Politics, Religion, Secularism, Terrorism

What the Planned Parenthood Assailant Is Not

December 2, 2015

Things that nobody said during the attack on Planned Parenthood –

“I’m really scared the attacker could be Hindu.”
“Another Buddhist extremist attacking an abortion service provider.”
“Let’s not jump to conclusions, I bet it was ISIS”.
“The Amish. Maybe it was the Amish.”

We are still learning more about the shooter – thus far what we do know is that he apparently muttered something about “baby parts” and was known to distribute anti-Obama literature. Even with this incomplete information, this has lead many in cyberspace to come to the conclusion – correctly in my view – that this shooter is probably motivated by a classic brand of muscular American Political Christianity, a brand constantly pandered to by the Republican Party.

Interesting how all of us *correctly* jumped to the conclusion that the shooter was a) Christian, and b) carrying out the attacks on the basis of his beliefs, both religious and political. We all *correctly* made the connection between belief and action. And while it is possible that further evidence might overturn this (I’ll gladly admit it if it turns out I was wrong), most of us are fairly confident that this is the shooter’s likely motive.

Why didn’t any of us say the statements above? Because we haven’t known those other belief communities to hold a special animus against abortion service providers in the same way. Political Christians, on the other hand, have been telling us *for decades* that abortion is tantamount to murder. We very correctly aren’t concerned about those other groups being especially hostile to Planned Parenthood, and very correctly take seriously those who are telling us *constantly* that they are.

All of these conclusions seem obvious and logical. And yet during the attacks in Paris, many of us on the liberal side bent over backwards and jumped through every rhetorical hoop in the book to somehow draw *no connection* between the terrorists literalist take on Islam and those attacks. Indeed, even though terrorists are *constantly* telling us why they attack, we *refuse* to take them seriously, convinced that other motives *must* be at work.

For my liberal friends – how many of us would sound stupid or insensitive if we chose *this* moment to say “You can’t generalize all Conservative Christians on the basis of the actions of a few!” or “Conservative Christianity is a religion of peace!” And how many of us would be laughed at – correctly – if we called anyone making the connection between Conservative Christianity and this horrific crime a “racist” or “anti-Christian bigot” or “Christianophobe”.

For my conservative friends – those of you completely distancing yourself, saying that this shooter is “no true Christian”, or that he doesn’t represent all Christians or that this crime “has *nothing* to do with Christianity” – you do realize that you sound identical to the rhetoric regressive leftists and theocrats use in the wake of *every* terrorist attack, rhetoric you ridicule and find infinitely insulting in the wake of tragedy? You *correctly* make the connection between the literalist interpretation of the Koran and the terrorist attacks in Paris. Indeed, you’re not afraid to *incorrectly* make connections between the Koran and terrorists attacks when the connections *don’t* exist. Why should we expect the Christian faith to function any differently if taken too seriously?

It’s time for Conservatives to admit that hyperbolic rhetoric regarding abortion has consequences, as does *really* taking the Bible too seriously. And it’s time for liberals to fearlessly condemn ideological zealotry across the board, not just when the perpetrator is white. It’s time to embrace a liberalism that makes *no* excuses for barbarism anywhere, even when committed by members of historically oppressed groups that do harbor some legitimate grievances against “white people” or “the West.”

Either beliefs lead to terrorism, or they don’t. One cannot have it both ways just for the sake of being politically correct.

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