sI’m not the only one haunted by visions of 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, husband of the Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi, struggling with an intruder in the early hours of last Friday. It’s not hard to imagine the horror Pelosi felt when he made his encrypted phone call to the police, to tell them that someone had broken into his San Francisco home. And it’s all too easy to picture his attacker, David Dibab, calling out, “Where’s Nancy?” , the same cry from the rebels who roamed the corridors of the US Capitol on January 6.
In fact, the one thing that is hard to understand is why, given the current political climate, incidents like this don’t happen so often. According to the US Capitol Police, there were 9,621 threats against members of Congress in 2021, and the frequency of those spam emails and phone calls appears to be increasing. republican and Democrats Both were warned that they and their families would be killed, and some wisely used the ruling allowing them to use their campaign money to pay for private security teams.
Tighter surveillance and more armed patrols might make our politicians safer, but it’s precisely the kind of first aid we’ve been affixing to the deep wounds our society is suffering. The quick fix to hire more guards is not unlike New York City’s plan to reduce subway crime by strengthening the police presence. A thief may be deterred by the sight of a uniformed officer, but people pushing passengers onto the rails are more likely to stick to the directions of the voices inside their heads rather than checking the location of the nearest CCTV camera.
One could argue that David Debaby has more in common with these deranged attackers than the protesters expressing their concerns outside the US Supreme Court. This difference suggests that violent extremism and a descent into the rabbit hole of conspiracy theory can be understood – and treated – as a form of disorder rather than a sign of voter discontent and another symptom of our political divisions.
Of course, many supposedly “sane” politicians exploit and exacerbate anger and paranoia – spreading lies about the evils of science and the government’s scheme to stifle our freedoms – in order to gain attention and increase their voter base. But although it is despicable to condone and encourage violence, it is not the same as perpetrating it. It wasn’t Marjorie Taylor Green who broke Paul Pelosi’s skull.
The Republican Party’s obsession with gun ownership has made deadly weapons free for the mentally ill, but few school shooters have claimed that they massacred innocent students because Joe Biden stole the election. During a recent outcry over Kanye West’s hateful anti-Semitic and anti-Black comments, the fact that he was diagnosed as bipolar withdrew from public conversation. And while it is true that mental instability is not necessarily a cause—and certainly not an excuse—for prejudice and hatred, it is hard to argue, as California psychologist Bedford Palmer II did, that Yi’s instability had absolutely nothing to do with his own destruction. whirlpool.
Almost every day we seem to read another article about the mental health crisis that our country – and most of the world – is experiencing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone who has recently spent any time in an American city knows how dire the situation can be. Walking eight blocks in midtown Manhattan, I counted three people with severe mental distress—and these were only apparent cases.
However, no one, as far as I know, has offered a practical, far-reaching, and effective solution to fully address our problems – let alone cure them. We arrested and prosecuted dozens of rioters on January 6, but I haven’t yet read a single article that has brought me that much closer to understanding the psychology of someone who might grab a can of bear spray and call Mike Pence’s blood. We know that racism and inequality fuel anger that incites political violence, but I imagine that few of those who push metro passengers away from the platforms do so because they fear being replaced by Jews and people of color. Several perpetrators of anti-Asian attacks in New York City over the past year have recently been found released from homeless shelters and mental hospitals.
I’m not suggesting that we stigmatize mental illness more egregiously than we actually do. Instead, I suggest we recognize the need for — and find — some way to remedy the kind of instability that sent David Debaby to Peluses’ house in the middle of the night. Our cities and states — and the federal government — need to make better plans for intervention. Kanye West’s former corporate sponsors might want to stop whining about how much money they’re losing by cutting ties with him — and donate some of the profits they earn without him to fund outreach and treatment centers.
More cameras, more cops, longer prison terms – that’s not enough, and ultimately the probation and punishment model will not provide a permanent solution. Gun control would greatly help reduce senseless bloodshed, but let’s remember: Paul Pelosi and David Debaby struggled for a hammer, not a long gun. We need to come up with a more innovative and holistic treatment for our mental health crisis. Because the truth is: we need help.
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