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GOP laughed when Nancy Pelosi's husband was attacked. Now they're afraid of MAGA violence.
Suddenly, Republicans are horrified about death threats.
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When Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul was brutally attacked by a hammer-wielding MAGA-maniac in his own home, many Republican politicians and candidates spread conspiracy theories about it and even laughed at this grotesque, politically-inspired right-ring violence.
GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia made light of it before stating to a cheering crowd, “We’re going to send [Nancy Pelosi] back to be with him in California.” Kari Lake, running for governor in Arizona, cracked a joke about the security at the Pelosi home, getting uproarious laughter from the crowd at a campaign event.
GOP Congresswoman Claudia Tenney of New York mercilessly laughed at Paul Pelosi, tweeting out an “LOL” with a photo-shopped meme that right-wingers circulated showing men wielding hammers in front of the attacker’s home.
These instances were just the tip of the iceberg. Eighty-two-year-old Paul Pelosi, who was hospitalized, was mocked during that time by the MAGA base, GOP candidates, and Republican elected officials all over the country while—and this is the important part—their GOP colleagues were silent in the face of it.
Fast forward to this week: The wife of GOP Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska received threatening text messages on her phone after Bacon voted against Congressman Jim Jordan for House speaker, something a very rattled Bacon shared with the media. The wife of another unnamed House member, in audio obtained by CNN, received a threatening voice message, calling her husband “a deep state prick" and stating, “We’re gonna come fucking follow you all over the place. We’re gonna be up your ass."
GOP Congresswoman Marrianette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, who flipped from voting for Jordan in the first round to voting for someone else in the second, announced in a press release to great consternation that she received a “barrage of threatening phone calls” and “credible death threats.”
And New York GOP Rep. Nick LaLota, angry and outraged, shared a tweet in which someone told him, “I will whip all the hair out of your fucking head,” calling for him to “die.” There were still other GOP members reporting threats.
This is all horrific and a direct result of the extremism that Donald Trump, the authoritarian movement he created—and their fascistic tactics—inspire. I condemn anyone engaging in death threats, no matter who they’re directed toward, and it’s something that should not become normalized in politics. But the GOP has allowed it to be.
As I wrote on Threads yesterday, “Republicans suddenly care when the MAGA death threats are being made against them, rather than against Democrats and progressives, who've been dealing with this for years now.”
Where were they in speaking out against their colleagues who mocked the attack on Paul Pelosi, thereby condoning violence and inspiring more? Where were they in recent weeks when Trump called for the execution of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley?
There are, of course, countless other instances of Republicans staying silent when Trump has engaged in violence-inciting rhetoric. There have also been death threats against many Democratic politicians, pundits, and journalists, all by those deep in the MAGA cult, inspired by Trump. And the GOP has said nothing.
Now they’re afraid and outraged, speaking out forcefully when they are the ones who are targeted.
I’d like to be optimistic and take it as a wake-up call for the GOP, since the MAGA extremists are actually letting it be known that they asked for it. Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News tweeted today: “IN THE MEETING yesterday between JIM JORDAN and hold outs, close Jordan ally WARREN DAVIDSON said it's not Team Jordan's fault that holdouts are getting death threats. They are getting the death threats, he said, because they voted against Jordan.”
So now MAGA Republicans are saying quite clearly that death threats are not only normal but that if you’re on the receiving end of death threats, it’s your fault.
This is an indication of how fascism has taken over the Republican Party. The extremists will use violence even against their own to demand conformity, just as they’ve been doing against their opponents for years. The GOP politicians who have been targeted—and have seen their families targeted—are saying they won’t be bullied and harassed to fall in line.
But will they speak up against Trump and others in the GOP who promote violence? I said I’d like to be optimistic, but I’m not sure their spines, which have suddenly re-emerged, will stay in existence for too long.