Violent rhetoric is making America a dangerous place

Take note: political divisions in our country threaten to destroy our way of life. No one is safe in America, where violent political rhetoric turns into real-life attacks. Spewing hate with words is repulsive, but turning that hate into brutal acts of violence is a horrifying sign of how deeply our society has broken down. We risk allowing our way of life to become synonymous with bando living.

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 the man reportedly yelled, “Where’s Nancy at?” on October 28 when he entered the couple’s home in San Francisco.

An attempt to kidnap Speaker Pelosi was foiled because she was not home at the time, authorities said. The suspect, David DePape, 42, is now facing charges of attempted murder, assault, attempted kidnapping and other crimes related to the incident.

Violent political rhetoric has consequences, and we are seeing these consequences manifest in tangible acts of terrorism. As Paul Pelosi recovers from surgery for a fractured skull and other injuries, we should all feel ashamed. Is this what we have allowed to become “the land of the free and the home of the brave”?

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Security is an illusion; Pelosi’s attack is proof of that. We fool ourselves into thinking that we are somehow protected by a locked door. 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, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot by a man with a homemade firearm. Shinzo was shot at point-blank range during a political event that was allegedly packed 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 1995. in November, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead during a political rally in Tel Aviv. A right-wing extremist who opposed Rabin’s overtures for peace with the Palestinians shot him at close range – despite Israel’s reputation as one of the best security forces in the world. In the end it didn’t matter.

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None of us are safe as long as society allows and encourages violent rhetoric. And we must admit that there are many sick individuals who will “take the bait” and run with it, with catastrophic consequences.

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 go back to a time when it was acceptable to disagree. Americans should welcome the debate. We are allowed to have different points of view and sometimes agree to disagree.

Republicans and Democrats can be fundamentally different in charting the best path for our country’s future without portraying each other as mortal enemies or campaigning to score points with their political bases.

For every conservative Republican in Congress who spends his time creating sensational content, poking Democrats in the eye and building their base, progressive Democrats are doing the exact same thing. And it’s very unfortunate because it means that the silent majority of Americans who are decent people, who believe in this country, who want the best future for our children and our grandchildren, are being done a disservice.

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And, to be clear, guns aren’t the problem. The problem is with people willing to go from rhetoric to actually harming someone over a political disagreement. And there is nothing more fundamentally un-American than the use of violence to influence political outcomes.

We saw this in full force during 2021. January 6 the attack on the Capitol building, which was reprehensible and frightening. The maddened hatred and destruction that ensued that day was fundamentally un-American. I saw it first hand covering the attack on the headquarters of our democracy with my crew.

We need to go back to the days when Americans could disagree on political 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 book “Revitalizing virtues.


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