Inflammatory Rhetoric as the Context of Assassination
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jun 01, 2009 at 05:38:15 PM EST
In the wake of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, we have already seen a great deal of attention given to the role of inflammatory anti-abortion rhetoric. There will be a continuing debate about this. I don't believe that dedicated people react to sound bites and then go out and kill. But the rhetoric is a reflection of profound beliefs that are ultimately more important than the words used to express them. To many, abortion is murder, and that its practitioners are committing mass murder. This is an important element of the context of our time. Nevertheless, words do matter.
Kelli Conlin, President of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, stated for example:

"...it is cold-blooded, vicious actions like today's assassination that make it hard for those of us in the pro-choice community to find common ground with those on the other side. It is lawless, violent behavior like this that makes us fear for our lives and our families. When they sit down across from us, they have no reason to believe that we come to the table with violent intentions.  Today is a brutal reminder that we are not privileged to have the same sense of security.

We therefore call upon the leaders of the anti-abortion movement to go beyond condemning today's action to actually committing to control and measure their own irresponsible and incendiary rhetoric and actions.

When these anti-abortions leaders stalk us, harass us and label physicians "murderers," they fan the flames to create a setting where abhorrent acts such as today's can transpire.

Makes sense to me. So let's take a quick look at the rhetoric of two-well known prolife leaders:  Randall Terry, best known for his strident militancy as the former leader of Operation Rescue, and Rick Warren, presented in the media as an avuncular moderate evangelical who gave the invocation at Obama's presidential inauguration ceremony.

The Associated Press reports:

While many anti-abortion leaders swiftly issued statements condemning the shooting, their expressions of dismay were not echoed by Randall Terry, a veteran anti-abortion activist whose protests have often targeted Tiller.

"George Tiller was a mass murderer and we cannot stop saying that," Terry said. "He was an evil man -- his hands were covered with blood."

Terry said he was now concerned that the Obama administration "will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions."

Rick Warren has not had so high a profile on the issue as Randall Terry, however he is no less extreme in his rhetoric and in the substance of his views, although he inexplicably gets a pass from major political leaders in both parties and the mainstream media.

In 2004, Warren issued a letter declaring what he thought voters should consider when voting for president. (I later wrote about it.) Here is part of what turned out to be an ostentatiously pro-Bush and anti-Kerry letter:

But for those of us who accept the Bible as God's Word and know that God has a unique, sovereign purpose for every life, I believe there are 5 issues that are non-negotiable. To me, they're not even debatable because God's Word is clear on these issues.[emphasis added] In order to live a purpose-driven life - to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates - we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly.

Here are five questions to ask when considering who to vote for in this election:

What does each candidate believe about abortion and protecting the lives of unborn children?

What does each candidate believe about using unborn babies for stem-cell harvesting?

What does each candidate believe about homosexual marriage?

What does each candidate believe about human cloning?

What does each candidate believe about euthanasia - the killing of elderly and invalids?  

OK. Protecting the unborn child -- God's word, non-debatable, non-negotiable.

Not too strident, you say? Perhaps, but let's fast forward to the next presidential election when he was suddenly in fashion as one of the new, allegedly moderate evangelicals courted by the Democratic Party. He was so important that he was allowed to host a presidential candidate's forum in the sanctuary of his church, broadcast to a national television audience.

He was supposed to ask McCain and Obama the same questions. He questioned  Obama closely on abortion, but when it was McCain's turn, Warren compared abortion to "the Holocaust" and in answer, McCain simply said "I'm prolife." Warren later called on his audience not to "demonize" people with whom they may disagree -- having just compared people who have a different view on abortion to the Nazis.

The next day, he told reporter Dan Gilgoff:

If they (Evangelicals, among whom Warren counts himself) think that life begins at conception, then that means that there are 40 million Americans who are not here [because they were aborted] that could have voted. They would call that a holocaust, and for them it would like if I'm Jewish and a Holocaust denier is running for office. I don't care how right he is on everything else, it's a deal breaker for me. I'm not going to vote for a Holocaust denier....

