No sooner does one mind-numbing act of terror occur than another - and another and another - goes down, turning so-called civil society into a lumpen mass of insensate zombies. The latest carnage, in which an armed, home-grown terrorist attacked a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, resulting in the deaths of three including a police officer and the injuring of nearly a dozen, is still in the early stages of being investigated. As of this morning - Tuesday December 1 - no one knows for certain what motivated 57-year old Robert Lewis Dear, to become the latest in a long line of mass murderers. New information is coming out in dribs and drabs. According to the latest reports. his action "appears to be politically motivated." According to the BBC, Dear allegedly said "no more baby parts" during his arrest. This would no doubt relate to a campaign against Planned Parenthood by anti-abortion activists in general and The Center for Medical Progress in particular, which released a video several months ago purportedly showing P.P. officials selling fetal tissues to be used in medical research. Despite the fact that the video has been thoroughly discredited and its claim that Planned Parenthood was profiting handsomely off the sale of fetal tissues debunked, anti-abortion activists - as well as many presidential hopefuls - continue bringing it up as a means of grounding their demand for the total defunding of Planned Parenthood. And of course, many Congressional Republicans threatened to shut down the entire federal government if their defunding demands were not met. (It should be noted that in recent polling, people identifying themselves as Republican are clearly against shutting down the government, believing it to be a political tactic which can only lead to political defeat.)
Despite the fact that no definitive motive has yet been tied to Dear's terrorist siege, the internet is awash in the comments of liberals and conservatives, of pro-choice and pro-birth activists - not to mention the tin-hat brigade - who all claim to know precisely what lay behind Dear's act of murder. Predictably, those commenting on generally liberal or progressive sites like Huffington Post, Media Matters and Reader Supported News are convinced that Dear is a domestic terrorist who had bought into the "Planned Parenthood murders more babies than any other group in the world" meme. For progressives, the most commonly word used to describe Dear is "terrorist." Just as predictably, those who have made comments on conservative websites like Fox News, Breitbart and News Max have a much greater tendency to say that Dear is a lone deranged gunman. Many have referred to him as a hero who was motivated by saving the lives of the pre-born. Many of those offering up comments on conservative sites blame the attack on President Obama (referred to mostly as "Barry" or "Barack Hussein"), liberals and the victims themselves. Then there are the Republican presidential candidates, who waited nearly 48 hours before making any public comments about the attack. Carly Fiorina declared on "Fox News Sunday" that attempts to link anti-abortion rhetoric from Republicans to Friday’s attack were just “typical left-wing tactics.” "What I would say to anyone who tries to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion or opposes the sale of body parts is, this is typical left-wing tactics. This is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don't agree with the message," Fiorina said. While decrying the act of violence allegedly perpetrated by Mr. Dear, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also managed to take a swipe at Secretary of State John Kerry and remind his supporters that Planned Parenthood is evil: “We’re not going to have the kind of language that you heard from John Kerry where he talked about legitimizing or rationalizing terrorist actions,” Huckabee said. “There’s no legitimizing, there’s no rationalizing. It was mass murder. It was absolutely unfathomable. And there’s no excuse for killing other people, whether it’s happening inside the Planned Parenthood headquarters, inside their clinics where many millions of babies die, or whether it’s people attacking Planned Parenthood.” By far, the strangest comment of all came from Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has long referred to Planned Parenthood as an "ongoing criminal enterprise." Speaking at a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday, Cruz downplayed the role anti-abortion rhetoric may have played in the shooting and suggested the suspect was a “transgendered leftist activist." It should be noted that Senator Cruz's polling numbers are way up in Iowa . . .
Wading one's way through the literally hundreds - if not thousands - of comments on the internet is both instructive and nauseating. Instructive, because it gives one a better understanding of the thought processes of a wide swathe of the American people. Instructive because reading the often misspelled words of all these people helps explain why so many are drawn to political amateurs like Trump, Carson and Fiorina. Nauseating, because it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are an awful lot of people in this country who haven't got the slightest idea what they're talking about; who will gladly repeat and pass on lies and mistruths as if they were pearls of wisdom from the mouth of Mahatma. To their way of thinking, if the terrorist murderer is a Muslim, the entire religion is guilty; if the murderer is black, an entire race is guilty; if the murderer be a white Christian, he is a mentally unstable lone wolf.
This latest act of domestic terrorism once again exposes and highlights a contagion in American society; an insuperable, all but intractable disunity between those who think for themselves and those who let others do the thinking for them. We have so devolved as a people, as a nation, that we arm ourselves with words and phrases and battle one another with hot air -- which far too frequently leads to hot lead. All this hot air scalds the nations' brain and makes it nearly impossible to grok the gross inconsistency of proudly proclaiming oneself "pro-life," of calling doctors who perform abortions "murderers," of spreading the word that Planned Parenthood is a criminal enterprise, and then feigning shock when one of their minions actually opens fire and commits acts of murder. If it will turn out that Mr. Dear was indeed motivated by that doctored Center For Medical Progress video, I for one would hold them criminally liable. For, in the simple words of a comment I read on one website, "When you throw gasoline on a fire, how can you deny any responsibility for the firestorm?"
And while we're at it, let's get something straight: turning victims into perpetrators - thus making them responsible for their fate - makes about as much sense as turning terrorists into heroes.
Copyright©2015 Kurt F. Stone