Not a Tragedy–It’s a Crime

This week saw two appalling hate crimes– the murder of Dr. George Tiller and the murder of Pvt. William A. Long in a shooting that also wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula. Both crimes were cowardly sneak attacks.

Dr. Tiller, who had survived a previous shooting and often wore a bulletproof vest was ambushed as he left his church. Pvt’s Long and Ezeagwula were standing outside a recruiting station and were targeted because they were in the Army.

Dr. Tiller was a husband and father, William Long was only 23 years old. They leave family and friends who will live with this loss every day.

Tragedy strikes impersonally–a house fire, a natural disaster, an accident. Crime is deliberate, and these crimes were motivated by ideology that led to terrorism.

The murderer of William Long, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, was an American convert to Islam. At some point he adopted a violent extremism. He recently traveled in the Mideast and was detained in Yemen.

The episode in Yemen prompted a preliminary inquiry by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other American law enforcement agencies into whether the man, Muhammad, had ties to extremist groups, the officials said. But that investigation was inconclusive, they said, leaving the bureau with insufficient evidence to wiretap his phone or put him under surveillance.
It is not clear when Mr. Muhammad, an American convert to Islam who was traveling on a valid United States passport, was detained in Yemen or why he would have been carrying counterfeit documents. His detention in Yemen was first reported Tuesday by ABC News.

It may be that Muhammad was acting without confederates

Muhammad, who was known previously as Carlos Bledsoe, acted alone and was not part of a larger plot, said Cassandra Davis, a spokeswoman for the Little Rock Police Department. She said Muhammad previously lived in Memphis, Tenn., and Nashville and had recently moved to Little Rock.
Iftikhar Pathan, the president of the Islamic Center of Little Rock, said Muhammad had never worshiped at the center’s mosque.

Muhammed probably made contact with extremist groups in Yemen, but his actions more resemble one of the awful random shootings we’ve seen than an organized terror plot. A crime like this creates outrage, not terror. Army recruiting stations will not shut down.

The murder of Dr.Tiller has closed down his clinic. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood are already under tight security because of years of harassment, vandalism, assaults and murders. Politicians make careers labeling abortion as murder, talk show hosts make ratings using language that is an incitement to violence. Calling a doctor who provides lawful care to women who have reasons for terminating a pregnancy a murderer is a constant verbal assault. From yesterday’s Providence Journal see this letter...

As for the killing of George Tiller, the noted abortion doctor in Kansas, I don’t know if the saying “One dies as he lives” would apply here. But I find it interesting that George Tiller, the nation’s most “prominent” baby killer and provider of late-term abortions, was shot and killed in the lobby of his Lutheran church while attending Sunday church services.

This week of grief supports the argument that ideas have consequences. Violent language leads to violent action. Both Scott Roeder and Muhammed were influenced by hate speech. Both had easy access to guns, which enabled them to kill from a distance.

Roeder connected with a homegrown extremism, Muhammed left the country seeking something he couldn’t find here. Time will tell whether he truly acted alone. Roeder is convinced of his innocence and is not sorry. By the logic of his beliefs he did nothing wrong.

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11 responses

  1. joe bernstein | Reply

    Don’t fool yourself Nancy-they both had lots of confederates and enablers.There is little to differentiate them.
    BTW-house fires and accidents may be due to negligence or sheer chance-but either way they HAPPEN,and the events you mentioned are MEANT TO HAPPEN.

  2. that’s the point. violent speech mixed with religious extremism guarantees that some unstable person will act. I believe that a woman has a right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy, but I never get used to being accused of supporting baby killers. especially when it’s my family saying it.

  3. Suzanne Arena | Reply

    I agree that it is a women’s right. It’s kinda like any divorce…if your partner is viewed as abusive by you ~ then leave, don’t kill them as it is the law. The movie that cinched it for me when I was younger was Cher’s movie she directed and starred in “If These Walls Could Talk” was such a heavy movie. I also remember taking my girlfriend (who later became a nurse) to have one on Beacon Hill in Boston and the nun’s and zealots outside with baby fetus’ of some sort in a bottle and yelling stuff at me and us. OMG, it was horrible! Then, soon after the procedure there were a bunch of killings at clinics by some overwrought zealot that ended up killing some untargeted innocent people in the process.

    It’s definately a heavy dinner conversation ~ thankfully my kids are 5 and 7 and I don’t have to dance this dance yet and I do not believe this “Violent language leads to violent action” is applicable to this situation unless you are one of the extremists.

  4. I’m glad you wrote that. Believing that divorce should be an option in a bad situation doesn’t make you ‘pro-divorce.’ It doesn’t mean you think divorce is no big deal.
    I think that violent speech makes it almost certain that some individual who is angry or unstable will act out.
    If I did not know the reality of being a woman and the decisions we may have to make, and I believed the anti-abortion rhetoric, I would logically have to go to my local clinic and lay down in the doorway until the police carried me away.

  5. Nancy-who is going to police speech?Al Sharpton made some very incendiary remarks which led to seven dead people and a fire because some deranged individual was influenced.He(Sharpton) had no personal consequences.In another incident Tom Metzger,a White supremacist,made a speech to some skinheads-one of them communicated the message to another group of skinheads who metzger had never met,and the second group committed a racially motivated murder.Metzger was held civilly liable by a Federal jury.He was a step removed,yet still held responsible.
    The Sharptons and Farrakhans are never held accountable for their words.It seems as if you are “of color” you get a pass on language inciting violence because you are “oppressed”.What BS.Either the law applies to all or none.
    Please study the history of prior restraint in the courts before you suggest limiting speech except in the case of a direct threat to an individual,which is illegal anywhere.

    1. Sad, but true. History certainly does frame these situations over and over to be a lop sided fine art. My skin crawls every time The “Sharptons and Farrakhans” are mentioned.

      Thanks for the stark truth Joe, I so enjoy your insight.

  6. I’m trying to remember where I said anyone should limit speech. Jeez, I’m a blogger.
    But some speech is an invitation to violence. Abortion clinics have been vandalized, bombed and shot at. A doctor was just murdered by a man who was active in the anti-abortion movement. If Scott Roeder had been picked up when he poured glue in the locks at the clinic Dr. Tiller might be alive today. We’re so used to ‘respectable’ people using inflammatory language that it’s hard to weed out the ones who are getting ready to act.
    I find the demonstrators on Point St. and Broad St. to be an offense to my morals and much more threatening than Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton. And I don’t have any black friends or associates who have ever said they admire these guys. They’re a couple of self-promoters who like to inflate their influence and get on TV.

  7. here is a link to a woman’s account of years of being active in the anti-abortion movement. she still defines herself as ‘pro-life’ but began to hear talk about the relative morality of murdering abortion providers as people in the movement became frustrated with the lack of progress.

    http://watchingthewatchers.org/article/15647/tiller-operation-rescue-and-bonhoeffer

    like I said, if I believed their rhetoric I would have to do civil disobedience and block the clinic door.

    but I think a decision like that belongs to the woman concerned, not the government, the church or the state.

  8. Nancy-I don’t have any Black friends or associates who admire Farrakhan or Sharpton,but they wouldn’t be people I’d spend time around if they did and I knew it.
    You could ask the people victimized by the Tawana Brawley sham if Sharpton is just a windbag.Or the families of the seven people murdered in some part because of his violent rhetoric.And NONE of them were White,nor the “Jew interlopers” he was railing about.
    You are all upset at the Point Street demonstrators.Unless they physically menace or threaten someone they are within their rights.
    I suggest you watch Farrakhan sometime on public access tv.It’s tape HIS group puts out.He rants against Whites and Jews in particular and gets a huge ovation from large audiences.No potential for violence there,right?I’m not one of those whiny Abe Foxman Jews who inhabit the ADL,so I respect the right of people to hate me for no good reason.As long as they don’t try to bother me it’s no sweat.I dealt with it enough times in a hands on way which discouraged repetition.
    Anyhow,I have no knowledge of the history between Dr.Tiller and Roeder and his friends.I really don’t follow abortion issues closely at all.I just have my opinion on the subject and leave it at that.The one single abortion related issue I do get vocal about is parental notification for a minor.There is no other elective medical procedure where the parents aren’t notified.I approach this not as a reproductive rights matter,but a purely medical one.Abortion is surgery and involves anesthetics like lidocaine,etc.The parents may know their minor child is allergic when the child herself mey be unaware or unmindful of the potential seriousness of an allergic reaction.
    You didn’t say speech should be limited in so many words,it was more or less implied.Or was I wrong?

  9. Abortion providers are threatened all the time. Threats are not free speech.
    Your post backs up the point that hate speech can lead to violence.
    There are some people who identify as pro-life who want to offer aid to women in difficult situations, who are willing to offer support, who don’t want women to feel compelled by poverty to have an abortion that goes against their principles.
    I can work with those people.

  10. Threats are not protected speech.No argument from me.People are routinely prosecuted for threatening others with physical harm.If there was no prosecution for previous incidents at the clinic that raises some questions.Perhaps the police didn’t have a viable case.Sometimes you KNOW who is responsible,but there’s no way to prove it.

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