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?