Craziness, Disconnectedness, and a Toxic Political Climate Equals Violence

The attack at the Pelosi house should surprise no one.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband, Paul, was attacked in their home by a QAnon incel nut with a hammer, suffering severe injuries to the head and apparently saved only by a fast-acting 9-1-1 dispatcher and the arrival of police to the scene so quickly that they caught the assailant in the act. Thankfully, Mr. Pelosi is expected to make a full recovery.

CNN (“Alleged Paul Pelosi attacker posted multiple conspiracy theories“):

The man who allegedly attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband early Friday posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about Covid vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, and an acquaintance told CNN that he seemed “out of touch with reality.”

David DePape, 42, was identified by police Friday as the suspect in the assault on Paul Pelosi at the speaker’s San Francisco home.

Three of DePape’s relatives told CNN that DePape has been estranged from his family for years, and confirmed that the Facebook account – which was taken down by the social media company on Friday – belonged to him.

Several paragraphs of detail follow but it’s all quite familiar: a man universally considered weird and incredibly socially awkward spiraled into something much worse.

But [acquaintance Linda] Schneider later received “really disturbing” emails from DePape in which he sounded like a “megalomaniac and so out of touch with reality,” she said. She said she stopped communicating with him “because it seemed so dangerous,” adding that she recalled him “using Biblical justification to do harm.”

DePape’s social media presence similarly paints a picture of someone on a worrying trajectory, falling into conspiracy theories in recent years.

Last year, David DePape posted links on his Facebook page to multiple videos produced by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell falsely alleging that the 2020 election was stolen. Other posts included transphobic images and linked to websites claiming Covid vaccines were deadly. “The death rates being promoted are what ever ‘THEY’ want to be promoted as the death rate,” one post read.

DePape also posted links to YouTube videos with titles like “Democrat FARCE Commission to Investigate January 6th Capitol Riot COLLAPSES in Congress!!!” and “Global Elites Plan To Take Control Of YOUR Money! (Revealed)”

Two days after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of killing George Floyd, DePape wrote that the trial was “a modern lynching,” falsely indicating that Floyd died of a drug overdose.

He also posted content about the “Great Reset”- the sprawling conspiracy theory that global elites are using coronavirus to usher in a new world order in which they gain more power and oppress the masses. And he complained that politicians making promises to try to win votes “are offering you bribes in exchange for your further enslavement.”

Most of the public posts on DePape’s Facebook page were from 2021. In earlier years, DePape also posted long screeds about religion, including claims that “Jesus is the anti christ.” None of the public posts appeared to mention Pelosi.

More recently, two other blogs written by someone with the username “daviddepape” have posted content similar to that on DePape’s Facebook page.

In a string of posts on a WordPress.com blog over the course of several days in August 2022, the author complained about big tech censorship and posted statements like “Hitlery did nothing wrong.” The site has since been taken offline.

And another blog, also attributed to “daviddepape,” featured antisemitic screeds and content linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory. One video posted on the site includes a shot of Pelosi swinging a gavel during one of former President Donald Trump’s impeachments, and another video includes an image of Pelosi and other politicians. A third video includes a clip of Pelosi speaking on the House floor.

Other posts from the last few weeks featured videos accusing LGBTQ people of “grooming” children, and declared that “any journalist saying” there is no evidence of election fraud “should be dragged straight out into the street and shot.” The most recent post – linking to a YouTube video comparing colleges to cults – went up the day before the Pelosi attack.

CNN was not able to confirm that the two blogs were written by DePape.

Spoiler alert: they were.

Rolling Stone (“Paul Pelosi’s Alleged Attacker Raged About ‘Pedos,’ Shared QAnon Beliefs“) adds:

At the time of his arrest on Friday, DePape, 42, maintained a subscription-model blog where he vented rage over Covid-19 precautions and espoused beliefs shared by the conspiracist QAnon movement. The page also includes dedicated sections for Holocaust denial, climate change denial, transphobia, racism, misogyny, voter fraud conspiracy theories, Second Amendment absolutism, screeds against groomers and “pedos,” and trashing actress Amber Heard, the ex-wife of Johnny Depp.

DePape posted similar hard-right and conspiratorial content on his Facebook page, which the platform deleted on Friday.

In an Aug. 23 post on his personal blog, DePape wrote, “How did I get into all this. Gamer gate it was gamer gate.” Gamergate was an online misogynist harassment campaign that stretched across 2014 and 2015. It originated as a backlash to feminism and women in the video game industry but morphed into a strain of alt-right ideology that many argue radicalized legions of disaffected men.

San Francisco Police say that DePape entered the Pelosis’ home around 2:30 a.m. this morning. Multiple reports confirmed that he confronted Paul Pelosi, asking, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” Speaker Pelosi was not at home during the attack. Police further said that they witnessed the two men holding hammers, and that DePape took Pelosi’s hammer and assaulted him with it before officers tackled the suspect. Pelosi, who suffered blunt-force injuries to his head and body, is reportedly undergoing emergency head surgery as a result.

