Pay attention: Political division in our country threatens to destroy our way of life. No one is safe in an America where violent political rhetoric is transformed into real-life attacks. The verbal spewing of hatred is abhorrent, but the conversion of that hatred into vicious acts of violence is a horrible sign of how badly our society has eroded. We are in danger of allowing our way of life to become synonymous with the life of thieves.
The recent early morning hammer attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, 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 said “Where’s Nancy?” as he entered the couple’s San Francisco home in the early hours of October 28.
An attempt to kidnap Speaker Pelosi was thwarted, 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 felonies in relation to the incident.
Violent political rhetoric has consequences and we see those consequences manifested 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 home of the brave” to become?
Security is an illusion; Pelosi’s attack is evidence of that. We delude ourselves into thinking that we are somehow protected by locked doors. We know from high profile events 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, the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, was fatally shot by a man with a homemade gun. Shinzo was shot point blank during a political event that was supposed to be heavily guarded. 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 gunned down at a political rally in Tel Aviv. A right-wing extremist who opposed Rabin’s peace overtures to the Palestinians shot him to death at close range – despite Israel’s reputation as 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 have to recognize that there are many sick individuals who will “take the bait” and run with it, producing disastrous results.
The attack on Paul Pelosi reminds us that we need to be careful when we speak and be mindful of what we say, because words have consequences. Instead of hateful rhetoric, we must return to the times when it was acceptable to disagree. Americans should welcome debate. It is permissible for us to have different views, and in some cases to agree to disagree.
Republicans and Democrats can be fundamentally different when it comes to following the best path for the future of our country without pointing at each other as mortal enemies or upsetting their political bases to score points.
For every conservative Republican in Congress who spends his time creating bombastic content, prodding Democrats and riling up their base, progressive Democrats are doing the exact same thing. And it’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 grandchildren, get do them a disservice.
And to be clear, the issue is not guns. The issue is people who are willing to cross over from rhetoric to actual harm against someone because of political disagreements. And there is nothing more fundamentally un-American than using violence to affect political outcomes.
We saw this on full display during the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, which was humiliating and terrifying. The unbridled hatred and destruction that took place that day was fundamentally un-American. I saw him firsthand covering the attack on the seat of our democracy alongside my crew.
We need to go 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 Merits.”