I’m half Portuguese. The other half is mongrel, but quite Irish. In fact, since my direct ancestors came from the Azores — you know there is a lot of breeding from the United Kingdom. You know how sailors are. But if people ask me what my ancestors were, I say Portuguese. That’s the most clear thing I am, and I have a Portuguese name, even though it really ought to be spelled, “Morais” (which I much prefer, not least of which because that is closer to the way it is pronounced).
But even with this tenuous relationship to my heritage, I still feel guilt about the Portuguese being really horrible imperialists. And when I first heard the story of Cheryl Araujo being raped by four Portuguese men, I felt ashamed. Again: I’m about as Portuguese as Bugs Bunny. But I still feel that connection — that identity — that makes me cringe when I hear of anyone Portuguese doing something wrong. As a result, I understand it when Christians feel the need to distance themselves for something horrible that other Christians do. But there is a secret weapon that I (and many other people) have against this: I don’t blame groups of people for things that individuals do.
This issue came up in a very big way this last week when Robert Lewis Dear went on a shooting spree. Did he do it because Carly Fioria has been telling lies about Planned Parenthood and because Center for Medical Progress is in the business of stirring up confusion and fear? Does it matter? The truth is that if he did, he is just one of many who have done so specifically because of the anti-choice movement, which has a long history of referring to abortion as murder and putting out false propaganda to paint the whole process as though it were something out of a modern Frankenstein film.
Brian Beutler wrote a very good article about it yesterday, Conservatives’ Planned Parenthood Response: Who Are You Calling a Radical Terrorist? He went through the five stages of conservative reaction to the Dear shooting: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and… denial again. Because it can’t be about them. It can’t be that going on national television and saying that at Planned Parenthood they force women to have late term abortions where the baby is alive, and then they keep it that way so they can “harvest its brain.” I tend to disagree, but I understand the desire to say, “It ain’t me, babe.”
And I would allow them to do just that. There is just this little problem with them being totally self-serving about it. These are, after all, the people who insist upon calling terrorism committed by Muslims as “Islamic terrorism.” In fact, it is such a big deal to them that they seem to think the only reason terrorism still exists is because Obama doesn’t use the exact words that they request. (But didn’t like those words either, not that it matters.) I don’t know about Christian, but clearly Dear’s act is part of the anti-choice movement. And I think there are tons of reasons to blame the movement itself — or at least parts of it. Anyone who has held up pictures of “aborted” fetuses (they are usually still born babies) is culpable in these crimes.
But we aren’t supposed to talk about “anti-choice terrorism.” If we did, we might have to start dealing with the problem here at home. We might even have to talk about easy access to guns. We might require a media that shows that the anti-choice propaganda is false. It would hard. Easy is going after a weak minority in the US, and calling for a halt to immigration, and carpet bombing far away nations. And we are America, so we always do what is easy — not what is right.