Editorial | Violent attacks against politicians and their families should not be politicized


(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf, File)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, left, and her husband Paul Pelosi at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors State Department Dinner on Dec. 7, 2019.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

A man broke into the home of speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul looking to attack Nancy with a hammer and zip ties. Nancy Pelosi was not there but her husband Paul was, so the suspect, David DePape, attacked Paul, smashing a hammer into his head. Following the break-in, he was charged with assault, attempted murder and attempted kidnapping.

While many members of both parties have condemned the actions, including former Vice President Mike Pence and President Biden, many have been quick to dismiss DePape’s actions and have politicized the attacks. Violent attacks on politicians or their families should not be politicized and other politicians need to denounce these violent attacks — whether or not it’s someone from their party. 

Many Republicans were either silent about the attack on Pelosi or have provided lukewarm condemnations, trying to shift focus back to the upcoming midterm elections. House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy made no public statements regarding the attack until Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called him out on Twitter for doing nothing. He then made a statement on conservative radio condemning the incident but in the lightest way possible. Violence against politicians and their families should be condemned by everyone, no matter their party — Republicans should not have to be forced to make a statement because their political enemy was attacked, they should just immediately condemn it.

Many GOP candidates have used rhetoric against Pelosi as a way to bolster their campaigns and create an enemy of the party. Many Republican candidates have continued to politicize violence against their political enemies. Research found that even after the attack, more than a dozen campaign ads are still using violent language against Pelosi. While we are in a contentious midterm election, the violent rhetoric used against political enemies is absolutely not okay, especially when it leads to violent attacks against politicians and their families. 

After 5 Republican congressmen and staffers were shot in Alexandria, Virginia, while practicing for a charity baseball game in 2017, members of both parties came together to condemn the actions of the gunman. The gunman had clear hatred for Republicans and targeted the Republican congressmen. However, everyone from both parties later came together and raised nearly $1 million for charity at the baseball game. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other members of the Democratic party spoke out against this violence and offered support across the aisle. This should be the norm — political violence should be condemned no matter the party of the violent actor or the party of the victim. Politics should not matter when a human being is attacked simply because of their party affiliation.

Politicians should avoid violent language when discussing their opponents and should instantly condemn any violent action against any politician or their family member as soon as it happens.