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.