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Violence of The Lambs

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I was intending to complete a post I've worked on for days regarding my opposition to the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court prior to her June 2 confirmation hearings when the news broke about the murder of Dr. George Tiller. That post will now have to wait until I get these thoughts off my brain.

There has been a great deal of celebration masquerading as condemnation of the assassination of George Tiller. The mad scramble to disavow responsibility by the many vocal commentators of the corporate media would be humorous if the topic weren't so serious. This mass protestation of innocence in the vast right-wing conspiracy to impose the morality of a narrow portion of a religion which proclaims that it worships a peaceful holy man (one who refused to allow his followers to defend him from arrest, torture, and execution through violence) is only one example of their massive hypocrisy.

Allow me to establish an example. In Afghanistan, the Taliban actively threaten through murder and destruction of facilities the education of females. From Taliban "night letters" marked with a logo of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – in English – as delivered to the commissioner of education for the Kunduz province: "As of today, girls are no longer allowed to attend school."

Another letter got more graphically violent, depicting a schoolgirl at the gallows. "We have warned you," the letter chides. "If we now kill schoolgirls, you shouldn't be surprised."

Are we not at war with the Taliban in TWO countries over religious extremists performing violent acts against the United States?

Now we switch you to Randall Terry, formerly of Operation Rescue and still a very vocal opponent of abortion in the United States: "Surely there will be a dreadful accounting for what [Dr. Tiller] has done….Our actions must be equal to this crime….If abortionists were gunned down every week, it would gather no more attention than crack dealers who are gunned down every week.” (You can watch all of Terry's call to action here.)

Do you not hear "We have warned you. If we now kill doctors providing abortions you shouldn't be surprised"?

Now explain to me what the difference is between the Taliban threatening violence against the education of young women because they don't believe in it, and the radical religious types like Randall threatening violence against the generally health-related issues of women seeking abortions because they don't believe in it. (Don't take my word on abortions being generally health related. Ask conservative blogger and abortion opponent Andrew Sullivan, who appeared on MSNBC's Countdown tonight and told of the many stories he's heard from many women regarding why they chose abortion. I'll give you a sample of his message: "the testimonials we got from readers…touched upon the trauma, the risk, the terror, the regret, the uncertainty, and the ultimately personal nature of late-term abortions.")

I know women who have had abortions, and none of them ever took that choice frivolously. It took a lot of anguished discussion of all the available options with friends and family before the choice was selected. It's my personal opinion that these difficult choices prevented greater tragedy from occurring in their lives, but I am certainly glad that I was never in the position where I had to consider that option. But too often, better choices were denied because those preventive and informative options go against the beliefs of a small and vocal minority of religiously-based whack jobs, who accept the use of violence when their political pressure fails to impose their views on the rest of us.

But while you wind up the Holy Outrage Siren over my Taliban v. Christian terrorism challenge, allow me to present you with a tale of another "Good Christian" who advocated the murder of all the Democrats in Congress in order to change the makeup of the national government to a more "religious-friendly" one in a post published on November 13, 2003. The author was very careful to open up with the disclaimer that "the rhetoric of peaceful civil disobedience can lead to people resorting to violent civil disobedience", then went on to protest "I am NOT advocating the following fantasy episode, but it has a following in the darker parts of my mind."

And maybe also in the darker parts of our society, as Dr. Tiller again discovered the hard way? But I digress.

He went on to post this "fantasy episode" even though he strikes me as not needing it to make his point. There can only be one reason why he would do so, and the comments attached to that post (and especially those of the trackback-linked posts) express it better than I have space here to do so.

