Note: Political divisions in our country threaten to destroy our way of life. No one is safe in an America where violent political rhetoric is transformed into actual attacks. To verbally spew hate is repugnant, but to turn that hate into brutal acts of violence is a horrifying sign of how badly our society has eroded. We run the risk of allowing our way of life to become synonymous with thug life.
The recent early morning hammer attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is proof that none of us are safe anywhere. Pelosi’s spouse was hospitalized with a fractured skull after a man allegedly yelled “Where’s Nancy?” when he entered the couple’s home in San Francisco in the early hours of October 28.
An attempt to kidnap Speaker Pelosi was foiled, authorities said, because she was not home at the time. Suspect David DePape (42) is now facing charges of attempted murder, assault, attempted kidnapping and other offenses in connection with the incident.
Violent political rhetoric has consequences and we see those consequences manifest in tangible acts of terrorism. As Paul Pelosi recovers from surgery for a skull fracture and other injuries, we should all feel ashamed. Is this what we have allowed the “land of the free and the home of the brave” to become?
Security is an illusion; the Pelosi attack is proof of that. We delude ourselves into thinking that we are somehow protected by closed doors. We know from high profile incidents in the past that the opposite is true. Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to the United States.
Just a few months ago, in July, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot by a man with a homemade firearm. Shinzo was shot dead during a political event that was supposedly filled with security. Abe was airlifted to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Perhaps the most shocking example of a political assassin breaching security occurred in November 1995 when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead at a political rally in Tel Aviv. A right-wing extremist who opposed Rabin’s peace overtures to the Palestinians shot him dead at close range – despite Israel’s reputation for having some of the best security forces in the world. In the end it didn’t matter.
None of us are safe as long as society allows and promotes violent rhetoric. And we must recognize that there are many sick individuals who will “take the bait” and run with it, producing catastrophic outcomes.
The attack on Paul Pelosi is a reminder that we must be careful when we speak and be mindful of what we say, because words have consequences. Instead of hateful rhetoric, we need to return to the times when it was acceptable to disagree. Americans should welcome debate. It is permissible for us to have different perspectives, and in some cases to agree to disagree.
Republicans and Democrats can fundamentally differ in terms of charting the best path for our country’s future without pointing to each other as mortal enemies or agitating their political bases to score points.
For every conservative Republican in Congress who spends his time creating bombastic content, poking fun at Democrats and riling up their base, there are progressive Democrats doing the exact same thing. And that’s a shame, because it means that the silent majority of Americans who are decent people, who believe in this country, who want the best possible future for our children and our grandchildren, are being done an injustice.
And to be clear, the issue is not guns. The issue is people willing to move from rhetoric to actual harm against someone over political differences. And there is nothing more fundamentally un-American than using force to influence political outcomes.
We saw this fully during the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, which was reprehensible and terrifying. The wanton hatred and destruction that took place that day was fundamentally un-American. I saw it firsthand covering the attack on the seat of our democracy with my crew.
We need to get back to a time when Americans could disagree on policy differences without resorting to physical attacks. We must do better, and we must start today.
Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtue.”