reffitt, a far right extremist who has been convicted of multiple January 6-related felonies, threatened to forcibly remove Congress members. He said:

“I don’t care if Pelosi’s head is hitting every step while I drag her by the ankles – she’s coming out.”

When Paul Pelosi’s attacker asked “Where is Nancy?” It evoked the creepy crowd chants from January 6 when rioters roamed Congress and in a bloodthirsty way, sought her.

From the early days of when Trump started campaigning in 2015, he has been all about political violence. Remember when he told his rally crowds to beat up protesters and he offered to pay the legal bills of his supporters who inflicted violence. Trump said things like “punch them in the face” and “knock the crap out of them”.

Cruelty has been his defining brand whether it was putting children in cages or telling border guards to shoot migrants in the leg. On January 6, Trump said “if you don’t fight like hell, you won’t have a country any more”.

Many prominent Republicans have either remained silent or they have followed Trump’s lead on the violence. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has said,

“I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it but I will bang it down.”

There are so many examples of the over-the-top violent rhetoric from Republicans. Marjorie Taylor Greene has said Pelosi is guilty of treason, a crime punishable by death. Steve Bannon talks about putting the heads of liberals on pikes at the corners of the White House as a warning. Paul Gosar posted an anime video where he attacked and killed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with a sword.

And it is not all talk. In 2018, Trump superfan Cesar Sayoc mailed pipe bombs to Democratic leaders before that mid-term election. In 2020, there was the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. In October, a Pennsylvania man pled guilty to threatening to kill Rep. Eric Swalwell. Threats against members of Congress are more than ten times as high as just five years ago.

Invariably, Republicans will bring up the attack on Rep. Steve Scalise and the threat to Justice Brett Kavanaugh. There is no comparability. Democrats immediately condemned the violence in both situations. Republicans remain motivated toward violence by Trump’s demagoguery and the FOX echo chamber.

The Pelosi attack shows the MAGA Republican pattern. First downplay the attack. Then deny the harm done. Then offer disinformation and conspiracy theories. Republican Party leadership is complicit in the violence because of their inaction and failure to speak out against it.

Democracy requires an appreciation of pluralism and tolerance. For democracy to work, opposing sides must accept the results of elections. That means accepting losing sometimes. Republican election denialism is incompatible with a functioning democracy.

Benito Mussolini once said. “Blood alone moves the wheels of history”. But violence is neither moral nor patriotic. Violence is the road to the destruction of our democracy.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jlewandohotmailcom
    November 6, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    As always, you lay out the case clearly. I taught pro-social skills to a lot of kids who were inclined toward violence as their go-to response to problems in my 30 years in the special ed. business, but even I am surprised at how many adults truly enjoy violence. We all have those outlets in various entertainments, but a quarter of the country seems ready to excuse or embrace real-life violence, if not participate in it. Trump’s “genius” is tapping into that.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: