Paul Pelosi attack shows dangers of extremists and misinformation

Paul Pelosi

The brutal hammer attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband shows the continuing threat posed by domestic terrorism and white Christian nationalism. Just as frightening as the assault itself is the deliberate circulation of salacious, false rumors denying the attack’s reality. 

New Twitter chief Elon Musk tweeted to his more than 110 million followers: “There is a tiny possibility that there might be more to this story than meets the eye.” Although he later removed the tweet, the damage was done. Self-proclaimed Christian nationalist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has in the past recklessly accused Nancy Pelosi of being “guilty of treason … a crime punishable by death,” naturally defended Musk’s irresponsible action. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy once publicly “joked” that he wanted to hit Pelosi with the speaker’s oversized wooden gavel. The New York Times reports  that since 2018, Republicans have spent more than $227 million on ads featuring or attacking Pelosi.

And then there’s the suspect in the Paul Pelosi attack. A co-worker told the New York Times that over the past six years he had transformed from a troubled but shy man into someone who lost his easygoing disposition when the subject of politics surfaced: “Because he really believed in the whole MAGA, ‘Pizzagate,’ stolen election — you know, all of it, all the way down the line. If you go to Fox News, if you go on the internet and you look at QAnon, you know, he had all these theories.” The suspect is not only a victim of “fake news,” but has himself spread it, such as by contending over social media that the election was stolen and that Covid vaccines are harmful. He has promoted QAnon and the “Great Reset” conspiracy theories, denied the Holocaust, and posted racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ posts.

The suspect told the police that Nancy Pelosi was the “leader of the pack of lies told by the Democratic Party” and that he’d intended to “break her kneecaps.” How fortunate that Pelosi, who is second in line for the presidency, was out of town. But not so fortunate was her husband, whose skull was fractured and who remains in intensive care, with a long, slow recovery ahead of him.

It’s no surprise that the suspect appears to be obsessed with religion, at one time telling a girlfriend he “was Jesus Christ for a year,” and on other occasions claiming Jesus was “the Antichrist.” Expectedly, the suspect had publicly criticized the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

When he broke the glass on the back door and entered Pelosi’s San Francisco home early in the morning of Oct. 28, what the suspect demanded to know was “Where is Nancy?” a chilling echo of what the sinister thugs wandering the halls of Congress had called out on Jan. 6, 2021. 

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and avowal to let unrestrained hate speech and misinformation flow freely will throw ever more gasoline on the hateful flames of social media. It can only get uglier.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sends no useless “thoughts or prayers” to Paul Pelosi, but we sincerely hope that he will heal quickly, and that our nation, too, can find a way to heal. 

Image Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend