A suspect has been arrested in the Wisconsin terrorism case involving a bomb set off in a Planned Parenthood case. Francis Grady is facing federal charges. A couple of things that are important to keep in mind about this case and this suspect.
1) Profiles in terrorism. Because there’s an allergy in the mainstream media to labeling terrorist acts committed by anyone other than Muslim men as what it is—terrorism—important information about the profile of a terrorist tends to go unlearned. Grady is a middle-aged white man. To those who observe anti-choice terrorism closely, this is roughly the least surprising news ever, and not just because of prior incidents of anti-choice terrorism. It’s also because the bulk of the men having public conniption fits about women being sexually active are middle-aged white men. There’s a sprinkling of women in there, but by and large, the people who are on the radio screeching about how women who use contraception are “sluts”, who convene and sit on congressional panels about how contraception is the end of “religious liberty”, who pass laws restricting abortion while making speeches comparing women to farm animals, who melt down on Fox News at the very idea that family planning clinics continue to exist, who try to eliminate all funding for contraception on the state and federal level, and who run for President while talking about the evils of contraception or why we need to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood? Middle-aged white men. For some reason, middle-aged white men in our culture are encouraged to take their generalized frustrations in life and dump all that anger on women who dare have sex with someone else without paying an enormous and unnecessary penalty for it. But because of the tendency to only label Muslim terrrorism as “terrorism”, this phenomenon gets under-analyzed. There’s been a lot of ink spilled about young men and terrorism, because of Muslim terrorism, but the profile of an American terrorist is one where he’s just as, if not more, likely to be middle-aged.
2) Grady is proud of himself. Getting the suspect to confess was no problem at all, it seems, since he’s gloating about how awesome he is.
Francis Grady, 50, spoke to reporters who were covering his first appearance in federal court since the Sunday night attack. The Green Bay Press-Gazette posted video of him walking through the courthouse followed by a short clip of him speaking to reporters outside.
“There was no bomb,” Grady said. “It was gasoline.”
A reporter asked why Grady attacked the clinic.
“Because they’re killing babies there,” he responded.
The newspaper also got more from inside the federal courtroom, where Grady reportedly interrupted the judge to ask, ““Do you even care at all about the 1,000 babies that died screaming?”
Obviously, this is classic anti-choice delusion. They’ve convinced themselves embryos are “babies”, and so it’s not much of a leap to suggest that they therefore “scream”, even though they have no mouths, lungs, or throats to scream, or brains that would compel this action. But we all know this isn’t about “babies”, so much as abortion and reproductive rights generally being a scapegoat for anger at declining male privilege and women’s expanding opportunities.
Because of the aforementioned angry, middle-aged white men denouncing women’s rights from TV and radio, from the halls of Congress to the presidential campaign, are we surprised that an anti-choice terrorist would get it in his head that he’s a hero with widespread social support? Are we surprised that he’s bragging about his crime instead of recoiling in shame? He probably thinks the Republican presidential candidates who were in the state campaigning when Grady set this bomb off are watching this on TV and approving of him.
The mealy-mouthed unwillingness to take anti-choice terrorism seriously is a large part of the problem. It’s not called “terrorism”. Conservatives offer half-hearted denunciations, but then immediately turn around and continue to offer support for the narratives that create terrorism, such as claiming that nearly every woman in America is out of line for using her access points to health care—whether it’s private insurance or government programs to fill the gaps—to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Or claiming that the 1 in 3 American women who have abortions are murderers. As long as it’s socially acceptable for men to be angry about women’s bid for equality, and as long as that anger continues to be channeled into hatred for reproductive rights, some of the angry dudes are going to turn violent. Mild denunciations of crossing the line aren’t enough. Anyone who continues to support the narrative that forced child-bearing is an appropriate social control placed on women is responsible for this.