The following is the core of the unnecessary and inflammatory "fantasy episode" (emphasis added) so you can judge for yourself:

WASHINGTON-January 6, 2004. A paramilitary organization calling itself the Christian Liberation Front changed the balance of power in Washington by a pair of brutal attacks this afternoon. A force estimated at about 200 CLF commandos stormed the Supreme Court building, killing 35 people, including five Supreme Court Justices. At the same time, a contingent of 1,000 CLF paramilitaries attacked the Hart Senate Office Building, where a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting was being held. Approximately 50 people were killed in the attack. Once the commandos had seized the building, they systematically killed Democratic senators from states with Republican governors.

Our intrepid keyboard commando for Christ repeatedly expresses disapproval of such a coup, but still inserts the rhetorical question (assuming that his sub-average reader hasn't already gone into a killing frenzy, inspired by the bloody scenario to unlock the gun safe and go kill for Jesus), "Why shouldn't we take up arms against our enemy?"

What is so different between this "fantasy episode" and Bill O'Reilly's repeated rants aimed specifically at Dr. Tiller? (more here) I just don't see it. Both are intended to inflame and motivate focused hostility against enemies both real and perceived.

But these implied threats – however benignly cast – can take on specific hostile connotations to those who can only cogitate with their reptile brain stems. For instance, as Grassroots Politics Examiner Ron Moore reports, Jerry Falwell's Liberty University "vows to ‘fight back’ to protect right to discriminate and keep tax breaks" after effectively shutting down the school's College Democrats club over the Democratic Party's positions regarding "the moral issues of abortion and marriage". They go on to defend themselves by claiming that "Liberty cannot and will not lend its name or funds to support causes that undermine its mission and core values…"

Would that set of "mission and core values" include advocating murder when no other recourse is viable? Or would they callously deny that their extreme positions and fanatical verbiage regarding various "moral" issues" like abortion and homosexual rights inspired someone to act violently? Should someone loosely affiliated in some manner with Liberty University (as Tiller's accused assassin Scott Roeder appears to have been loosely involved with the Freemen) do so, the current actions of their co-religionists scream loudly that this would be so, for they continue to piously proclaim that "we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder…Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God" before the body is even cold.

It looks to me that these "Good Christians" actually hold with religious precepts that predate even the Ten Commandments over the New Testament, which contains all that their worship personality ever expressed in terms that they now refute with their actions. If they are ignoring the import of the words they deem holy in their effort to smite their enemies – er, God's Enemies – how can they call themselves Christians? And people wonder why Gandhi said that he liked our Jesus, but that His followers left a lot to be desired!

Another dangerous situation exists down in Texas, long traditionally active in settling disputes through the use of violence? (see: Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans by T.R. Fehrenbach – highly recommended). The "Good Christians" of Texas are all upset that Don McLeroy was removed as chairman of the State Board of Education (while remaining a board member), allegedly over his religious beliefs. As they now claim that they represent "a Suppressed Minority", could they not concoct a rationale using this demotion to rise up angry and attempt to perform for real in Austin what our blogger above posed in his "fantasy episode"? Taking violent action remains a huge part of their history and tradition, after all. All it would take is enough fiery oratory, and some Texas "arranger" could easily start a war (secession optional).

I could go on, but I'm sure by now you have something you want to say, and I do want to get this posted as soon as possible. This issue isn't a done deal, nor is it settled. We will all have much to say about this issue – and should – lest it fester and erupt into Bloody Kansas II on the way to the Second American War Among The States.

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About pessimist

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    And now we read yet more whining about the murder of a man who basically killed late term fetuses. Yes, his murder was wrong, and his murderer was a terrorist. But you seem to ignore the other side of the coin in your oh-so-diverse culture, Realist. Read on.

    This talkback was recorded at the Huffington Post article condemning “Christian Terroroism”

    William Long was murdered in a parking lot outside an army recruiting office in Little Rock, AK. Both he and Quinton Ezeagwula were shot at by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, a Muslim. I have yet to see any article, written by you, Ms. Moore, that would call this man a terrorist. Yet, you are quick on the draw to spout ‘Christian Fundementalist Terrorism’ the moment someone of the christian faith commits murder. If the murderer of this abortion doctor was committed by a Jewish man, would you call this ‘Jewish Fundementalist Terrorism’? … Are you brave enough to be honest with your readers and yourself and write an article that calls this man for what he is? A terrorist? Or not? And if not, why?

