Democracy Now guests on right wing populism and Tiller

Good conversation on today’s Democracy Now:

FREDERICK CLARKSON: Well, yeah. There’s been a big controversy about whether any of the anti-abortion groups should be called domestic terror organizations. There is one called the Army of God that’s an above-ground organization of largely veterans of anti-abortion violence or proponents of anti-abortion violence. And the Justice Department has decided that it’s not a terrorist organization, even though it publicly espouses crimes that could be called terrorism by any reasonable definition and has many convicted felons. […]

CHIP BERLET: Well, I think in the current context of the PATRIOT Act and other repressive legislation, we have to be very careful about the use of the term “terrorism.” Arguably, if you look at the Federal Criminal Code, many active anti-abortion violence would not be classified as terrorism in some interpretations. I don’t think the issue here is urging the government to expand its repressive powers. I think that’s a mistake. I think what we have here are groups of criminals and criminal individuals who need to be pursued and prosecuted, as appropriate.

And I think it’s important to understand that, for many years, clinic violence was not treated with the same aggressive attention by the federal government and state governments as other forms of vandalism and violence. And I think that that’s because the anti-abortion movement has a very large political and religious constituency that makes it very difficult for state and federal officials to try and actually enforce the existing laws that they should be doing. […]

Democracy Now: Tiller Killing Spurs Renewed Calls for US to Reverse Longstanding Passivity on Anti-Abortion Extremists

See also: My partner’s experience as a patient of Tiller’s.


  1. Excellent reminder that expanding government power is not the goal. Thank you. It remains appropriate to point out the double standard of how religious violence and secular violence are punished. This double standard suggests that part of religion’s function is a justification for violence. Believing in error, well, I do that most of the time in all likelyhood. But I don’t kill people over it. That takes religion.

  2. Bill Whitcomb

    June 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    “This double standard suggests that part of religion’s function is a justification for violence.” In most cases, I think that’s just an added bonus. It isn’t as if people don’t kill people who disagree with them for reasons besides religion…though believing that God wants you to snuff somebody probably does make it a lot easier. No, religious violence is often ignored for the same reason racial violence used to be ignored. Many of one’s constituents hold similar beliefs and if you are seen to differ too much from the local mores, someone else will be sheriff after next election. Of course, as my dad used to say, that’s a reason, not an excuse.

  3. PS: title is currently “righ wing” and you meant “right wing.”

  4. Trevor – thanks, I fixed this error.

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