It also exposed the unease about America’s over-toxic electoral climate and the dangerous link between extremism promoted on social media and violence against political figures.
The prospect of more polarizing speech also surrounds Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, as the billionaire owner has been inundated with pleas and demands from banned account holders to be allowed back on the platform.
In the wake of Pelosi’s attack, politicians from both sides of the aisle posted messages online condemning the violence.
Trump was remarkably quiet.
But his former Vice President Mike Pence, who was also targeted on Jan. 6 for confirming Joe Biden’s election victory, tweeted: “This is an outrage and our hearts are with the entire Pelosi family.”
“There can be no tolerance for violence against officials or their families. This man should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he added.
Figures from the US Capitol Police show that in the five years since Trump’s election in 2016, the number of recorded threats against members of Congress from both sides of politics has increased more than tenfold.
In 2021, 9,625 threats were made against members of the House and Senate – the highest number ever recorded. This compares to 6,955 threats surveyed in 2019 and 3,939 in 2017.
The examples are horrifying. In Seattle, for example, a man who had sent an angry e-mail to progressive Democrat Pramila Jayapal repeatedly appeared in front of her house, armed with a semi-automatic pistol and threats and profanity.
In Maine, one person sent Senator Susan Collins a video of a beheading and threatened specific acts of violence against her, while another smashed a window in her home.
And in Washington, Republican Adam Kinzinger, a member of the Jan. 6 committee investigating the attack on the US capital, has no shortage of callers to his congressional office making death threats against him and his family.
“I’m going to protest in front of your house this weekend,” one caller said in a message to his office voicemail. ‘We know where your family is… I’m going to get your wife. I’m going to get your kids.”
Against the backdrop of next week’s midterms, fears of what could be coming just heighten.
Indeed, hours after DePape was taken into custody, a joint intelligence bulletin issued Friday warned of an “heightened threat” to the midterm elections, fueled by ideological grievances and a rise in domestic violence extremism.
“Potential targets of DVE violence include candidates running for public office, elected officials, election workers, political rallies, representatives of political parties, racial and religious minorities, or alleged ideological opponents,” the bulletin said. released by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Capitol Police.
It was an ominous reminder that America is at a crossroads and that the events that unfolded in the Capitol on January 6 last year were probably just the beginning.
The obvious question is: Can American democracy survive in this environment where violence is increasingly part of political discourse?
If rhetoric and extremism increase, how long does it take for someone to be killed?
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