Just when you thought we could not stoop lower, think again. The vitriol and cruelty coming from comments on the attack on Speaker of the House’s husband, Paul Pelosi, are beyond the pale. What have we come to as a country? What happened to empathy, compassion, caring, kindness, and just, in general, overall good will?
The horror and shocking actions of a perpetrator entering a home by crashing into a glass door with a hammer, slinging a hammer at an 82-year-old’s head, while armed with zip ties, and ranting, “Where’s Nancy” and later telling San Francisco police, “he wanted to break her kneecaps if she lied to him,” is bad enough. But the ensuing comments and jokes that followed are cruel, heartless, and patently immoral.
Some Republican members of congress, including McConnell and McCarthy, condemned the violence. But it did not take long for other opponents of Nancy Pelosi to begin making cruel comments and completely inappropriate jokes at Pelosi and her husband’s expense.
Here are just a few examples. Virginia governor, Glenn Youngkin, said this. “I want to stop for a minute…there’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re going to send her (Nancy Pelosi) back to be with him (Paul Pelosi) in California. That’s what we’re gonna go do. That’s what we’re gonna do.” Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a photo on Sunday of a piece of underwear and a hammer that was captioned. “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready.” Kerri Lake, Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, drew laughter at a campaign event in Scottsdale, Arizona, when she said, “Nancy Pelosi, well she’s got protection when she’s in DC. Apparently, her house doesn’t have a lot of protection.” Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene claimed that nothing would have happened to Pelosi if he carried a gun with him. And during a debate, Republican Ohio senate candidate J. D. Vance blamed Democratic immigration policies since he claimed that the perpetrator was an illegal immigrant. Apparently, the perpetrator entered the country 20 years ago from British Columbia.
And then, of course, the conspiracy theories began. One promoted by many of the far-right persuasion was that the attacker and Paul Pelosi were gay lovers who had gotten into a fight. Elon Musk did nothing to squelch the ridiculous conspiracy theories but instead posted, “there is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye.” Fox News commentators also insinuated that this was a lover’s spat. Donald Trump Jr., later claimed that the intruder was breaking out—not breaking in. Trump himself repeated that claim on a radio show. (For the record, Capitol Police camera footage released this week shows the perpetrator entering the house from the outside by smashing glass doors with a hammer.)
Seriously? Is this who we are now? It is beyond disgusting. It is pathetic that people joke about a horrible assault and spin all kinds of bizarre false narratives and then post and repost.
I am aware that there was hatred and contempt in America before Trump became president. But I am also aware that Trump legitimized mocking disabled people, criticizing women’s looks, giving competitors’ cruel nicknames, condoning violence, spinning outrageous false claims, and eventually making all these vicious attacks become business as usual.
It is a sad, disappointing, and embarrassing commentary on our society today. Let’s just say this. It is never OK to encourage violence, invent and perpetrate outrageous lies, mock those who are less fortunate, and celebrate an opponent’s adversity. It just isn’t.
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When we celebrate others’ misfortunes and mock their struggles, we diminish ourselves and our society. Please let’s just stop spewing negative and cruel comments at someone’ else’s expense. And please let us not support, elevate, and celebrate those who do.
Maria Grant was principal-in-charge of a federal human capital practice at an international consulting firm. While on the Eastern Shore, she focuses on writing, reading, piano, gardening, and nature.