Beware the Lone Nut Theory
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 03:21:09 PM EST
Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst at Political Research Associates, and I were on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman this morning discussing the assassination of Dr. Tiller, his alleged assailant Scott Roeder and the religious and political movements that support and give rise to antiabortion violence.

We were preceded by the pseudonymous manager of clinic in Kansas City that had reported to the FBI that Scott Roeder had twice super glued the locks at his clinic in the previous week, and that they did not arrest him. He believes that if the FBI had acted, Dr. Tiller would be alive today. He was followed by Dr. Susan Robinson, who flew to Wichita monthly to work with Tiller. She describes the inadequate attention by police to the routine crimes of antiabortion protesters.

To watch or listen to the show or to read our portion of the rush transcript (which you will also find on the flip) -- click here.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to turn now to look more at the anti-abortion movement. We're going to Chicopee, Massachusetts, joined by the researcher Frederick Clarkson, who's written extensively on anti-abortion violence since the '90s, the author of many books, the latest called Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America. His latest article on the Tiller murder was published on Women's eNews and is called "Beware `Lone Nut' Theory in Tiller's Murder."

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Fred Clarkson. You've been listening to this broadcast, watching the broadcast. Does any of this surprise you? And what do you mean by the "beware" of "the `lone nut' theory"?

FREDERICK CLARKSON: Well, no, it doesn't surprise me at all. It's typical in the major crimes that I've looked into around anti-abortion violence over the years, where people case out locations. And they also increase their level of activism, including the degrees of their crimes. So, gluing a lock and doing things repeatedly over a period of time is not only a violation of the FACE law, it's an indication of an escalation of activity around violent anti--and potentially violent anti-abortion activists.

But the other part of it is that we have a tendency in society, where heinous crimes are committed, to think of somebody as crazy and acting alone. With the history of anti-abortion violence and major crimes is that typically people are neither nuts or alone. They're actually pretty well-planned crimes. You have to do a great deal of intelligence gathering, casing out a place, knowing locations. In the case of Dr. Tiller, he was known for wearing a bulletproof vest, for example, as most abortion providers do because of the constant threat and danger to their lives. So a headshot would be key to doing a death blow to any abortion provider, if you were serious about trying to get him.

AMY GOODMAN: But this issue of the "lone nut" theory that you're saying beware of, talk more about this.

FREDERICK CLARKSON: Well, it's easy to look at people as isolated individuals, when they're usually operating in a context. It's easy for people, for example, to have lots of degrees of assistance. For example, Shelly Shannon, who did the attempted assassination of Dr. Tiller in 1993, one of the precipitary factors to the FACE law, was on a crime spree all over the West for months and years doing arsons and butyric acid attacks. That's the chemical attack that creates a powerful, unbelievable stench that just clears out buildings. And she would have--she had a network of safe houses, including one where a couple provided gas cans. And it was kind of a "don't ask, don't tell" situation, where the less people know about what you're doing, the better it is for everyone. And there's an extensive network of support for itinerant clinic protesters, some of whom turn out to be violent criminals in this way. So, history has shown that there are always these concentric circles of support, some witting and some unwitting, of people who participate in these kinds of crimes.

AMY GOODMAN: We're also joined by Democracy Now! video stream by the senior analyst at Political Research Associates, Chip Berlet, joining us from Boston, co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort and editor of Eyes Right!: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash.

You begin your piece, Chip, with "The anti-abortion movement harbors within it a subculture of militant activists who believe the slogan, `If abortion is murder, then act like it.'" Explain how this fits into this picture.

CHIP BERLET: Well, it's essentially the same thing that Fred's been saying. It has to do with the fact that there is this social movement, this overlapping network of social movements, that the anti-abortion activists in the 1990s began to merge into--and in both directions, merge into--the patriot and armed militia movement, move into the tax protest movement, and move into the white supremacist movement. And it became a very broad network of people with a wide range of ideas.

But a social movement provides for institutional support, in a sense. So, as Fred says, there are safe houses. We know that Roeder was involved in the sovereign citizen movement, like the Freemen. It's not clear at all that he was a Freeman. But the term here is being used to talk about this package of views. They're not really anti-government; they're anti-equality, they're anti-civil rights. It's a movement that has a white supremacist understanding of the Constitution as amended. And this network, which is--the umbrella term would be the patriot movement, has all of this set of support. They have radio programs that talk about their line. You know, there's members of Congress that parrot this line.

And it's sometimes secular; it's often religious. It's totally awash with conspiracy theories about a new world order or a North American union or Obama is selling us out to UN tyranny. And the religious side is this apocalyptic understanding that argues that the Second Coming of Christ is being held up by sin in America, and the two major sins are the provision of abortion to women and gay rights.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about the sovereign movement, the Freeman movement. I don't know that people understand what these groups are.

CHIP BERLET: It's tough. It's--basically it's an idea that came out of the Posse Comitatus, which was a racist movement that challenged the authority of the federal government as constituted. And basically, it argued that the federal courts and the state courts were misinterpreting constitutional law, and they rejected the participation in the federal government. And that's why people like Roeder would put a license plate that was hand-drawn on their car, because they rejected the authority of both the federal and state government. So, these are people who really have decided that they're rebelling against the laws of the United States and of the state they're in.

And part of--this is part of a broader package, that the government is run by secret elites who are, you know, about to turn us over to jackbooted UN troops coming in black helicopters. So, you know, you have a range of beliefs here. They're sometimes called constitutionalists. They're--some of them are tax protesters. Some of them are survivalists. So there's no real central organization. It's a constellation of beliefs that are kind of a right-wing anarchism and right-wing populism.

AMY GOODMAN: Chip Berlet, this issue of--or let me put this question to Fred Clarkson. This issue of how different domestic groups are treated and the issue of domestic terrorism, whether we're talking about animal rights groups, environmental groups, which the FBI, I think, puts at the top of their domestic terror list.

FREDERICK CLARKSON: Well, yeah. There's been a big controversy about whether any of the anti-abortion groups should be called domestic terror organizations. There is one called the Army of God that's an above-ground organization of largely veterans of anti-abortion violence or proponents of anti-abortion violence. And the Justice Department has decided that it's not a terrorist organization, even though it publicly espouses crimes that could be called terrorism by any reasonable definition and has many convicted felons.

It's--I think for many of the same reasons that Susan was talking about earlier, law enforcement keeps an arm's length on these kinds of things. In fairness, the Justice Department, under both Presidents Clinton and Bush, vigorously went after issues of violence using the counterterrorism task force and prevented some major crimes. But that said, area district attorneys, federal prosecutors have considerable prosecutorial discretion. So, if these groups are not defined as domestic terrorism organizations or that crimes against doctors are not viewed as terrorism, FACE is all we've got. And as we've seen, the enforcement of FACE is highly selective, to be generous.

AMY GOODMAN: Chip Berlet, what would you like to add to this?

CHIP BERLET: Well, I think in the current context of the PATRIOT Act and other repressive legislation, we have to be very careful about the use of the term "terrorism." Arguably, if you look at the Federal Criminal Code, many active anti-abortion violence would not be classified as terrorism in some interpretations. I don't think the issue here is urging the government to expand its repressive powers. I think that's a mistake. I think what we have here are groups of criminals and criminal individuals who need to be pursued and prosecuted, as appropriate.

And I think it's important to understand that, for many years, clinic violence was not treated with the same aggressive attention by the federal government and state governments as other forms of vandalism and violence. And I think that that's because the anti-abortion movement has a very large political and religious constituency that makes it very difficult for state and federal officials to try and actually enforce the existing laws that they should be doing.

You know, under the Clinton administration, we had a hotline into the Justice Department that you could call for acts of violence or potential acts of violence, so that it wasn't some clinic worker from Wichita or Kansas City calling a local FBI agent. It was the federal government's Justice Department calling the local FBI agent and saying, "Get on this." And I think that needs to be reinstituted, because, of course, it was canceled, you know, after the Democrats lost out to the Republicans. So, we know that there's an anti-abortion constituency for many elected officials, primarily in the Republican Party, and we know that these political pressures have an effect on how aggressively criminal laws are enforced.

