The attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband is the culmination of longtime GOP hate-mongering

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Pelosi, in a pale blue suit, is seen in profile against a dark background, speaking into a microphone.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a vigil at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on April 4, 2022 in Washington, DC.  | Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

For years, Republicans made Nancy Pelosi out to be a public enemy — the attack on her house is the consequence.

Friday’s brutal attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, at their San Francisco house was overtly political — and a logical endpoint to the many years deeply private villainization House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has weathered from her political opponents.

It’s now clear the speaker was the goal of Friday’s attack. The assailant broke into the house looking for her, reportedly shouting, “Where is Nancy?” — echoing the chant insurrectionists referred to as out once they breached the US Capitol on January 6 — and saying that he would wait “until Nancy got home” as he tried to tie up Paul Pelosi. The speaker’s husband suffered a cranium fracture and severe accidents to his proper arm and arms that required surgical procedure after the assailant bludgeoned him with a hammer. (A spokesperson for the speaker stated in a statement that Paul Pelosi is anticipated to make a full restoration.)

Even earlier than she turned speaker, Republicans in the celebration, and people adjoining to it, have demonized Pelosi often that includes her in attack advertisements and lambasting her on Fox News. At least one of her colleagues in the House, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), has immediately indicated assist for violence in opposition to her. And members of proper wing militia teams reminiscent of the Oathkeepers and the Three Percenters have sought her assassination.

Police haven’t gone into additional element about the attacker’s motivations, however his Facebook posts on conspiracy theories round Covid-19 vaccines, the 2020 election, and the January 6 attack present a window into his radicalization. Other blog posts under his name contained screeds in opposition to minorities, politicians, ladies and world elites, and content material associated to QAnon — the false pro-Trump conspiracy principle {that a} cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, together with outstanding Democrats like Pelosi, are working the world.

None of these posts reference Pelosi particularly, however all of them do intersect with the methods she has been a well-recognized goal of the proper — and never simply on the political fringes.

The lengthy historical past of Republicans demonizing Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi has been villainized by Republicans since she first ascended to Democratic management.

In 2003, inside days of her election as House Minority Leader, she shortly confronted gendered assaults from Republicans who had been, as Mark Z. Barabak wrote for the Los Angeles Times at time: “eager to attack Pelosi as a loopy San Francisco liberal and exploit her city’s reputation as the odd-sock drawer of America. Within days, her face — garish and twisted — showed up in an attack ad slamming the Democrat in a Louisiana House race. (He won anyway.) She surfaced as Miss America, complete with tiara, in a spoof on Rush Limbaugh’s Web site.”

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Such assaults continued all through her tenure as minority chief, together with throughout the 2006 election when Republicans ran a swath of attack ads that includes unflattering images of Pelosi typically trying indignant, bug-eyed, or startled. And they elevated in 2010, after she had develop into speaker. Republicans made her the face of their assaults on Democrats’ Affordable Care Act and launched a “Fire Pelosi” marketing campaign, which concerned a bus tour and pictures of Pelosi engulfed in flames.

Under the Trump period and in the years since, the assaults solely escalated in tenor. Former President Donald Trump, who has remained silent about the attack on Paul Pelosi, shared doctored videos of the speaker designed to name into query her psychological health, retweeted accusations that she was “drinking booze on the job,” and had a litany of derogatory nicknames for her, amongst them “Crazy Nancy,” “Nervous Nancy” and “Nancy Antoinette.”

Many of Trump’s followers echoed his rhetoric, on-line and in conservative media reminiscent of Fox News. In 2021, Fox News host Mark Levin called her “nasty old bag — that’s what she is, a nasty, vicious, unhinged fool” who “has the hots for Trump” and “can’t get Trump out of her head.”

Rhetoric involving Pelosi has typically taken violent turns as properly. In 2018 and 2019, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) repeatedly seemed to suggest support for Pelosi’s execution, amongst that of different outstanding Democrats, liking a Facebook publish that stated “a bullet to the head” can be the most expedient option to finish Pelosi’s speakership. Taylor Greene additionally claimed in a Facebook video that Pelosi was responsible of treason, noting “a crime punishable by death is what treason is.”

One candidate in the GOP major for Senate in Arizona this yr aired a Super Bowl ad that featured him dressed as sheriff capturing down an actor taking part in Pelosi, recognized as “Crazy Face Pelosi,” after he says, “The good people of Arizona have had enough of you.” In the interval since Labor Day, Republicans have reportedly since spent almost $40 million on advertisements that point out Pelosi.

