By Armstrong Williams
Pay attention—political divisiveness in our country is destroying our way of life. No one is safe in an America, where violent political rhetoric is transformed into real-life attacks.
To verbally spew hate is repugnant, but to convert that hate into vicious acts of violence is a horrific sign of just how badly our society has eroded. Our way of life has become synonymous with thug life.
The recent early-morning hammer attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, is proof positive that none of us is safe anywhere. Pelosi’s elderly spouse was hospitalized with a fractured skull after a man yelling, “Where is Nancy?” entered the couple’s San Francisco home in the wee hours of Oct. 28, somehow avoiding security, to brutalize the octogenarian.
The possible assassination attempt meant for Nancy Pelosi was foiled only because she was not home at the time. Suspect David DePape, 42, now faces charges of attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and other felonies in relation to the incident.
Violent political rhetoric has consequences, and we are seeing those consequences manifest in tangible acts of terror. As Nancy Pelosi’s husband recovers after undergoing surgery for a skull fracture and other injuries to his right arm and hands, we should all feel shame.
Is this what we have allowed the “land of the free and the home of the brave” to become?
Security is an illusion, and the Pelosi attack is evidence of that. We are deluding ourselves into thinking we are somehow protected by locked doors. We know from high-profile incidents in the past that the exact opposite is true.
A litany of high-profile assaults on public figures shows that security is illusory. It was only a few months ago in July that former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot by a man with a homemade firearm. He was gunned down at point-blank range during a political event that supposedly was bristling with security. Abe was transported by helicopter to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Perhaps the most shocking example of a political assassin broaching security took place 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 did not matter.
None of us is safe as long as our society permits and promotes violent rhetoric. And we have to recognize that there are many sick individuals in this country who will take the bait and run with it, producing catastrophic outcomes.
The Pelosi attack is a reminder that we need to be careful about how we speak and be mindful of what we say because words have consequences. Instead of heated and hateful rhetoric, we must return to the times in this country’s past where it was acceptable to disagree. Americans should welcome debate. It’s 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 determining our country’s future success without pointing to one another as mortal enemies or agitating their political bases to score political points.
For every conservative Republican in Congress who spends his or her time creating bombastic content, poking Democrats in the eye and riling up their base, there are also Democrats on the hard left doing the exact same thing. And it is 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 a disservice.
And to be clear, the issue is not guns. The issue is people who are willing to cross over from rhetoric to actions aimed at actually harming their fellow Americans over political disagreements. And there’s nothing more fundamentally un-American than using violence to affect political outcomes.
We saw this on full display during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which was reprehensible and frightening. The wanton hatred and destruction that occurred that day was fundamentally un-American. I saw it firsthand covering the assault on the seat of our democracy alongside my crew.
We need to get back to a time where Americans can disagree on policy differences without resorting to punitive physical attacks on one another. We have to do better. And we have to start today.
To find out more about Armstrong Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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