“He wasn’t a bad kid,” Teresa DePape, who is married to his stepfather, told Rolling Stone by phone on Friday. “But life will do weird things to everybody.”

DePape’s digital trail extends beyond Gamergate. In 2007 and 2008, he was spamming Reddit with links to an earlier blog, “The Loving God.” The last link he shared on Reddit directed to a post on the subject of “Human Sacrifice,” which he wrote is “more common than you think.”

“Other than Satanism I know of at least one Major religion with millions of devout followers around the world. That believes in the power of human sacrifice,” he claimed, going on to allude to the Christian rite of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. “This evil religion is so common you probably have heard of it. You may even practice it,” he concluded. Speaker Pelosi, a devout Catholic, received Communion during a papal Mass at the Vatican this summer.

During the late ’00s, DePape was also active on Indybay, “a non-commercial, democratic collective of Bay Area independent media makers and media outlets.” In a 2008 thread, he can be seen railing against the prospective loss of San Francisco’s public access cable station alongside a woman named Gypsy Taub, who wanted to produce a nude TV show for the station called My Naked Truth.

The guy is clearly mentally ill. But none of the behavior, individually, is wildly unusual let alone anything the authorities could have done anything about. It’s been a subject of dark humor going back four decades.

MSNBC Opinion Columnist Ruth Ben-Ghiat argues “The attack on Paul Pelosi was shocking — and yet also predictable.”

“We fight like hell,” then-President Donald Trump told supporters Jan. 6, 2021. “And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Recent warnings of political violence during the upcoming midterm elections look more prescient by the day. On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was assaulted in a targeted attack. (The suspect reportedly shouted, “Where’s Nancy?” before striking Paul Pelosi with a hammer.) Meanwhile, armed men watch ballot drop boxes, election offices install bulletproof glass and poll workers undergo active-shooter trainings. To face this peril, it is essential to understand how people can be moved from partisan hostility to outright violence.

Trump’s fateful speech — which directly preceded the breach of the U.S. Capitol — shows how demagogues can get people into this different state of mind. Much ink has been spilled in recent years worrying whether increasing polarization in the United States is to blame for increased likelihood of political violence. But that view misses the mark. Trump and his followers engage in something wholly different from polarization: survivalism.

This is followed by several paragraphs about a “strongman strategy” shared by autocrats like Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán of whipping supporters up into a sense of existential fear that justifies violence against a threatening Other.

She’s not wrong in general but I’m skeptical on the particular. DePape has been writing crazy conspiracy stuff online since at least 2007, well before Trump. He clearly glommed onto QAnon and some right-wing politics but he seemed to be of the crazy left in the early days—a weird Green Party-registered nudist, hemp jewelry making, 9-11 Truther worried about the disappearance of public access television.

A San Francisco Chronicle report (“Paul Pelosi attack: From nudist activism to online hate, suspect David DePape’s strange descent“) offers this insight:

Professor Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino, said DePape’s political trajectory, while striking, was not uncommon among people who gravitate to anti-authority messages.

“The more you are untethered from the communal institutions that hold us together, the easier it is to do a dance step to the other side, because they share a distrust of institutions and processes,” Levin said.

Oscillations from one political extreme to the other became more frequent during COVID lockdowns, when people retreated to online communities and spent less time socializing in the real world, Levin said. Use of invective also heightened on the internet during this period, as did hate crimes and plots against politicians.

He was an unbalanced, socially isolated individual who was going to latch onto something and likely go over the edge at some point. Commenting on my May post “Mass Shootings, Ideology, and Mental Illness,” OTB regular Michael Reynolds observed, “I suspect the role of ideology in this case was to define the target. Madness first, enabled by guns, target picked by belief system.” That’s my instinct here as well, albeit the assailant used a hammer, of all things, rather than a gun.

That said, while I think the stochastic terrorism concept is overblown,* there’s no denying that poisonous rhetoric has become a standard part of the American political climate or that one side is overwhelmingly responsible for that. To some extent, a separation of “real Americans” from a decadent other has been a conservative messaging device as long as I can remember. It ratcheted up considerably with the focus-group-tested rhetoric of Newt Gingrich and company and then into another stratosphere with Donald Trump, who seems to simply have a “gift” for painting opponents as traitors and losers. And I still don’t know what to make of Pizzagate, QAon, and the related craziness going on on the various “chan” sites.

Whether this particular attacker was primarily motivated by ideology almost doesn’t matter. We’ll almost see more of this sort of violence given the sheer number of crazies out there and the poisonous atmosphere.

____________________

*See my Oct. 2018 post “Memetic Warfare and Stochaistic Terrorism” and my Nov. 2021 post “Trump, the GOP, and Stochastic Terrorism” for detailed discussions. And, no, I don’t just apply this reasoning to the American right. As noted in the first of those posts, it’s absurd to blame Bernie Sanders for one of his supporters shooting up a Republican Congressional softball team. For that matter, I’ve made the same argument for the better part of two decades with respect to “lone wolf” Islamist violence.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    As a quick reminder, mentally ill people are much more likely to be the victims of violent acts than to be the perpetrators.

    Yes, some do, but statistically those suffering from severe mental illness are victims much more so than average and are less likely to commit violent crimes than your run of the mill US adult.

    Some entity politicized this guy. Highly accusatory political speech got to this person and he got an obsession.

    Violent rhetoric begets violence. Rwanda is a good example.

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  2. MarkedMan says:

    James, I agree with your assessment of this individual, and so am focusing on how senior Republican Politicians react to the incident. Virginia’s Governor Youngkin’s speech yesterday does not bode well. Knowing that Nancy Pelosi’s husband was in the hospital after being attacked by a hammer wielding assailant, he made some vague comments about violence not being acceptable but then went on to attack her by name and working the crowd up against her.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl: I don’t want to derail the thread on semantics.There are all manner of mental illnesses, the overwhelming number of which bear no relation to violence. This NIH report, which twice repeats the trope “mentally ill people are much more likely to be the victims of violent acts than to be the perpetrators,” nonetheless acknowledges that,

    Certain psychiatric conditions do increase a person’s risk of committing a crime. Research suggests that patients with mental illness may be more prone to violence if they do not receive adequate treatment,[8] are actively experiencing delusions, or have long-standing paranoia.[9] Such patients are often under the influence of their psychiatric illness such as command hallucinations. Other comorbidities include conditions such as substance use disorder,[10] unemployment, homelessness, and secondary effects of mental illness such as cognitive impairment, compound the risk of committing a violent crime.

    The most important and independent risk factor for criminality and violence among individuals with mental illness is a long-term substance use disorder.[10] In patients with a major psychiatric illness, comorbid substance use disorder, there is a four-fold increase in the risk of committing a crime or violence.[11] Studies have shown that the rise in violent crime committed by individuals with mental illness, may entirely be accounted for with a history of alcohol and/or drug use.[11]

    Individuals with a severe mental illness that fall through the cracks or for one reason or another are non-adherent to treatment are particularly at higher risk of committing grave acts of violence. Untreated profound mental illness is particularly significant in cases of homicide—the zenith of the criminal spectrum, and such illness is even more significant for mass murders of strangers. Still, these cases are a smaller proportion to senseless acts of violence committed by criminals who act out of sheer criminal intent.

    Many individuals with mental illness face an uphill battle when trying to access mental health treatment. Many individuals do not receive the appropriate and timely treatment needed. Budget overruns and cuts in funding for public health and mental health in many cities further put people with mental illness in situations where they are involved in criminal activity. Further complicating the picture is the lack of mental health treatment facilities. Despite greater awareness and effort to increase access to mental health treatment facilities, mental hospital beds per capita in the U.S. are lower than they have been since the 1850s.

    That’s what we’re talking about here, if via lay shorthand. We’re not trying to predict future criminal behavior trying to dissect crimes after the fact to make sense of them.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: It appears that all he said was, “Speaker Pelosi’s husband had a break-in last night in their house, and he was assaulted. There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re gonna send her back to be with him in California. That’s what we’re going to go do.” That’s a bit tasteless under the circumstances but hardly an “attack,” much less “working the crowd up against her.” It’s a campaign rally, for goodness sake.

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  5. drj says:

    DePape has been writing crazy conspiracy stuff online since at least 2007, well before Trump.

    But it took Trump (and related craziness) to push him over the edge.

    Relatedly:

    Madness first […] target picked by belief system.

    This is incomplete.

    What we know (lots of studies have been done) about the average (the hardcore ideologues are a distinct minority) radical Islamist terrorist is that they tend to be individually maladjusted and usually exhibit at least some traits of untreated mental illness.

    But additionally, it takes a sufficiently powerful motivation to make them act, i.e., a receptive social circle and sufficiently respected “elders” in whatever shape or form.

    Terrorists don’t act because they are crazy and read some random shit on the internet, but because they are crazy and are actively encouraged by well-known authority figures.

    We can be reasonably certain that Pelosi’s attacker would not have acted without individuals like Tucker Carlson, MTG, and, of course, Trump himself.

    These people (none of them nobodies) gave validity to the perps belief system. Some of them because they believe that nonsense, others because they merely profit from it – or perhaps even a mix of the two.

    Saying that the perp was crazy and was going to blow anyway at some point amounts to simply looking away from what’s happening around us.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    She’s not wrong in general but I’m skeptical on the particular. DePape has been writing crazy conspiracy stuff online since at least 2007, well before Trump. He clearly glommed onto QAnon and some right-wing politics but he seemed to be of the crazy left in the early days—a weird Green Party-registered nudist, hemp jewelry making, 9-11 Truther worried about the disappearance of public access television.

    As Adam Silverman said in his post last night,

    DePape was radicalized from a crunchy granola, Green supporting, part time naturalist/nudist, maker of hemp jewelry living in Berkeley into a full on QAnon, anti-vax, Holocaust denying anti-Semitic, neo-reactionary, MAGA enthusiast. And that radicalization came from exposure to some of the most extreme figures on the shitbird left. Individuals who have gone so far to the extreme in the pursuit of ideological purity, personal profit, or both that they’ve looped around and overlapped with the neo-fascist right.

