Anti-abortion terrorists, the Apocalypse and Sarah Palin
cyncooper printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 10:54:29 PM EST
One of the most outrageous moments in Sarah Palin's commentary as a vice-presidential candidate is her stunning unwillingness to reject anti-abortion terrorism.  

Brian Williams asked her directly if abortion clinic bombers are terrorists.  Palin danced and waffled, said she didn't know, and then categorized terrorists as those who would campaign or seek to destroy the Capitol or "innocent Americans."   A simple answer sufficed: "Yes, of course, abortion-clinic bombers are terrorists and I reject and deplore their actions."

Even before Palin proved incapable of drawing a clear moral line for the television anchor, Merle Hoffman, publisher of On The Issues Magazine Online and founder of the Choices Women's Medical Clinic in Queens, connected the dots between anti-abortion terrorists, apocalyptic thinking and the Republican vice presidential candidate.  Writing on the topic of "What Is Terror for Women," Hoffman penned an essay, "Sarah Palin and the Apocalypse," reprinted here with permission on the flip.

Sarah Palin and the Apocalypse
by Merle Hoffman
On The Issues Magazine

I have been on the psychological defensive since Sarah Palin was chosen as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee -- not wanting to get involved with the vortex of "feminist critiques" that ranged from discussions of whether her Down syndrome baby was really hers or her daughter's to questions of how she could possibly be a good mother to five children and be vice president at the same time.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

What I do care about is her smile and what it represents.

I know that smile--that particular brand of bright-eyed rectitude. Sister Dorothy flashes it at me when I come into Choices as she inquires about my daughter's health and in the same breath says,"You are killing so many daughters in there; when you finally stop, then you will be a good mother."

I wonder what Sarah Palin says to patients when she demonstrates outside of clinics.

Commenting in Salon, the Reverend Howard Bess, a Baptist minister from outside Sarah Palin's Wasilla compound who regularly fought Palin and her right-wing church, says that Palin was involved in an effort to take over the local hospital board and block all abortions in the facility. The action would force any woman seeking an abortion (including women who were raped and had to pay for their own rape kit) or women who just wanted counseling on abortion to travel to Seattle.

Locals sued the hospital and won an injunction from the state Supreme Court that required the hospital to provide the option.

"At one point during the hospital battle, local antiabortion activists organized a boisterous picket line outside Dr. Lemagie's office (the doctor involved in the suit) .... According to Bess and another community activist, among the protesters trying to disrupt the physician's practice that day was Sarah Palin," writes Salon author David Talbot.

Was Palin smiling when she disrupted that physician's office?

How can you be a politician who claims to support women and the shattering of glass ceilings when your policies would put iron bars around their wombs and the concept of reproductive freedom in the garbage bin of history?

I remember another smile, strange and cold, in a long gaunt face, that I saw during the March 1994 Florida memorial service marking the one-year anniversary of the murder of Dr. David Gunn.

I was standing next to Feminist Majority Foundation President Ellie Smeal, who was wearing a bulletproof vest. We were all on high alert. Word had come down that the F.B.I. had intercepted a truckload full of weapons, including explosives, headed for our hotel. Surrounded by my colleagues and other pro-choice activists, I was scanning the nearby rooftops for snipers. Suddenly, a tall, lanky man carrying a well-worn sign that read "EXECUTE ABORTIONISTS MURDERERS ACCESSORIES" appeared in front of the mourners.

Five months later, our intruding shadow, Paul Hill, graduated from visual assaults to something far more sinister. On July 29, 1994, Hill sprang out of his hiding spot behind a Pensacola abortion clinic and opened fire on Dr. James Bayard Britton, his bodyguard, retired Lt. Col. James Barrett, and Barrett's wife, June. James Barrett and Dr. Britton were killed; June Barrett was seriously wounded.

The smiling killer, "killing for life."

