'Fire Pelosi' organizer agrees the right wing has 'gone too far'
Nancy Pelosi AFP

The "Fire Pelosi" campaign has been going on since tea party election of 2010. That then shifted into the MAGA movement, but even the Republican Party organizer behind the "Fire Pelosi" effort agrees that it's gone way too far.

Writing in the Washington Post, Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, recalled setting up the fundraising website of Pelosi surrounded by flames for the "fire Pelosi" theme. They raised $1 million and then did a bus tour all over the lower 48 states telling people to fire Pelosi. He still has the banner today.

But after Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was shot during a town hall that he recalled rushing to other Capitol Hill Republican colleagues to talk about condemning the violence and do whatever they could to make sure no Republicans "said the wrong thing."

"That was a difficult enough task in early 2011," he confessed. "Eleven years later, I don’t know that it’s possible. Ugly tweets and jokes from some Republicans about the attack on Pelosi’s husband, Paul, suggest it is not."

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He went on to use phrases like "lower the temperature" and warn that "people keep getting hurt." But he's not the only one to express concern about the violence coming from the base of the Republican Party.

What is different is that Heye confessed that "the original sin begins with us." He recalled how the vilified Barack Obama, questioned his religion, his patriotism, and his citizenship. There were overtly racist cartoons and jokes about his lineage.

"The old 'not one of us' racist trope remained," he said. When Donald Trump came among, things got worse, he recalled.

"It should remain an indelible stain on the soul of a party that continues to support Trump, whether out of opportunity or fear," wrote Heye.

He too noted some of the hand full of examples of violence from the left, but as the New America think tank found last year, since Sept. 11, 2001, far-right terrorists had killed 122 people in the United States. Far-left people have killed 1 person. Even in the case of the attack on Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the man called the police on himself.

Another study, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, revealed that there have been 267 plots or attacks from the right. There were just 66 from the left. Meanwhile, a Washington Post-University of Maryland survey from Jan. 2022 cited 40 percent of Republicans who said that it's justifiable to use violence against the government. Only 23 percent of Democrats agree to that. There is no "two sides" to the issue, he argued.

Even Republicans when forced to answer for their actions don't understand that calling people to "fire Pelosi" with a gun is a call for violence. Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, of Minnesota, was confronted with his display of guns to say he wanted to "fire" Pelosi. CBS News' Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan asked why he had to use a gun instead of a pink slip or even flames as Heye first used.

Brennan made it clear, there's no reason to use a gun to "fire" someone but Emmer either never understood the message or didn't care. First, he tried to blame Democrats for being just as bad. Then he tried to justify it as part of his Second Amendment rights. He never explained why a gun was necessary when talking about Pelosi.

When Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said of the GOP Supreme Court Justices "won't know what hit you," he wasn't calling for his death and he certainly didn't do it while waving a gun around. Unlike Emmer, when he was confronted with it, he made it more than clear he didn't want violence, but political backlash. He didn't double down.

Heye closed by saying that it's possible to rein it in and still debate issues. But until GOP leaders make it clear that it isn't acceptable and denounce their own members like Emmer, it isn't going to stop. Pelosi won't be the end, and it's only a matter of time before more deaths happen after those who died as a result of Jan. 6.

Read his full column at the Washington Post.