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Conservative Response to Base Violence and Hate Absurd, but Let’s Be Clear Where This Comes From

I don’t think it’s even worth responding to the likes of the NRCC or Eric Cantor or Mike Pence about violence and hatred in the GOP base. They fanned these flames and have been doing so for some time. Right-wing violence and intimidation is nothing new in American life. The leaders of the conservative movement can deal with the fallout of what they’ve helped to sow. I have no sympathy or concern for them.

But I do want to tease out something I hinted at yesterday. It’s clear that a lot of the rhetoric, the street theater, the threats, even the specific language being used to attack the Affordable Care Act comes out of the anti-choice movement. They have been among the leaders in this kind of response and activity for decades, and have on occasion spilled over into outright violence and murder.

So when Tom Perriello goes on television and attacks the GOP leadership for fanning hatred and illegal activity, keep in mind that he happens to be anti-choice. He favors banning a legitimate medical procedure for women. And those who join him in that opinion have been intimidating, threatening and shaming women and the doctors who serve them for a long time. They’ve even killed people.

Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check has an excellent piece about this with respect to Bart Stupak and the “baby killer” comment made on the House floor on Sunday:

Now Mr. Stupak wants a formal apology from Neugebarger, from the House floor. And he deserves one.

But he should use this moment to insist that the pro-life movement make a blanket apology to pro-choice advocacy groups, pro-choice legislators, and to women, clinic workers, and doctors everywhere.

Because Stupak is one among many who have created the environment in which Neugebarger thought this was appropriate in the first place. He is now lying in the bed that he–and others in the “pro-life” movement–have made, so to speak.

I understand–and respect–Mr. Stupak’s religious and ideological position. I do not respect–and continue to fight against–the imposition of his ideology and religious beliefs on women everywhere. But Mr. Stupak represents and has represented that group of male leaders who have sought to do just that…impose a specific religious ideology on the lives and health of women.

In doing so, the Stupaks, the Pitts, the Neugebargers, the Brownbacks and the Coburns; the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Rick Warrens, Family Research Councils, Focus on the Family, Operation Rescues and all other anti-choice groups have sought to decide–according to their own religious and ideological beliefs–exactly what constitutes life, who is a person, what weight to give a woman’s life, and what her role should be in society.

And in shaping their arguments, they themselves have used words like “murder,” “murderer,” “innocent lives” (as opposed, of course, to “not-so-innocent” women), and of course…”babykillers.” And that is just a start.

It’s a fantastic piece that should be read in full. Political leaders who cast the choice issue in such stark moral terms have created an environment that has led to hatred and violence. You can see the parallels between that and the conservative movement’s rhetoric around health care.

It’s something for the recipients of this hate speech, like Perriello and Stupak, to think about.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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