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

Randall Terry and the Death of the Pro-Life Movement

Randall Terry continued his reckless campaign of self-promotion today following the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas City.  While continuing to refer to Tiller as a mass-murderer Terry spoke of the tactics that he believed were necessary for the anti-abortion movement to succeed.  At the National Press Club Terry is quoted by the Washington Post as saying:

Terry said abortion opponents “have to be confrontational” and “have to use highly-charged rhetoric” to advance their movement.

“The pro-life movement right now is at a crossroads,” Terry said at a midday news conference at the National Press Club. “We have become steadily politically irrelevant, our leadership is graying, retiring and dying, and many of the new leaders do not have the fortitude and clarity of thought to not flinch in an hour of crisis like this. So the words that I’m going to say today are specifically geared towards shoring up the pro-life movement.”

Terry has become a liability to the Pro-Life movement.  His actions and statements convey sentiments that are harming the movement as a whole.  He has driven those in the middle of the country who are pivotal to the success of legislative efforts away from mainstream and non-violent pro-life groups because all people see is Terry.  These groups have had some measure of success in their lawful and peaceful efforts to enact laws to limit abortion at the state level.

Terry’s comments today show that he is either totally ignorant of the effects of his rhetoric or is desperate to keep himself in the limelight.  I do not believe the Mr. Terry is ignorant of anything. He is a shrewd political operator who has kept himself in the limelight for over 20 years.  From his actions over the past few months in which he has protested Catholic Bishops in Washington DC and Baltimore being arrested for “leafleting” at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Washington DC.  Following this Terry went to Rome interviewed Archbishop Burke and then came back to the US to misuse the footage of Archbishop Burke against his fellow bishops, something for which Burke had to apologize to them. (Catholic News Agency Column at:  http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=717 )  His actions showed a callous disregard of his own Church and make me wonder if Terry believes himself superior to the Bishops of the Catholic Church.  I am wondering why he has not been silenced or censured by them for these actions.

Terry’s actions at Notre Dame to attempt to disrupt the graduation speech of President Obama only made Obama look more reasonable to many people than Terry.  Since Terry has been the “face” of the pro-life movement his every action, positive or negative affects the movement as a whole.  His protests at Notre Dame, where he and others attempted to shout down the President showed a reckless disrespect for the office of the President.  There was a time that Christians held the office of the President in respect even if they disagreed with the policies of the man in office.  This too, an interruption of the graduation of college students showed a lack of civility that has been his trademark.

Likewise fellow travelers in the anti-abortion movement including past and current leaders of Operation Rescue, the group that Terry founded and then left in 1991 years ago.  They and Terry have had a running battle of words which moved into to courts in 2008 when Terry sued them over the rights to the name Operation Rescue.  I will not weigh in on the merits of either side, except to note that this seems to be the battle over a name that brings with it real and potential monetary donors.

I do believe that Terry is wrong in stating that the pro-life movement must “be confrontational” and “have to use highly-charged rhetoric” to advance their movement. It is clear to me that the most successful tactics of the pro-life movement have been genuine efforts to provide alternative services to women undergoing unplanned pregnancies.  The best of these include actual care for the woman after delivery.  The other is the use of the legislative process.  While slow this is the legal way to change things in the United States.  As an example the actions of William Wilberforce to eliminate slavery in England used the parliamentary process.  It took time but slavery was eliminated without the trauma of the Civil War.

It is my belief that the type of protests favored by Terry to include the confrontation and highly charged rhetoric has contributed to the violence that occurred this week.  As such he is contributing to the marginalization and “political irrelevancy” of the pro-life movement.  In light of his actions I hope that Catholic Bishops will silence him for the good of the movement as a whole.  Fellow pro-life activists should distance themselves from him and find alternatives to the strategy of confrontation which do not compromise their beliefs but find a way to be redemptive and forgiving to those that practice abortions.

Unfortunately I think that what happened on Sunday was a watershed.  The Rubicon has been crossed.  As I said in my post yesterday, it will be the end of the pro-life movement because Terry and people like him will keep pushing until the entire movement is declared a domestic terrorist organization.  It is incumbent upon leaders of the pro-life movement to try to correct course now, if they do not it will be too late.  Daniel Kupelian or World Net Daily, with whom I seldom find any agreement states the danger quite well and pro-life leaders should take this and quickly change the tactics of their organizations.

“pretty soon some group may decide it can’t take it anymore. Its members might become so enraged that they conclude it’s time to start the next armed revolution. Seeing their nation being raped and envisioning no solution other than violence, they delude themselves that they’re the modern counterparts of America’s revolutionary founders. Making explosives and conspiring in secret – all the while quoting Jefferson to each other about “watering the tree of liberty” from time to time with “the blood of patriots and tyrants” – they murder some federal judges or blow up a government office building in an attempt to fight back. In reality, all they succeed in doing is murdering and maiming a bunch of their fellow Americans (or, as McVeigh did in Oklahoma City, massacring a room full of toddlers in daycare – which he later coldly termed “collateral damage”).

And what would follow? A massive official crackdown on “domestic terrorists” and a severe assault on freedom in America.

Amazing what hatred can accomplish, isn’t it? Exactly the opposite of what was supposedly intended. The “dark side of the force” is very clever.

As the blood-drenched, vengeance-driven French Revolution proved, when “patriots” are full of hate, they’re no better than the corrupt government they’re rebelling against – and maybe worse. Therefore, whether their uprising succeeds or fails, either way they usher in a new “reign of terror.” (See World Net Daily: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=99787 )

Peace, Steve+

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