I’ve always been amazed at how people who are supposedly passionate about “the unborn” have no problem whatsoever with capital punishment and the murder of abortion doctors, third world dictators or Iraqi citizens. It goes to the heart of that flexible morality I’ve always had a problem with, and is at the heart of why I stopped considering myself a Christian when I was young. Either all life is sacred or none of it is. Your arguments against abortion are meaningless if you also believe it’s fine to kill a rapist by lethal injection. Killing a 40 year old man is a late term abortion, any way you look at it.
So I’ve never put much stock in the arguments of nutjobs like Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, who practically danced with glee upon finding that abortion doctor George Tiller had been murdered.
“George Tiller was a mass-murderer,” Terry, who is a fiery voice for the American Taliban (the Religious Right) said in response to the murder. “I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions.”
Randall Terry was hardly the only one who targeted Dr. Tiller. Dozens of Religious Right and Conservative groups have had him in their cross-hairs for years. Nearly every one of them trotted out that tired old wink as they systematically denounced Tiller’s murder, even as they sort of shrugged and suggested that he had it coming.
The fact of the matter is that, for years, Right-Wing groups have tried to make Tiller the face of the abortion fight. A quick search of several of the leading organization’s websites by Right-Wing Watch demonstrated just how often they cited Tiller in their own anti-abortion efforts.
Tiller’s name was mentioned dozens, if not hundreds, of times on the websites of organization’s like Focus on the Family, Faith 2 Action, Vision America, American Family Association, Christian Coalition, American Center for Law and Justice, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, the Traditional Values Coalition, and the Alliance Defense Fund, where he was often referred to with terms like “accused serial abortionist”, “the most notorious abortionist in America”, “George (the Killer) Tiller”, and “Tiller the Killer”.
There are at least 78 mentions of the name “George Tiller” on the Family Research Council website, often in connection with statements like this from March of this year:
Tiller’s body count is greater by far than all the American troops killed in Vietnam … This man should be in jail. Whatever the outcome of the trial now underway, the fact is that jail is the only appropriate place for ‘doctors’ who kill children” … May George Tiller finally be brought to some semblance of justice!
But perhaps no organization outside of the single-issue groups like Operation Rescue made Tiller a bigger target than did Concerned Women for America, which has more than 200 mentions of him on its website, including this column by Janice Crouse from just a few weeks ago:
Tiller takes upon himself the role of God and condemns to death any innocent child whose mother chooses to label it as “unwanted.” Then he executes them.
These people were hardly the only ones targeting Dr. George Tiller. There’s a reason why Bill O’Reilly’s name is in the title of this article. While groups like Focus On The Family, American Family Association and Concerned Women for America might have targeted their respective audiences with angry denouncements of Dr. Tiller, the most damning voice to repeatedly target him was Bill O’Reilly.
There is no other person who bears as much responsibility for the characterization of Tiller as a savage on the loose, killing babies willy-nilly with the cooperation of would-be sophisticated cultural elites, a bought-and-paid-for governor and Liberal, secular journalists, than Bill O’Reilly. Tiller’s name first appeared on “The Factor” on Feb. 25, 2005. Since then, O’Reilly and his guest hosts have brought up the doctor on 28 more episodes, including as recently as April 27 of this year. Almost invariably, Tiller is described as “Tiller the Baby Killer.”
Tiller, O’Reilly likes to say, “destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000.” He’s guilty of “Nazi stuff,” said O’Reilly on June 8, 2005; a moral equivalent to NAMBLA and Al Qaeda, he suggested on March 15, 2006. “This is the kind of stuff happened in Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union,” said O’Reilly on Nov. 9, 2006.
O’Reilly has also frequently linked Tiller to his longtime obsession, child molestation and rape. Because a young teenager who received an abortion from Tiller could, by definition, have been a victim of statutory rape, O’Reilly frequently suggested that the clinic was covering up for child rapists (rather than teenage boyfriends) by refusing to release records on the abortions performed.
On June 12, 2007, he said, “Yes, I think we all know what this is. And if the state of Kansas doesn’t stop this man, then anybody who prevents that from happening has blood on their hands as the governor does right now, Governor Sebelius.”
Three days later, he added, “No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands. But now so does Governor Sebelius. She is not fit to serve. Nor is any Kansas politician who supports Tiller’s business of destruction. I wouldn’t want to be these people if there is a Judgment Day. I just – you know … Kansas is a great state, but this is a disgrace upon everyone who lives in Kansas. Is it not?”
O’Reilly didn’t tell anyone to do anything violent, but he did put Tiller in the public eye, and help make him the focus of a movement with a history of violence against exactly these kinds of targets (including Tiller himself, who had already been shot). In those circumstances, flinging around words like “blood on their hands” and “judgment day” was incredibly irresponsible.
Of course, the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Randall Terry will disavow any blame in relation to the murder of Dr. George Tiller. After all, they only suggested that the doctor be “brought to justice”. They’ll be quick to point out that they never actually encouraged people to kill the man. But in the final analysis, all you need to know about where their morality lies can be summed up in these people’s quiet celebrations of Dr. Tiller’s death.
Now that their heated rhetoric has forced average Americans to look in their direction with a critical eye, all of these people, from Bill O’Reilly to Randall Terry to Donald Wildmon and scores of other Right-Wing and Religious Right leaders, will claim that they’re being targeted by the Liberal mainstream media and the Liberal blogosphere, who want to silence their voices.
It won’t matter to them that Dr. Tiller was shot while he was attending church (so much for the “godless” angle, huh?). Tiller, 67, was shot once just after 10 a.m. last Sunday as he stood in the lobby of Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, where he was serving as an usher. The gunman threatened to shoot two men who tried to apprehend him. It was the second time Dr. Tiller had been shot. He was shot and wounded in both arms at his clinic in 1993.
One thought which keeps coming to my mind as I think about this, and chew on the haunting prospect that we have reached a point in the American discourse where a vocal group of people are tacitly endorsing murder, is that by quietly approving of these types of terrorist actions, there are people in the United States who are advocating assassination as a means to enforce their ideas in regard to public policy.
Bill O’Reilly and Randall Terry never actually told anyone to go out and shoot abortion doctors, but they repeatedly called for being brought “to justice”. When an abortion doctor has been targeted, harassed, threatened, injured or killed, their canned denouncements of these terrorist acts has always come with a bit of a wink. Their followers know that such actions have to be disavowed publically, but they also know how to read between the lines. Six months of targeting an abortion doctor and saying that he should be brought to justice and that he should fear Judgment Day cannot be erased by one canned, half-assed denouncement of that doctor’s eventual murder.
I suppose the question that keeps returning to my mind is when it will reach a point that people feel a need to return fire. Dr. George Tiller was killed while standing in a church attending Sunday services. How, but with equal and appropriate force, does one guard against people who are not only willing, but eager, to hop on the Express Tram to Straight to Hell by walking into a church, of all places, and murdering a man in defiance of God’s stated commandment of “Thou Shalt Not Kill”? How, but with weapons, does one protect not only oneself but the innocents like those who were in that church congregation from terrorist madmen bent on destruction?
People like Bill O’Reilly and Randall Terry should be careful of their rhetoric. It’s quite possible that at some point in the distant future it might be deemed necessary by some Americans to protect themselves by returning fire. When that time comes, who among us will be safe?
I mourn Dr. George Tiller not because I approve of abortion, but because I believe that just as some people have determined that he did not have a moral right to perform abortions, I’m cognizant of the fact that in the foyer of a church on in Wichita, Kansas on May 31st, 2009, a human life was aborted. However much they might like to protest to the contrary, people like Randall Terry and Bill O’Reilly bear some of the blame for that murder.