This is worth mentioning because inflammatory antiabortion rhetoric that contributes to the threat and climate of violence is not limited to professional sound bite provocateurs like Randall Terry. Such rhetoric and the underlying ideology it expresses is so ingrained in the culture of the antiabortion movement, that someone like Rick Warren busily  packaging himself as a moderate thinks nothing of calling abortion a Holocaust and prochoice pols as holocaust deniers. And hardly a media ripple results.

When Randall Terry led Operation Rescue in the late 1980s, their slogan was, "If you believe abortion is murder, then act like it is murder."

How do we suppose Terry thinks people should act if an abortion provider is a mass murderer? And what does Rick Warren think people should do if God's non-debatable, non-negotiable word is defied in the form of a holocaust and those who support it are holocaust deniers?




Display:
that Rick Warren was regurgitating that "5 Non-Negotiable Issues" crap. I would have been a LOT more pissed about him giving the invocation at the Inauguration since that who le thing was about providing cover to use faith to endorse Republicans.

What I have been hearing in the last 24 hours, as this inflammatory rhetoric has been spotlighted, is a bunch of rage- and hate-filled men who seething with anger and loathing  toward women. To me, it's the subtext of all of this talk. Real passion for "unborn" children would be expressed in entirerly differrent ways, but this is all about punishing and controlling women.

by anastasia p on Mon Jun 01, 2009 at 08:11:53 PM EST


Anastasia your comment is appreciated by another woman. The whole abortion debate mysteriously leaves out the other contributor to the creation of a 'full human person', for them they contribute sperm to a process called pregnancy. Many of them pay for the process to end the pregnancy. It's way cheaper than child support.

by colkoch on Mon Jun 01, 2009 at 10:24:52 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Bishop Robert Finn Resigns Leadership of St. Joseph-Kansas City Diocese
Bishop Robert W. Finn, the Opus Dei Bishop who was convicted by a Missouri court for failing to report suspected child abuse by a......
By Frank Cocozzelli (5 comments)
Two Overlooked Indiana Outcomes that Could Haunt the Christian Right
I think there are two underreported features of the fallout from Indiana that we should make sure do not get lost in the hoo......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
President Obama Can Help Stop Religious Discrimination
Barry Lynn, the longtime executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, recently posted an important essay at Huffington Post. In......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Marriage Matters: Thoughts On The Recent Unpleasantness In Indiana
Last week I taped an interview with Sister Maureen Fielder, host of "Interfaith Voices," a popular radio program exploring religious issues that is carried......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
The Campaign Against Pro-LGBTQ Denominations
The recent endorsement of marriage equality by the Presbyterian Church (USA) seemed like a good moment to discuss the campaign to divide and conquer......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Upcoming Conference: From Abortion Rights to Social Justice
The 29th annual conference From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom will be held from April 10-12 at Hampshire......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Why Is Bishop Robert Finn Still In Power?
As I reported in September 2014, Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has been under Vatican investigation to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
Thus It Was Prophesied in 2012: Ted Cruz Will Be VP, Or a Supreme Court Justice
This is a transcript, of pastor Larry Huch and Rafael Cruz, father of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, from an appearance Rafael Cruz made at......
By Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Crusin with Cruz
Ted Cruz threw his hat into the ring, announcing his bid for President in the worship center at Jerry Falwell's University last night.  Mother......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Ted Cruz: Born From The Heart of the Dominionist Christian Right
[welcome, Thom Hartmann Show fans, here is a short introduction to my past coverage on Ted Cruz and the dominionist Christian right] Did you......
By Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Coming Soon to Utah: An International Festival of Bigotry
An international network of some of the world's most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Bumpy Lane: Religious Right Operative Seeks To Build (Another) Church-Based Political Machine
Here's what the country doesn't need right now: another zealot aiming to mobilize right-wing pastors to become a force in electoral politics.Yet that's what......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Team Jeb Bush's Liaison to Religious Right Is Hardcore Culture Warrior
In 2008, Senator John McCain's campaign recognized that he needed to shore up his credentials with the Religious Right, which was skeptical about his......
By Bill Berkowitz (3 comments)
American ISIS: Christian Reconstructionists And `Biblical Law' In America
Every now and then, while scanning the day's news, I come across a headline that's hard to believe.Like this one: "California lawyer proposes ballot......
By Rob Boston (3 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 (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (3 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (1 comment)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (2 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)

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.