You Arrogant Ass, You have Killed Us! Randall Terry and the Destruction of the Pro-Life Movement

“You arrogant ass. You’ve killed us!”  Andrei Bonovia, First Officer of Soviet Alpha Submarine Konovalov in The Hunt For Red October.

I have few thoughts about the past few days.  In the past several days we have seen a watershed event take place.  This was the killing of Dr. George Tiller in Reformation Lutheran Church, Wichita Kansas, by one Scott Roeder.  A large part of Teller’s practice was late term abortions, which made him and his clinic a target not only of peaceful protest, but threatening protests and violent acts.  Teller himself was shot and badly wounded in a 1980’s assassination attempt.  His death in his church on Pentecost Sunday by a man who appears to be fringe player in the anti-abortion movement with long ties to various violent anti-government groups was a watershed.  The pro-life movement will never be the same after last Sunday. It will both adjust and stop using vitriolic and incendiary language; graphic images, bullying protest tactics, or it will continue down this path and be rightfully declared a domestic terrorist movement.  The label will not only apply to the violent who conduct such acts as the murder of George Tiller but it will be hung on those who believe that they are engaging in peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience.

Unfortunately this is the culminating point of the pro-life movement. It actually was the logical outcome of radicals who raised the rhetoric so high that they could not back down.  It is the high water point much as Pickett’s charge was the high water mark of the Confederacy.  All the legislative gains of those who patiently and diligently within the law, those who treated their opponents with grace and compassion, those who actually tried to assist and give options to women who might have had abortions will be lost in the coming years.  From now on the pro-life movement will fight a rear guard action trying to protect whatever gains that it has.  It is a sad end to the movement and it can be laid squarely at the feet of Randall Terry and others who engaged in this use of confrontational and de-humanizing rhetoric to the debate.

The reason for this is clear.  Many anti-abortion leaders decided to adopt the tactics of the 1960s, only instead of emulating Dr King, they emulate radical revolutionaries such as the “Weathermen” or groups such as the German “Red Army Faction.”  They adopted a strategy of open confrontation and belligerence toward their opponents. Likewise they attacked people who were somewhere in the middle, opposing abortion but having legitimate questions and concerns about actual medial ethical problems, such as when the fetus is killing the mother.  The leaders of the radical wing of the movement led by Randall Terry and groups such as Operation Rescue have set a tone where people who would probably support their goals now want nothing to do with them.   Without these people, the pro-life movement becomes irrelevant in the national debates about life, not only abortion, but all life.  The language and behavior of Mr. Terry after the shooting of Dr. Tiller has shown that Mr. Terry intends to go down fighting and take the movement with him.

Like the First Officer of the Soviet submarine pursuing the Red October tells his Captain when the sub is about to be struck by its own torpedo which has had the safety’s removed “You arrogant ass. You’ve killed us!”  The leaders of the mainstream and peaceful pro-life movement should say the same to Mr. Terry and others like him. Terry and others pursue a jihad against all who oppose them.  This weekend was the logical outcome of a pattern of persistent escalation of both rhetoric and protests which often showed no grace, no love, and no redeeming purpose other than to hurl epitaphs and curses at abortion providers and their traumatized customers.  They have ensured the irrelevance and demise of the pro-life movement as we know it today.  They have ensured that even peaceful and law abiding demonstrators will be seen in the same light as them.  It was a suicidal strategy which can only end badly. Though the tactics helped Terry and others raise funds, support themselves and build an anti-abortion industry, they did not advance the cause of life. That cause was advanced by those who prayed, worked through legal and legislative means and those who offered loving and caring help to women considering abortion.  Their efforts have been dealt a devastating blow by the radicals.  The radicals thrive on confrontation and actually needs for Roe v. Wade to remain on the books to justify their existence and their paychecks.

In light of last week’s actions, and the subsequent comments by Mr. Terry at the National Press Club, any pro-life group which is foolish enough to protest this weekend is asking for trouble.  No matter how peaceful, law abiding and correct they are now pained with the same brush as Mr. Terry and radical groups.  The leaders of mainstream pro-life groups need to do some serious soul searching.  If they do not in thought, word and deed condemn the radicals, call their own members into account to behave peacefully, lawfully and in a manner consistent with the redemptive message of the Gospel, they will end up shipwrecked with Mr. Terry.  It will take only one more violent act which can be traced to a member of a anti-abortion group, or attributed to the exhortation of radicals for the government to declare all of them to be domestic terrorist groups.  If this happens the government will be well within its right.  No one, no matter how righteous they believe their cause to be can take the law, especially capital punishment into their own hands.  Mr. Terry’s remarks were chilling and if he continues down this path of bellicose confrontation without the Catholic Church or other pro-life leaders stopping him, they will all suffer the consequences of his foolishness.

