US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, an inveterate rabble rouser, should never have experienced what occurred last week. No American should. But in another horrifying turn, more lawlessness, her home was invaded and her husband attacked with a hammer. The deranged assailant was stopped by police. What lessons flow from that sobering event? Call it “messages within messages.”
First, as AMAC and this writer have often noted, political violence – if that is what this was – has no place – not against a Party or a person. As recently as October 26, these pages made it clear: Political violence, whether starting with the 2020 riots or later, must never become the “norm.”
Second, political leaders on left and right must turn down the volume, then speak against political violence at every turn, from every quarter, no matter if it favors their cause. It is indefensible. In a republic based on rule of law, it must be denounced, not silently permitted.
Accordingly, it is equally wrong to suggest, as Pelosi did, that venting “righteous anger” on American streets is right, or to say, as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did, that Supreme Court justices overturning Roe “will pay,” another nod: or to defend mob violence on January 6.
Political violence is always destructive to a democracy, producing fear, retaliatory anger, intimidation, chilling, and reduced public trust. The stated justification is never a justification.
Third, enforcing laws that deter political violence – for example, 18 USC 1507, which includes protesting near a Supreme Court Justice’s home, stalking their children, and confronting them with threats – is vital if we want to prevent fear, intimidation, chilling, and a rise in political violence.
Wrong is Biden’s Justice Department ignoring federal law, allowing organizations that targeted five conservative justices with threats after Dobbs to walk. Justices feared “assassination” – and the Biden Justice Department did little to intervene. That was wrong.
If partisanship is permitted to affect the fair administration justice, by either party at any time, permitting potential political violence to get the nod, even implicitly, the nation is at risk. That is also true, of course, if it involves reacting to an election or vote count, obviously.
Fourth, the Second Amendment is more vital today than at any prior time. If Mr. Pelosi had drawn a firearm inside his California home when the assailant confronted him with a hammer –the intruder would have been stopped, one way or the other.
Think on the irony: Those vehemently opposing Second Amendment rights often pay a high price for not defending and exercising them when they could be more secure supporting them.
Conversely, one could now perhaps imagine hammers having to be registered – as they, like guns, knives, and automobiles, can be used by the deranged, deluded, and inflamed to do harm.
Fifth, the fact that Lee Zeldin, Republican candidate for Governor of New York, had to professionally disarm a knife-wielding assailant, then his children cowered as teens shot each other on his lawn – added to the Pelosi event – punctuates reality: Democrat policies are spiking crime. The numbers continue to rise, as deterrence is downplayed and order continues to fray.
Sixth, how ironic that underfunded, unsupported, unappreciated police – which Democrats have defunded and disparaged, actually got to the Pelosi home mid-crime, tackled the intruder, and likely saved Mr. Pelosi’s life. The irony should trigger a Democrat rethink – but likely will not.
Ironic too is the fact that Mr. Pelosi had himself just been arrested for driving while under the influence, reportedly angling for a “courtesy” from the same police professionals who said no.
Seventh, perhaps most profoundly, the Pelosi incident reminds us that throwing rocks can trigger a rockfall. When you resort to extreme rhetoric, push anger, encourage “revolution,” as a Democrat Senator from NH did before Dobbs, or imagine inflaming others is easy, beware fire.
When a President of the United States describes opponents as “enemies of the state,” says they “undermine democracy,” are “extremist” and want to “make America great again,” because they criticize his behavior, corruption, and use of executive power, it invites a sharp response.
The real problem is that none of this, encouraging, permitting, or remaining silent on political violence, undermining the Second Amendment, ignoring crime, vilifying police and opponents – helps to preserve peace, harmony, democracy, liberty, opportunity, or order needed for all five.
In the end, the Pelosi incident is not about a specific act, but the degree to which our society has drifted away from longstanding norms, deterrence, and order. This election is about whether we value those norms enough to preserve them. We should – the message within the message.
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