Post hoc ergo propter hoc: On Friday a man started shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo. By the time the suspect, Robert Dear, was in custody, he had allegedly killed a policeman and two civilians.
“Why is it the same knee-jerk Republicans freaking out about ISIS are fostering terrorism in the homeland? Recruiting and influencing loonies to do their dirty work to eliminate the evil scourge known as abortion?” rants Bob Lefsetz, “a music industry analyst and critic,” in New York’s Daily News, a tabloid that of late has degenerated into a slightly more high-toned version of Salon.
We’ve heard this before. And at least this time there is evidence, albeit far from conclusive, of a political motive: An anonymous “senior law enforcement official” tells the New York Times “that after Mr. Dear was arrested, he had said ‘no more baby parts’ in a rambling interview with the authorities.” But also: “The official said that Mr. Dear ‘said a lot of things’ during his interview, making it difficult for the authorities to pinpoint a specific motivation.”
President Obama rushed to politicize the crime. But interestingly, not only did he frame it solely as part of his lame-duck effort to combat “gun violence” by restricting the lawful purchase of firearms; he pooh-poohed the suggestion that it was political in nature: “We don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was.”
Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper was a bit less circumspect. He told CNN: “Certainly it’s a form of terrorism, and maybe in some way it’s a function of the inflammatory rhetoric we see on all—so many issues now, there are bloggers and talk shows where they really focus on trying to get people to that point of boiling over. Just intense anger. Maybe it’s time to look at how do we tone down that rhetoric.”
While disavowing any effort to “limit free speech,” the governor said “the United States of America ought to begin a discussion” on how to “begin to tone back the inflammatory rhetoric.”
Such a conversation, it seems safe to surmise, would quickly degenerate into a shouting match. Planned Parenthood itself responded to the shooting with harsh denunciations of its critics, as the Washington Times reports. . . .
National Review’s Jim Geraghty notes that the left is rather selective in blaming political rhetoric for acts of violence—for example, insisting there is no connection between Black Lives Matter protesters’ foul antipolice rhetoric and actual attacks on cops. On the other hand, Colorado Springs isn’t the first time the left has blamed a terroristic act on a video.
But there’s an additional problem with the video-made-him-do-it theory of the case. The CMP videos, at least the parts of them we’ve seen, can’t be called “hate speech” by any stretch. They are not harsh denunciations of Planned Parenthood; they are exposés. The words and actions that horrify abortion foes—as well as decent people with more permissive views on abortion—are uttered and described by current and former Planned Parenthood employees and business associates.
We were struck by the contrast between the left’s responses to the Paris and Colorado Springs attacks. The former brought out a display of empathy toward Muslims; the latter, of antipathy toward pro-life Americans.
Hillary Clinton: “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” It would be at least as true to say that pro-life Americans are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism—but instead Mrs. Clinton responded to Colorado Springs with this false choice: “We should be supporting Planned Parenthood—not attacking it.”
“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate [over accepting Syrian refugees],” President Obama said Nov. 17. “ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there is a war between Islam and the West.”
Why wouldn’t a similar logic apply to the demonization of pro-life Americans in the aftermath of Colorado Springs? That’s not a rhetorical question: The logic doesn’t apply because the attacks were very different. The ones in Paris were carried out by an organization that unmistakably has religious motives and political goals. By all accounts the Colorado Springs killer was a lone nut. There is no antiabortion terrorist organization to which to recruit anyone.
Whatever the merits of his refugee policy, the president is right to reject “the idea that there is a war between Islam and the West,” although it would be fatuous to deny that that is how Islamic supremacists see the matter. To judge by the reactions to Colorado Springs, though, many on the left really do regard Americans who oppose abortion—almost all of whom do so peaceably—as their enemy.