The Death of Dr. Tiller and Anti-abortion Fanaticism
Dr. Tiller's death has evoked deep sadness in his community and throughout the United States. As so many testimonials say, he was a humane, kind, and deeply caring man who showed tremendous bravery in the face of death threats, harassment and public incitements to hatred.
But the fanaticism that killed him is not done. As Michelle Goldberg reports, there is a high probability that this murder could be a call to action for further violence.
“They see the mainstream antiabortion leadership as being traitorous or emasculated at best,” Levin says of the radical antiabortion movement. After all, Rick Warren gave the invocation at Obama’s inauguration. Notre Dame gave him an honorary degree and invited him to speak at commencement. A recent Gallup poll showed that, for the first time ever, more Americans identify as “pro-life” than “pro-choice,” but the antiabortion movement still can’t find momentum. “They feel like their leadership is not carrying the ball on this and has basically become patsies or traitors,” says Levin.
Their anger grew because despite the decades of harassment and intimidation thrown at Dr. Tiller, he had survived and continued to do what he believed was the right thing for his patients.
In this context, says Levin, Tiller’s murder is a call to action. “I think the assassin wanted to make a statement by killing him at a church, to say that the holy act was killing this guy and ending this hypocrisy and saving babies,” he says. “He wanted to do more than just kill someone he considers an evil baby killer, wanted to send a message to friend and foe alike that hopefully there will be more.” Tiller’s assassination looks like what anarchists and far-right groups alike sometimes call the “propaganda of the deed.”
And indeed, Terry Randell, founder of Operation Rescue, believes that the good doctor brought it on himself and that the organization must continue to be aggressive although he proclaims the movement as peaceful and law-abiding.
As Frederick Clarkson says, the inflammatory rhetoric can absolutely create the environment that compels someone like Scott Roeder to act.
Seems like the DHS warning on Domestic Terrorism a few weeks ago was right on the money.