‘We are not immune’: Pelosi attack prompts talk of political violence in Hawaii
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii political leaders and experts say we are not immune to the rhetoric that can lead to violence.
Hateful, angry and provocative speech heated up during the COVID crisis, often in efforts to provoke anger from politicians. It carried over into false claims of voter fraud aimed at election officials.
The attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband is being labeled an attempted assassination, even though the speaker was not home at the time.
Police are investigating whether the suspect in the Pelosi attack was motivated by hate speech.
Political Science professor and Hawaii News Now Political Analyst Colin Moore was disturbed by the Pelosi attack, which he sees as a sign of the troubled times.
“I think we’re looking at a time of greater polarization and potential violence that we’ve far more than we’ve ever experienced in my lifetime, probably more than we’ve seen since the US Civil War,” Moore said.
Professor Moore said people should not assume Hawaii won’t see political violence, because we are seeing the rhetoric that may inspire it.
“You are seeing glimmers of it here,” Moore said. “I don’t think it’s as bad as it is on the mainland. But I don’t think we can be complacent, either.”
“It’s fine until it’s not fine.”
Hawaii’s members of congress say it feels safer here, for now.
“We are not immune from this,” Congressman Ed Case said. “We do have hate speech in our state, we do have a violence in our state and that can translate just as it can translate anywhere else in the country.”
Senator Brian Schatz said he does believe Hawaii is different.
“I do not think that we are at any significant risk in Hawaii of political violence,” Schatz said. “I think we are able to disagree and still see the basic humanity and each other, we are able to fight in the political context without turning it into a physical fight.”
State level politicians were also upset by the attack.
Veteran Republican Rep. Gene Ward wrote:
The attack on the Pelosi residence was barbaric, cowardly and despicable and has no part in our democratic process —especially 10 days before an election! The ballot box — not a hammer — is how civilized citizens express themselves, and the third person in line for the US Presidency deserves more home security.
State House Speaker Scott Saiki said it’s sad to see situations throughout the country where people are being attacked.
“There is so much division,” Saiki said.
Saiki also said at the state capitol security concerns ramped up after the insurrection in Washington. They added private security guards and cameras, but its wide open design, intended to be welcoming makes people there vulnerable.
“There is always the possibility of some acts of violence,” Saiki said. “We deal with controversial issues all the time at the legislature and I know some people get very upset.”
The house speaker added he wants to add more security guards and design a single entry point with metal detectors.
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