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: The fact that he chose to keep this line in his speech knowing that her 82 year old husband had just been attacked speaks to me about the content of his character and his ability to empathize as a human being. I’m not saying everyone has to feel the same as me, but that’s my takeaway.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: What the hell is that quote about? Is this Silverman guy claiming QAnon is a Democratic conspiracy!?

  9. James Joyner says:

    @drj:

    Saying that the perp was crazy and was going to blow anyway at some point amounts to simply looking away from what’s happening around us.

    The post is literally titled “Craziness, Disconnectedness, and a Toxic Political Climate Equals Violence.” I’m not looking away from anything.

    The fact of the matter, though, is that there are literally millions of people exposed to this toxicity. 74,216,154 Americans voted for Trump. Tucker Carlson averaged 4.5 million viewers during the key cycle in 2020. Those who go full QAnon are a tiny subset of that number. And those who commit violence are less than a rounding error.

    I don’t think the violence happens—at least to to this scale—without the toxicity. But the toxicity isn’t the only factor in the equation.

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  10. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: Silverman’s post is longwinded and diverges into many topics, including a discursion into the transgender origins of “Red Pill” and the idea that Putin is behind all of these conspiracy theories. But he’s likely right that it’s not hard to move from the fringe-left to the fringe-right, for reasons Brian Levin points to (cited in the OP).

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  11. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    But the toxicity isn’t the only factor in the equation.

    But it’s the central factor.

    There was a crowd ready to lynch Nancy Pelosi on 1/6.

    And now, her husband was violently attacked in his own home.

    Mental health is not the central issue here.

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  12. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Sooner or later, one of these attacks will succeed. What will follow? It’s possible that someone from the looney left (way to Pelosi’s left) will decide to fight fire with fire. That will be a dreadful day for our nation.

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  13. Jen says:

    How do we turn the temperature down when a fair chunk of individuals have completely lost touch with reality?

    Where is the dividing line between “worked up over conspiracy theories” and “clearly mentally ill”?

    Is there a through line between showing up at Comet Ping-Pong Pizza and demanding to see the (non-existent) basement, the attack on the Capitol, and invading Speaker Pelosi’s home?

    There’s a point at which Republicans need to take a look at their responsibility in all of this. Yes, there are nuts everywhere, but Republican leadership has been virtually SILENT on the nutball conspiracies that are feeding into this behavior.

    No one–NO ONE–should “bothsides” this. Republicans need to step up and start condemning the conspiracy theories and the conspiracy theorists. Even if it costs them their base, because it means their base is NUCKING FUTS.

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  14. Cheryl Rofer says:

    The “toxic political climate” is solely due to Republican calls for violence. How many Republican officeholders send out Christmas cards with photos of their families, even the children, holding weapons of war? Correct trigger discipline, though.

    Or check out any of MTG’s or Lauren Boebert’s public utterances. Or a great many other Republicans’ words. Look at how many Republicans reached across the aisle yesterday to offer comfort and support to the Pelosis. Hint: single digits.

    Democrats aren’t doing these things. One of our political parties has gone off the rails, and we need to correct that by defeating them decisively at the ballot box.

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  15. James Joyner says:

    @drj:

    But [toxicity is] the central factor. . . . Mental health is not the central issue here.

    The problem with that is that tens of millions of people are exposed to the toxicity and yet only a tiny handful are committing violence. Rather obviously, the key variable in explaining the violence is something other than exposure to toxicity.

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan:

    DePape was radicalized from a crunchy granola, Green supporting, part time naturalist/nudist, maker of hemp jewelry living in Berkeley into a full on QAnon, anti-vax, Holocaust denying anti-Semitic, neo-reactionary, MAGA enthusiast.

    I’m not sure how Adam could be any clearer.

    1
  17. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    and yet only a tiny handful are committing violence

    “It’s really only a tiny handful of assassination attempts on the country’s third-most powerful elected offical. Let’s not focus on the ideology that promotes such attempts.”

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  18. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “I’m not saying everyone has to feel the same as me,”

    My thought was that this disgusting creep just ripped off his mask of “moderate centrist” and revealed himself to be as loathsome as any Trumper. And that this jolly little joke should be hung around his neck wherever he goes for the rest of his parasitic existence.

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  19. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “And those who commit violence are less than a rounding error.”

    Or they’re the vanguard. The shock troops.

    The Fascist right doesn’t need all of Tucker’s viewers to pick up weapons and start killing their political opponents. They need a “rounding error’s” worth of people to do that, and the rest to sit back and nod approvingly.

    Or make inoffensive little jokes about sending Nancy Pelosi back home to be attacked as well.

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  20. drj says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Republicans were never subtle about it.

    In campaign ad, GOP Senate candidate shoots gun at actors playing Biden, Pelosi and Sen. Mark Kelly

    <blockquote>GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert released a Nancy Pelosi attack advert with a gunshot sound effect

    Could easily post more examples, but there is a limit to the number of links in a single comment.

