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Dr. Tiller’s Murder: Fascist Terrorism June 2, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Health, Right Wing, Women.
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By Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
Attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice
Statement on behalf of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

George Tillar 1

George Tiller after being shot
in both arms in 1993.

 
 

The rampant terrorism and violence against women and health care professionals who dare to provide women’s health services took its latest victim when Dr. George Tiller was brutally gunned down in his church on Sunday in Wichita, Kansas.

The government and the corporate media coddle these anti-women terrorists.

In the last 30 years, right-wing bigots have carried out 5,800 reported acts of violence against women’s health care providers, including targeted assassination, bombings, arsons, death threats, kidnappings and assaults, according to NARAL.

Hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of women have been assaulted and harassed by the right wing as they tried to see a doctor.

The Fascist Strategy

By targeting and intimidating health care providers, the fascist movement hopes to effectively ban abortion services in the United States. If they were to succeed, not only would it deprive women of their fundamental right to control their own bodies, it would be a health care catastrophe. One out of three women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45, according to Planned Parenthood.

The only question is whether women will be maimed or left to die because they cannot access quality health providers. Dr. Tiller took over his medical practice from his father, a doctor who began performing abortions himself in the 1940s after a patient whom he refused to help died in a back-alley abortion.

Dr. Tiller, like many other health care heroes, kept providing abortion services to women despite the threats. He had been shot previously in both arms; had his office bombed, shot at and frequently vandalized; and he and his patients were routinely threatened, intimidated and attacked.

Dr. Tiller kept providing health care services because, as his family said in a statement, he was “a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere.” He was past retirement age, with four children and 10 grandchildren, and he lived under a virtual military siege because of the terrorist threats. But he didn’t stop.

It Wasn’t Just the Gunman

This assassination is the culmination of a coordinated assault by the right wing. This included the Kansas Attorney General’s efforts to prosecute Tiller, the demonization of Dr. Tiller by Bill O’Reilly, who ran dozens of hit pieces targeting him as a “murderer,” and by “Operation Rescue,” which prominently called him “America’s Doctor of Death.”

In the aftermath of the murder, amid reports that the killer had worked with them, Operation Rescue scrambled to take down their prominent “Tiller Watch” webpage, apparently sanitizing it, while their founder continued to call Dr. Tiller a “mass murderer” and held a press conference to do so.

The New York Times coverage of the murder was pathetic. On its front page it stated, “Officials offered little insight into the motive, saying that they believed it was ‘the act of an isolated individual’ but that they were also looking into ‘his history, his family, his associates.'”

The decision to question or suggest uncertainty as to the killer’s “motive” reflects an effort to depoliticize and isolate this most violent of political acts and to disconnect the killing from right-wing groups who seek as their goal to deprive women of their rights using assassination as they see fit. Some right-wing groups and leaders have been quick to announce that the killing was not a homicide, but a justifiable act of “salvation.”

The mass media has leapt to the defense of many anti-woman, right-wing groups who directly targeted Dr. Tiller by giving their spokespeople more time in the wake of Dr. Tiller’s death to express their primary grievance with his murder — that it might make them look bad.

Fake Terrorism and Real Terrorism

In recent months, Dr. Tiller reported to the FBI that the threats were increasing.

Obviously, stopping real terrorism is not a “priority” for the FBI, which has allocated limitless resources to infiltrate and sabotage lawful political organizing all over the country. The FBI and police have disrupted and spied on progressive organizations that built a powerful anti-war movement in the last years. They have paid agents provocateur to infiltrate and frame up organizations and individuals engaged in dissent.

Nor is any mosque or Muslim community center safe from FBI infiltration and disruption activities. From Southern California to upstate New York, undercover FBI agents are trying to entrap Muslim youth into “terrorist” plots that emanate from the FBI itself.

The U.S. government’s use of the terrorist label is used to frame up and imprison Muslims in the United States. Just last week in Dallas, representatives of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) were sentenced to as much as 65 years in prison for the “terrorist” crime of raising money for desperately needed humanitarian relief. HLF had been the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. The charity’s “crime” was that the humanitarian relief was going to those starving and dying in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine. The U.S. government has determined that it is an act of terrorism to get medicine to hospitals and food to children when U.S. foreign policy supports the strangulation of a civilian population for geostrategic reasons.

When Anthrax Threats Were No Big Deal

Yet, when it comes to the right-wing organizations that engage in violence and threats, the FBI and the corporate media are conspicuously mute.

For instance, shortly after the September 11 attacks, letters containing anthrax were sent to media and Senate offices. Hundreds of anthrax threats were also sent to reproductive health clinics, according to the website of NARAL, which states: “Between October 15 and 23, 2001, more than 250 abortion and family planning clinics in 17 states and the District of Columbia received letters purporting to contain anthrax. In each instance, a powdery substance was accompanied by a letter stating, ‘You have been exposed to anthrax. We are going to kill all of you.’ An additional 270 letters were sent to clinics during the first week of November.”

Very few people know about this kind of extreme terrorist intimidation. Can you imagine the reaction of the FBI and the media if anti-war organizers or Arab Americans were linked to anthrax threat letters? There would be screaming headlines and nationwide police sweeps.

Coddling Right Wing Terrorists

But in 2007, in Washington, D.C., when a man showed up at an immigrant rights rally, covertly carrying a map of the demonstration area with sight lines drawn on it, with a cache of weapons including a converted fully automatic M1-Carbine and apparent plans to massacre participants, you probably never heard about it. Why? Because the man, Tyler Froatz, was a right-wing vigilante bent on attacking immigrants and their supporters.

Froatz, who organized with the Free Republic and acted as a spokesman for the Minuteman, stalked a May Day demonstration in 2007. He was arrested after he was confronted by a courageous young woman working as an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition. She was then assaulted by him when she objected to the racist signs he was posting depicting the graphic slaughter of immigrants, including pregnant women and children.

In addition to the weapons Froatz brought with him, in his apartment was found a large arsenal of rifles, handguns, ammunition, a Molotov cocktail, a hand grenade and a 100,000-volt taser gun.

So is Froatz in the special terrorist prisons in Terre Haute or Marion? No. He was released to the custody of his parents in Connecticut and thereafter allowed to plead to a minor weapons charge. The U.S. Attorney’s Office never charged him with any terrorism-related offense or hate-crimes offense. And today, members of Froatz’s group, the Free Republic, celebrated this latest cold-blooded terrorist murder of Dr. Tiller in their postings.

More than Bullet-Proof Vests and Federal Marshals: A New Strategy is Needed

The murder of Dr. Tiller is a misogynist attack against all women. It is also the foreseeable outcome of a climate of bigotry and vilification fostered by the right wing, normalized by the media and the U.S. government.

A political calculus has been made by the government as to what will be deemed terrorism: what political acts will be crushed and what political violence will be supported or tolerated. As it stands, there is no mobilized effective counter to this fascist violence and the threat that it poses. It’s time for a new strategy and a new challenge. There must be a multi-faceted mobilization of women themselves and of all those men who stand with us against anti-woman bigotry.

www.answercoalition.org

Terrorists in Prison: is there anything the Right doesn’t fear? May 20, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Right Wing.
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(updated below)

The “debate” over all the bad and scary things that will happen if Obama closes Guantanamo and we then incarcerate those detainees in American prisons is so painfully stupid even by the standards of our political discourse that it’s hard to put into words, and it also perfectly illustrates the steps that typically lead to America’s National Security policies:

(1) Right-wing super-tough-guy warriors project some frightened, adolescent, neurotic fantasy onto the world — either because they are really petrified by it or because they want others to be (“Putting Muslim Terrorists in our prisons will make us Unsafe! – Keep them away from me, please!!!“);

(2) Rather than scoff at the inane fear-mongering or point out simple facts to reveal its idiocy, Democratic “leaders” such as Harry Reid echo the right-wing fears in order to prove how Serious and Tough they are — in our political debates, the more frightened one is, the more Serious and Tough one is — and/or because they are genuinely frightened of being called mean names by Sean Hannity (“Harry Reid isn’t as scared of this as I am, which shows that he’s weak”);

(3) “Journalists” who are capable of nothing other than mindlessly reciting what they hear then write articles depicting the Right’s frightened neurosis as a Serious argument, and then overnight, a consensus emerges:  Democrats are in big trouble politically unless they show that they, too, are as deeply frightened as the Right is.

Until recently, I thought the single most embarrassingly stupid event of the last decade’s national security debates — the kind that will make historians look back with slack-jawed amazement — was the joint dissemination in the run-up to the war by the Bush administration and the American media of playing cards that featured all of the “Most Wanted” Iraqi Villains and their cartoon villain nicknames.  Saddam Hussein was the Ace of Spades; Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash — Mrs. Anthrax — was the Five of Hearts; Ali Hassan al-Majid — Chemical Ali — was the King of Spades; sadly, Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha — the dreaded “Dr. Germ” — didn’t make it to the deck, but she certainly had her day in the American media sun (AP:  “Iraq’s ‘Dr. Germ’ Surrenders to Coalition” — CNN:  “U.S. military holding ‘Dr. Germ,’ ‘Mrs. Anthrax'”).

If you weren’t on board with all of that — if you weren’t hiding under your bed shaking when these cartoons were shown on the TV — that meant that you were neither Tough nor Serious.  Just as is true now, the Tough and Serious people were the ones who became frightened by the comic book villians.  All of that led to reports like this from CNN:

U.S. commanders said that they have no intention of resting until the mission is complete and they have the top prize, Saddam — the ace of spades in the notorious deck of cards.

