A white domestic terrorist shoots up a Planned Parenthood, and kills three, including a police officer and an Iraq veteran. Then, according to reports, when taken into custody he says something about “no more baby parts.” Now Republicans and others in the anti-abortion movement want you to believe that what they have been saying about Planned Parenthood for months had no influence on this tragedy.
Is alleged gunman, Robert Lewis Dear, mentally unstable? Probably. Completely sane people don’t do things like he is accused of. But mentally unstable people are often influenced by external events, such as the demonization of Planned Parenthood that has been going on among Republicans since the release of doctored videos by the Center For Medical Progress last summer.
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If Dear was just crazy, and wanted to shoot up some place and take hostages, then why not the dollar store, or the supermarket? He chose the Planned Parenthood clinic for a reason. And as time goes by, more evidence is pointing to that reason being political.
Was Dear motivated by what he has heard about Planned Parenthood from Republicans and others who want to demagogue the abortion issue? Not too long ago, one representative of the media arm of the GOP, Fox News’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck, made the statement to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest that words do indeed matter.
Following the Paris terrorist attacks, Earnest said that Hasselbeck should focus on the president’s actions as much as his words. This was Hasselbeck’s response:
His words matter, Josh! I have to stop you there; the President of the United States’ words matter. I will focus on my president’s words, Josh.
There you have it, straight from the propaganda arm of the Republican party. Words matter! Except, apparently, when it comes to words that may have moved an unstable person to commit an act such as this attack. On November 30, on the same network as Hasselbeck, host Heather Childers introduced a segment about the GOP candidates’ responses to the event this way:
Politicizing tragedy, Planned Parenthood blaming GOP rhetoric for the deadly shooting. And now Republican presidential candidates are firing back.
Carly Fiorina was one of the first to deflect blame for the shooting. The same woman who just two months ago made up a story about Planned Parenthood during a GOP debate, said that blaming people like her for this attack was “typical left-wing tactics.”
Of course Mike Huckabee had to weigh in as well, and add more heated rhetoric to the issue at the same time. He said,
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 madman into a clinic to kill people. God knows that’s not what anybody would want.
Maybe God knows that. But did Robert Lewis Dear know? To his credit, Huckabee has called the Colorado Springs shootings “domestic terrorism.” But he doesn’t believe that words like these, which he spoke in September, had anything to do with the attack:
Planned Parenthood isn’t purely a ‘healthcare provider’ any more than a heroin dealer is a community pharmacist. Butchering babies and harvesting their organs to be swapped and sold is evil.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In October, The Huffington Post compiled a list of 18 things that Republicans had said about abortion and Planned Parenthood. On that list are quotes from presidential candidates Huckabee, Rubio, Trump, Cruz, Fiorina, Christie, and Jeb Bush. We probably don’t need to tell you that none of their comments about Planned Parenthood were positive.
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Words matter, GOP and Fox. Words matter. As Heather Digby Parton writes at Salon:
If some ‘troubled soul’ didn’t know better, he might just think he needed to step up to do something serious about what these very important, mainstream presidential candidates are describing as not just criminal, but barbaric behavior on the level of say…ISIS. They are describing gory mayhem that actually goes beyond the radical jihadi’s horror show because the depraved Planned Parenthood butchers are alleged to be dismembering children purely for monetary profit.
It’s unlikely that Republicans will dial back their rhetoric. There’s too much money and political support to be had from the anti-abortion movement. So it will remain business as usual in the “attack Planned Parenthood” contingent, who are quite happy to continue to spew their inflammatory nonsense with no regard to the possible consequences.
Because, to paraphrase Mike Huckabee, you can’t blame abortion foes — because nobody told Robert Lewis Dear to do it. That’s true. They only told him why he should.
Here’s the video of how Fox tried to cover for the GOP, via Media Matters:
Featured image via Media Matters screen capture