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  21. Mikey says:

    @wr:

    My thought was that this disgusting creep just ripped off his mask of “moderate centrist” and revealed himself to be as loathsome as any Trumper.

    Those of us unfortunate enough to live in the state he governs knew this a long time ago. He’s always been duplicitous.

    1
  22. MarkedMan says:

    The problem with always trying to be the level headed moderate is that it renders you incapable of realizing when things have gone off the rails and the fascists really are trying to take over.

    When we discuss the true fact that only a tiny rounding error of radicalized Muslims crashed planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvanian soil, it is all too easy to transition to minimizing the incredible infrastructure and belief system that bred them, trained them and provided logistical support.

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  23. Tony W says:

    @James Joyner: So your argument is “not all Republicans”.

    That’s pretty weak. It’s akin to “not all men are rapists”. It makes us feel good, like we’re not really part of the problem. It lets us dismiss the issue as somebody elses’ concern.

    The fact is that while not all Republicans are domestic terrorists, nearly all domestic terrorists are Republicans.

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  24. Jay L Gischer says:

    He was an unbalanced, socially isolated individual who was going to latch onto something and likely go over the edge at some point.

    I dunno, I don’t think what he did was inevitable. I have known a few men who have been drawn into cults and misused by them. The vulnerability that they had was their longing to belong to something, to be part of a group. This longing got exploited for money and power, though in at least one case the “exploiters” were also being exploited.

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  25. James Joyner says:

    @Tony W:

    The fact is that while not all Republicans are domestic terrorists, nearly all domestic terrorists are Republicans.

    I don’t know that this is true as a factual matter, in that I suspect the vast majority of the terrorists don’t actually bother to participate in elective politics. But I agree that the dominant domestic terrorist threat is right-wing, white nationalist, or whatever label you want to put on it. I don’t know that this is inherent in the ideology, though, but in the fact that they’re a formerly dominant group that rightly feels like they’re now losing power. There was a time in living memory when most domestic terrorists were far left.

    4
  26. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    When we discuss the true fact that only a tiny rounding error of radicalized Muslims crashed planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvanian soil, it is all too easy to transition to minimizing the incredible infrastructure and belief system that bred them, trained them and provided logistical support.

    I don’t think that example works as well as you think it does. President Bush was quite right that Islam preaches peace and that the terrorists are an infinitesimal part of a religion with more than a billion adherents. But there’s a difference: al Qaeda and the like were actively recruiting, training, and planning terrorist attacks. That just doesn’t work for these “lone wolf” folks, Islamist, QAnonist, or whatever.

    3
  27. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner:

    President Bush was quite right that Islam preaches peace and that the terrorists are an infinitesimal part of a religion with more than a billion adherents. But there’s a difference: al Qaeda and the like were actively recruiting, training, and planning terrorist attacks. That just doesn’t work for these “lone wolf” folks, Islamist, QAnonist, or whatever.

    Which is of course the distinction between sponsored terrorism and stochastic terrorism. The “lone wolves” are every bit as radicalized as any al Qaeda terrorist, they just move according to their own impulses rather than being directed to the where/when/how.

    The key to both is how the leaders of the respective movements consistently spread a message of grievance and idealized violence.

    5
  28. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    From the GAO:

    GAO-17-300: COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM

    As shown in
    figure 2, fatalities resulting from attacks by far right wing violet extremists
    have exceeded those caused by radical Islamist violent extremists in 10
    of the 15 years, and were the same in 3 of the years since September 12,
    2001. Of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since
    September 12, 2001, far right wing violent extremist groups were
    responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists
    were responsible for 23 (27 percent). The total number of fatalities is
    Page 5 GAO-17-300 Countering Violent Extremism
    about the same for far right wing violent extremists and radical Islamist
    violent extremists over the approximately 15-year period (106 and 119,
    respectively). However, 41 percent of the deaths attributable to radical
    Islamist violent extremists occurred in a single event—an attack at an
    Orlando, Florida night club in 2016

    And that was back in 2016. The problem has gotten even more heavily weighted toward right wing political violence in the time since.

    3
  29. de stijl says:

    If I ran the world every candidate and incumbent who featured themselves holding a gun in a political ad or on their website would be banned from political office forever.

    We should shun them and degrade them and mock them. They are the worst of us and I fucking God damn hate it.

    I don’t understand it. It is fucking appalling. It is so fucking dangerous to a civil society. It is wrong on every level.

    If you feature yourself with a gun in a political ad you are demonstrably a super shitty person and should not have the privilege of holding a public office. Fuck you!!!

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  30. Tony W says:

    @de stijl: It’s also extraordinarily weak and frail to be unwilling to go purchase milk at the local WalMart without a sidearm.

    They think they look tough, but in reality they look like frightened children.

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  31. CSK says:

    @Tony W:
    I think those kind of guys are having hero fantasies.

    1
  32. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    But there’s a difference: al Qaeda and the like were actively recruiting, training, and planning terrorist attacks.

