Mike Littwin: On apologists for the Planned Parenthood shooting
December 3, 2015
And so it has come to this: Adams County state Rep. JoAnn Windholz has decided that Planned Parenthood is the "real culprit" in the Colorado Springs attack and not, apparently, the actual killer.
She not only said it, but happily she wrote it down for all to see. That means she can never say she was misquoted — just horribly misguided.
Now you know why so many Republicans aren't saying anything — or anything much – about the attack on Planned Parenthood. When you've spent months demonizing the people working there as murderers and Nazis and worse, it must become difficult to make yourself say anything else.
And yet it was only a matter of time before some politician would be unable to help him/herself and offer up something really objectionable. But this objectionable?
Windholz, a real-life state legislator, made the classic no-excuse-but argument, in which she writes, in a statement sent to Colorado Independent reporter Marianne Goodland, that "Violence is never the answer, but …"
In this case, the "but" is that "violence begets violence" and that Planned Parenthood's so-called violence, also known as women's health resources, must be the reason that Robert Dear killed three innocent people — a cop, a war veteran, a mother of two — who had nothing to do with either violence or providing women's health resources.
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Here's the money shot from Windholz: "Violence is never the answer, but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit. The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves. Violence begets violence. So Planned Parenthood: YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS."
Windholz added, for good measure, that the "abortion industry" — just asking, but do we have a cancer industry? — "would easily send anyone over the hill who wasn't rational."
We can argue all we like about whether that means Windholz has gone over the hill or maybe a nearby mountain, but here's what we do know: In her statement, she never mentioned the victims or their families or the children left behind or the violence done to the city of Colorado Springs or, well, you should read the statement in its entirety to appreciate just how ugly it is.
What she did say was that Planned Parenthood was selling "baby body parts," which is reportedly very close to what the actual killer told police after he was arrested and which is wrong in both instances. Both statements go back to the highly edited sting videos, which 11 states have so far investigated. Seven have reached the same conclusion — that Planned Parenthood was not selling fetal tissue or so-called baby body parts. The other four states are still studying.
It must be added here, too, that fetal tissue is used in scientific research that saves lives. And that fetal tissue research was approved by Congress in a bipartisan vote. And that, in any case, it's not really arguable that whatever your thoughts are on fetal tissue research or abortion, they're not an excuse to murder anyone.
Sadly, it isn't just Windholz who seems not to understand that concept. The Douglas County GOP has apparently retweeted an opinion piece headlined "Abortionists and Planned Parenthood Shooter Are Just Two Sides of the Same Coin." I wonder if the families of the dead and those who were injured see it that way.
The arguments on abortion are, of course, longstanding. Sincere people stand on both sides. But while we're having the argument about whether overheated rhetoric can lead to violence — interestingly, it wasn't long ago that Black Lives Matter rhetoric was somehow being blamed in the death of a cop — you have people like Windholz making another case: that overheated rhetoric can offer real insight into the overheated talker.
Most of the many Republicans running for president have been remarkably circumspect, understanding that the best political move at this point is to change the subject. No one has done this more convincingly than Ted Cruz, who, though a leader in slamming Planned Parenthood, did have the decency to blame the actual killer for the killings. Then, turning tragedy to farce, Cruz suggested that Dear (whose Colorado voter registration mistakenly lists him as a female) might well be a "transgendered leftist activist" for all he knew.
It's easy to see why changing the subject would be a good idea. As we learn more about Dear's life, beyond the fact of a life lived off the grid, it has become increasingly apparent that he didn't simply stop by a Planned Parenthood clinic on the way to a murder spree. He had often been accused in violent episodes, including by two of his three ex-wives, and, in another case, where he was arrested for rape and assault.
And apparently he didn't need to hear heated talk from anyone to act. The New York Times quotes a longtime friend saying that Dear has long been strongly antiabortion and that he had called members of the violently antiabortion, so-called Army of God "heroes." These were people who took credit for bombing abortion clinics.
In other words, Dear fit a certain profile, which shouldn't surprise anyone, even though it apparently doesn't bother JoAnn Windholz, who can understand why someone like Dear, a mass murderer, was sent over the hill. If it's me, I'd understand if Adams County voters sent someone like Windholz out of office.