How mainstream are “pro-life” extremists?
I have a total backlog of links on health care, foreign policy, and Sotomayor’s nomination, but honestly, I feel right now that I have to put much of my time to this domestic terrorism issue, so that Dr. Tiller’s assassination doesn’t just disappear in a mountain of news items, leaving people to forget about the ongoing threat that puts more health care workers and their patients in danger. With that in mind, I have to address the ass-covering that’s going on with conservatives, Republicans, and their apologists on this issue, starting with James Kirchick of WSJ. He’s pulling the “anti-abortion groups condemned the attack” bullshit, but this, while technically true, is a misleading statement. They offered mealy-mouthed reminders that murder is a sin and, more importantly, a crime, and then they said that Dr. Tiller had it coming. This was, over and over again, the line. Bill O’Reilly’s excuse-making is a perfect example—he basically said the exact same things that “marginal” figure Randall Terry did. I won’t put that horrible video up, but here’s Keith Olbermann discussing it:
These are not condemnations. Condemnations involve actually condemning what happened, not saying, “Glad he’s dead, too bad it had to be an illegal action that becomes a pain in our ass.”
But the excuse-making for domestic terrorists isn’t limited to claiming that half-hearted reminders that murder is illegal is enough to erase all the targeting of specific individuals for harassment and violence. The other trick is to try to put distance between the extremists, who we’re told are few in number, and the rest of the conservative movement. Kirchick:
The comparison between the religious right and Islamic extremists is invariably partisan so as to smear the GOP as being held hostage to forces as dangerous as Hamas or Hezbollah. “Even as the Bush administration denounces and battles Islamic religious zealotry abroad, fundamental Christian zealotry is taking hold here at home,” wrote Stephen Pizzo on the liberal Alternet Web site in 2004. On his popular HBO program, comedian Bill Maher frequently compares murderous Islamists to censorious Christians.
The notion that the GOP isn’t beholden to extremists and terrorist supporters is a laughable assertion. They are scared to death to denounce anti-choice terrorism, and that fear goes straight up to the top. Remember?
If anti-choice activists, even the most extreme, really do denounce terrorism in their name, then there’s absolutely zero reason for Republicans running for national office to fear calling terrorism what it is. But if Republicans feel that their base is largely supportive of terrorists—even if they won’t say so in public, then you get reactions like the one you see above. Let’s not be childish and pretend that conservatives don’t have the in-group and out-group face. That was one of the most important points of my post about the Justice For All handbook. Let’s not pretend, for instance, that Eric Rudolph was so hard to catch because he had so much support in the areas he hid in that he was able to hide in people’s homes.
The extremists are running the show, and they don’t give a shit who they hurt, as long as they escape legal culpability. It came out today that, contrary to Operation Rescue attempts to be like “Roeder? Roeder who?”, they actually knew who he was and a senior officer helpfully provided him with Dr. Tiller’s court schedule so he could stalk him. She herself has done time for attempts to bomb a clinic. When Roeder was arrested, he had her info on his dashboard.
Today, major anti-choice blogger Jill Stanek has helpfully put up information about two other abortion providers who specialize in 3rd trimester abortions. She targeted Dr. Leroy Carhart, who has been an anti-choice nut favorite since he was the one who sued to revoke the misnamed Partial Birth Abortion Act, posting pictures of his offices ominously, along with information about his electrical systems and links to prior attempts to harass Dr. Carhart by finding excuses to sic the law on him for minor permit violations. She also writes about Dr. Warren Hern, making special note of his security detail that would presumably make it much harder to attack him.
It’s all within the letter of the law, with no direct threats or even addresses (outside of the city) posted, though the names of the clinics and the photographs should make that easy enough to get. But while I’m sure she’ll swear innocence up and down, there’s no way around it—Jill Stanek is egging her readers on to harass individuals that she directly links to a man who was murdered by a “pro-lifer” 3 days ago. This is the “non-violent” anti-choice movement.
I’m sure the excuse is to claim that Stanek is a marginal, irrelevant figure, despite her magazine cover interview with the American Life League, and the fact that hers is probably the most popular anti-choice blog run by an individual. But Stanek played a major role in the 2008 election. See, when Barack Obama was a state senator, Stanek was the driving force behind attempts to get the Born Alive Infant Protection Act passed, and she testified under questioning from then-senator Obama that she had seen hospitals kill already-born babies as a sort of post-birth elective abortion. (I can’t find the transcripts, but I’ve seen them before, and they’re darkly funny, because she’s clearly full of shit and he’s clearly onto her, and she clearly hates it.) Obama then played a major force in getting the bill killed, because he correctly perceived that it was an attempt to ban abortions performed to save the life or the health of the mother. (Stanek, through her myriad of delusions that make her an incredibly unreliable witness to anything, was most likely talking about an abortion technique called labor induction, which does not produce living infants, no matter what Stanek wants to believe, and is, no matter what Stanek claims, used in the 3rd trimester for strictly therapeutic reasons.) Which means that Obama crossed a crazy wingnut, and we all know that they’re so great at letting grudges go, right?
Naturally, Stanek was a busy bee in pushing the “Obama kills already born babies” line in 2008. Remember that smear? That was Jill Stanek’s smear. That’s her life’s work, really, that smear. Well, not the smear, but trying to get laws banning late term abortions passed under false pretenses. I’m sure you remember it, just a little, because it came up in a major presidential debate. That’s right—this “marginal” anti-choice activist community was able to get a question about their legend about born babies being killed into a major presidential debate. Which, if you’ll recall, ended up fucking McCain over royally.
Stanek isn’t that marginal if she can escalate bullshit that started with her up to a major presidential debate.
Now, as the past few days have shown, the belief that women are lying about their health complications in order to obtain those oh-so-pleasurable 3rd trimester abortions is complete and utter bullshit. This belief is one that’s perpetuated by those “marginal” extremist right wing groups that occasionally cough up doctor shooters. This belief is also held by major presidential candidate John McCain, who also sat by meekly while his VP candidate refused to call domestic terrorists what they are, because they’re so afraid of pissing off their base, who apparently likes clinic bombers too much to call them “terrorists”.
So, I ask you: How marginal are the extremist anti-choicers? They have presidential candidates echoing their most outrageous lies. They have presidential candidates living in fear of pissing them off. They have so much power that they can get a question about their fantasy of doctors killing born babies asked in a major presidential debate.
Liberals wish we could be that “marginal”.