Dr. George Tiller’s murder: Anyone worried about right-wing extremism now?
So the sad news emerges today regarding the murder of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who was willing to provide late-term abortions (or ‘partial-birth’ as they’re disparagingly called in some quarters) when medically necessary. He was shot outside his church and the police have a suspect in custody. Call it an assassination, an act of terrorism, or just plain murder.
At the conservative message board Free Republic, a commenter ghoulishly asks, “So who knows how many thousands of lives were saved today?”
Remember when those warnings emerged last month from the Department of Homeland Security that there could be an uptick in violence from right-wing extremist groups? And then the White House backed away from the report because it offended the sensibilities of some conservatives? Here’s the Washington Times breaking the story:
A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.
“It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” the warning says.
The White House has distanced itself from the analysis. When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, “The President is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned.”
The Rush Limbaughs of the world compared the report’s release to the botched operation against the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in the 1990s. The suggestion being that an incoming Democratic administration was over-hyping a threat for political purposes. Actually, now the DHS is looking prescient. I certainly hope the declaration that the President wasn’t aware of specific threats didn’t chase off the people at DHS and other federal law enforcement arms from issuing warnings to police and other officials who were charged with keeping an eye on Dr. Tiller’s situation.
But here we are in the culture wars, and it looks like it might really be war, at least from one side. The group Operation Rescue in condemning Dr. Tiller’s murder couldn’t even call him a doctor, insisting on ideologically referring to him as “Mr. Tiller” and encouraging his family to “find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ,” which sounds like code to your most eager supporters and not penance if I ever heard it.
And as an example of “the lady doth protest too much,” check out the commenters at Hot Air who are already worrying at how Rush and Sarah Palin will get the blame for Tiller’s murder. If anything, I wouldn’t blame them; I’d blame administration officials who backed off from monitoring threats against Tiller and other abortion providers for fear that they’d antagonize America’s Rushes.
To me, this is a chance to show some resoluteness. The White House should state tomorrow that right-wing extremists are on notice. And if they don’t, the White House press corps needs to show some sack and ask if this issue is now on the President’s agenda.