It is tragic that it took the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the murder and wounding of 18 others to bring home to most of us the horror of years of rightwing violence, threats of violence, and public murder fantasies.
While the actual views of alleged shooter Jared Loughner are hazy, and whether far rightwing influences on his thinking played any role in his motives for the shooting remains to be seen, we find ourselves nevertheless talking about the climate of hate and violence, as well as the actual violence itself that has been building for a very long time.
Many examples of the uses of violent imagery and open suggestion of violence have been discussed in the past few days, but I have not seen any reference to, let alone discussion of Ann Coulter's repeated (sometimes winking) justification -- before two national Religious Right political conferences, in her syndicated column, and on Fox News -- of the assassination of abortion providers.
|Ann Coulter is skilled at saying what she really believes while building in a certain plausible deniability, and that is what she has repeatedly done in justifying the assassination of abortion providers. In 2007, she declared at the Reclaiming America for Christ political conference hosted by the late D. James Kennedy, that she could "understand" the assassination of abortion providers, which she described as "a procedure with a rifle."
Here is what she said as first reported by journalist Adele Stan.
"Those few abortionists were shot, or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure with a rifle performed on them. I'm not justifying it, but I do understand how it happened.... The number of deaths attributed to Roe v. Wade about 40 million aborted babies and seven abortion clinic workers; 40 million to seven is also a pretty good measure of how the political debate is going."
On an other occasion she once again declared that she understands why people are led to these acts of violence:
Speaking at the 2008 Values Voters Summit, an annual Religious Right political conference in Washington, DC, she stated that doctors were being murdered -- because the number of abortions were insufficiently reduced by the 1992 Casey decision of the Supreme Court drove people to violence. Chip Berlet and Pam Chamberlain of Political Research Associates, quoted Coulter as saying:
For two decades after Roe, no abortion clinic doctors were killed. But immediately after Planned Parenthood v. Casey, after working within the system did not work, produced no results... for the first time an abortion doctor was killed. A few more abortion clinic workers were killed in the next few years. I'm not justifying it, but I understand when you take democracy away from people, some of them will react violently. The total number of deaths attributable to Roe were seven abortion clinic workers and 40 million unborn babies
Even more grotesque, was her after the fact justification in her nationally syndicated column, for the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller. Borrowing from and inverting some prochoice language she wrote:
I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?
Then, appearing on The O'Reilly Factor, as reported by Politics Daily, she repeated her argument:
Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one.
"I don't really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester."
When pressed by O'Reilly, Coulter replied, "I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don't want to impose my moral values on others."
Although justifications by far right pundits for political violence is, as we are recently reminded, far more widespread and taken for granted than any of us can even keep track of, violence, threats, and justification for such violence against abortion providers too often gets a pass. But it is worth noting that the justifications for antiabortion violence and murder have been well developed over many years, and have served as the model for how to justify political violence and get away with it.
Crossposted from Talk to Action