Imagine the Republican freakout if a Syrian Muslim refugee had pumped bullets into a Colorado cop and an Iraq war veteran. But because the deed was done by an all-American misfit flexing his Second Amendment muscle, a white guy who shared the GOP’s hatred of Planned Parenthood … well, that’s a tad awkward, is it not? No wonder the Republican response has veered from silence to incoherence.
If this were a just world, at least four Republican presidential candidates — Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Ted Cruz — would be arraigned in the court of public opinion for inciting violence. How shameless it is that they warn about foreign threats, while ginning up the dirtbags at home.
Did Robert Lewis Dear, our newest lone-wolf domestic terrorist, draw his inspiration directly from that demagogic Republican quartet? I doubt it.
But did he breathe the toxic vapors that those Republicans and their echo chamber allies have repeatedly pumped into the atmosphere? Did he hear the lies they’ve repeatedly fed into the news cycle, the lies about Planned Parenthood selling body parts for profit? Somewhere, somehow, he picked up the rhetoric about “baby parts,” because he has voiced his motivation: “no more baby parts.” And a law enforcement official describes the rampage as “definitely politically motivated.”
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines domestic terrorism thus: “The unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” This particular terrorist, firing a military-grade weapon, killed a cop, an Iraq War vet, and a married mother of two who came to Planned Parenthood to support a friend. In response, the Republicans have sought to deny any link whatsoever between the rhetoric they’ve spewed and the blood that’s been spilled.
A few months ago, in response to the heavily-edited videos that purported to show that Planned Parenthood sells body parts for profit (a claim that every state investigation has found baseless), Ted Cruz raged/lied: “We are a nation that harvests body parts of little baby boys and girls. It is the very definition of inhumanity to treat children like agriculture, to be grown and killed for their body parts, to be sold for profit.” But when asked this weekend to comment about the Colorado shootings, Cruz said Dear isn’t an abortion-hater at all; rather, he called Dear “a transgendered leftist activist.” (Don’t bother trying to parse Cruz. For all his alleged smarts, he has the mindset of an Internet troll.)
A few months ago, Mike Huckabee claimed that Planned Parenthood is “selling babies’ body parts like the parts of a Buick,” a well-rehearsed line he used in debates and various interviews. But when asked yesterday to comment about the Colorado shootings, he said: “I think that’s a little bit disingenuous on the part of Planned Parenthood to blame people who have a strong philosophical disagreement with the dismembering of human babies and with the selling of body parts, to say that we would like to retaliate by sending some mad man into a clinic to kill people.” (Note his word games. He repeats — again! — the lie about “the selling of body parts,” and he denies a charge that Planned Parenthood hasn’t made. PP hasn’t said that the Republicans and their allies “sent” the shooter. The shooter, having processed all their toxic rhetoric, was perfectly capable of going on his own.)
A few months ago, Carly Fiorina infamously lied about seeing a video that supposedly depicted a live wriggling fetus at Planned Parenthood (turned out, it was stock footage from some anti-abortion archive), and she lied about PP harvesting a live fetus’ brain. But when asked yesterday to comment on Colorado, she denied any link between the rhetoric and the violence: “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.” (Note my italics. She managed to repeat the lie — again.)
A few months ago, Marco Rubio raged/lied about the PP videos by accusing the organization of pushing women to get abortions “so that those tissues can be harvested and sold for a profit.” He also said that people needed to get more “fired up” about those (never documented) sales for profit. But this weekend, would you care to guess what Rubio said about the three dead people? He said nothing. But he found the time this weekend to tweet some jock talk (“Go Gators”) and to sell scarves emblazoned with his name (“Stay warm this winter with our new cold weather bundle”).
How predictably pathetic that these politicians rant so much about refugees, but willfully ignore the clear and present domestic danger. Study after study — by (among others) the nonpartisan New America Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Police Executive Research Forum — have long documented that terrorism within our borders is overwhelmingly committed by white American nut jobs. But for Republicans, that kind of empirical material is just too factish.
Yesterday, a friend of the slain war veteran said that when he heard the news, “I couldn’t believe it. He died in his own country.” Indeed he did. Perhaps the domestic terrorism death toll would be trimmed a tad if the demagogues stop feeding their rancid red meat to the unhinged fringe.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this piece misquoted the statement from Robert Dear, the suspect in the Colorado shootings.