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.