Republican leaders invoke imagery of violence, then express shock at its use

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS)

The violent attack on the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with an alleged threat to kidnap the third most powerful elected official in America, is absolutely the result of escalating violent rhetoric by Republican politicians. They will deny it, but the cause-and-effect evidence is simply too abundant to ignore. Republican leaders are openly inspiring political violence, apparently out of fear that democracy isn’t working for them.

Some, including Donald Trump Jr., are treating the hammer attack on Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, as something to joke about. Others, in an apparent bid to “own the libs,” refuse to tamp down the violent rhetoric even when they know it serves as an open invitation for their more radical followers to take the next step.

How did things get this crazy? Simple: Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 with brash calls for actual violence, including promising to pay the legal fees if his supporters beat up protesters at his campaign events. He encouraged police not to be so careful when helping detainees lower their heads when climbing into squad cars, suggesting a little head-bashing wasn’t such a bad thing. His condemnation of government rules to stem the spread of the coronavirus inspired right-wing followers to plot the kidnapping of Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. And the most vivid example of how Trump’s violent rhetoric translated into radical action was the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

Paul Pelosi is a victim of poisoned politics. Those inciting violence must be held to account

AP source: Pelosi attacker carried zip ties, in Jan. 6 echo

Suspect in assault at Pelosi home had posted about QAnon

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks to the media about Patriot Freedom Project members, Jan. 6 trials and D.C. jail treatment on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 15, 2022. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, was stripped of her committee assignments after supporting violence against Democrats. She has made antisemitic remarks and associated herself with violent white nationalists. She called for Nancy Pelosi to be put on trial for treason, adding that the crime is “punishable by death.”

At the Jan. 6 insurrection, Trump’s followers erected a gallows while rioters carrying zip ties searched the halls on Capitol Hill calling out, “Where’s Nancy?” The man who attacked Paul Pelosi on Friday carried zip ties and was quoted as shouting, “Where’s Nancy?”

During former Gov. Eric Greitens’ failed U.S. Senate campaign, he appeared in a video with Donald Trump Jr. using assault rifles to shoot targets shaped like humans, after which Trump Jr. said, “Striking fear into the hearts of liberals everywhere.” Trump Jr. on Monday tweeted photographic mockery of the hammer attack.

Republican Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota tweeted a video of him opening fire at an indoor shooting range with “13 days to make history. Let’s #FirePelosi” above it.

There are sick people out there just looking for a little nudge to justify doing something that rational people, including Republicans, would regard as crazy. Instead of condemning violence and championing peaceful democracy as the way to bring about change, too many influential Republicans choose to promote imagery of violence as the way to bring about change. They can deny linkage, but the abundant and growing body of evidence speaks for itself.

— From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS).