Are We Serious about Terrorism?

Here’s the big test. Will President Obama pass this time, or will he once again drop the ball into the conciliatory goo that passes for statesmanship these days? The issue is terrorism—of the domestic variety. Put directly, the question is whether the United States has the stomach to tackle its homegrown death merchants. If not, it’s pretty hard to imagine it can effectively stare down the pure evil of ISIS or al-Qaeda.

What makes this more acceptable than ISIS?
The latest Born-in-the-USA monster is named Robert Lewis Dear, though he has a few Frankenstein-like creators behind him. Dear is the Christian jihadist who shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and left three dead and nine wounded. Dear won’t ever see the light of day again: one of the dead was a cop, as were five of the wounded. He’s irrelevant in the larger question of what is to be done with the terror groups that are culpable: Operation Rescue, the National Rifle Association, and the extreme rightwing of the Republican Party.

Operation Rescue a terrorist group? It pains me to say so, but yes. I know several earnest individuals involved in anti-choice movements. They are people of conscience willing to put their own bodies on the line, but would not harm another. They are not the problem any more than all Muslims are members of ISIS. That is why, as in the case of extraterritorial terrorism, we need to go after the heads, not the feet of terrorist groups like Operation Rescue. It belongs on the same terror watch list as other sanguinary anti-choice movements such as the Army of God and the Phineas Priesthood. One can try as hard as one wishes to argue to the contrary, but the broader anti-choice movement meets all the criteria of a terror group: random murders (20 since 1997); intimidation (380 death and 655 anthrax threats since 2000); destruction of property (41 bombings and 173 arsons since 2000); non-lethal violence against individuals (153 convicted assaults, 100 acid attacks); and three kidnappings. Robert Lewis Dear is not indicative of a typical anti-choice activist, but neither is he a Lone Wolf. At some point all activists must be held morally culpable for the fact that their rhetoric inflames individuals such as Dear, but until that enlightened day all groups must be monitored carefully and intensively.

That starts with the heinous Troy Newman, the current head of Operation Rescue. It extends also with holding GOP mad dogs such as Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Chuck Grassley, and Bobby Jindall accountable for their incendiary words. They are among those who whipped up hatred for Planned Parenthood by jumping onto a “they sell baby parts” bandwagon without checking any facts, let alone the facts. What is it that Dear muttered as he was led away? “Baby parts.” Do we think he made an exhaustive study of that claim? How about a censure motion against irresponsible Republican fear mongers?      

And how about a STFU restraining order for the NRA? We are already witnessing backpedaling from the NRA terrorist elite. How, we are asked—for the 12,071st time this year—can we hold all gun owners responsible for the action of a lone assassin? We are asked, yet again, to imagine that Dear is mentally ill. He might be, but at what point does the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf scenario take over? Is there a tipping point in which we must say that the American species is simply too dangerous to have unfettered access to all the firepower they want? The 12,071 figure is the number of Americans killed this year by guns. If there is any solace at all, it is that Americans are also the Gang that Can’t Shoot Straight; the death toll represents just one-quarter of the total number of shooting “incidents” as of November 30, 2015. I fear ISIS, but I never feared the late “Jihadi John” as much as I fear NRA head Wayne Lapierre. Let’s face it,  one of Wayne’s boys is much more likely to harm me than one of Jihadi John’s.

 I give President Obama props for his recent linkage of the Colorado Springs carnage to the larger issue of gun availability. I wish I could believe the president will do something about this, but his track record doesn’t inspire confidence. Obama was on the right track back in 2010 when the Internal Revenue Service was scrutinizing rightwing groups. That should have been done and should be reinstated. Intensive oversight has happened—but only to leftwing groups. Don’t take my word for it—check out COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgram), the FBI’s take-down of the radical New Left. The justification at the time was that any law-abiding organization would have nothing to fear from surveillance. Alas, President Obama caved to GOP pressure to call off the IRS offensive on the right. If we can’t look at their finances—which are supposed to be public--how hopeful are we that Obama would subject them to greater oversight,  or that he will give us substantive gun control? (If he does, I will gladly eat crow and admit I was wrong.)

Something needs to happen, or we may be heading for another Stonewall moment. Can you envision an Operation Rescue protest that gets routed when clinic supporters rally and beat the crap out of the protestors? I can, and I don’t want to see it happen. After Colorado Springs, President Obama pulled a page from Bernie Sanders’ campaign and announced, “Enough is enough.” It was enough decades ago. So what will it now be? Will we do something about terrorism on American shores or continue to hide behind ISIS-colored blinders? Will it be the rule of law, or the law of the jungle? Will we clean our own house, or simply demolish foreign homes?

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