  • zingzing

    so you’re saying this guy was a lone loon and nothing more?

    or are you saying that muslims who murder soldiers are terrorists?

    or are you saying they were both terrorists?

    or are you saying that the murders in little rock didn’t make the news?

    or are you saying that blogcritics doesn’t give a shit?

    or are you saying that you like to point out muslim crimes before christian crimes?

    or are you saying that the huffington times doesn’t give a shit?

    or are you saying you hate the left wing?

    or are you saying you given up on america?

    or are you saying you need a new hobby?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I’d like to tell you the difference between the two, Realist, but as there is none I can’t do it.

    Dave

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    First: Abortion, including late term abortion, is NOT murder. Not legally. Not ethically. Not morally. The aborted fetus is nothing more than a potential vessel for a human life. It has not had its first thought or experienced its first moment of life.

    Anti-abortionists are a grouping of tight assed idiots who believe they’re doing their god’s work. What the hell’s wrong with their supposed omnipotent god? If it’s his work, let him do it. If he is so outraged by all the baby killers, let him take his measure of justice. Who the fuck do these self-righteous assholes think they are? I could go on.

    What I find despicable about those who make all their accusations on the tube and even more so on the internet, know full well that there are enough nut jobs out in the world watching and listening that at some point one or more of them will rise up, lock and load, and take action.

    Then those who did all the prodding will step back shaking their heads disavowing any responsibility. Most will even claim to be just as horrified as the rest of us. Of course, it’s all bullshit. Inside, privately they are cheering; “Hurrah, one more murdering bastard down!”

    Yes! Emphatically, they are ALL terrorists! They achieve their goals through intimidation and fear. They are no less than the worst of the Taliban or Al Qaida.
    They are, themselves, collectively murderers. Stupid, robotic murderers.

    B

  • Clavos

    They are no less than the worst of the Taliban or Al Qaida.

    Oh, please.

  • Cannonshop

    EW, foam…

    Okay, I’ll bite. Here’s the difference:

    NOBODY is going to lionize this asshat for shooting the doctor. Nobody. On the other hand, there are whole sectors of America that really think all you need to do to settle the Taliban down, is give them what they want. NOBODY in their right mind is going to say that you can settle down the American brand of Lone Nut (’cause that’s what they are-they aren’t organized and they sure as hell don’t have international support) by caving to their demands.

    I do find it interesting that jokers like this guy always seem to crop up in time to give the Left more ammunition in eroding the rights of the rest of us.

  • zingzing

    cannonshop, do you really think that “there are whole sectors of America that really think all you need to do to settle the Taliban down, is give them what they want,” and are willing to do that? do you know what they want?

    “I do find it interesting that jokers like this guy always seem to crop up in time to give the Left more ammunition in eroding the rights of the rest of us.”

    say what? no one said anything about eroding any rights from the likes of you. unless you want to take a gun and shoot someone in the face. that’s not you’re right. stop extrapolating bullshit.

  • zingzing

    name one right/civil liberty that the obama administration has taken away from you.

  • Clavos

    cannonshop, do you really think that “there are whole sectors of America that really think all you need to do to settle the Taliban down, is give them what they want,” and are willing to do that? do you know what they want?

    There certainly those who think that we should (and can)negotiate with them rather than defeat them.

    The question is, if we accede to their demands, will they cease to be aggressive — to their neighbors and to us?

    Many Americans don’t think so.

  • zingzing

    “There certainly those who think that we should (and can)negotiate with them rather than defeat them.”

    well that’s not what cannonshop said. and i think we should try to understand them rather before just bombing and killing indiscriminately.