Saddam’s sons Qusay, the ace of clubs, and Uday, the ace of hearts, died in a raid in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. . . .Key to tracking down Qusay and Uday was the capture of the ace of diamonds, No. 4 on the list, Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, . . . Still unclear is the fate of No. 5 — the king of spades — Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali” . . . . U.S. military officials said they still want to capture or kill those who remain at large and put the entire deck of cards out of business.

And this from CNN:

KELLI ARENA, CNN ANCHOR: Let’s go to the Pentagon for details of that capture of another player in the Pentagon’s deck of cards. CNN’s Patty Davis is on the story — Patty.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT:  That’s right, Kelli. Another big fish now in U.S. custody. The U.S. Central Command says it is retiring the six of clubs from that deck of most wanted Iraqis. Now he is Lieutenant General Husam Muhammad Amin Al-Yasin.

Now, Lieutenant General Amin was the liaison for the U.S. weapons inspectors before the war, a key figure in Saddam Hussein’s weapons program.  He held briefings, giving Iraq’s point of view about those inspections and could very well have valuable information about, for the U.S. about any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Now clearly a very big get for the U.S. On the deck of cards now, 13 of the 55 now in custody.

How can “journalists” who said such things even show their face in public?  If there were transcripts of you saying things like this on national television, wouldn’t you want to go immediately leap off the nearest bridge?  Yet not a single American media organization ever questioned why they kept warning Americans about Chemical Ali, Mrs. Anthrax and Dr. Germ once there were no chemical weapons found in the entire nation of Iraq. 

Despite all that, we never tire of the specter of the Big, Bad, Villainous, Omnipotent Muslim Terrorist.  They’re back, and now they’re going to wreak havoc on the Homeland — devastate our communities — even as they’re imprisoned in super-max prison facilities.  How utterly irrational is that fear?  For one thing, it’s empirically disproven.  Anyone with the most minimal amount of rationality would look at the fact that we have already convicted numerous alleged high-level Al Qaeda Terrorists in our civilian court system (something we’re now being told can’t be done) — including the cast of villains known as the Blind Shiekh a.k.a. Mastermind of the First World Trade Center Attack, the Shoe Bomber, the Dirty Bomber, the American Taliban, the 20th Hijacker, and many more — and are imprisoning them right now in American prisons located in various communities.  

We’ve been doing that for two decades.  What are all the bad and scary things that have happened as a result?  The answer is:  “nothing.”  Take note, Chris Cillizza and friends:  while it’s true that “not a single prisoner has escaped from Gitmo since it was created,” it’s also true that no Muslim Terrorists have escaped from American prisons and our SuperMax prisonhas had no escapes or serious attempts to escape.”  Actually, the only person to even make an escape attempt from a SuperMax is Green Arrow, who hasn’t succeeded despite the help of Joker and Lex Luthor.

I really want to know:  when our nation’s stalwart right-wing warriors (along with Harry “Fighting the Good Fight” Reid) become petrified at the thought of keeping Muslim Terrorists in our prisons, what exactly do they fantasize will happen?  What bad things specifically do they fear are going to occur?  I asked that question last night on Twitter and these were some of the responses I received:

Atrios:  crawl up through our toilets and steal our vital essence

GeorgiePorger:  Abu Ghraib in their backyard?

akaBruno:  They’ll join up with T-Bag, Lincoln Burrows and Michael Scofield and break out of Fox River

JonahKeri:   That they’ll turn this into a lawless, chaotic state and make people live in a constant state of riled-up fear. Oh wait…

One right-wing warrior-blogger tried to answer the question earnestly by pointing out that in November, 200o, a Muslim Terrorist violently attacked a prison guard.  A report from the Dallas Morning News regarding prisoner-on-guard attacks found that in 2007 alone — just in Texas — there were “more than three dozen staff assaults with weapons.”  But that’s a perfect distillation of the fear-wallowing right-wing mindset:  hey, one time, 9 years ago, a Muslim Terrorist attacked a prison guard, so now we have to keep all Muslim Terrorist-prisoners in cages on a Cuban island with no trial because I’m too scared to keep them in an American prison.

Isn’t it rather obvious how degraded a citizenry becomes when there’s this constant effort to keep them in a state of intense fear of everything?  Even after eight long years of the Bush era, our leading political figures and media stars — especially the Toughest and Most Serious ones — still quiver with paralyzing fear, completely take leave of their senses, the minute someone utters the word “Terrorist” and especially the phrase “Muslim Terrorist.”  The last two elections proved that Americans themselves generally are no longer frightened by this tactic, but for our political and media elites, “Terrorist” is still the supremely scary, all-purpose justifying phrase. 

UPDATE:  As always, those who most enthusiastically enable and join in with the right-wing fear-mongering campaign are the Serious Democratic Senators (h/t sysprog).

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