Even on Friday, simply hours after the attack, Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin linked the attack on Pelosi’s husband to the November election, drawing condemnation from Democrats who called the comments insensitive.

“There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re going to send [Pelosi] back to be with him in California,” Youngkin stated at a marketing campaign rally in Stafford for GOP congressional candidate Yesli Vega.

Fox News anchors have additionally tried to tie the attack to Republicans’ message on crime in the midterms. “This can happen anywhere. Crime is random and that’s why it’s such a significant part of this election story,” Fox anchor Bill Hemmer said on air Friday.

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The vilification of Pelosi has taken a fair uglier type in extremely right-wing circles on-line. Some on Trump’s social media platform Truth Social have been overtly celebrating Friday’s attack, with the hashtag #PelosiCrimeHousehold trending over the weekend.

Arguably the present venom aimed toward Pelosi wouldn’t exist with out the many years of Republican vitriol in opposition to her. President Joe Biden made that connection specific at a fundraising dinner Friday in Philadelphia, saying that political violence is the pure final result of the sort of rhetoric that Republicans have enabled. “What makes us think that it’s not going to corrode the political climate?” he requested.

Misogyny, anti-elitism, and anti-democratic concepts function closely in assaults on Pelosi

As the first feminine speaker of the House, and one serving at a time of growing political polarization and anti-democratic violence, Pelosi has confronted uniquely intense assaults which have channeled right-wing anger about her gender, wealth, and pro-democratic rhetoric.

Even when she first ran for Congress, Republicans sought to painting her as unserious, a “liberal dilettante” and “airhead” — insults that ring of sexism.

In 2007, conservative speak radio host Rush Limbaugh mocked her election to the speakership: “This is a triumph of feminism and estrogen. … And ladies, the long 200-year national nightmare without a woman at the top is now over.” In 2009, Democrats accused Republicans of advancing antiquated attitudes in direction of ladies once they ran an advert suggesting that Pelosi must be “put her in her place” on the concern of Afghanistan. And in 2014, a Republican member prompt that she “might want to try” doing her analysis on the border, feedback that her Democratic colleagues took to be patronizing and sexist.

Pelosi doesn’t speak about her gender a lot, however on event has identified the disparate therapy and distinctive assaults she’s confronted as a girl in congressional management. For occasion, amid questions in 2014 about her age and whether or not she ought to hand the mantle to a successor, she retorted that then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is simply two years youthful than her, must be fielding related questions. And in 2018, after being demonized by Trump and the GOP and nonetheless successful the speakership, she told CNBC, “I don’t want women to think if you get attacked, you run away.”

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The assaults in opposition to Pelosi over the years have additionally targeted on her wealth. On the proper, there have lengthy been harsh critiques of “elites,” typically stoked by Fox News; more and more, as my colleague Andrew Prokop recently explained, influential members of the proper argue there’s “elite left ‘ruling class’ has captured and is ruining America, and that drastic measures are necessary to fight back against them.”

For many — together with one January 6 rioter and recruiter for the antigovernment motion The Three Percenters — Pelosi is the face of that “evil” ruling class. And she’s typically been attacked as one of that class’ most hypocritical members. She’s faced criticism for initially dismissing the concept that members of Congress and their members of the family shouldn’t be allowed to commerce shares, regardless of the incontrovertible fact that they’ve entry to confidential intelligence.

It’s a critique that was significantly intense given she is one of the richest members of Congress, with an estimated internet price of at least $46 million, and that fortune has grown in minor half because of profitable trades by Paul Pelosi, a enterprise capitalist. She later endorsed legislation that will make it tougher for members of Congress to make use of data they obtain on the job for their very own monetary achieve, nevertheless it at present appears unlikely to go.

Ironically, Trump attacked Pelosi for her wealth and elite standing a quantity of instances, maybe most notably he sought to make use of her wealth to painting her as out of contact in a 2020 campaign ad ridiculing her costly fridge stuffed with ice cream whereas Americans had been going hungry throughout the Covid-related financial downturn.

Both the sexist and anti-elite traces of attack have immediately fed into the anti-democratic assaults which have lately overshadowed the relaxation. She was a high goal throughout the January 6 rebel, when the mob tore aside her workplace, calling out her identify and trying to find her. Rioters, emboldened by Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, left little doubt as to what they might have completed to her: “We did our part. We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the frickin’ brain. But we didn’t find her,” one woman said in a selfie video.

After the rebel was put down Pelosi declared that “Democracy won.” But it’s clear that pro-Trump extremists like the man who broke into her home Friday aren’t prepared to surrender the battle.

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