You know, there’s a vast difference between throwing red paint on people with fur coats, or sneaking into an animal testing facility and setting all the monkeys free, or holding up a picture of George W. Bush with a Hitler moustache drawn on…. and, well, pretty much anything your average right-wing extremist has ever thought of doing.
I bring this up now because of what happened last week to Dr. Tiller, and what happened two days ago at the Holocaust Museum. I bring it up because of what the Department of Homeland Security said earlier this year, when they said that the combination of “financial crisis” and “first black President” could spark a surge in acts of violence committed by scared old white men and luckless bull-headed neo-Nazi boys. I bring it up in particular because of Rush Limbaugh’s instant reaction to the DHS report, which was to ridicule it, and I bring it up because of his current reaction, which was to blame it all on the liberals anyway.
Yeah, Rush, it’s one of those liberal/Nazi conspiracies we’ve been hearing so much about. See, all the liberal Jews in Hollywood got together and decided to hire a guy to shoot a security guard at the Holocaust museum, because that all makes sense.
People actually buy this crap.
That’s sort of beside the point, though. The point is this: left-wing loonies are a lot more interesting than right-wing loonies. If nothing else, they’re definitely more creative. While there were a few dumb kids arrested for trying to set off a bomb at the Republican National Convention last summer, you will note with interest that most acts of extreme political violence in this country come from the right. Me, I can’t help but think that this says less about the deep pacifism of most liberals in this country, and more about the total lack of creativity on the right. This carries over into non-violent protest, too: it takes a lot more thought, effort, and artistic know-how to set up a slightly embarrassing puppet show in Harvard Square protesting global economic opression (or whatever that thing’s supposed to be about) than it does to stand around with a graphic picture of an aborted fetus.
Most of the time, though, they just resort to gun violence. Not only is this dangerous, it’s also really boring. Ho hum, another disgruntled right-winger shot somebody today. Sometimes, if the creative juices are really flowing, they drive a truck into a daycare center and blow it up. Yawn. A gun is not creative. A bomb is not creative. Both things are, by their very nature, destructive. And, really, kind of lame. Most radical lefties stopped blowing shit up back in the ’60s, and you have to go back to the turn of the 20th century – to the days of Leon Czolgoz and Emma Goldman – for the last time it was considered a generally good idea.
Not to give anyone any ideas here, but if the extreme anti-abortion movement (for example) really wants to prove their point in a dramatic and symbolic way, they should leave the guns at home and partake in a little thing we like to call “culture jamming.” Much as loopy PETA-types sometimes dress up like cows and stand outside McDonalds to protest McD’s meat peddling practices, perhaps the anti-choice crowd could dress up like huge fetuses, stand outside abortion clinics, and shout things like “Hi, Mom!” or “Aw, I was gonna be Beethoven.”
Or, even better: I would get my grubby little paws on an extremely large pair of medical tongs, and use them to pry open the window of the Planned Parenthood down the lane. Then, I’d feed a massive tube through the window, connected to an industrial strength vaccum, which I would then switch on, gleefully yelling “See how you like it, ya baby killin’ jerks!” However, the part of my brain that allows me to come up with such tasteful ways of proving my point non-violently also allows me to understand that abortions are not decisions anyone takes lightly and that there’s too wide a spectrum of human experience at play here to legislate definitively, and that the trick is to lower the number of abortions through education and single-mother assistance programs. I have two things that they don’t – namely, senses of humor and subtlety – and I ain’t sharin’.
This isn’t about religion, by the way. Dr. Tiller was, ironically, shot in his church sanctuary, and if you’re Christian (or at least if you’ve seen Highlander) you’ll realize why this is just hysterical. A person calling himself a Christian killed someone else calling themselves a Christian in the one place Christians are supposed to be completely safe. Tiller did things for a living that some Christians would consider anathema, whereas his murderer only did it as a hobby. Now, you can say that Dr. Tiller actually helped a lot of women and girls in very bad situations, like assisting a 10-year old girl who had been raped by her father. In this case, anyone with the capacity for complex thought would understand that this child has been through a horrible trauma already, and forcing a girl at that age to go through with any kind of pregnancy, especially that kind of pregnancy, is a lot worse than… well, anything, really, and in that case Dr. Tiller made a very moral decision.
If you’re on the other side of the equation, you might say that, while Tiller should not have been killed, his choice of profession made him by definition non-Christian. I understand that attitude too – I was raised Catholic. Now, the Catholic church’s position on life is straight across the board Pro-Life, meaning no death penalty, no war, no murder, no abortion. Yet one cannot help but notice that the (ahem) second best Catholic university in the nation had no problem with President Bush speaking at their commencement, a man who happily executed more prisoners as Governor than any other state in the nation at that time, but as soon as they invited President Obama to speak, there were widespread protests. Obama’s position on abortion is pretty close to that of most people – he doesn’t like it, he wants there to be less of it, and he wants to do what he can to prevent it. But he doesn’t want to make it illegal, and that’s a lot worse than killing thousands of Iraqis or executing 131 prisoners. Why? Because it is. Abortion, to some, is the worst possible thing you can do, which is why it’s so hard to find common ground on this issue.
Like most of my political views, my position on abortion rests mostly upon how silly its opponents look. This is why I happily eat meat but oppose animal testing. I am a carnivore primarily because PETA is annoying. The Iraq War was initially supported by slack-jawed Wal-Mart shoppers who’ll believe anything you tell ’em so long as they don’t gotta think too hard, so of course I was opposed. The War in Afghanistan was opposed, in its early days, by leftier-than-thou poindexters who probably voted for Nader so it’s all their fault to begin with, meaning I was all for it. This is probably why, when I smoked, it was mostly at social occasions and never got up to a pack a day. Because let’s face it: if the question is whether smokers or non-smokers are more annoying, it’s pretty much a draw.
So, when it comes to abortion, I note that no one – no one – on the “left” side of the issue thinks that casual, all-trimester, willy-nilly baby killin’ is an awesome idea, whereas it seems like everyone on the “right” side of the issue thinks that’s what everyone on the “left” believes. I also note the utterly fruitless, hypocritical, and banal nature of their protests, wherein an eye for an eye is justified even if Jesus totally said it wasn’t. Same thing goes for Holocaust deniers, who would ask you to believe that ten million people just didn’t show up to work one day, and that all those concrete things with the wrought iron fences all over central Europe are part of a big Jewish conspiracy to – um – make us feel really bad for them or something.
So: when Rush Limbaugh – a man I think is silly to begin with – tries to tell me that, for the first time in recorded human history, a Nazi did something because liberals told him to… let’s just say I never knew Occam made disposable razors.