Rhetoric and Violence

As several commenters have pointed out in other threads, there were two potentially ideologically motivated murders in the last 48 hours.

On Sunday morning, a well-known late term abortionist was shot and killed while attending services at his Lutheran church.

On Monday morning, a man opened fire on the recruiters at an Army-Navy career center in Little Rock, Arkansas — killing one and injuring a second. (The military being a needed and honorable profession, my prayers are all with these men and their families.)

Suspects for both crimes are now in custody and doubtless the machinery of justice will do its work in due time.

However, only the first of these is considered national political news, and while many are calling for soul searching on the part of the pro-life movement (or in some cases for government surveillance and downright suppression on it) few seem to be making similar calls in regards to the anti-war movement.

The difference in the political reactions to these two events can clearly not be a result of the strength of rhetoric involved. Anti-war protestors are every bit as violent in their rhetoric as the most extreme pro-life protesters, and anti-war protests turn violent far more frequently than pro-life ones.

Those who give a great deal of thought to class dynamics might observe that the elite which is responsible for writing the news is much more sympathetic to the anti-war movement than to the pro-life movement — and further that a 60-year-old, white, upper middle class abortionist is part of their class, while military recruiters are not.

Even more cynically, one might also observe that it’s simply easier to hurt the pro-life movement with this kind of event than it is the anti-war movement. The Christian worldview that most pro-lifers actively share teaches very strongly against the “eye for an eye” mentality which underpins such a killing. Whereas given the Marxist or anarchist leanings of many of the most hard core members of the anti-war movement, such a thing is easily brushed off as a minor casualty to class struggle — one more victory of the people over the oppressors. Thus, such an example is far more likely to cause paralyzing self-criticism on the part of pro-life advocates than anti-war ones.

Or perhaps, all political analysis to the contrary, the abortion issue is in fact more politically important (and of greater import to people’s everyday lives) than the war issue.

Whatever the reason, I don’t think that the lesson which pro-lifers should take from this incident is that they must not articulate the moral evil which they believe abortion to be. As with any responsible movement, we must avoid rhetoric which is needlessly violent and inflammatory, but our central belief that abortion is the taking of innocement human life must not be softened. Truth may hurt, and it may even encourage some people to do terrible things (John Brown was right about slavery, though wrong in other things) but that is no reason to leave the truth unsaid.

27 Responses to Rhetoric and Violence

  • D,

    The only thing I object to is the notion that killing Tiller – or the recruiters for that matter – is necessarily ‘eye of an eye’.

    A killing can be as much preventative as it is retributive. I’m not saying that makes it right, necessarily, but there IS a difference and in some cases, a moral difference. Perhaps not these cases.

  • Those who give a great deal of thought to class dynamics might observe that the elite which is responible for writing the news is much more sympathetic to the anti-war movement than to the pro-life movement — and further that a 60-year-old, white, upper middle class abortionist is part of their class, while military recruiters are not.

    Indeed. That violence is used to settle disputes between the lower classes is deemed tolerable, but violence used against the elite is the beginning of the end of society.

  • Excellent post Darwin.

    The narrative is clear that abortion is the elephant in the room that the left will do everything they can to ignore it if not to miss an opportunity to demonize the pro-life movement with.

  • I had just finished reading the report about the recruiter’s murder and was struck about the difference in language, tone, and emphasis between the that report and the ones on Tiller. I think you’re right that that difference suggests that this situation is being used for ends outside of justice for Tiller’s murder.

  • I had not heard of the second case, and yes, it is as wicked as the killing of Tiller.

    And yes, there is bias all the time. The people in rural and exurban communities are the first to defend their right to own guns, paying no heed to the implications of widespread availability of firearms in inner cities.

    You may be right about the media bias on this matter. I have always noticed a bias on Israel-Palestine. We always hear of Israeli deaths, and yet Palestinian deaths are downplated because the “conventional wisdom” is that Israel is somehow more in the right. For instance, how many media outlets have reported the Jewish settlers rampage this weekend, attacking Palestinians and burning their farmland?

  • MM,

    You have an interesting point, but lets keep to the topic here concerning the disparity of reporting between these two incidents that some on the extreme left are already hailing as an “eye for an eye”.