After the killings, there was a raging debate in the pro-choice community about how to defend ourselves. I believed that clinic guards should be armed. Some of us had buttons that said, "I'm pro-choice and I shoot back." But there was a lot of resistance to the idea of armed clinic defenders. Many feminists said, "They kill people, we don't kill people. Feminists are pacifists." Which translated into pro-choicer activists, patients, providers and doctors are sitting ducks! It was a very difficult time. At one point I was written up in the Daily News, under the headline "Make Her Day" because I got a shotgun and I was learning how to use it. But I never shot at anyone or any animal. Not even a moose. My gun-toting was pure self-defense.

How can you be "pro-life" and support the murder of abortion doctors?

What happens when "life" becomes a metaphor?

Well, it depends on what your definition of life is.

One theory put forth by Carol Mason in her 2002 book Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-Life Politics, explains why this seemingly contradictive act, so unfathomable to an outsider, makes perfect sense within the millennialist and apocalyptic zeal of the born-again pro-lifer. Mason frames it as the logical result of fundamentalist thinking that positions the fetus as icon and metaphor for the survival of the white race, God's law, the Apocalypse and second coming of Christ, as described in the Book of Revelations.

Killing for "Life"

Viewed within this context, the act of killing for `life' is revealed not as an oxymoron but as an act of logical consistency and a political manifestation of religious retribution. This apocalyptic narrative is what gives ideological coherence to the vast variety of individuals and institutions that describe themselves as "pro-life." Abortion represents, even more than slavery in the United States or genocide in Nazi Germany, the ultimate of human atrocities and signals the end of humane society.

No wonder Paul Hill was smiling as he faced his execution in September 2003. The way he saw it, he was not a murderer who struck down two innocent people in cold blood, but a soldier in the Army of God wreaking vengeance on the infidels, setting the world right and gaining glory at the right hand of God.

In a very deep sense, the radical anti-abortion movement lives more in the "Fierce Urgency of NOW" than any other group. Always vigilant, always there -- they are constantly girded for battle.

By "personalizing" the fetus, the protectors become knight errants -- romantic warriors slaying dragons who threaten and murder the innocent. This identification gives him (or her) a new social identity. Fetuses are not only objects to protect and defend; the very process of defense creates a new identity as defender -- as a member of the Army of God.

Hill and his abortion-warrior colleagues may not know one another, may never have met, but their ideology creates a transcendent class identity, one in which "killing for life" is an incremental process. By killing doctors and clinic workers, the energy of the devil is diminished and the good grows. According to a poll cited by Mason's book, 52 percent of Americans believe in the devil, making him an important player in this grand Manichean theological drama. "The key to understanding Sarah Palin is understanding her radical theology," Bess told Salon. "'She scares me,' said Bess. 'She's Jerry Falwell with a pretty face.'"

Now, I have debated Jerry Falwell, and although he did not have a pretty face, he smiled that certain smile at me when he asked me how many babies my facility had killed last year and questioned me on how I would feel when, in his words, "you meet your maker with the blood of thousands of babies on your hands."

My response was, "When I meet HER, Reverend, I will be proud that I fought for women's rights!"

Falwell wasn't smiling; he was shocked that I dared to speak of God in the female gender.

"'It's truly frightening that someone like Sarah has risen to the national level,' Bess said. 'Like all religious fundamentalists -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim -- she is a dualist. They view life as an ongoing struggle to the finish between good and evil. Their mind-set is that you do not do business with evil -- you destroy it. Talking with the enemy is not part of their plan. That puts someone like Obama on the side of evil,'" quotes Salon.

By describing the abortion industry as run by Jews and lesbian nurses, while simultaneously using the historical pull of racism to gather souls to their cause, pro-lifers creatively combine racism and civil rights when it suits their strategic purposes. Time and again I have heard "sidewalk counselors" outside my clinic scream at women of color as they enter, "You are desecrating the memory of Martin Luther King."

These pro-lifers believe, as former presidential candidate Barry Goldwater put it, "We are equal in the eyes of God, but we are equal in no other respect." For conservatives, this socialized inequality results in a movement rife with anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and homophobia.

And that is the view shared by millions of her spiritual fellow travelers.

An important point for the strategic understanding of the messianic fervor of the pro-life movement is that the more pro-choice forces clash at the clinic doors, or attempt to discourage people from preaching sexism and homophobia in the name of God, the more it strengthens the resolve of Christians who believe the world is a Manichean struggle between good and evil.

This is in no way an invitation to passivity or non-engagement. While theorizing between consistent frontal attacks is difficult, it is a call for progressives to understand that, in order to learn the art of this war, we must revisit the enemy, the battlefield and ourselves.

Battlefield of Bodies

The womb has become a battlefield and we are all soldiers (willing or not) in this generational cosmic power struggle against a movement that has been extraordinarily successful in waging a guerrilla campaign against legal abortion on multiple fronts. Pro-life forces march on: harassing patients in front of clinics, marginalizing and killing abortion doctors, insuring that 87 percent of counties in this country have no abortion provider; utilizing bombs, economic pressures, guerrilla malpractice legislation, evictions, (Choices faced eviction once during its 37-year history and I am fighting another one as I write); winning of hearts and minds and passing a bill against "partial-birth abortion," signed by President Bush and criminalizing a medical procedure for the first time in history.

How does one fight against this multi-headed pro-life hydra? Where and what is the root that must be destroyed in order for women to gain the right to safe, legal abortion as a fundamental human and civil right?

Under the theoretical and legal umbrella of "choice," many feminists refuse to look at the consequences or true nature of that choice. This reduces our capacity to give full meaning to the depth of this issue and ultimately reduces the ability to commit to the political passion necessary to battle our opponents.

Marginalized and disenfranchised, the abortion clinic is the material representation of choice, yet so many pro-choice activists remain uncomfortable with the reality of abortion, the blood, the irrevocable endings and the power of deciding whether or not to bring a new life into this world.

We cannot have a "no-fault" world. Women do have the right to make the "wrong" choices. Yet the crisis over abortion remains very much a struggle over definitions and value positing. We march under a banner of choice that is always grayer and more ambivalent than the banner of "innocence" and "life" carried by our opponents.

It is not just a question of "who decides," but exactly what that decision is and what it means. It is not politics, but necessity, that drives women's choices and forms the political and theoretical foundation of the right to choose.

And it is with women that the future of reproductive freedom lies.

Although Roe v. Wade was the first real expression of feminist values in the law, it is not the Holy Grail.

At a recent Veteran Feminists of America event honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I was able to ask Justice Ginsberg whether or not lawyers should be working toward recasting the argument of reproductive freedom, taking it away from the privacy arguments in Roe to the 13th amendment against slavery.

Ginsberg answered: "I think lawyers have argued that -- in the Casey case, for example. It's not privacy, in the sense that `this something I want to do and hide from everybody, and, seal myself in a cocoon.' It's autonomy (which) is the idea; it's a woman's right to choose.

"And I have criticized the Court's decision in Roe v. Wade -- not, of course, for the result. But that decision is heavily oriented to doctors. It's the doctor's choice as much as the woman's that the government shouldn't regulate what doctors decide is best for the patient.

"But I think the notion of a woman's autonomy to determine her life's course, that has come more and more into the ... more recent cases.  Of course, the most recent case is a flip-flop from -- the court had (said) that Nebraska's so-called 'partial birth' law -- it held that that was unconstitutional because it didn't preserve, have a reservation for, a woman's health. Then Congress passed a law to the same effect, and the Court, 5-4, upheld that federal law. What was the difference? One person. Justice O'Connor was no longer on the Court.

"But I think the notion (is) that it isn't just some private act; it is a woman's right to control her own life."

One person on the Supreme Court -- one person in the White House .

One woman named Sarah.

Behind that cover girl smile, Sarah Palin sees herself as God's chosen warrior; some version of the Biblical Deborah or Esther saving her people from war and oppression.

But in this case, Palin's "people" are fetuses who need to be saved from feminists who preach abortion as a "bloody sacrament." In Sarah Palin's Christian nation when Jesus comes again, radical anti-abortion theology will become the guiding principles of both national and international policy.

