Sunday, May 31, 2009

it's sunbeam, not terrorist.

like anyone else with a heart, i was disgusted to read about the murder of dr. george tiller, who was gunned down this morning in his church. he was serving as an usher. he leaves behind his wife, four children, and ten grandchildren.

violence against abortion providers, seekers, and supporters, is terrorism and should be identified as such. the fact that anti-abortion terrorists are frequently white and christian should not stop them from being treated like their non-white and non-christian counterparts. it is a striking, though not altogether surprising, example of incredible double standards to do otherwise.

mark juergensmeyer, a ucsb professor in global and international studies, sociology, and religious studies, and director of ucsb's orfalea center for global and international studies, has studied religious violence extensively. i'd recommend his book, terror in the mind of god: the global rise of religious violence (berkeley: university of california press, 2001), in which he explains that every religion has within it the potential for violence. juergensmeyer calls religion "crucial," noting that "it gives moral justifications for killing and provides images of cosmic war that allow activists to believe that they are waging spiritual scenarios" (xi).

and this is precisely what anti-abortion terrorists are doing. and what they have been doing for years. and what they are likely to continue to do.

the ap complied a timeline of selected acts of anti-abortion terrorism in the last 16 years:
Recent cases of abortion-related violence

A look at recent cases of abortion-related violence:

May 31, 2009: Prominent late-term abortion provider George Tiller is shot and killed in a Wichita church where he was serving as an usher. The gunman fled but a city official said a suspect is in custody.

April 2007: Authorities say Paul Ross Evans placed a homemade bomb in the parking lot of the Austin Women's Health Center in Texas. A bomb squad disposes of the device, which contained two pounds of nails. There are no injuries.

Oct. 23, 1998: Dr. Barnett Slepian is fatally shot in his home in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. Militant abortion opponent James Kopp is convicted of the murder in 2003 and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Jan. 29, 1998: A bomb explodes just outside a Birmingham, Ala., abortion clinic, killing a police officer and wounding several others. Eric Rudolph later pleads guilty to that incident and the deadly bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He justifies the Alabama bombing in an essay from prison, writing that Jesus would condone "militant action in defense of the innocent."

Jan. 16, 1997: Two bomb blasts an hour apart rock an Atlanta building containing an abortion clinic. Seven people are injured. Rudolph is charged by federal authorities in October 1998.

Dec. 30, 1994: John Salvi opens fire with a rifle inside two Boston-area abortion clinics, killing two receptionists and wounding five others. Sentenced to life without parole, he kills himself in prison in 1996.

Nov. 8, 1994: Dr. Garson Romalis, who performs abortions in Vancouver, Canada, is shot in the leg while eating breakfast at home.

July 29, 1994: Dr. John Bayard Britton and his volunteer escort, James H. Barrett, are slain outside a Pensacola, Fla., abortion clinic. Barrett's wife, June, is wounded in the attack. Paul J. Hill, 40, a former minister and anti-abortion activist, is later convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Aug. 19, 1993: Dr. George Tiller is shot in the arms as he drives out of parking lot at his Wichita, Kan., clinic. Rachelle "Shelley" Shannon is later convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

March 10, 1993: Dr. David Gunn is shot to death outside Pensacola, Fla., clinic, becoming the first U.S. doctor killed during an anti-abortion demonstration. Michael Griffin is convicted and serving a life sentence.

these people and their accomplices are obviously able to justify their actions to themselves, most of them blaming it on jesus, but here's the thing: killing people is wrong. no exceptions. if you can find me the part in the gospels where jesus kills someone because he doesn't approve of their choices, then i'll consider re-thinking this. but i've read those books quite a few times, and i still don't see the part where killing (or even injuring) someone is acceptable. ever.

the less openly-militant wing of the anti-abortion movement is also alive and well. randall terry, the former leader of "operation rescue" has been back in the news again, telling reporters at notre dame that "Obama is the premier promoter of child killing in the western hemisphere. When you have that kind of epic thing going on, it demands a response from the whole Catholic world." obama promotes child killing? more than anyone else in the western hemisphere? really? expect to see more of this rhetoric, as the militant right struggles to come to terms with the fact that bush never made good on his promises to them, and obama isn't even going to pretend like he'll give them what they want.

i don't have a lot of patience for people who want to restrict abortion rights, even through peaceful means. it is an issue of basic bodily autonomy for a woman or a girl to decide whether or not she is going to carry a fetus to term. and making abortion illegal will not magically end abortion; it will just drive it underground. anyone who is genuinely concerned for the health and well-being of women wants to avoid this at all costs.

rest in peace, dr. tiller. and may your family find comfort and healing in this time of unacceptable loss.

No comments: