Nancy Pelosi walked smack into the middle of a local congressional fight in Florida yesterday and was accosted by dozens of protesters — some of them from the violent right-wing group Proud Boys — who screamed “communist!” at the House minority leader.
Pelosi was on her way to an event for Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala, who stuck her foot in it by inviting Georgia Rep. Barbara Lee — a Fidel Castro admirer — to the same event. The district is heavily Hispanic and anti-Castro, having been represented previously by GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Shalala’s tone-deaf move to invite Lee caused dozens of protesters to descend on the event to make their feelings known.
Frank de Varona, a demonstrator, told the Herald he was “angry” and “furious” after he learned about the event with Lee in an email. He was part of the controversial Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and had been sentenced to 30 years in prison, according to the Herald. He was released after the U.S. government paid for his – and more than 1,000 other men’s – release.
Shalala’s campaign ultimately amended the event on its website to just include Pelosi. Lee stayed in Georgia, Pelosi said.
Better late than never, I guess.
The Republican congressional nominee, Maria Salazar, said it is “shameful” for any candidate in the district to “bring a supporter of the Castro regime to campaign.”
“This is not only disrespectful for the Cuban exile, but also for the millions of Venezuelans and Nicaraguans, many who live in this district, who are suffering as a result of the Castro regime,” Salazar said.
The demonstration was fairly mild compared to Antifa thuggery. But it was still troubling to those who see the road we’re on to anarchy and political violence. The Proud Boys are a violent fringe group and need to be sidelined. But it’s the rest of the protesters there who need a talking to.
“This is wrong. It should not happen — to Rs or Ds,” said Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska on Twitter Friday. “And it would be useful if more journalists reported that some House and Senate Democrats have been repeatedly urging the public to do this to Republicans.”
A crowd of protesters shouted profanities at Pelosi as she was on her way to meet with Democratic leaders and activists on Wednesday. In the now-viral video, anti-communist protesters can be heard yelling “Look at Nancy Pelosi right here — f***ing communist.”
“These people are acting like morons and their behavior is a total disgrace,” said Buck Sexton, the HillTV host and conservative commentator. “They’ve also done a big favor for Antifa and the mob mentality on the Left, and now we get to hear about ‘both sides.’”
Leaders on the left have had different messages, however. Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California has vocally called for harassing officials working for Trump’s administration and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey recently demanded his constituents “get up in the face of some congresspeople.”
“I don’t agree with Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, but this is absolutely the wrong way to express those disagreements,” said Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. “If you want to stop her policies, don’t threaten her, VOTE! That’s how we settle our differences.”
Scalise, who was notably the subject of an assassination attempt after a left-wing activist opened fire while Republicans were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game, has been a vocal opponent of mob-like tactics in politics. In September, he criticized his Democratic colleagues for not condemning members of their own party who participate in the upheaval.
If the Left is not going to back off and try to reestablish an atmosphere of civility — and they’re not — then the Right has to do it. I’m not buying the notion that it puts the Right at a disadvantage if we don’t act like a bunch of thugs. Even if it did, the cost to our country is far too high to win that way.
Trump isn’t helping, of course, with his pathetic and childish name-calling and congratulating a congressman who body-slammed a reporter. There’s not much leadership on the civility issue from either side, so it should be up to the rest of us to pull back from the brink and restrain our baser impulses.