In just another normal day in America, 14 human beings were murdered and 17 others wounded, 10 critically by easily-obtainable firearms. One imagines the religious right gave a sigh of relief that the latest three or four mass shooting have taken the heat off of their involvement in the Colorado mass shooting by a religious fanatic last Friday; not that they were really concerned. In fact, based on the many truly hateful comments praising the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter’s actions, it is safe to say the anti-choice movement was relatively pleased about the carnage and only regretted that there were not more casualties; what they were praying for.
Although there is plenty of blame to go around, from Republican rhetoric inciting an armed religious maniac to do their bidding, to the NRA blocking legislation keeping guns away from religious fanatics, to the Koch brothers funding religious right anti-choice organizations and activists; it is the radical conservative Christian-right itself that bears the most responsibility for the increase in violence against women’s reproductive healthcare providers and their patients. However, according to Republicans and their religious base, the responsibility for the Colorado shootings, and rash of other attacks on women’s healthcare providers, lies with everyone else.
Republicans, as the religious right’s theocratic legislative arm and surrogates for the increasingly violent anti-choice movement, have taken advantage of the Planned Parenthood mass shooting by one of their base to speak for the evangelical hate group. Of course Republicans have offered worthless prayers for the victims of their violent anti-choice rhetoric, and attacked anyone who dared expose their incitement to violence against women’s reproductive healthcare providers.
Although the holier-than-thou religious extremists have been silent, their mouthpieces in Republican ranks have spent no small amount of time attempting to blame the Colorado mass shooting on liberals for calling out the violent anti-abortion rhetoric as why women’s healthcare providers are targeted for murder. They also blamed Planned Parenthood itself for being attacked because it provides reproductive healthcare and family planning services to American women.
Back in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security attempted to classify the then-burgeoning anti-abortion extremism as a form of domestic terrorism. Like attempting to address the proliferation guns, there was a huge outcry from the religious right to preserve their “religious liberty” to commit terrorism against women’s healthcare providers. Apparently what the evangelical fanatics took issue with was the DHS’s accurate assessment.
“Rightwing extremism in the United States includes adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and religious hate groups and individuals that are dedicated to opposition to abortion.”
There is still no classification labeling religiously-driven hostility to a legal medical procedure as “domestic terrorism” because Americans, and all politicians, are terrified of even uttering a contrary word to the heavily-armed religious right’s anti-choice movement. It is a relatively small movement that Republicans ardently support, the NRA gladly arms, and the Koch brothers fund at increasingly higher levels.
The man responsible for assaulting Planned Parenthood may be mentally unstable, but his instability is founded on his deeply-held religious opposition to abortion. It is something Republicans are aware of and it was evident in their comments. Instead of acknowledging the danger of inciting “unstable” religious crusaders with calls to slay abortion providers, Republicans used anti-choice rhetoric to validate the Colorado evangelicals’ actions.
A Colorado Republican representative, JoAnn Windholz, said the “true instigator of any and all violence brought against Planned Parenthood clinics is Planned Parenthood itself.” She said, “Violence begets violence. So Planned Parenthood: YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”
Neither dispensing contraceptives, providing cancer screenings, nor providing pregnancy terminations are violence; they are legal medical procedures and well-established healthcare practices. And, for the 10-thousandth time, according to the god of the Christian bible that anti-choice activists use to justify harassing, stalking, or hunting down and killing medical providers, a fetus, no matter what stage of development, IS NOT in any conceivable way a living being.
Republican presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina, said that the Colorado shooter’s motive for killing other Americans was a valid one and she duly lashed out at the left. Fiorina said,
“This is so typical of the left, to immediately begin demonizing the messenger because they don’t agree with the message. Anyone who tries to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or the sale of body parts is … this is typical left-wing tactics. The vast majority of Americans agree what Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong.”
There is no nice way to say “Carly Fiorina is a dirty liar,” but she undoubtedly is according to several recent polls and surveys. In a CBS News/New York Times survey, 55 percent supported Planned Parenthood and federal funding, sixty percent of respondents in a Pew Research Center poll said Planned Parenthood funding must be part of the federal budget. Two other polls, by Quinnipiac University and NBC News/Wall Street Journal also found support for Planned Parenthood at 69 percent and 63 percent respectively. The vast majority of Americans DO NOT agree with evangelical zealots that what Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong, or believe that there is ever a justification for killing abortion providers or attacking women’s healthcare facilities; that is a solely evangelical agenda that Republicans promote as part of the bargain for electoral support from the Christian right.
Republican leader Donald Trump pretended the shooter was mental but quickly justified his deadly rampage with a nod to the religious right that inciting anti-choice zealots to violent action is acceptable. He said,
“Well, this was an extremist. But I will tell you, there is a tremendous group of people that think it’s terrible, all of the videos that they’ve seen with these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car.”
It is highly doubtful that, except for a few maniacal evangelical representatives and senators, Republicans actually care about women’s reproductive choice; they care about electoral support from the religious right whether they call for violence against Planned Parenthood or not. Dutifully, Republicans in high places have become the mouthpieces for evangelicals to inflame anti-choice fanatics to action by calling women and health care providers murderers, and claiming Planned Parenthood sells fetus parts for profit.
It is still a mystery why in this country, with so-called freedom of speech, politicians are not citing the actual source of the violent rhetoric, and actual violence, as the evangelical anti-choice crusade. It is the PersonHood movement, American Family Association, Right To Life, and numerous other Catholic and evangelical groups behind the campaign to eliminate women’s reproductive choices and it is damned high time to call out the groups by name; and publicize their hate-speech inciting the violence. And for dog’s sake, Democrats need to understand the power of words; “ideological” is not the same as evangelical zealotry and violent religious extremists. As an aside, according to a survey by a Christian research group, over 70 percent of women who have abortions in America are Christians with many claiming to be devout evangelicals.
There is a world of blame to go around for the frightening increase in violence against women and their reproductive healthcare providers. However, it is all founded on evangelical fanaticism and Catholic dogmata; not the Christian bible. Until politicians, the media, and real Christians start targeting the historical source of so much of the world’s violence, rabid religious fundamentalists, evangelicals will continue attacking and killing women’s healthcare providers and let Republicans justify their violence. It is the new American normal and no-one is going to stop it; especially when politicians are too terrified to publicly identify the problem as religious fanaticism with no scriptural foundation and a well-stocked armory.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.