Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
04.23 US threatens to veto UN resolution on rape as weapon of war, officials say [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
04.21 Dutch engineers build world's biggest sun-seeking solar farm [A replacement for lost Arctic ice?]
04.10 Glaciers and arctic ice are vanishing. Time to get radical before it's too late [Willfully ignorant "conservatives" and corporately-bribed liberals diddle self-obsessively while life on earth dies]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
04.23 The financial sector must be at the heart of tackling climate change [A reversal of their history of bad behavior]
04.21 Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron [For the good of the public and healthier economic growth, can we make government and financial markets behave morally?]
04.19 The Pentagon’s Bottomless Money Pit [pdf; Until the Pentagon can pass audits, use their allocated budget to fight causes of global warming]
International & Futurism
04.19 Ways to Save the World
Tiller Murder Reveals Violent Anti-Abortion Subculture
Watchdog Organization Charges that Demagogues Use "Tools of Fear"Originally published on June 2, 2009
"We must hold accountable those civic leaders and media companies who stand by silently as this environment grows ever more toxic to democracy," says PRA director Tarso Ramos.
BOSTON—In the wake of the May 31, 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, one of a dwindling number of American ob-gyns who perform late-term abortions, questions are once again being raised about anti-abortion activists who push their convictions to violent conclusions.
The anti-abortion movement harbors within it a subculture of militant activists who believe the slogan "if abortion is murder, then act like it," according to Pam Chamberlain, senior researcher at Political Research Associates (PRA), a Massachusetts-based independent nonprofit research center on the religious and political Right. "For some, this means attending demonstrations or engaging in acts of civil disobedience; for others it means committing murder." Many of these activists are motivated by their religious beliefs, but larger forces are also in play.
The election of Barack Obama deeply angered whole sections of the U.S. Right. Media demagogues have been quick to exploit this anger with rhetoric that demonizes not just Obama or the Democratic Party, but liberal ideology itself. Using the rhetoric of Right-Wing populism, opportunistic pundits and politicians portray liberal government programs as picking the pockets of hard-working taxpayers to help "undeserving" poor people, "lazy parasites," and "unlawful immigrants." Using the tools of fear, irresponsible public figures cultivate an aggressive constituency that feels extra-legal action is justified because, in their view, the Obama administration has shut them out of the political process.
"The current political environment is awash with seemingly absurd but nonetheless influential conspiracy theories, hyperbolic claims, and demonized targets," explains Chip Berlet, senior analyst at PRA, "and this creates a milieu where violence is a likely outcome."
A suspect being questioned in Tiller's murder, Scott P. Roeder, has been linked to the militia movement. This is not the first case in which militias have been implicated in the murder of an abortion provider, says Berlet. In late 1994, John C. Salvi III launched an armed attack in which Boston abortion clinic workers were killed or wounded. He had trained with a militia group in Florida, and later cited obscure economic and religious theories popular in Patriot, armed citizens' militia, and Constitutionalist movements such as the Montana Freemen.
"This is not the time to undermine free speech or civil liberties," says Tarso Ramos, director of Political Research Associates. "Yet we must hold accountable the media pundits and political actors who through campaigns of exaggeration and deceit have created an atmosphere where some among the many anxious and angry people are bound to conclude there is no option left but to turn to violence. Likewise, we must hold accountable those civic leaders and media companies who stand by silently as this environment grows ever more toxic to democracy."
Political Research Associates is an independent, nonprofit research center that analyzes and monitors the Right and other anti-democratic movements, institutions, and trends. PRA is based on progressive values and committed to advancing an open, democratic, and pluralistic society.
Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.
This story was published on June 3, 2009.