  • And yes, there is bias all the time. The people in rural and exurban communities are the first to defend their right to own guns, paying no heed to the implications of widespread availability of firearms in inner cities.

    Perhaps because they are dubious about the empirical relationship between the prevalence of gun ownership and rates of violent crime, the capacity of gun registration statutes to contain gun ownership among the wrong sort, and the relationship between the prevalence of sporting weapons in rural areas and small towns with muggings in city slums. Not only are they dubious, but econometricians who study these effects are dubious.

    You may be right about the media bias on this matter. I have always noticed a bias on Israel-Palestine. We always hear of Israeli deaths, and yet Palestinian deaths are downplated because the “conventional wisdom” is that Israel is somehow more in the right. For instance, how many media outlets have reported the Jewish settlers rampage this weekend, attacking Palestinians and burning their farmland?

    That ‘conventional wisdom’ might be based on the observation that the political objects of the local Arab population have been, in general, an ethnic cleansing extravaganza.

  • I have some real doubts as to whether my family’s deer rifles are responsible for kids getting shot in Chicago.

  • What a horrific tragedy! I will pray for these brave recruiters and their families. What senseless violence!

    However, I could find nothing online that pointed to an ideological motive. The news has said that assault weapons were found in the car, but that there is no known motive at this time.

    As Catholic, and like our Pope, I did not support the war in Iraq. I find it dubious that such a crime would be perpetrated by war protestors.

  • Steve,

    You’ve obviously been duped by a biased media.

    Viona,

    Of course. Only pro-lifers have such people on the fringe of their movement.

  • However, I could find nothing online that pointed to an ideological motive. The news has said that assault weapons were found in the car, but that there is no known motive at this time.

    Hmmmm. Someone drives up to a recruiting station and opens up on it with an assault rifle, but it’s not remotely possible that the person doing this considers the military or recruiters in particular to be evil? Not remotely possible there’s an ideological motive involved?

    Well, I don’t know… I do know that I’ve read self described pacifists denouncing recruiters as “scum”, “modern slavers”, “child predators” and “hitmen”. And, of course, all sorts of very graphic denunciations of the war itself and the suffering of Iraqis, Afghans, and others.

    Yet while you showed up very, very sure that the pro-life movement was at fault for Tiller’s killing, you seem a little more hesitant here. Any suggestions as to why?

    Is it possible that you’re okay with graphic denunciations you agree with, but hold that those you disagree with should not be able to express their beliefs fully without being denounced inciting violence?

  • Slight correction: the dead soldier wasn’t a recruiter, he was just out of basic– I’m going to guess the Army does the same thing as the Navy, and offers X-days free leave after basic to go help recruiters by offering a fresh perspective on what possible recruits will go through.

    Going to your old High School is another thing that’s encouraged during the week or so. (I got ten days, plus two for travel. Loved it!)

    I am darkly amused that every story I’ve read so far has emphasized that no-one has even a slight notion what could possibly be the motive, while all the Tiller killing ones announced it was the work of a pro-lifer….

    Recruiting commander Lt. Col Thomas Artis says the victims had just completed basic training and were spending two weeks in Little Rock training to recruit in their home area, showing the difference that less than two months of training made in their lives.

  • Well perhaps the shooter was a faithful member of the Religion of Peace:

    http://arkansasmatters.com/content/fulltext/?cid=226222

  • Phillip,

    Oh my goodness.

    Has President Obama called up the National Reserve? Is this being labeled as a “terrorist” act? Have they called them out as Muslim fanatics?

    Interesting how the two stories diverge in content and vitriol.

  • Thanks for the correction, Foxfier.

    I suppose we shall all have to wait and see whether there is a national call for people to pull back on rhetoric about the US’s involvement in the Middle East which might cause young Muslims to want to shoot up recruiting stations. Or will this remain “non-ideological” and “not religiously motivated”?

  • I don’t think it’s fair to categorize the anti-war movement as predominantly Marxist or Anarchist. In fact, the anti-war movement is heavily based on classical and principled pacifist thought, which does NOT encourage violent revolution. This horrible action AGAINST pacifist thought hurts the anti-war movement tremendously and is not seen as something light to be brushed off as you suggest.

  • Mary-
    Please read more carefully; he said :
    Whereas given the Marxist or anarchist leanings of many of the most hard core members of the anti-war movement

    Which is not making a characterization of the entire anti-war movement; the same flaw of reasoning, reversed, has folks acting like the Montana Freemen are the same as limited-gov’t conservatives or even libertarians.

    I can understand getting wroth, but it’s misplaced wrath, based on something not said.

  • I think Foxfier is still arguing that Mr. Roeder is not a true blue member of the anti-abortion movement. Strangely, on the dashboard of his car was found the home phone number of a top operative at Operation Rescue, a woman who had been jailed previously for bombing a clinic.

    He was a well-known protester and Operation rescue member. Let’s hope he was not also a catholic.

  • So well known that the only evidence anyone can call up is someone who remembers him from a dozen years ago (where he said he loved her work in justifying deadly violence for political goals) and two postings at a blog from two years ago, and now an unsupported claim that one bomber had the phone number of another?

    BTW, you never answered Darwin’s question– why are you so unwilling to make a better-supported leap to motive in the case of dead young soldiers than in the case of a dead abortionist?

  • However, only the first of these is considered national political news, and while many are calling for soul searching on the part of the pro-life movement (or in some cases for government surveillance and downright suppression on it) few seem to be making similar calls in regards to the anti-war movement.

    Good catch, Darwin.

  • Foxfier: Well, having just read through these threads, I think we know why Viona is so quick to jump to conclusions and wholeheartedly condemn in one case and so very er, “nuanced” when it comes to the other.

    In her eyes, Tiller was performing a necessary, “pro-woman” service – never mind that he hacked up the bodies of as many or more females as males. (It never seems to sink into thick feminist skulls that, world-wide, abortion is one of the most anti-female forces in the world. The male to female sex ratios in China and India are becoming seriously skewed as a result of girls being aborted at much higher rates than boys. “Freedom to choose” for many third-world women means freedom to rid themselves of their “worthless” girl babies in favor of much more valuable sons.)

    Those soldiers – well, they might have gone on to kill people overseas (since, for some reason, Obama didn’t bring all the troops home 5 minutes after he took office), so, well, it’s regrettable, but their lives just weren’t valuable in the eyes of the pro-abort left in the same way that a man who performs third-trimester abortions is.

    And all good pro-abort progressives know that the pro-life crowd is full of violent nutters, and anti-war protesters are always on the side of the angels and would never hurt anyone. Just ask Bill Ayers.

  • “And all good pro-abort progressives know that the pro-life crowd is full of violent nutters, and anti-war protesters are always on the side of the angels and would never hurt anyone. Just ask Bill Ayers.”

    The miserable thing is that a lot of pro-life people would say the same about anti-war protesters.

    I feel truly isolated, being both anti (this particular) war and pro-life at the same time. Either a whole bunch of people like what you have to say, or everyone hates you for different reasons.

  • It’s curious to me that while the pro-life movement actively responds to this incident rejecting and decrying it…the media portrays it as “being on the defensive”. There is absolutely no response from the Islamic community when an Islamic man kills a US soldier in cold blood, and yet, there is no media asking about it.

  • Joe Hargrave, do your beliefs extend to standing up for life in cases like the death penalty, cases like Terry Salvo, etc. as well?

  • Here’s an article with some background on Raeder:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/us/02tiller.html?_r=1&em

    It sounds like a case of mental illness, rather than overzealousness.

  • What I mean to say is that it sounds like he became unbalanced, which resulted in his becoming violently fanatical about certain issues … not that he was overzealously pro-life, which resulted in violence.

  • Joe: I disagree with you about the war, but I respect your opinion, and I certainly wouldn’t lump you or most anti-war people in with the Bill Ayers of this world. (I wish many anti-war people would also do me the favor of not assuming that I favored this war because I want us to get our hands on oil any way we can, or because I love seeing innocent Iraqis get killed. It is difficult, sometimes, to see the good intentions of those you disagree with when they are imputing the worst of motives to you – not that you yourself have done this.)

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .