When an 82-year-old man who’s married to a highly-polarizing national political figure is almost beaten to death in his own home, it gives opportunity for a disturbing number of ugly Americans to rear their warped, vile heads.
The victim in question is Paul Pelosi, whose wife, Nancy, is Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and for decades was the standard-bearer of the American left, until a crew even farther left emerged – featuring members of the Congressional ‘Squad’ and their woke minions – thereby re-situating her locus on the ideological scale (because the scale moved, she didn’t) while not simmering the hatred against her.
Most Americans are good, decent, respectable people. But far too many are ugly. Not in terms of physical appearance, but rather, ugly in spirit and character.
There’s plenty of ugly to go around on both the left and the right. Here are but a few examples:
Ugly people on the left blame Donald Trump for the Pelosi attack. Why wouldn’t they? After all, he’s responsible for everything from Hurricane Ian all the way back to Eve taking a bite of the apple, isn’t he? They blame Trump for “inciting an insurrection” on January 6, 2021 (for the umpteenth time, that was a disgrace but he didn’t incite it), which they’ve now upgraded to him “attempting a coup,” and they attribute the actions of all violent rightwing lunatics to supposed dog whistles that Trump and his posse disseminate. Of course, they never point to violence on the left, such as Speaker Pelosi’s own proclamation on that aforesaid January 6 that she hoped Trump would go to the Capitol so she could “punch him out.” And the nonstop radical left riots of the Summer of 2020 in numerous American cities obviously didn’t really happen, because apparently only the right breeds dangerous nutcases.
THE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS
Ugliness knows no singular party or ideology, it knows them all. But there’s a special kind of crazy found mostly on the right. Whereas the left specializes in conclusion-jumping (i.e., “Republicans want border security because they don’t want brown people coming in”), the right conjures the most innovative tall tales, like the Clintons drinking the blood of children in order to live forever. Even Rod Serling would be impressed. This time, the con is that Mr. Pelosi and his assailant were really homosexual lovers, because both were in their underwear and wielded hammers. If that’s even true, here’s another thought: the assailant was in his underwear because he’s out of his mind, and Pelosi was in his because he was in bed. Another hypothesis (read: delusion) is that the crafty Pelosis somehow staged this attack in order to garner sympathy for themselves and to raise the national consciousness about rightwing violence. Yup, that must be it. I can see American voters decrying: “I was all ready to go vote Republican, but now that I heard about poor Mr. Pelosi being attacked, by golly if I’m not going to vote Democrat up and down the line!”
The really frightening part is that gullibility is hardly a rare commodity among Republican voters. They waited with baited breath for the results of an election investigation conducted by…a pillow salesman. Particularly ugly are the conspiracy fabricators who, unfortunately, have a steady audience of believers who, when not giving out their social security number over the phone to the scammer who wants to discuss their automobile’s extended warranty, are glued to the theorists’ every word.
The ugliest of the ugly are the mockers. Those who post dopey memes of hammers and underwear and call it their Paul Pelosi Halloween Costume. The thought of any human being – let alone one of advanced age – being pummeled in his own home is absolutely sickening. Aside from their hateful comments being devoid of cleverness, they scream of hypocrisy: these are the same people who are rightfully outraged over rampant crime, but somehow that outrage doesn’t apply when the victim’s name is Pelosi. Just like their only interest in police brutality is when the ‘victims’ were the January 6 invaders. I could go on indefinitely.
I don’t believe all these crazies magically sprung up over the past couple of decades. Sure, poisoning one’s body with drugs and processed food can impair mental health, as can glorification of violence and an obsessive romance with guns, but far more influential than anything Donald Trump ever said is an eminently toxic world of technology, from smartphones to Facebook to Twitter to 24/7 news feeds from ‘comfort food feeding troughs’ that produce the yellowest of journalism, all of which serve to poison minds and turn otherwise docile citizens into belligerent hammer brandishers.
GLIMMER OF HOPE
The only glimmer of hope on the horizon for things to get better is for people to learn to unplug more. To find a couple of reliable news sources and spend no more than an hour per day paying attention to them. And those worrying about how many ‘likes’ their posts received really need to take a brutally honest look at themselves. When you encounter a conspiracy theory, embarrass the conspirator but don’t look back for reactions. Cut the umbilical cord from that source so you won’t be notified of any replies. Move on to the next conspiracy theory and point out how dumb it is too, and why.
That Facebook (now Meta) recently lost a quarter of its value is encouraging news indeed (apologies to that company’s shareholders). It shows people are finally starting to wise up and realize that social media isn’t very social at all. And it’s hardly ever civilized.
Shame on you, ugly people. Shame on all of you.