Sorry, GOP: Planned Parenthood shooter is a terrorist
In the wake of the killing of three people and wounding of nine more at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, there’s been a noticeable unwillingness from those on the right to call this incident what it is: a domestic terrorist attack.
Robert Dear went into a shooting rampage at the clinic, holding out for six hours before surrendering to police. Overly cautious authorities and media kept reporting that his motive was “unclear.” This comes after he told authorities, “No more baby parts,” in an obvious reference to the doctored and misleading videos released by an anti-abortion group claiming that Planned Parenthood, which provides a variety of health services to mostly poor women, was profiting by selling fetal tissue for medical research. The only possible conclusion is that Dear, angered by the misguided perception in the videos, fought back with a shooting in a shopping area. Dear’s ex-wife described him as an “anti-choice, right-wing religious zealot.”
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch didn’t mince words about the Planned Parenthood attack. She put out a statement that the shooting was a “crime against women receiving health care services.” President Obama let it be known that “enough is enough.”
Democratic presidential candidates also were quick with support. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley all made it clear that they #StandWithPP, as their Twitter accounts proclaimed.
The Republican side of the field was curiously — or not so curiously — silent. Not surprising, since GOP members in Congress and Republican presidential candidates have gone ballistic with a full-court press against Planned Parenthood, which uses no public funds on any abortion services and devotes only three percent of its services to abortion, period.
When GOP candidates finally said something, it was a full day later, when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted that he was “Praying for the loved ones of those killed, those injured & first responders.” Cruz couldn’t stop there, though. By the next day, he was claiming that the alleged shooter was really a “Transgendered Leftist Activist.” This wacko theory, spread throughout the right-wing blogosphere, apparently came from a typo in Dear’s North Carolina voting registration, which listed him as female rather than male. Cruz finally had to walk back his comment, but not before he had repeated it and it had gone viral.
Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, whose standing in the GOP presidential race rose after she falsely claimed to have seen a video of a writhing baby, post abortion, apparently couldn’t help herself, either. She called attempts to link the Planned Parenthood shooting to heated anti-abortion rhetoric a “typical left-wing tactic.”
So a guy whose neighbors in North Carolina said he hated Obama and who had a problem with women allegedly kills three people, terrorizing an entire shopping area, no doubt acting on the rhetoric Fiorina and other Republicans have been spewing for months, and it’s a left-wing tactic that’s to blame?
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee must have realized that Republicans were looking like idiots, because he finally admitted that the shooting was, indeed, domestic terrorism.
But apparently not everyone got the memo. House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted that “Let’s not forget the big picture: we have terrorism, worldwide, knocking on our door.” Actually, Speaker Ryan, terrorism just knocked on the door in Colorado Springs.
Ryan, other GOP presidential candidates, and 31 governors were awfully quick to all but condemn Islam and Syrian refugees after the terrorist shooting attacks in Paris. Some, like real estate mogul Donald Trump, talked about closing mosques in the U.S. and starting a registry of all Muslims, and Republicans want to stop Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., even though those same refugees are fleeing the same terror that Paris faced.
Too bad for them that actual facts about extremist killings don’t support their biased viewpoint. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, a total of 28 people have been killed in the U.S. in jihadist attacks, but 48 people have been killed by right-wing extremists, according to research by the New America Foundation. Since those figures don’t include the Planned Parenthood shooting, that total is now 51.
Other research puts the numbers much higher. According to an opinion piece in The New York Times, University of North Carolina Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke University Professor David Schanzer, Islam-inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years,” while “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.”
Kurzman and Schanzer conducted a survey of 382 U.S. law enforcement agencies. According to the survey, law enforcement agencies reported that they were more concerned about the activities of right-wing extremist groups (74 percent) than Islamic extremists (39 percent) in their jurisdictions.
Imagine if it had been a Muslim shooting people in a crowded shopping area on Black Friday. What do you think we would be hearing now from the GOP? How would the media be responding? With “caution”?
Dear is being held without bond on first-degree murder charges. His victims were University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Police Officer Garrett Swasey, who responded to the shooting; Ke’Arre Stewart, an Iraq War veteran who saved lives by calling 911 and telling people to “get down”; and Jennifer Markovsky, a young mother. Between the three, they were parents of six children.
Remember those six children who have all lost a parent the next time a Republican starts yelling about Planned Parenthood.