    “The question is, if we accede to their demands, will they cease to be aggressive — to their neighbors and to us?”

    that’s why people negotiate. to figure that stuff out. if they don’t accede to OUR demands, THAT’S when you go in. NOT before. too bad we already did that and now our opportunity to actually be better than them is gone. we’re now just as aggressive as they are, if not more so.

    “Many Americans don’t think so.”

    many americans don’t think, period.

  • zingzing

    besides, clavos, you know i was just pointing out cannonshop’s hyperbole.

  • Clavos

    i think we should try to understand them rather before just bombing and killing indiscriminately.

    How do you “understand” people who (among many other things) believe girls shouldn’t be educated, and to enforce that belief, “indiscriminately” kill innocent little girls whose parents had the audacity to send them to school? Why would you even want to “understand” them?

    many americans don’t think, period.

    No argument from me there. I’d say fewer than 2% of ‘em do.

  • zingzing

    “Why would you even want to “understand” them?”

    so we don’t end up looking just as bad as them.

  • Clavos

    so we don’t end up looking just as bad as them.

    Because we oppose their barbaric feudalistic, anachronistic beliefs and the aggressive, murderous actions they perform because of those beliefs? I doubt it.

  • zingzing

    “Because we oppose their barbaric feudalistic, anachronistic beliefs and the aggressive, murderous actions they perform because of those beliefs?”

    yeah, so we invade and bomb and shoot and shit. look, i know they’re bad. that’s not the question. the question is whether or not we should try to destroy everything we think is bad. doesn’t that make us just as destructive as they are?

    pound for pound, we’re certainly not as bad as the taliban. but we weigh a hell of a lot more, and what we do has consequences. we have to be careful how we throw around our weight.

    do you believe that no one will look at our actions and deem them irresponsible, violent, power-mad, brutal and imperialistic? our actions HAVE killed hundreds of thousands of people, and whether or not the intentions behind those actions were good, people see the body count and forget about the intentions.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    people see the body count and forget about the intentions.

    Which highlights once again, the problem with people and their irrationality.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    of course, there is a certain rational to be found, and it is well-founded. there has to be a better way.

  • Cannonshop

    17 “of course, there is a certain rational to be found, and it is well-founded. there has to be a better way.”

    Okay, Name One…that has worked.

    I’ll wait.

  • zingzing

    in case you didn’t notice, we invaded first and asked questions later, so there’s no way to know if there could have been a better way. we kind of fucked ourselves.

    but we didn’t ever go to war (directly) with the soviet union, and that was a much larger problem on the world stage. we ended that one successfully, although this is a different world, with different problems and different answers to those problems.

    unfortunately, the gung-ho attitude we’ve taken to today’s problems has only resulted in more of those problems. we’re going about this totally backwards. obviously, what we are doing is compounding the situation, and we need to step back and try a more reasonable, less violent approach. not quite “turn the other cheek,” as the christians would have it, but also not “oh, let’s see how much you hate me when i do more of the thing you hate me for.”

    look at israel and palestine. that shit will never end. and now we’ve got ourselves in a similar situation. hopefully, we’re smarter than that. but if people like you can only answer “military invasion!” to every question, then we are squandering any chance at a creative solution, and diving head first into destructive war.

  • zingzing

    it’s not so much the decision to go into afghanistan that i’m decry so much as our obviously irrepressible need to go to war somewhere-anywhere, no matter who it was. then we didn’t stop there. and the whole world breathed a sigh of relief when bush left office. iran was an “any day now” proposition. i’m sure people were setting up odds and taking bets.

    what we needed was a measured response. we’ve potentially got a billion people hating on us, and the first thing we think of is war? that’s a foolish thing to do, and we’ve reaped the rewards of our foolishness for 6 years now.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    in case you didn’t notice, we invaded first and asked questions later, so there’s no way to know if there could have been a better way. we kind of fucked ourselves.