.Just where does that leave anyone who has not been born again or accepted Jesus as their "personal savior".

Where does that leave women?

It leaves them in a country where the values of Sister Dorothy and all the others who stand outside picketing abortion clinics will be put to work inside the West Wing with the power of the military and billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of employees to call upon.

A "Palin McCain" administration will see the rise and power of a "theopolity" -- a fusion of church and state so profound that the "axis of evil" will be expanded to be far more inclusive. All issues relating to international relations will also be cast in this definitional paradigm. Potential conflicts with "infidel nations" will become more of reality, while the national landscape will be defined by a Supreme Court with an extreme right wing interpretation of the consitution.

Words like "infidel," "heretic," "witch," "blasphemer," "sin," "redemption" and "hell" will translate into everyday realities, while the definition of evil will grow exponentially. Strangely enough, Sarah Palin's vision of the world is closer to Ahmadinejad's than any of us can imagine.

But here is where our politics have to get far more personal. The truth is that any woman having an abortion is political in the deepest sense of the word. How do we translate that biological imperative into a political one? Will all the women who have had abortions say so publicly and stand for that choice with their lovers, husbands and friends?

The first step in this cosmic drama is to finally realize that the struggle for our rights is our responsibility.

Ours alone.

One by One.

One person, one vote, one voice made into millions

We must create a transcendent class where we would identify with all women struggling to make choices, and defend them rather than resisting that power through guilt and denial..

How do we resist a potential "reign of terror" that would make Robespierre's look like a preface? Rather then losing our heads, we must use them -- along with our hearts and all our courage.in these multiple theaters of war.

One by one we must become the happy warriors--smiling into the battles thrust upon us -- and drawing our own lines in the sand.

From On the Issues Magazine




Display:
Anti-abortion violence still continues (unlike Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground, long fizzled.)  

In "Anti-Abortion Terror Tactics Take A Toll" in On The Issues Magazine, Eleanor J. Bader reports that in 2007 alone there were "one anthrax threat, 13 death threats, 19 cases of stalking, 23 suspicious packages and 181 incidents of vandalism or trespassing. During the year, several clinics were hit by arson. One, Abortion Acceptance of Albuquerque, burned to the ground."

by cyncooper on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 11:03:41 PM EST


Malicious harassment, assault, threats, arson and murder are standard fare for the Far Right when they don't get their way. Sometimes religiously inspired, sometimes economic, sometimes ideological, it is this willingness to mobilize vigilantes (including wayward police) that has prevented democracy from taking hold in our country. As pawns of industry and politics, militias wedded to the Wise Use and anti-immigrant movement exhibited similar behavior as abortion clinic bombers. Proponents of homophobia and xenophobia are similarly a public safety menace, yet we know -- based on decades of experience -- that law enforcement agencies do little to prevent violence, especially by white Christian businessmen. So we are in a sense on our own in protecting ourselves and in preventing the bloodshed of others, yet one will rarely find progressive organizations taking effective action to do so. Largely, I think, because they don't understand what they're up against or are too frightened to get involved, and this is what closes down our society. Lobbying and advocacy become somewhat pointless under such conditions, yet that is almost exclusively what progressives fund, while applied research (organizing) is starved. Until these priorities are reversed, the Far Right will continue to draw the noose tighter.

by Jay Taber on Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 01:01:19 AM EST
Jay ... When you say "yet one will rarely find progressive organizations taking effective action to do so," can you tell me what in your opinion would be 'effective action.'  In relationship to abortion providers, many tactics have been tried ... so I'm surious what ones you are thinking of.  

by cyncooper on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 05:16:13 PM EST
Parent



WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (324 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (165 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (96 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (84 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (94 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (121 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (98 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (71 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (222 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (53 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (144 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (172 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (49 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (49 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (201 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (212 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (82 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (152 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (138 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (136 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (128 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (139 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (119 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (166 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (131 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (69 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (184 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (73 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (103 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (98 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.