Eliminationists on the March

After the horrific Arizona shooting in which six people were killed and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was gravely wounded, we came close to civility in American politics, at least for a few days. Unfortunately, our public discourse is already returning to normal, as you can tell from reading this front-page post on the leading conservative blog RedState (HT: Pandagon).

Here at RedState, we too have drawn a line. We will not endorse any candidate who will not reject the judicial usurpation of Roe v. Wade and affirm that the unborn are no less entitled to a right to live simply because of their size or their physical location. Those who wish to write on the front page of RedState must make the same pledge. The reason for this is simple: once before, our nation was forced to repudiate the Supreme Court with mass bloodshed. We remain steadfast in our belief that this will not be necessary again, but only if those committed to justice do not waiver or compromise, and send a clear and unmistakable signal to their elected officials of what must be necessary to earn our support.

The Arizona shooting silenced right-wing eliminationists for a brief time, but they’re already showing their faces in public again. Even if they’re historically illiterate – the Civil War was started by the slaveholders, not by the abolitionists – it doesn’t change the nature of this brutish, unsubtle threat to rise up in violent rebellion if they can’t get the outcome they want through the democratic process, just the same way as Islamic fundamentalists seek to kill journalists and wage war on nations that won’t agree to censor depictions of Mohammed.

The next logical question has to be, if they’re anticipating “mass bloodshed” to overturn abortion rights, whom do they think should be killed? Doctors and nurses at family planning clinics? The patients of those clinics? Police officers and security guards who protect the clinics? Elected officials who vote for pro-choice policies? Ordinary citizens who vote for those politicians? I’m pro-choice; am I on their target list? Are you?

I don’t think most of the posters on RedState have any stomach for actual violence, no matter what they say. Most of them are just empty braggarts, swaggering chest-beaters who want to show how strong and tough they are by playacting the role of heroic revolutionaries. But even if they don’t intend to follow through on their own words, when poisonous rhetoric like this becomes normalized and common, there will inevitably be others who see that as permission. Horribly, that seems to be just what happened in the murder of Ugandan gay-rights advocate David Kato:

A prominent gay rights activist, whose photo was printed on the front page of a Ugandan newspaper that called for homosexuals to be hanged, was bludgeoned to death at his home after weeks of death threats and harassment…

I wrote last year about the bloody-handed American evangelicals who encouraged brutal anti-gay legislation in Uganda with apocalyptic rhetoric. If David Kato’s murder was inspired in part by the rampant homophobia they sowed, as seems likely, they now have more blood on their hands. (See also this outstanding article on Dangerous Intersection about the atheist movement in Uganda.)

The depths of how bad Christian homophobia has gotten in Uganda can be seen in the unbelievable excuse offered by the editor of the newspaper:

After Wednesday’s killing, Giles Muhame, the editor of Rolling Stone, condemned the murder and said the paper had not wanted gays to be attacked. “If he has been murdered, that’s bad and we pray for his soul,” Muhame told Reuters. “There has been a lot of crime, it may not be because he is gay. We want the government to hang people who promote homosexuality, not for the public to attack them. We said they should be hanged, not stoned or attacked.”

Stories like these make me despair for Africa’s lonely, brave freethinkers – people like Micheal Mpagi, or Leo Igwe, or Alain Mouanga – fighting heroically against a rising tide of savage, brutal theocrats aided and abetted by their American evangelical cousins. The darkness is so vast, and the light-carriers so few. Can we advocates of reason hope to stand against it and triumph?

Why Atheism Is a Force for Good
The FLDS Cult Is Unraveling
New on the Guardian: Beyond Debating God’s Existence
Bangladesh Is Killing Atheists
About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Jeff

    Africa is a nightmare. I don’t know if it’s the result of colonialism, or in spite of it, but these nations cannot govern themselves. I’d like to see the US and the Western European nations go in there for about a generation and run things, but we don’t have the money (thank you, George Bush) and we’d screw it up, anyway.

    Left to themselves, the Africans can’t dig themselves out of this hole, and we can’t do it for them. I see absolutely no hope.

  • Katie M

    “I don’t know if it’s the result of colonialism, or in spite of it”

    I know tribes had been fighting each other for (probably) millennia before the arrival of the Europeans, but the Europeans indisputably made it worse. Would the 1994 Rwandan genocide have occurred if the Belgians hadn’t declared the Tutsi to be racially “superior” to the Hutu? I don’t think so.

  • Demonhype

    “We want the government to hang people who promote homosexuality, not for the public to attack them”

    Makes me think of that scene in Pleasantville where, after the riots have died down, the Mayor smugly starts talking about how people shouldn’t take this sort of thing in their own hands, and then smugly starts passing down tyrannical “this is how you will be or else” legislation.

    These bastards know damn well that they wanted this. They want the government to oppress those they disagree with, surely, but they also want to instill terror in anyone who dares oppose the passing of such legislation. They want to silence their opponents with fear and threats, then pass evil legislation, then smugly say “well, you had your chance to argue and you didn’t say anything”. They want the government to hang those who “promote homosexuality”, but until then they want whoever is willing to do so to murder and terrorize those who “promote homosexuality” and get them used to the new order and be sure that they are too frightened to fight back, until such time that they can claim their evil as a legal practice for the public good and their opponents will have no recourse whatsoever.

    Kind of like that cross that has been up since before the Cold War. Wasn’t one of the excuses “well, it’s been up there for so long and no one complained until now (never mind that during that time it was detrimental for someone’s physical, social, and employment health to be discovered to be non-Xian much less oppose the privileged Xian majority’s privileged whims, even if they had the legal right to do so the society had created a de facto method to prevent them from standing on their rights–no matter, not important, not something to be taken into consideration.)”

    Works even better when you’re openly and overtly murdering your opponent. I despise these putrid wastes of human tissue beyond anything you can imagine. There’s just no words to describe it.

  • Pat

    Africa has always had large pockets like this even before the missionaries. The Europeans made things better, in many ways, but in this case, these fundie missionaries have fomented violence. We can see the casual relationship there- why can’t people see that in the Giffords shooting?

  • Andrew T.

    WRT RedState rhetoric, I sometimes find it astounding how severely the right wing clamps down on and excludes people who hold opinions that deviate from a groupthink consensus…even on issues that don’t divide cleanly into logical “conservative” and “liberal” stances. But, given how they value blind allegiance to a chosen authority, consciously choose to avoid making use of critical thinking, and derive many of their opinions by observing the predilections of their self-declared opponents and simply reacting against them, it’s not surprising.