It is a sad day.  Randall, you arrogant ass, you have killed us.

Peace, Steve+

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7 Comments

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings, philosophy, Political Commentary, pro-life anti-abortion, Religion

7 responses to “You Arrogant Ass, You have Killed Us! Randall Terry and the Destruction of the Pro-Life Movement

  1. P.Blair

    It’s obvious the side you are on. When you say “you’ve killed us”, dont you means ” you killed them” ? While a high percentage of pro-life advocates do not agree with what happened, you try to paint them all with the same brush, then act like you can relate to them. What happened to the “doctor” was wrong, it probably saved hundreds of lives. This country is flinging itself headlong into morale decay , with no end in sight.. I don’t expect Roe vs. Wade to be overturned any time soon. but the fact that abortion murders millions of babies every year seems to go unnoticed.

    • padresteve

      Dear Whoever you are,

      I decided to approve your post because you obviously have no clue what I believe or support. It is not a matter of what side I am on. It is a matter that the actions of Randall Terry are destroying any chance the pro-life movement has of making progress. He and people like him are the cause of the marginalization of the movement. His tactics, attitude and actions are toxic to the movement to limit or end abortion. It is a suicidal tactic to embrace. Despite everything the movement was making slow but sure progress. The murder killed that. It and the statements of Mr. Terry have killed us in the movement. I love you comment “What happened to the “doctor” was wrong, it probably saved hundreds of lives.” I’ve heard this before. It was in the movie “A Few Good Men.” “Willie Santiago’s death, while tragic, saved lives.” Sorry even when person is engaged in the practices of Dr. Teller they are still someone that Christ died to save. If I recall the passage, “even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” and “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting men’s sins against them but entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”

      Today you have misidentified me, you have labeled me and and probably consigned me to hell. If that is the case fine. I believe attitudes like yours are gutless. It takes no courage to call someone an enemy of God, or shout them down. In fact becoming a professional protester, making a habit of going to jail, keeping yourself in the media spotlight while existing in luxury at the expense of your supporters is a pretty good living for Mr. Terry. Your tactics are like the great quote from Vietnam: We had to destroy the village to save it. What is instead of shooting Tiller and bombing his clinic in the 1980s. someone had decided to engage him and by doing that had brought about a change in his practice way back then? Sure this is speculative, but when you demonize people and dehumanize them you do not bring them to reconciliation, you cause them to dig in their heels. You don’t get it and I sorry. Think what you want, that is your right. A right that I defend every day. I have served in harms way and been shot at to protect the freedom of speech, association and religion of people like you. You may not like me, but you need me. Your comments remind me a lot more of the words of Mullah Omar than the Apostle Paul.

  2. Greg

    Steve,

    How is it that I totally understood your position and P. Blair somehow missed that whole point?

    The adoption of radical, hysterical, belittling, confrontational, militant, and/or murderous tactics to advance a pro-life world view is ridiculous and completely counterproductive. As people who claim to “respect all life,” shouldn’t the typical pro-life proponent also show respect to the lives of those who disagree with them?

    I am completely pro-life, but I am anti-acting like unprincipled, violent idiots. I don’t think that you have painted all pro-life people with the same brush. I think that the radical anti-abortionists have done a pretty good job of doing it themselves.

    • padresteve

      I know my friend. It is funny, the strategy employed by this guy and Terry is a all or nothing strategy that will fail. They will lose the gains that have been made and the end result is that there will be even more abortions. Why do they insist on reinforcing 30 plus years of failure by continuing the bellicose and confrontational strategy? I don’t get it. I guess it is the curse of having been born with a logical and analytical brain.

  3. Carrie

    Randall Terry himself is the reason the Pro-life movement is not respected.

    This is a man that throws away wives, children and religious denominations anytime they interfere with his publicity or plan. He is an embarrassment to the cause and all Christians. This man is a hypocrite in every way possible and until the pro-life movement gets rid of him as their leader they are doomed to fail. Anytime there is a camera or reporter he is there. He cares less if the publicity is good or bad. Terry destroyed his family by divorcing his wife of 20+ years for his 25 something secretary. Disowns his children for being gay and or having children out of wedlock…yes this is the example we should follow. Sorry not me. The Pro-life movement has no credibility anymore with this guy in leadership. He may not have pulled the trigger that killed Dr. Tiller …but he is just as guilty for spewing the incendiary speech that some simple minded gun happy criminal might take as orders to act on.

    I’m done now. God be with the Tiller family, their church and all victims associated with this crime.

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