Tag Archives: the freemen

The Danger of Right Wing and Left Wing Extremism

“Let everyone regulate his conduct… by the golden rule of doing to others as in similar circumstances we would have them do to us, and the path of duty will be clear before him.”  William Wilberforce

The past two weeks have been a watershed in modern American History.  For the first time in memory we have had a series of ideological, political and religious murders committed by men who believed that their actions were justifiable homicide.  The first was the murder of a physician who had a fair amount of his practice devoted to abortions including late term abortions.  George Teller was killed by Scott Roeder a militant anti-government member of the Freemen and a fringe player in anti-abortion groups who was influenced by the militant anti-abortion group The Army of God which believes in justifiable homicide.  The murder was in Tiller’s church.  The clinic which Tiller operated is being shut down by his family.  Roeder believes it a victory but many in the pro-life movement are concerned that it will lead to crackdown on mainstream pro-lifers, and also that the closing of the Tiller clinic could lead to similar attacks by those emboldened by Roeder’s action.

The second killing was that of Army Pvt. William Long outside of a recruiting station in Little Rock.  The confessed murderer used an assault rifle to kill Pvt. Long and wound another soldier serving as home town recruiters prior to reporting to their unit following their initial entry training.  The suspects, an American convert to Islam named Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he didn’t consider the killing a murder because U.S. military action in the Middle East made the killing justified.  “I don’t think it was murder, because murder is when a person kills another person without justified reason.”  Mujahid Muhammad warned soldiers and their families in the US that they were also targets: “The battlefield is not just in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Muhammad says.  “A battlefield is anywhere we see you at.  And those people in the Army and those families of the people in the Army and the military and personnel all over the country, if you don’t want to die or get shot for this so called war on terrorism, war on Islam, then get out of the Army.  Get out of the Army and don’t walk, run.” This attack followed other attacks on recruiting stations including the bombing of the Armed Forces Recruiting station in Times Square last year.

The most recent attack occurred today as an 88 year old White Supremacist and Holocaust denier James Von Brunn walked into the Holocaust Memorial Museum killing a guard.  Von Brunn’s sites as well as other Neo-Nazi websites such as Stormfront prominently spew Von Brunn’s hatred toward minorities in the United States.   His book, “Kill The Best Gentiles,” embraces Adolf Hitler’s view that Jews concocted World War I as part of a scheme to stab Germany in the back — a myth the Nazis used to justify the Holocaust. He is called an “independent investigator by some and has issued statements on the citizenship controversy pushed by some on the far Right about President Obama’s eligibility to serve as President  and comments about the religion of then CENTCOM commander General Tommy Franks.

All three of these men evidently believe in justifiable homicide and are willing to kill for their ideological or religious beliefs.  What makes this sudden spike in assassination for ideological reasons significant is that the nation is polarized by the extreme Right and extreme Left which both see the world and their causes no matter what they are in black and white terms.  There is no intent by any extreme group to dialogue or find compromise with their opponents, even if such compromise would gain them at least part of what they want.  Instead, the rhetoric of the extremes has continued to increase and find airtime on supposedly “mainstream” media outlets both liberal and conservative.  This provides some manner of legitimacy to the extremist groups even as their more boisterous political and media supporters ratchet up the rhetoric.  This makes for an incredibly volatile situation which is fraught with danger for all as more and more people see violence, including justifiable homicide as a legitimate option to push their agenda.  In our country we cannot forget that John Brown, though right in his desire to end slavery engaged in tactics which helped push the country to civil war, a war that while freeing African-Americans from the yoke of slavery imposed a yoke nearly as heavy on them, know as Jim Crow laws that lasted until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King and the Voting Rights Act of 1964.  Even still racism is still a reality for many blacks and other minorities.  Brown’s desire to end slavery may have been righteous but he destroyed the political center which could have ended it peacefully in time just as William Wilberforce and his allies in Parliament had done in England.

The perilous situation that exists now is that which erodes the center on which all depend on to hold.  Neither Left Wing or Right Wing extremists give a damn about the majority who are somewhere in between.  As a passionate moderate I see this as a dangerous trend.  In Germany of the late 1920s and early 1930s both the Communists and Nazis polarized the nation.  The more moderate Social Democrats, Catholic Center Party and other smaller middle of the road parties were marginalized as time went on.  Eventually the Nazis won that power struggle with dire consequences which extended far beyond Germany.  As the rhetoric rises and those who justify violence be it against people, institutions or property are emboldened to act it will further fracture the middle.  It is imperative that the Center to hold, as Edmund Burke said: “All it needs for evil to prosper is for people of goodwill to do nothing.”

These actions could well be harbingers of things to come.  What is even more concerning as they take place at a time of worldwide economic crisis when we have hundreds of thousands of troops deployed to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Additionally, North Korea rattling sabers and several critical nations, some with nuclear weapons on the brink of collapse, failure or civil war.  I pray that men and women of goodwill and courage arise in the center and passionately advocate not for a particular party or cause, but the good of all.  People of faith need to pray not for a particular political resolution favorable to them, but for God’s peace and healing in our country.

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under History, Loose thoughts and musings, Political Commentary

Crossing the Rubicon- The Killing of Dr Tiller and the End of the Pro-Life Movement

How can people who are allegedly pro-life promote an attitude of belief that dehumanizes their opponents and tolerates uncivil and at times inflammatory rhetoric which crosses all bounds of Christian conduct, leading to the murder of other people?  This happened today in a Kansas Church where Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in cold blood by someone at least on the fringe of the pro-life movement.  I think the answer is found at least in some part in yesterday’s post on Gordon Klingenschmitt and what I term the “Klingenban.”

A little over a month ago I published a piece called How Pro-Life People Make Themselves Look Like Idiots. This post dealt with the potential public health threat of the H1N1 Flu and posts that I had seen written by supposedly “Pro-Life” people condemning the government response to the threat.  The people who posted this on a social networking page chief complaint that the government funded abortion, thus it was hypocritical to fund a response to H1N1.  The argument made no sense and I rightly referred to them not as “pro-life” but “anti-abortion.”  I phrased it in this way because I believe that people who think and talk this way have no respect for the lives of we, the “post-born.”

Many in the pro-life/anti-abortion movement have regularly used highly inflammatory rhetoric, referring to abortion providers as “murderers.”  Used the images of the Holocaust to describe abortion and routinely show pictures of aborted babies in their protests, literature and websites.  Now I am in no way saying that I am pro-abortion.  I am pro-life.  However, after I came home from Iraq I started seeing just how perverted some in the pro-life/anti-abortion movement had become.  Not that I hadn’t noticed this prior to Iraq, but when I came home I became a lot more sensitive to people who routinely use the language and images that I described above.  The use of such language imagery and often strong arm and bullying tactics by some in this movement has created a situation where they dehumanize their opponents.  When this is done through the regular use of such language and imagery it creates a culture of hatred and draws often violent or psychologically disturbed people into it.  It is true that people like these are often on the fringe of pro-life groups, but they have connections.  These connections will be the end of the pro-life/anti-abortion movement as we know it today.

There have been a number of times that anti-abortion people have killed abortion providers or bombed abortion clinics.  This was seen again today with the slaying of Dr. George Tiller who performed late term abortions in his Wichita Kansas clinic.  Tiller was killed in his church.  The man suspected, a Scott Roeder had posted on a number of occasions to the Operation Rescue website, even suggesting that Tiller be confronted in his church.   That post is here.  It was taken from a Google cache before Operation Rescue either took it down or blocked access to the site.

Scott Roeder Says:
May 19th, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Bleass everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp.

Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.

Roeder had also has ties to the Sovereign Citizen movement and was convicted in 1996 of having bomb components in his car.  Likewise he is a veteran tax protester and was sentenced to 16 months in 1997 prison for breaking terms of his parole.  We don’t know a lot more about him but at the best he is a troubled lone operator.   Roeder followed up the post with this a few months later:

Scott Roeder
Mon September 03, 2007, 09:49:40

It seems as though what is happening in Kansas could be compared to the “lawlessness” which is spoken of in the Bible. Tiller is the concentration camp “Mengele” of our day and needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgement upon our nation.

The unintended consequences of the extreme rhetoric found in much of the pro-life/anti-abortion movement are seen in today’s action.  When a movement describes their opponents as “murderers” “mass-murderers” and compares them to Nazi War Criminals such as Dr. Mengele it can and often does create a climate where the killing of someone is justified.  Now admittedly I’m sure that the vast majority of those in the pro-life movement are not this kind of person.  The problem is that within the movement there are people who think like this precisely because they have been spoon fed this rhetoric for years.  Likewise there are those who oppose the government in other ways who affiliate themselves with pro-life/anti-abortion groups.  This appears to be the case with Mr. Roeder.

Thus the problem, pro-life and anti-abortion groups have by their continual repeating of such language to describe abortion supporters and providers de-humanize them.  By doing this they provide encouragement to people who are actual criminals, such as Scott Roeder and Eric Rudolph.  The use of this rhetoric, imagery and sometimes threatening protests against abortion providers and supporters attracts people who are violent and unstable.  The pro-life movement must be very careful and look at history.  Groups like the Nazis in Germany associated with and co-opted otherwise law abiding groups in Weimer Germany.  The danger is that people in the militia movement, the Freemen and other extremists will in fact will infiltrate the pro-life movement and by their violent actions bring about a crackdown by the government on such groups.  Unfortunately I think that much of the pro-life and anti-abortion movement is patently unaware of the risks that their tactics entail.  I believe that the protest of clinics, homes and places of worship of abortion providers is not effective, drives people who might be in general agreement with the movement into opposition and provides ready material for those who want to malign the movement.

As a military officer I refuse to be a part of any group which uses the methods that I have described above.  While I may be pro-life, I believe that the movement has been compromised by actions of many of its leaders and that the linkage to radical right wing groups will be its downfall.  When, not if this happens it will be the fault of leaders such as Randall Terry and others who have taken a legitimate cause and turned it into a business.  From a position of faith, many in the movement are nothing more than Christian Taliban who will stop at nothing to see their interpretation of the faith is imposed on others.  I know a good number of people in the pro-life movement.  Most are good and loving people, concerned with the lives of both abortion providers and those who have had abortions. These too will be painted with the label of the Taliban because they tolerated this type of behavior from others in the movement.  In fact they are the antithesis of the radical fringe which thrives on confrontation in order to fill their coffers.  In fact I do not believe that many of the larger groups affiliated with the pro-life movement have any desire for Roe v. Wade to be overturned,  it was they would have to get real jobs instead of living off of the donations of their supporters.  We have crossed the Rubicon.  The pro-life movement has effectively committed suicide with the killing of Dr. Tiller.  God help us all.

Peace, Steve+

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