While I consider Tiller's killer to be not sane because of religious brainwashing and programming; at the same time a news article said he was warning about other attacks.

The responses covered in that article bothered me.  The lawyer for the Tiller family tried to write him off as a lone nutcase.  Even NARAL-Pro-Choice-America tried to write him off and told the anti-choice people to cool the rhetoric.

Of course, the anti-choice groups (I think anti-freedom is more accurate) wrote him off.  It looks to me like they're trying hard to cover their a**es (and I hope they're caught before they can get rid of the evidence!)

At least the Justice Department wasn't writing him off in this way.  The article says that they're taking it seriously.  I think they should- and I hope that it gets tied right to the anti-freedom organizations. le=Suspect-Warns-of-Violence

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 10:16:32 AM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Falling Starr
Reports from around the nation are reporting Ken Starr, President of Baylor University, has been fired as head of the Baptist school.  Other stories......
By wilkyjr (3 comments)
Bluegrass Bonanza: Ky. Theocrat Loses Grip On Statehouse Seat
Political news of late has been dominated by three people - Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They've certainly provided good copy, but......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Political Piety Panned: We Don't Need A 'God's Party'
Every few years, a political pundit comes along and proclaims that the Religious Right is dead or on the verge of dying. I started......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)
Trump Campaign Tied To 2nd White Nationalist Party Leader
Even as Donald Trump seeks to tack to the center, and leave behind his earlier, wildly controversial statements on Hispanics and Muslims, mounting evidence......
By Bruce Wilson (4 comments)
Religious Rightism in the Democratic Party has Consequences
Those of us who write about the Religious Right and related matters often find ourselves wishing that we were wrong. Back in 2011 we......
By Frederick Clarkson (9 comments)
No Moore, Please: Ala. Chief Justice May Be Removed From The Bench
Word broke late Friday night that Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, may be on the verge of losing his job......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Road To Nowhere?: Ky. Officials Ramp Up Support For `Ark Park'
Officials in Kentucky have apparently decided that they're willing to endure a large amount of embarrassment if it will bring some mediocre jobs to......
By Rob Boston (6 comments)
Cruz Super-PAC Head Promotes "Biblical" Slavery For Non-Christians
Since 2013 (and with growing interest, especially since Ted Cruz mounted his bid for the presidency), various authors have sought to address Cruz' ties......
By Bruce Wilson (5 comments)
One Simple Question for Ted Cruz
As the 2016 presidential primary season moves into the media savvy states of New York (April 19) and California (June 7) a question is......
By Frank Cocozzelli (8 comments)
"Dominionism" - Correction Please
Correction Sent to Christianity Today, April 11, 2016 Regarding the article: "Stop Calling Ted Cruz a Dominionist: The Christian candidate's faith influences his platform,......
By Chip Berlet (6 comments)
South Carolina School Continues to Dominate Church-State Decisions
Bob Jones University has a rich history.  It was a launching pad for GOP Presidential candidates until George W. Bush apologized for the visit.......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Privilege, Not Persecution: It's Time For Fundamentalist Christians To Stop Whining
Over the weekend, a movie called "God's Not Dead 2" opened in theaters around the nation. I haven't seen the film and don't intend......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Fifty Catholic Right Leaders Endorse Ted Cruz
The National Catholic Reporter recently reported  that a group of fifty conservative Catholics led by Catholic neocon Robert P. George and former Virginia Attorney......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
Viva (Crime-Free) Las Vegas!: More Hooey From David Barton
Ersatz historian and "Christian nation" booster David Barton is at it again. This time he's claiming that the city of Las Vegas cut violent......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Pride Goeth: The Arrogance Of The Public School Proselytizers
If you have children, there's a good chance you've worked hard to instill in them the values you hold, whether those values are religious......
By Rob Boston (3 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 (2 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 (6 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 (2 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 (2 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 (8 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 (3 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 (7 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 (3 comments)
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 (3 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 (10 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 (3 comments)
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 (4 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 (7 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 (4 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.