Media needs to call the person who attacked Paul Pelosi what he is: A MAGA Terrorist!
More MAGA Terrorism
On Friday, The San Francisco Superior Court released the shocking video of the vicious hammer attack on Paul Pelosi, the spouse of Nancy Pelosi, at their home on October 28, 2022 by David DePape. While the media has called DePape many names from “attacker” to “assailant,” they are making us less safe us by not calling DePape what he truly is: A terrorist. I don’t say that to be hyperbolic, I say it as a lawyer who has written many times in the past about how U.S. law defines “domestic terrorism” —and what DePape did was absolutely that.
The media for the most part has been focused on the police body cam footage released Friday that shows DePape holding a hammer that Pelosi is trying to grab. In this video, we can see DePape free the weapon from Pelosi’s grip and then gruesomely strike the 82-year-old Pelosi in the head, knocking him to the ground.
Those facts alone do not make this a terrorist attack under federal law. Why this is “domestic terrorism” is what DePape stated to the police—and to local media--after the incident. DePape made it 100 percent clear that he waged this violent attack for political reasons. That is the essence of terrorism under U.S. law.
Our federal law defines “domestic terrorism” by way of 18 U.S. Code Section 2331. That statute provides that “domestic terrorism” means activities that “(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State.” Clearly, we have that with DePape’s vicious hammer attack on Pelosi.
And “(B) appear to be intended” to accomplish certain objectives. The ones relevant in this case are: “(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion” or “(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”
The evidence to fulfill these prongs of the law are apparent when you look at what DePape calmly told the police after his arrest, namely that he specifically targeted Nancy Pelosi for political reasons. His goal was to make her pay for the Democrats' "persecution" of Donald Trump and his campaign, adding, “The person who was on the TV lying every day was Pelosi.”
DePape also told the police he was doing this in part to avenge Trump saying, "When Trump came into office, what they did went so far beyond spying on him.” He added that Pelosi’s crimes in his mind continued until she and the Democrats "were finally able to steal the election."
DePape revealed that his plan included taking Nancy Pelosi hostage and then severely injuring and possibly even killing her. He explained to the police: "Well, I was basically going to hold her hostage and talk to her," DePape said. "If she told the truth, I'd let her scot-free; if she f---ing lied, I was going to break her kneecaps." But he added, "I knew beyond a doubt she would f---ing lie."
Like an ISIS member, DePape also explained he was ready to die for his cause telling the police, “When I left my house, I left to go fight tyranny,” adding defiantly, “I did not leave to go surrender.”
There’s also no disputing that DePape planned this politically motivated attack out in advance. The footage released Friday of DePape outside the Pelosi home shows him wearing a large knapsack, which he puts down to retrieve his hammer. From there, he uses the hammer to break into the house via a window.
Further supporting that this was pre-planned political attack, on Friday, DePape shockingly called the newsroom of KTVU in California where he again reiterated his political motivation for the attack. He explained to the reporter that “he attacked Pelosi because people's individual liberties are under attack.” That is why he obtained the “names and addresses” of Democratic leaders “so I could pay them a little visit…have a heart-to-heart chat about their bad behavior." And instead of showing remorse, DePape despicably expressed regret for not succeeding, saying, “I should have come better prepared."
DePape’s own words tell us that he was plotting to kidnap Nancy Pelosi to affect the conduct of government as well as to influence government policy. The fact that he only attacked Paul Pelosi and not his wife as intended does not charge the nature of this terrorist incident.
Would you hesitate in calling the Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols terrorists? Of course not. These two--both associated with the extreme right-wing and militant Patriot movement--carried out their attack to avenge the August 1992 shoot-out at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, between federal agents and survivalist Randy Weaver at his rural cabin, and the Waco siege of April, 1993, in which 75 members of a Branch Davidian religious sect died near Waco, Texas. They wanted revenge against the federal government for these actions that they viewed as onerous and depriving people of their civil liberties. That is why the two targeted the federal building in Oklahoma. This was politically motivated violence and hence constituted a terrorist attack.
Same goes for the Jan 6 attack. As FBI Director Christopher Wray stated bluntly in his testimony before the Senate in March 2021 about the Jan 6 attack: “It's behavior that we, the FBI, view as domestic terrorism.” Calling Jan 6 an “insurrection” is accurate as well but to me “terrorism” is the more powerful term because the impact that word has on us, Americans in the post 9/11 world.
In reality, though, I doubt the corporate media will call DePape a “terrorist.” As we’ve seen countless times before, the corporate media is very hesitant to use the word terrorist to describe white Americans. If, of course, an attacker is Muslim, they are instantly called a terrorist. As a Muslim American, that is not only unjust, but it also makes us less safe as a nation. FBI Director Wray stated during that March 2021 testimony that the greatest threat to our nation in terms of terrorism comes from right wing forces from white supremacists to anti-government groups to right wing militias.
The attack on the Pelosi was domestic terrorism under U.S. law—arguably even MAGA terrorism like the Jan 6 attack. That is the way the media should be describing this in order to alert our fellow Americans that the greatest terrorist threat to our nation currently emanates from the white right. Anything else makes us all less safe from terrorism.
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