    It’s not a perfect analogy but in my view the Republican establishment is actively colluding with those that are training and planning terrorist attacked. The people funding the terrorists are the same ones finding the Republican Party. You seem to see a great deal of space between the Republicans who try to interfere with an investigation into the July 6th attempted coup, and who actively campaign with and support the very groups that planned this attack and trained the violent white nationalists who participated, and who also excite mobs over the “injustice”’of locking these thugs and criminals up where they belong. As for me, I don’t see much space at all. These aren’t some fringe of the Republican Party but the leaders at the highest level. And of course their self proclaimed head of the party, to whom they all bend the knee, is a literal coup leader himself.

    Whatever space is between these leaders and the domestic terrorists they support is only there for the barest veil of plausible deniability.

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  33. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: This was literally a report seeking to answer the question of whether domestic right-wing violence or Islamist violence were responsible for more incidents during the period in question. Left-wing violence wasn’t even in the discussion.

    Regardless, most of the incidents (of which there were only 44) seem to have been of the organized variety: Ku Kluxers, Skinheads, and the like. (And, weirdly, they decided that the 10 DC sniper shootings inside DC only counted as one incident, even though they were separate event.)

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  34. gVOR08 says:

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Pelosi family.

    Now is the time to find common ground. Sadly, before the sun had even set on the horrible day of tragedy , we witnessed a now familiar parade of cynical politicians seeking to exploit the tears of the sobbing family to increase their own power and take away our constitutional speech rights.

    We need to drastically change our approach to mental health. All of us must unite, Republican and Democrat, in every state and at every level of government to finally harden the homes of our representatives and justices.

    (Second and third paragraphs, with only the slightest, obvious edits, are Trump at the NRA convention three days after Uvalde.)

  35. Franklin says:

    @James Joyner: I would classify “a bit tasteless” as an understatement here.

    Anyway, not to turn this into a gun thread, but I can hear idiots saying, “derp derp, should we ban hammers, too?” But Mr. Pelosi would have been dead if it was a gun.

    3
  36. Matt says:

    Over the decades I’ve had interactions with people who will spend a great deal of time explaining how the world is ruled by a cabal of rich people. Every time I respond with something like “oh so you support a 90% top rate then? Every time they reflexively respond with no because high taxes are EBIL. IT’s like “yeah but weren’t you just complaining about super rich people being ebil?” and I have yet to get any real response to that. They always end up jumping to something else without responding to my point.

    Just a thought I had reading about this particular person’s hobby horses.

    @Franklin:

    But Mr. Pelosi would have been dead if it was a gun.

    Maybe or maybe not. Getting shot in real life doesn’t magically result in instant death like in the movies. Couple years ago one of my neighbors was shot in the head and another shot in the chest. Both survived without long term complications. Lot of blood though and I was legit worried the one with the head wound wasn’t going to make it.

    1
  37. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    There was a time in living memory when most domestic terrorists were far left.

    That has more than half a century ago now

    The real issue here is you refuse to acknowledge the growing radicalization of the right because if you do, you’ll have a duty to do something about it, and you’re the RL embodiment of Kevin Bacon from Animal House standing in the middle of chaos fruitlessly insisting everyone “remain calm”

    7
  38. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan:

    You seem to see a great deal of space between the Republicans who try to interfere with an investigation into the July 6th attempted coup, and who actively campaign with and support the very groups that planned this attack and trained the violent white nationalists who participated, and who also excite mobs over the “injustice”’of locking these thugs and criminals up where they belong. As for me, I don’t see much space at all. These aren’t some fringe of the Republican Party but the leaders at the highest level.

    Absolutely 100% this. Just look at the stuff DePape was posting on social media (from the CNN report Dr. Joyner linked above):

    Last year, David DePape posted links on his Facebook page to multiple videos produced by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell falsely alleging that the 2020 election was stolen. Other posts included transphobic images and linked to websites claiming Covid vaccines were deadly. “The death rates being promoted are what ever ‘THEY’ want to be promoted as the death rate,” one post read.

    DePape also posted links to YouTube videos with titles like “Democrat FARCE Commission to Investigate January 6th Capitol Riot COLLAPSES in Congress!!!” and “Global Elites Plan To Take Control Of YOUR Money! (Revealed)”

    Two days after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of killing George Floyd, DePape wrote that the trial was “a modern lynching,” falsely indicating that Floyd died of a drug overdose.

    This is NOT fringe stuff in today’s Republican Party, it’s the mainstream of thought and opinion. It’s what the leadership is pushing and what the party faithful are regurgitating at every turn. Election denial, COVID denial, anti-vaxx, transphobia, false assertions about the Jan. 6 committee, “global elites” (aka the Jews), lies about the murder of George Floyd, and on and on. EVERY Trump supporter believes and spreads this nonsense.

    14
  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner:

    There was a time in living memory when most domestic terrorists were far left.

    Indeed. I was a teenager in those days. Doesn’t change the current reality and climate one iota, though.

    But I’ll give you credit for going back only 50 years. JKB has to go back 100+ to get his examples.

