It was predictable. In the aftermath of Dr. George Tiller’s murder, liberal commentators have blamed the entire pro-life movement for the actions of one man, Scott Roeder.
Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman’s column appeared in the Lawrence Journal-World on June 3 with the headline “Wichita doctor’s killer didn’t act alone.” That headline was contradicted by the first two lines of Goodman’s column: “It is believed that the shooter acted alone. Surely, that’s true.” Nevertheless, Goodman strongly suggested that Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly should repent for his verbal targeting of “Tiller the Baby Killer.”
Mike Hendricks of The Kansas City Star penned a ridiculous column with the headline “Tiller’s killers were many.” According to hyperventilating Hendricks, Roeder’s accomplices include “every one who has ever called Tiller’s late term abortion clinic a murder mill,” everyone who ever called Tiller “Tiller the Killer,” and “groups who spent decades fomenting hate toward a man who simply believed that he was serving a purpose by being one of the few doctors in the country performing late-term abortions.”
Of course, the suggestion that Roeder had accomplices is inane. However, there is a long history of liberals blaming the rhetoric of others for the actions of one person or a small group of people. Bill Clinton did so in 1995, when he blamed Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk-show hosts for the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
“We hear so many loud and angry voices in America today,” Clinton told a college group in Minneapolis after the bombing, “whose sole goal seems to be to try to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us all torn up and upset with each other. They spread hate. They leave the impression, by their very words, that violence is acceptable.”
As William Safire noted in an April 27, 1995 New York Times essay, “The impression Mr. Clinton left, by his very words, was that the Oklahoma bombing had been incited by words ‘regularly said over the airwaves’ by his political critics.”
Of course, when McVeigh was arrested, he did not have a copy of one of Limbaugh’s books. Instead he was wearing a T-shirt with the image of Abraham Lincoln on the front with the words “sic semper tyrannis” (Thus, always, to tyrants), the state motto of Virginia and the words John Wilkes Booth shouted after shooting Lincoln. The back of the T-shirt included a tree and three blood droplets and the Thomas Jefferson quote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
In other words, McVeigh’s terrorism appears to have been inspired by the man from whom William JEFFERSON Clinton’s got his middle name, not by a conservative talk-show host.
Nevertheless, Robert Rowland, a professor of communications and rhetorical criticism at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, said that Clinton was “exactly on target.” “People on talk radio may not be saying, ‘Go out and throw bombs,'” Rowland said. “But there is a tendency for human beings to take the seeds of an idea and run with it.” Again, the “seeds” appear to have been in the form of Jefferson’s “tree of liberty,” not talk radio.
Rowland last year began suggesting what could be called a preemptive blame game regarding Barack Obama. “It is both a ridiculous comment and a dangerous comment,” Rowland said of Sarah Palin’s comment that Obama was “palling around with terrorists.” “Rhetorical violence leads to real violence sometimes.”
Of course, the statement was not ridiculous. Bill Ayers was indeed a domestic terrorist whose Weather Underground, in addition to more than two dozen other bombings, bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, and the United States Department of State Building. (Charges against Ayers and his wife were dropped because the FBI used illegal wiretaps to investigate them.) As far as being Obama’s pal, in a new afterword to his memoir, Ayers describes himself as a “family friend” of Barack Obama. Of course, the mainstream media never examined the full extent of the Ayers-Obama friendship. In addition to Obama launching his political career in 1995 in Ayers’ Hyde Park home, Obama in 1989 met his wife-to-be, Michelle, at the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin, the same firm that also employed Bernadine Dohrn, Ayers’ wife. Ayers also started the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and selected Obama to be its first chairman of the board, a position he held until 2003.
Obama’s supporters attempted to make the argument that Obama was just eight years old when Ayers was a terrorist. However, Obama was a grown man on September 11, 2001, when Ayers told the New York Times, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” Apologists for Ayers and Obama claim that Ayers misspoke. However, both Ayers and Dohrn were clearly unrepentant in the 2002 documentary “The Weather Underground.” (If you have a subscription to Netflix, the documentary can be viewed online at www.netflix.com.)
Interestingly, there does not seem to be any record of Prof. Rowland decrying the dangerous rhetoric used by liberals during the eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency. Did he react when liberals called Bush a fascist and compared him to Hitler? Did he react when Air America host Randi Rhoads did a piece on Bush being shot? How about when the UK Guardian asked, “John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?” When U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she would punch Bush in the nose? If Rowland said anything, he must have limited his comments to private conversations.
Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s pusillanimous chief of staff, also participated in the preemptive blame game earlier this year. “And I think people like Rush Limbaugh and now Dick Cheney, former vice president as you pointed out and as everyone knows, are doing some of that fear-mongering, too,” Wilkerson said on MSNBC (where else?). “This is not good. There are some crazy people in this country. There are Unabombers. There are Lee Harvey Oswalds. There are Sirhan Sirhans. And these are the kind of people that listen to this kind of fear-mongering and it’s dangerous and so someone’s got to start talking out about it.”
Of course, Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist, who, in addition to assassinating John F. Kennedy, had tried to murder Edwin Walker, a retired Army major general known for his conservative political views. (Liberals, including a young Dan Rather, initially tried to blame conservatives and their “climate of hate” for Kennedy’s assassination.) According to his mother, Sirhan Sirhan killed Kennedy because of his Arab nationalism. And the Unabomber? He is an environmental extremist whose manifesto sounded much like Al Gore’s “Earth in the Balance”? (Try this quizz at http://www.crm114.com/algore/quiz.html) Not one of the crazy people Wilkerson mentioned was a conservative, let alone inspired by the words of conservatives.
Interestingly, Wilkerson, who spent most of his adult life in the military, was silent after Army Private William Long was murdered by Abdulhakim Muhammad, a Muslim convert, in Little Rock just two days after Tiller was murdered. Muhammad reportedly killed Long and wounded another soldier because of what he said soldiers “had done to Muslims in the past.” As far as I know, no liberal has suggested that Muhammad was inspired by Obama, Dick Durbin, John Kerry, Jack Murtha, or any other Democrat who has attacked the troops in the past.
While liberals are eager to point their fingers at conservatives even when conservatives are clearly not to blame, they seem unable to make a connection between someone’s rhetoric and terrorists’ actions even when terrorists themselves say they were inspired by that person’s rhetoric.
For example, in 1996, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright appeared on “60 Minutes” and responded, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it,” after Lesley Stahl noted that sanctions against Iraq had reportedly led to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children. (I have posted the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbIX1CP9qr4.)
In a 1997 interview with CNN, Osama bin Laden referred to Iraqi children, as recorded in “Holy War, Inc.” by CNN’s Peter Bergen:
“Asked what message he would send President Clinton, bin Laden answered: ‘Mentioning the name of Clinton or that of the American government provokes disgust and revulsion. This is because the name of the American government and the name of Clinton and Bush directly reflect in our minds … the picture of the children who died in Iraq.’ He was referring to the fact that, by May 1996, an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children had died as a result of U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990, for its continued violations of U.N. resolutions.
“He continued: ‘The hearts of Muslims are filled with hatred towards the United States of America and the American president. The president has a heart that knows no words. A heart that kills hundreds of children definitely knows no words. Our people on the Arabian Peninsula will send him messages with no words because he does not know any words. If there is a message that I may send through you, then it is a message I address to the mothers of American troops who came here with their military uniforms walking proudly up and down our land…. I say that this represents a blatant provocation to over one billion Muslims. To these mothers I say if they are concerned for their sons, then let them object to the American government’s policy.'”
Those “messages” were delivered in August 1998, when two U.S. embassies were bombed in Africa, in October 2000, when the USS Cole was bombed, and, of course, on 9/11.
Just three months before 9/11, Mohamed al-‘Owhali, convicted in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, appeared in court to be sentenced for that bombing. According to CNN, “Al-‘Owhali’s attorneys have argued U.S. policy toward Iraq was a motivating factor for militant Muslims such as al-‘Owhali, a 24-year-old Saudi, and his leader, Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, whom the United States accuses of leading a decade-long terrorist conspiracy to kill Americans and destroy U.S. property.” Defense attorney David Baugh played a video of Albright’s 1996 interview with “60 Minutes” as an explanation for al-‘Owhali’s actions.
So there you have. There is clear evidence that Albright’s rhetoric concerning Iraq led to 9/11 and other “messages with no words,” yet liberals apparently cannot see the connection there. However, they see connections between conservatives’ rhetoric and the acts of terrorists, even when there is no evidence of such connections. Of course, these are the same people who see a right to abortion and no right to bear arms in the Constitution.