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June 03, 2009

Too many martyrs

Josh at Thoughts from Kansas draws some important parallels between two American assassinations--civil rights activist Medgar Evars in 1963 and physician George Tiller last Sunday:

Medgar Evers was a civil rights activist in Mississippi. Growing up black in a state where dark skin was a crime, he had the courage to stand up for his rights and the rights of his friends and family. He organized boycotts, sued for admission to a segregated law school, and became field secretary for the NAACP.

His house was attacked with Molotov cocktails, but he didn't back down. In Phil Ochs' immortal phrasing, "They tried to burn his home and they beat him to the ground/ But deep inside they both knew what it took to bring him down." And on June 12, 1963, returning home from a meeting with NAACP lawyers, Evers was shot in the back. Ochs concluded that "The country gained a killer and the country lost a man," [...]

Amanda Marcotte debunks the self-serving myth that run-of-the-mill anti-choice agitators can wash their hands of Dr. Tiller's assasination. Not everyone who objects to abortions is part of the movement, but the movement as it manifests itself on the streets and outside the clinics in this country is ugly and violent.

Its main tactics are harrassment and intimidation from confronting patients on the street to picketing clinic staffers at home. As Amanda details in her post, Operation Rescue of Wichita is directly linked to Tiller's alleged shooter, Scott Roemer.

If you think flirting with violence is just for fringe anti-choicers, remember how then-vice presidential candidate and current 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Sarah Palin tied herself in knots on national TV to avoid classifying clinic bombers domestic terrorists.


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Brian Williams is the one who confused the question of terrorism in his interview with Sarah Palin by asking multiple questions at once, and then AGAIN asking multiple questions at once in his follow-up.

Williams could have just said, "Is someone who kills a doctor who performs abortions a terrorist?"

But he didn't.


Brian Williams: Back to the notion of terrorists and terrorism, this word has come up in relation to Mr. Ayers -- hanging out with terrorist – domestic terrorists. It is said that it gives it a vaguely post uh 9-11 hint, using that word, that we don’t normally associate with domestic crimes. Are we changing the definition? Are the people who set fire to American cities during the ‘60’s terrorists, under this definition? Is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist under the definition?

Sarah Palin: There is no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was um one who sought to destroy our US Capitol and our Pentagon -- that is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or um facilities, that uh, it would be unacceptable -- I don’t know if you could use the word terrorist, but its unacceptable and it would not be condoned of course on our watch. I don’t know if what you are asking is if I regret referring to Bill Ayers as an unrepentant domestic terrorist. I don’t regret characterizing him as that.

Brian Williams: I’m just asking what other categories you would put in there. Abortion clinic bombers? Protesters in cities where fires were started, Molotov cocktails, were thrown? People died.

Sarah Palin: I would put in that category of Bill Ayers anyone else who would seek to destroy our United States Capitol and our Pentagon and would seek to destroy innocent Americans.

Williams wimped out, but Palin's adamant refusal to acknowledge any parallel between Bill Ayers and an abortion clinic bomber speaks for itself.

Williams wimped out, but Palin's adamant refusal to acknowledge any parallel between Bill Ayers and an abortion clinic bomber speaks for itself.

As someone who would like to see the Pentagon shut down, the comparison between Ayers and an abortion clinic bomber isn't any more palatable to me than it is to Palin.

Would you be comfortable describing civil rights activists who believed in "any means necessary" rather than non-violent civil disobedience as terrorists? I don't think the project of claiming the use of the "terrorist" label for progressives rather than conservatives is a very useful endeavor. I think any use of the term is tendentious and supports a state monopoly on the legitimate use of armed resistance.

parse, a terrorist is anyone who uses violence and terror to achieve a political end. Any person or institution can engage in terrorism (hence the term 'state terror'). If you believe that violence is ok, then you would believe there are 'good' terrorists.
It's pretty obvious that some of the anti-abortion groups are terrorists, as were anti-segregationists in South Africa, as was Nazi Germany, as were American revolutionaries in some cases, as was Soviet Russia, ...

Clinic bombing is terrorism--spectacular violence against civilians to pursue politics through intimidation.

The democratic state's monopoly on violence is good. Without that, we no longer have a democracy. The whole idea of democracy is meaningless when anyone with a grievance feels entitled to short-circuit the political process by resorting to violence.

It's a bit of an insult to the memory of Medgar Evers to compare him in any respect to a guy whose claim to fame was performing late term abortions.

Tiller's assassin deserves a lethal injection, but I'll not be donating to any memorial to Tiller if you don't mind.

Lindsay, was the entire history of Palestinian violent resistance in Israel an example of short-circuiting the political process and an unfortunate usurpation of the state's monopoly on violence?

Palestinian terrorism is a civil war-cum-war of independence. It's based, at least in principle, on rejection of Israeli authority and support for a Palestinian state with a monopoly on violence within its own boundaries. Whatever it is, it's not the same as domestic terrorism, used by people who throw bombs not because they want a separate state and can't vote and agitate within the current one, but in spite of the fact that they can and do. In Israel the main example of Western-style domestic terrorism is the murder of Yitzhak Rabin by a disaffected right-winger who wanted to stop the peace process.

the phantom writes;
It's a bit of an insult to the memory of Medgar Evers to compare him in any respect to a guy whose claim to fame was performing late term abortions.

I think your point is to diminish abortion rights advocates in relation to civil rights. And you advocate rude justice on top of that. I reject the death penalty, and I reject your downgrading abortion rights. However, a single issue is a wedge issue. This wedge issue is really just there to show political weakness of egalitarian forces in the U.S.

I would guess the time is ripe for a renewed debate with anti-rights opinion but on a broader scale. In my view a broad pressure from a progressive movement will end the anti-abortion crusade. The economic issues will unite people and grow the demands for rights. Solidarity to my mind is the key way to end the era of wedge issues holding back the growth of progressive movements. One way to say that is an attack on one is an attack on all.

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