In this age of social media where we’ve all elected to put our lives on blast to our tens of followers, privacy has slowly but surely become a rarity. By choosing to share so much of ourselves with the people around us, it becomes harder to draw a line between what’s fair use and what’s truly personal, whilst suggesting we might be more appreciative of attention than may actually be the case.
This is an ongoing struggle for public figures — a label which suggests an inherent sacrifice of seclusion. However, one offering certain aspects of their life to the spotlight doesn’t posit the entirety of their personhood for public consumption or response.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul was attacked Friday morning when an intruder had broken into the couple’s house with a hammer, yelling “Where is Nancy?” Pelosi struggled to wrestle the hammer from the intruder until police arrived, at which point the intruder began violently assaulting Pelosi with the weapon. Pelosi came out of the incident with a skull fracture and multiple injuries, though he is expected to make a full recovery.
This attack was no accident. The intruder, who has since been identified as David DePape, hoped to cause harm to Speaker Pelosi because he disagrees with her politics. DePape’s online footprint reveals a history of right-wing fanaticism which starkly contrasts the democratic speaker’s ideologies.
Pelosi’s presence in the U.S. political arena opens her up to commentary on all aspects of her life, regardless of their relevance to her political motivations. Nevertheless, by breaking into Pelosi’s home, DePape completely disrespects privacy rights guaranteed to all people. Trolls might come with the job, but physical assault emerges from a darker corner of the psyche than mean comments on Instagram.
The attack on Pelosi is not an isolated incident, but rather one of a string of violent political insurgence. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was subjected to loud protests directly outside of her home this past June, and in October of 2020 six men were arrested for plotting to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, in an attempt to ignite a civil war.
There’s no cut and dry solution to such societal anger. The Republican party’s relation to pro-gun and pro-military sentiments already inclines its subscribers toward violence. Beyond this, the groups of people behind these attacks act with a twisted passion, fueled by hateful online spaces where others like them hype their delusional and harmful views of a better America.
Tribalism strikes a sharp divide in the minds of these individuals, painting those with alternate points of view not just as a political opponent, but as the enemy.
Separating one’s self from their politics is far from a choice, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum — especially when politics in this day and age so directly relate to one’s personal experiences and the way they navigate through life. The interlocking of politics with one’s personality automatically dramatizes bipartisan issues. Politics becomes personal and the other side is not just disagreeable, but evil.
This intense affinity to defend one’s political alignment is only exacerbated when the alignment in question is right-leaning, as Republican leaders refuse to take accountability for the actions of their party and supporters.
From Trump’s response to the Jan. 6 insurrection, to leaders praising DeSantis’ Martha Vineyard scheme — the Republican party demonstrates an inclination to power over penance.
The first step in re-establishing an appropriate response to political difference, is condemning the responsible parties.
Rather than criticizing these incidents, turning it into some lowbrow opportunity to hit Pelosi where it hurts, it should be made clear that this is not the way to voice your grievances with political leaders.
One’s status in the public sphere doesn’t make them any less deserving of privacy, and the Republican party needs to reverberate that sentiment.
This editorial was written by Opinion Editor Lydia Evans.