Make no mistake about it: assassinations can and do change the course of history, although not always in the ways the assassins expect or intend.
Today’s attempted kidnapping and/or murder of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, which instead ended in her 82-year-old husband being injured with a hammer, is the direct and inevitable result of the failure of the government and law enforcement officials at all levels to hold the Orange Mountebank accountable for the January 6 putsch. Even the individual members of the mob from that day have mostly been treated with extreme leniency, with judge after federal judge bending over backward to reward them with probation or minimal prison time, as upstanding members of the community who just had a bad day.
At the same time, today’s incident is one of the highest profile assaults yet stemming from years of violent rhetoric from the Orange Mountebank, his MAGA followers, and elected officials at every level of the MAGA-tized Republican Party, some of whom are scrambling to cover their asses with the usual thoughts-and-prayers horseshit, after decades of increasingly deranged fulmination against Speaker Pelosi.
Let’s not have any illusions: the precise course of events in such an inflamed atmosphere is determined by chance. Case in point, the June 2017 “mass shooting” attack on Congressional Republicans gathered for a baseball game. If luck hadn’t intervened, a number of these officials might have lost their lives, and it’s not too farfetched to suspect that Trump would have started his fumbling attempts at imposing a dictatorship at that point, rather than in 2020.
As I have recounted many times in this blog, I was living in Israel as a dual Israeli and American citizen in the 1990s, during the November 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and its aftermath. The assassin was a young, far-right-wing Jewish Israeli who was enraged by the Rabin-led peace talks with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which had already resulted in the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, lands which the Orthodox Jewish Israelis regarded as having been promised to the Jewish people by God, while more secular Israeli right-wingers regarded negotiating these territories away as damaging to Israel’s security. There was much chatter, in the days immediately following the assassination, of a reckoning among Israeli right-wingers. But Likud Party leaders and future Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon forcefully rejected any kind of moral responsibility for the murder, although both had presided over angry rallies wherein Rabin was called a traitor and depicted on posters in a Nazi uniform. Israel’s shift to the right and eventual rejection of the peace process had much more to do with the Palestinian national movement’s intransigence and resort to wide-scale terrorism during the “Second Intifada” of the early 2000s than it did with the Rabin assassination. Nevertheless, we have now arrived at a moment where Netanyahu looks poised to return to power yet again, and has promised a cabinet post to a far-right-wing figure named Itamar Ben-Gvir who, as a 19-year-old thug back in 1995, had ripped the hood ornament off Rabin’s official car and proudly displayed it for the cameras, vowing that just as he’d gotten this trophy, they would get Rabin, too. This is the foul fruit of normalization of political violence, and an ominous portent for the future of Israel, just as the assault on Paul Pelosi is an ominous portent for America’s future.