I’ve been too unspeakably angry about the terrorist attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last week to write much about it.
Yes, it was a terrorist attack.
Any act of violence that is meant primarily to incite fear in the observing public is terrorism.
It’s also a particular form of terrorism in the case of Robert Dear: White conservative evangelical heteropatriarchal terrorism.
His is a racialized male supremacist theology that an article in the New York Times describes today using court documents and statements from his former wife, Barbara Micheau. In divorce proceeding in 1993, she said:
“He claims to be Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions. … He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.”
On a website in 2005, he wrote: “Turn to JESUS or burn in hell.”
The Times article also reports that in an interview on Tuesday, Micheau said that
“late in her marriage to Mr. Dear, he told her that he had put glue in the locks of a Planned Parenthood in Charleston.”
Finally, the article reports comments from another individual familiar with Dear that he praised those who attack abortion providers, including the Army of God (self-described: “anti-abortion Christian pro-life”) which has claimed responsibility for several attacks on abortion clinics. Libby writes much more about this in a great piece over at Love, Joy, Feminism today.
It’s not just that Dear was some warped form of Christian. It’s not just that he was a man. It’s not just that he was white. It’s not just that he was misogynistic.
It’s that he lived at the intersection of all of those things.
The fact that he also exists at the intersection of multiple forms of privilege means that most people are unable to see why any of it matters. Male privilege means something specific for white men in a racist society, and it means something more for white men who are Christian and conservative in a culture that is defined by Christian privilege.
What emerges is a twisted sense of entitlement that, when coupled with gun culture and untrue rhetoric about brain harvesting spat out on the stage of a major political party debate, leads someone with a shaky grasp on reality to take his rage out on parents, patients, and medical professionals.
It’s not just one or two of these things.
It’s the toxic intersection of them all.
It’s why we need to keep unpacking white privilege, dismantle male privilege, name Christian privilege, delegitimize gun culture, and call out heteronormativity when it continues to inform public policy.
If we don’t, aggrieved marginalized loners will continue to use it all to strike terror into the hearts of our communities.