Let the Gaslighting Begin
It's been about 72 hours since Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), was attacked by an
intruder. But the story continues to dominate the headlines.
To start with, we now know a fair bit more about the attacker, David DePape. He is a far-right MAGA
man who often used social media to share unhinged rants about the things that people like that rant about.
He entered the Pelosis' house with a supply of plastic ties; the same equipment carried by some of the
the 1/6 insurrectionists. DePape has already given a statement to law enforcement laying out his "plan":
DEPAPE stated that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her. If Nancy were to tell DEPAPE the "truth," he
would let her go, and if she "lied," he was going to break "her kneecaps." DEPAPE was certain that Nancy would not have
told the "truth." In the course of the interview, DEPAPE articulated he viewed Nancy as the "leader of the pack" of lies
told by the Democratic Party. DEPAPE also later explained that by breaking Nancy's kneecaps, she would then have to be
wheeled into Congress, which would show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions. DEPAPE also
explained generally that he wanted to use Nancy to lure another individual to DEPAPE.
Not exactly a model of mental stability. Nor of mental ability, for that matter, since it's not hard to figure
out that whenever the Speaker is actually at home, she's protected by a security detail that is more than capable
of dealing with a hammer-wielding bandit.
DePape has already been hit with
state and federal charges,
including attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, burglary, elder abuse, and false imprisonment. Either he's going to
be judged guilty or he's going to be judged mentally defective. Either way, he's going away for a long time, the only
question is whether the walls in his new residence will be made of iron or rubber.
Meanwhile, if you read the statement above, the connection between Trumpian rhetoric and DePape's actions could not be plainer.
Of course, outside of a few pariah-exceptions like Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), nobody in the Republican Party is willing to
to acknowledge that link and to talk about what needs to change. Instead, we're seeing the standard reactions to situations
like this one:
- Thoughts and Prayers: Quite a few Republicans, including all of the members of the leadership
in the Senate and the House, have made clear that they are very upset by the attack and that they are sending their best
wishes to Pelosi for a full recovery. This is all good and well, but if they are not willing to talk about the roots of
the problem, then their words are hollow.
- Backhanded Thoughts and Prayers: This is where someone pretends to be concerned about what
happened, but then turns it into a backdoor political attack. This is what you would expect of Donald Trump Sr., and he
did not disappoint.
After several days of deafening silence, the former president finally spoke up. In an interview with some minor
right-wing outlet, Trump said "With Paul Pelosi, that's a terrible thing, with all of them it's a terrible thing," but
then said the reason it happened was "Democrat-run cities." He continued: "Look at what's happened to San Francisco
generally. Look at what's happening in Chicago. It was far worse than Afghanistan... Last weekend it was brutal, it was
like a war zone. We have to give the police back their dignity, their respect."
- Denial: There are also plenty of Republicans who say there is no connection between
the Party's rhetoric and the attack on Pelosi, and that there could not possibly be a connection, and that it's
crazy to think there might be a connection, and did we mention that there's no connection? For example, RNC Chair
Ronna Romney McDaniel
got in touch
with Politico to explain how "unfair" it is that people are drawing a line between the rhetoric of the
Republican Party and the attack on Pelosi. She doth protest too much, we thinks.
- Crass "Humor": This is a cousin of the Backhanded Thoughts and Prayers. In this one,
the person doesn't even bother with the sympathy, and moves right on to mocking and shaming the victim. This is the
sort of behavior we've come to expect from Donald Trump Jr., and he
did not disappoint.
DePape was reported to have been dressed only in undergarments when he attacked (this was later debunked), and so
Trump Jr. thought it would be amusing to retweet a picture of the "Paul Pelosi Halloween costume"—a pair of jockey
shorts and a hammer. Ha, ha, ha. The younger Trump also managed to slip a little homophobia in there, adding that "if
you switch out the hammer for a red feather boa you could be Hunter Biden in an instant." Forgive us for the
editorializing, but Trump Jr. is just an awful human being.
- Conspiracy Theories: Speaking of homophobia, many Republicans—including
Trump Jr., Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), Sebastian Gorka, Dinesh D'Souza and Elon Musk—propagated a
that Paul Pelosi and DePape were/are gay lovers who had gotten into a quarrel. There is absolutely no evidence that the
two men even knew each other, something that San Francisco Police Chief William Scott has confirmed.
This is pretty much the same set of responses that you see from Republicans after a school shooting. That is not a
coincidence; they know full well that they have blood on their hands, and they're desperately trying to muddy the waters
to hide that fact. Unfortunately, this parallel also tells us that not one damn thing is going to change when it comes
to the violent rhetoric, which means we continue to barrel toward the day when some political leader is killed by one of
these sickos. (Z)
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