    Zing, I’m afraid you are misremembering the history. We attempted to negotiate with both Saddam and the Taliban before invading. Perhaps those negotiations could have gone farther or lasted longer, but we certainly made our intentions and needs clear and gave them plenty of chances to cooperate with what were hardly unreasonable requests.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    our negotiations were half-hearted, and obviously never meant to do anything but appease the un, media, etc.

    we were going to war, and internal documents show that. there wasn’t any stopping it.

  • Doug Hunter

    That’s not true Zing, Saddam could have stopped it but as a longtime dictator his pride was too great and his intelligence as much a failure as ours.

  • Doug Hunter

    In response to the article’s question there is a very simple distinction. Killing a woman and her family for trying to get an education is an asymetrical response. Killing a doctor who kills babies is not.

  • zingzing

    “That’s not true Zing, Saddam could have stopped it but as a longtime dictator his pride was too great and his intelligence as much a failure as ours.”

    stopped it by doing what? stepping down? come on… that wasn’t going to happen, and we knew it.

  • Doug Hunter

    True. Had Saddam stepped down to avert a war, I wonder how much different the world would be today?

    A different feeling in the country? A different economy, and possibly even a different president. Would the momentum and focus have been more on Afghanistan leading to possible captures of Bin Laden or at least more success in that arena. Abu Ghraib would not have happened and without context of other atrocities and failures Quantanamo would not seem as bad. With Saddam down and Libya’s new openness Bush might have looked like a genius and had an entirely different legacy.

    In retrospect, Hussein did get the last laugh in his feud with the Bushes. Sure he died a violent death, but such is the destiny of vicious dictators (if not us, it would have been his sons or other political opponents). He likely accelerated the downfall of the most powerful nation on earth on his way out.

  • Baronius

    Doug, are you saying that the killing of Tiller was justified?

  • Doug Hunter

    No, I was just addressing the question in the article. Killing the abortion doctor is more equivalent to killing the military recruiters than it is to killing a woman for going outside alone or learning to read.

    I do squirm a bit at the thought of late term partial birth abortions enough to understand how that could be considered killing. Someone who kills an abortion doctor probably believes strongly that abortion is murder. In that state, he thinks he is killing a killer, much like attacking Nazi death camp guards or something.

    If I had to make value judgements among murders, killing who you believe to be a killer, like Dr. Tiller or the recruiters, is probably a slight improvement over indiscriminate killing like 9/11 or disproportional killing like for breaking minor (my view of course) social codes.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? Radical muslims look upon the education of women as a serious afront to islam. They see the west as a serious threat to islam. It’s all ludicrous bullshit, but it is apparently a matter of life and death to them.

    Whether murdering a girl walking to school, thousands of people sitting in an American office building, or a doctor in Kansas who performs abortions, it’s all based in an idiotic notion of religious fervor and self-important delusions that they are serving their god.

    Religionists always believe it is their god given duty to meddle in other people’s lives. I stick by my statement above. All who rant against people like Dr.Tiller on the tube and/or on the internet share in the responsibilty for his murder. No doubt they are happy about it. They should just own up and admit it.

    B

  • Doug Hunter

    “It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?”

    True. From my perspective the greatest genocides and mass murders in history have been perpetrated by leftist atheists. From my perspective it is governments who fight wars and exterminate large groups of people, not religions, and not individual nuts.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Great article, Realist, not to mention your use of language. I’d make it more concise if I were you – we don’t need that many examples.
    If your main point was that fanaticism underlies both the Taliban policies and the nut-job’s action, then I entirely agree and don’t see how anyone could – especially Dave who wrote another article along those lines.

    As to the hypocrisy on the part of the Christian Right and the inflammatory tactics by O’Reilly and such – that’s another matter.

  • Bliffle

    Dave says:

    “in case you didn’t notice, we invaded first…”

    Zing, I’m afraid you are misremembering the history.

    So, are you going to show how Iraq actually invaded us first?