June 3, 2009
Blaming Pro-lifers for Tiller's Death
As activists and journalists try to make sense of George Tiller's murder, some are trying to link the pro-life movement with the killing while others are trying to separate the two.
"People have a right to disagree about abortion, but it's impossible to separate today's tragedy from the violent language that has been directed for years at doctors like George Tiller," a statement from People for the American Way states. "Those who have inflamed emotions and dehumanized their opponents around the issue of abortion should take pause before they continue such dangerous rhetoric."
The L.A. Times responds by saying that Tiller's killing should not be exploited for political gain.
"It's unfair to ask antiabortion activists to muffle their message because it might inspire an unbalanced individual to commit an atrocity," the editorial concludes.
Claremont McKenna College professor Jon Shields wrote a piece for Christianity Today's site on the relationship the pro-life movement with its radical fringe.
Both the radical and moderate wings of movements strangely drive one another in a cycle that is simultaneously vicious and virtuous. We can only hope that imprisoning Tiller's killer will put an end to abortion-related murders, and that Tiller's death will encourage the pro-life mainstream to redouble its commitment to civility and public reason once again.
On a slightly separate note, James Kirchick argues in The Wall Street Journal why the Religious Right can't be compared to Islamist extremists.
As for conservative Christians' contemporary political endeavors, lobbying to ban the teaching of evolution in schools or forbidding same-sex marriage simply does not threaten society in quite the same way as the genital mutilation of young girls or the bombing of the London transit system.
...the Christian right's responsible reaction to the death of George Tiller should put to rest the lie that Judeo-Christian extremists are anywhere near as numerous or dangerous as those of the Muslim variety.