The tragic events in Colorado Springs over the weekend highlighted again that terrorism also comes in white, and Christian.
Although, when terrorist acts are committed by a white, radical Christian, the language used by the media shifts significantly, as the media tends to shy away from the ‘terrorist’ label and opts for descriptions such as ‘lone gunman’, ‘lone wolf’, ‘mentally ill’, or ‘social misfit’.
Make of it what you will, but there is a consistent, and clearly conscious, characterisation of white, right-wing, radical Christian, and misogynistic violence against the public that de-emphasises links with the concept of terrorism, even though such violence is often clearly politically motivated, whether aimed at women, or other liberal, secular institutions or sections of society.
American abortion providers have never been safe from radical Christians, but in recent times the rhetoric had gotten much worse. Over the past few months Planned Parenthood was subjected to a vicious campaign of lies and misinformation by radical anti-abortion activists and political opportunists – you could be forgiven to think there is a presidential election coming soon in the United States or something …
• Abortions and gelato
• ‘Reclaim Australia’ makes another dirty splash
• Police fine woman $500 for stealing $6.75 tampons, brag about it on Twitter
• Another Christian devotee shows ‘contumacious disregard’ for the law
• 62 dead women … little or no tangible action
• Women’s rights must become a global priority
There is something about women’s independence and self-determination that really sets off religious radicals of all persuasion, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish.
Women in Western nations are relatively fortunate because liberal, secular political structures offer some protection against religious ideology seeping into public policy, with varying degrees of success. Out of all Western democracies, these protections are arguably the weakest in the United States, because radical Christianity has a relative stronghold on American politics, and they often operate with scant regard for the bedrock principles of their liberal, secular democracy, such as the rule of law, and the separation of church and state.
In America the problem is not new and, sadly, it is very wide-spread. Colorado is not far from Texas, where Republican legislators have been gunning for women’s reproductive rights for years and have made great strides in denying women the opportunity for safe and legal abortions.
In Texas, the move by conservative legislators was met by significant protests at the statehouse in Austin in 2013, but legislators were left unmoved. One 14-year-old young woman achieved legendary status during those protest by holding up a ‘controversial’, but exceedingly true, protest sign, under the watchful eyes of her supportive father, Billy Joe Cain.
This young woman’s treatment by religious conservatives on social media, over standing up for her unalienable and inherent human right, was illustrative of the underlying complexities of radical Christianity seeping into American politics.
If you are a young woman with an open mind, and attached to the idea of self-determination, you too would want a dad like Billy Joe Cain.
Fast forward to 2015, and the recent Planned Parenthood furphy illustrates things not just didn’t get any better in the United States, but got worse when it comes to women’s rights, including reproductive self-determination.
That atmosphere of bigotry and hate exploded on the weekend at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility through the actions of a likely mentally unstable, religious zealot.
In the meantime, those who have spread the bigotry and hate are already washing their hands of any responsibility for this latest tragedy to which they have arguably contributed with their lies, misinformation, and public agitation. All that while crying crocodile tears about the ‘tragedy.’
Republican presidential primary candidate Carly Fiorina responded to this statement by Planned Parenthood in the most callous and reprehensible manner, while continuing to peddle falsehoods, even though the evidence upon which she based her accusations was shown to be manipulated, and forensically compromised.
“This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don’t agree with the message. The vast majority of Americans agree what Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong.”
No, Miss Fiorina, there is nothing wrong with what Planned Parenthood is doing, and you know it – they provide much-needed health services to women, including legal and safe abortions. Full stop.
The crocodile tears of the other Republican presidential primary candidates are also dubious, highlighted by their utter inability to engage in a conversation on the subject of abortion in a reasonable manner. At least the front-runner of the pack, Donald Trump, frankly admitted there is ‘tremendous dislike‘ for Planned Parenthood among conservatives. One wonders it Trump had seen any New Jersey conservatives ‘celebrating‘ the events of Colorado Springs …
While international terrorism remains a serious threat, so-called ‘sovereign citizens’ are increasingly seen as a significant domestic threat to public safety. The Colorado Springs tragedy was the latest illustration of that threat.
A ‘sovereign citizen’ is a citizen who rejects the current legal, political and social framework of Western democracies, and believes they are not bound by the laws of the nation. The source of defiance varies from conspiracy theories to anarchist ideology, white nationalism and racism, and religious extremism, including radical Christianity, which asserts that ‘god’s law’ supersedes ‘man-made’ laws. For example, radical Christians continue to oppose the legality of abortions, and same-sex marriage, among other things, on that basis.
Ironically, the targets of ‘sovereign citizens’ are often the very same institutions and people who are targeted by Islamic extremists: our secular democratic institutions, women and the LGBTI community. For example, sometimes it’s practically impossible to tell where Islamic extremists end and Christian extremists begin.
The July 2011 terrorist attack at a Norwegian youth camp by right-wing, Christian, white supremacist Anders Breivik is another prime example of such ‘sovereign citizen’ threats. Breivik murdered 69 young people at a Labor Party youth camp on Utøya Island.
The media initially attributed the attack to Muslim terrorists. When it became clear that a white, radical, right-wing Christian was responsible, references to terrorism were replaced in many media outlets by ‘massacre’, and suddenly he was called a ‘mass-murderer’, a ‘delusional loner’, and ‘a lone wolf’, rather than a right-wing, Christian terrorist.
Which bring us back to Colorado Springs and Robert Lewis Dear. After the shooting, suddenly many wanted to wait for ‘all the facts’ before drawing conclusions about this attack, even though it took place at Planned Parenthood, a known provider of legal and safe abortions, and the perpetrator of which referred to ‘no more baby parts’ as he was led away by police after the murders.
Of course one wants to be well-informed before passing judgment, but if you can’t work this one out, don’t even try a connect-the-dots puzzle.
On another note, Dear is a very lucky man. Police captured him alive and unharmed after killing three people, including a police officer, in a shootout.
This is practically a ‘miracle’ considering the recent shooting death of a black teenager whom the police managed to shoot 16 times while he was walking away from them, and the increasing inability of the American police force to apprehend black adults, or children, without killing them, even when unarmed.