    10
  40. JKB says:

    Might want to be careful falling for the narrative reporting. Seems this DePape story has complexities for everyone but is more likely to be more “he’s a microcosm of the drug-induced psychosis gripping the West Coast in particular” as Micheal Schellenberger writes on his substack: “Pelosi Attack Suspect Was A Psychotic Homeless Addict Estranged From His Pedophile Lover & Their Children/Berkeley resident David DePape was more in the grip of drug-induced psychosis than ideology-induced fanaticism”

    “Neighbors described DePape as a homeless addict with a politics that was, until recently, left-wing, but of secondary importance to his psychotic and paranoid behavior.”

    “‘What I know about the family is that they’re very radical activists,’ said one of DePape’s neighbors, a woman who only gave her first name, Trish. ‘They seem very left. They are all about the Black Lives Matter movement. Gay pride. But they’re very detached from reality. They have called the cops on several of the neighbors, including us, claiming that we are plotting against them. It’s really weird to see that they are willing to be so aggressive toward somebody else who is also a lefty.’…. Wrapped up in their own obsession with Trump Republicans, most journalists have missed the real story. David DePape is not a microcosm of the political psychosis gripping America in general. Rather, he’s a microcosm of the drug-induced psychosis gripping the West Coast in particular. Yesterday afternoon I visited the Berkeley house where DePape had lived with his former lover, Oxane ‘Gypsy’ Taub, 53, a charismatic Russian immigrant 11 years David’s senior. DePape appears to have fallen under the spell of Taub around 2003, when DePape was a quiet, video game-obsessed 21-year-old in Powell River, a town of 14,000 people that is a four-hour drive up the coast of British Columbia from Vancouver…..”

    1
  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    While I’m still here, I’ll note that a significant difference between “then” and “now” was that the left found it necessary to reject their more radical elements because the Radical Left was becoming instrumental in the non-radical left not getting elected. It’s part of what triangulation and forming the Democratic Leadership Council was about.

    By contrast, Republicans find it necessary to embrace their more radical elements because those elements are instrumental to Republicans holding power. There ain’t gonna be no “good” Republicans; there ain’t gonna be no “good” conservatives to take control of the mess. The mess is what keeps whatever slender hold on the wheels of power that they have.

    1
  42. Stormy Dragon says:

    @JKB:

    A 21-year old dating a 32-year old is a “pedophilic relationship”?

    Seriously, JKB, is your compulsion to say stupid stuff in public part of some sort of humiliation kink? Because I’m getting grossed out constantly getting dragged into the right’s BDSM play without consent.

    12
  43. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    What the hell is that quote about? Is this Silverman guy claiming QAnon is a Democratic conspiracy!?

    Without bothering to read the rest of the Silverman article, I’m assuming he means that the Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi cluster of the left gives a very quick path to the alt-right. And the crunchy granola antivaxx crowd also has a lot of contact points with the right wing now.

    3
  44. One American says:

    Could of sworn I recently saw a video of Nancy saying she wanted to punch out the sitting President on Jan 6 filmed by the Pelosi daughter, so yeah Trumps fault.

  45. MarkedMan says:

    @One American:

    Could of sworn I recently saw a video of Nancy saying she wanted to punch out the sitting President on Jan 6

    .. after he sent a mob of half insane, mentally deficient thugs to literally kill her, but yeah, “both sides”, you pathetic moron…

    18
  46. Mikey says:

    @JKB: And yet despite all that, going back over 20 years, he never before thought to break into a member of Congress’ home and attempt to kill the member’s husband.

    The biggest bonfire in the world is just a pile of wood until the spark. We all know what DePape’s spark was. Stop trying to handwave it out of existence.

    7
  47. Gustopher says:

    And, no, I don’t just apply this reasoning to the American right. As noted in the first of those posts, it’s absurd to blame Bernie Sanders for one of his supporters shooting up a Republican Congressional softball team.

    Bernie Sanders doesn’t peddle conspiracy theories, call his opponents pedophiles, use eliminationist language, target individuals, etc. Nor does anyone in his circle, and he has had a few scum bags in his circle.

    We don’t draw those connections because those connections aren’t there.

    The Republicans have brought QAnon into the fold, and embraced the crazies. Even the “good” Republicans tolerate it as a cost of getting power. Which is more likely, a narrow Republican victory that puts MTG, Boebert and similar in key positions, or a branch of the Republicans refusing to support any leadership that does so?

    8
  48. al Ameda says:

    This ‘incident’ is very likely going to become yet another episode in the ‘Both Sides Do It’ journalistic kabuki, that inevitably favors Republicans.

    We already have articles and opinions that give as much weight to the opinion that ‘San Francisco is lawless and crime ridden’ as to the fact that ‘where’s Nancy?’ was again in play here.

    5
  49. dazedandconfused says:

    I suspect there has been a loss of awareness in the political class on the dangers of reckless rhetoric. It may be the late 60s, in which JFK, RFK, and ML King all went down to lone-wolves such as this guy brought a time when that awareness was in the backs of most of their minds, but this is a new generation which is learning that lesson the hard way. Hopefully it will not need as many examples.

    2
  50. Mister Bluster says:

    @dazedandconfused:..It may be the late 60s, in which JFK, RFK, and ML King all went down to lone-wolves

    President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

  51. Gustopher says:

    @Mister Bluster: That was late 1963.

  52. dazedandconfused says:

    I’d delete the “late” to mollify the pedants, but the God of Edit has decreed it must stand….

    2
  53. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    There was a time in living memory when most domestic terrorists were far left.

    This would wholly depend on how one defines terrorism, how one defines left and right, and whether one is considering means, ends, or both in the definition of left and right.

    And only one side has had consistent State support of their terrorism and it ain’t the left. In some cases, the terrorists were agents of the State.

    4
  54. Michael Reynolds says:

    Good Republicans = Good Nazis.

    5
  55. Mimai says:

    @Kurtz:

    whether one is considering means, ends, or both

    I think I agree with this. And that bothers me to some extent. Hmmm…

    2
  56. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: There is nothing Republican Politicians can do. The Right-Wing Media Entertainment Complex IS the Republican Establishment.

    This is what Democrats do not understand yet. Republican Politicians ARE NOT afraid of the “Base”. The are afraid of Hannity, Tucker, and the army of radio hosts, TV preachers, and websites who whip the Base into a frenzy against them should they step out of line.

    6
  57. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Jen: How? Start counter-messaging in rural areas and expand on the Alex Jones model to make it cost prohibitive for many of these RW media personalities to go beyond a certain point of crazy.

    There is no disincentive for them to poison the airwaves with conspiracy after conspiracy…broadcast after broadcast. This is why Georgia Republicans with vote for Herschel Walker, or ham sandwich over a Dem Preacher. The preacher is going to destroy America after all.

    2
  58. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Wrong. You will never defeat the malignancy in the Republican party at the ballot box. Democrats are not that popular outside of Academics, Social Activitists, and political junkies.

    These people have a deeply held belief that Democrats are going to destroy the country. They’ve been convinced of that by a media ecosystem designed to radicalized target populations. There is no other competition for this ecosystem so you have 30+ of twisting and redefining reality into the most negative interpretation possible of Democrats.

    The only real hope for Democrats is this permissive environment challenged and the RW media personalities themselves are the subject of conspiracies and undermining. “Rush is a liar because…” is useless. Rush in the Caribbean with cases of viagra and *probably* under aged girls. Rush connected with Foreign money and corrupt politicians… You get the gist.

    The Hannities, Carlsons, Falwells, you name the RW/Evangelical talking head all get the stoke the fire from the sideline but never get pulled on the field. Are they that squeaky clean? Doubt it.

    4
  59. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @drj: Further, probably as few as 3 assassination attempts would throw the nation into chaos. Percentage is meaningless here. Only a small percentage of people were radicalized by ISIS. Glad that didn’t cause any problems

    2
  60. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @al Ameda: Not very likely…Will.

    My 60-something Secretary pointed to the office TV when it broke on Fox and laughed with glee saying she didn’t feel sorry for them at all because they were Jerks.

    Where would she get that idea about the Pelosi? Mind you, this same lady is also an uber animal lover..you would think she was a left winger if her love of animals was the only thing you knew about her. This is how RW propaganda works…it dehumanizes people. To the point a lady who’d cry if a cat had a hang nail would laugh if a Democrats skull was cracked with a hammer.

    5
  61. Gustopher says:

    We can all relax, it turns out there is a simple explanation for this apparent attack.

    According to my brother:

    He didn’t try to kill Nancy. He was there with Paul. Reportedly, both were in their underwear and after the police got there, Paul tried to hit him with a hammer and the guy took it away and hit Pelosi with it.

    The report that the guy broke in doesn’t match visible evidence of a glass door shattered from the inside.

    Pelosi’s don’t normally stay at that house. So maybe the guy was squatting???

    Paul introduced the guy to the cops as “My friend Dave”
    Whole thing is weird.

    Guy has a history of gay prostitution and drug use. His house is decorated with BLM and Rainbow flags. Real story is probably the guy is batshit crazy. Period.

    But he’s not some MAGA nut, just a regular nut.
    Heroïn abuse seems to be linked to schizophrenia…

    I think that last line is perhaps in reference to my brother’s own Heroïn abuse. Hard to tell.

    2
  62. Kurtz says:

    @Mimai:

    I think I agree with this. And that bothers me to some extent. Hmmm…

    Sheesh, I thought I had some modicum of respect from you even if you hate Gulden’s.

    1
  63. Mimai says:

    @Kurtz:

    Ha! To clarify, emphasis on the “this” and not the Kurtz. Or his bugaboo. Yellow stains notwithstanding.

    1
  64. Kurtz says:

    @Mimai:

    Nah, I know. It bothers me as well. I thought the addition of a bit of humor may assuage some of the discomfort.

  65. Gustopher says:

    @Kurtz: Surely this is not the beloved mustard that is hated, and instead some other Gulden’s?

    Hating Gulden’s mustard is … ok, it’s not quite antisemitism, but it runs in the same circles.

  66. Kurtz says:

    @Gustopher:

    Heh. It’s been a running joke between Mimai and me for a few weeks.