Erick Erickson insulted by claim he incited violence against Planned Parenthood, incites violence against Planned Parenthood

At this point, it’s abundantly clear that Robert Dear, the man who killed three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood last Friday, wasn’t just some crazy lunatic; he was an activist with an agenda. Not only did he tell authorities “no more baby parts!” while being taken into custody, but his wife has confirmed that he was a religious conservative with a particularly anti-abortion bent. In short, he attacked Planned Parenthood and not (despite conservatives’ denialistic hopes) a bank for a reason.

This was political violence designed to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, and the FBI has a word for that: terrorism.

What’s more, the specific “no more baby parts” claim suggests that Dear was very likely incited to violence by the positively ghastly rhetoric that has been thrown in Planned Parenthood’s direction in recent months, following the release of deceptively-edited “sting” videos that report, falsely, that the organization was selling baby parts for a profit. They weren’t. The claim was debunked again and again and again. That didn’t stop Congress from conducting absurd political investigations, nor did it keep states from illegally denying the organization Medicaid reimbursements for non-abortive procedures. It didn’t stop Evangelicals with seven-figure social media followings from explicitly calling for violence against those who worked at Planned Parenthood.

After all, if you really, genuinely believe that the organization is nothing more than a murder factory, then aren’t you morally obligated to do whatever you can to stop it? By any means necessary? As Damon Linker wrote today:

Is it really surprising that after months of railing against the baby killers (and dismemberers and body-parts harvesters) at Planned Parenthood, threats against and attacks on clinics are rising? Of course not. What’s surprising is that there haven’t been far more of them. Because if we take pro-life rhetoric seriously — if we accept that hundreds of thousands of unprosecuted and unpunished murders are being committed every year in the United States — then violence sounds like a perfectly reasonable response.

But don’t tell that to the people living inside that bubble.

Conservative commentator Erick Erickson, formerly of Red State and now working on his solo career, took to his blog last night to be righteously outraged at the accusation that right-wing rhetoric surrounding abortion condones — and at times advocated — violence against abortion providers. As he wrote:

Planned Parenthood, via Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

Planned Parenthood, via Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

This past Friday, a lunatic who lived in a shack with no running water or electricity killed three people in Colorado Springs, CO. He wound up going into a Planned Parenthood facility. Three people were killed. None of those were abortionists or patients. A pro-life Christian preacher/police officer was one of the victims.

At 3:30pm on Friday, while the facts were shifting and things were still unknown, I was already getting emails from leftists blaming me, my rhetoric, RedState, talk radio, Center for Medical Progress videos, etc. for the killings. Again, at that time the facts were still unknown and even now a lot of facts are unknown. The man was neither a church goer nor a pro-life activist. He was a lunatic.

However, only four short paragraphs down the page (and on Twitter, promoting his post), Erickson condoned — and perhaps advocated — violence against Planned Parenthood:

It really is surprising more Planned Parenthood facilities and abortionists are not being targeted. It speaks to the pro-life movement being faith based and turning to their better angels.

Cecile Richards is about the closest we have come in the United States to Joseph Mengele. Under her leadership at Planned Parenthood, doctors have been killing children and harvesting the children’s organs. In some cases, the children are born alive. In some case, whole children are born and then carved up.

The cognitive dissonance is strong with this one. The one-sentence version of Erickson’s argument is “not that I’m happy about it, but Planned Parenthood workers who face threats of violence deserve what’s coming to them.” In a post supposedly responding to the claim that rhetoric such as his incites violence against abortion providers, Erickson incited violence against abortion providers.

Also, it really isn’t surprising that more Planned Parenthood facilities aren’t being targeted. Republican-controlled states are in the process of legislating locations out of existence. There simply aren’t that many left to target (as the Onion satirized yesterday).

Even Mike Huckabee, an out-and-out theocrat, has found it in him to acknowledge that the self-described pro-life movement has a responsibility to condemn and denounce violence against Planned Parenthood given Robert Dear’s motivations. It’s high time the rest of their community got on board. However, if they insist on continuing to justify violence against abortion providers, they have to take the equivalences that come with it. As Brian Beutler wrote today:

If conservatives had their way, the media would consider it off limits to describe Dear as Christian or right wing or anti-abortion—let alone to reference a generic concept like right-wing Christian terrorism—because we don’t know all the facts, and because even if it turns out he’s all of those things, his actions don’t reflect the values of Christian conservatism.

These are understandable desires, but they’re also precisely what animates liberal opposition to “radical Islam” terminology. If conservatives find it alienating to see their religious and ideological convictions conflated with terrorism in the media, then surely it must be alienating to Muslims when they hear the same language from people trying to convince them to enlist against ISIS. But it turns out those most inclined to take up a rhetorical war against “radical Islamic terror” are the same people who get upset when anyone calls a radical Christian a terrorist.

It bears repeating that by equating Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards with an Auschwitz murderer, and by suggesting that US citizens would be well within their moral authority to take high-caliber weapons to Planned Parenthood locations more often, Erick Erickson is condoning — and perhaps advocating — influencing government policy through violence. And the FBI’s got a word for that: terrorism.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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14 Responses to “Erick Erickson insulted by claim he incited violence against Planned Parenthood, incites violence against Planned Parenthood”

  1. Rebecca Jones says:

    This is ridiculous and a perfect example of white terrorism within the United States how can we condemn terrorism committed by people of nationalities other than the united states then see crimes like this as just a crime, just a murder, this is no difference to any other terrorism. The fact that makes this worse is that some people are even trying to explain why this happened as if in some horrific way the perpetrators could have any rational reason for doing this. American media needs to start explaining these stories in full showing that there is such a thing as a white christian terrorist.

  2. LanceThruster says:

    Rethuglican histrionics cannot failed, they can only be failed.

  3. DGT says:

    Actually, members of religions other than Christianity who incite this type of violence are summarily executed without trial.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/30/magazine/the-lessons-of-anwar-al-awlaki.html

  4. Jon Green says:

    Yep! Fetal tissue research is awesome and good and was approved by a nearly unanimous (as in, bipartisan) vote in the Senate years ago. That doesn’t speak to whether it counts as terrorism for someone to shoot up a Planned Parenthood in an attempt to get the government to shut the organization down over the practice (I think we all agree it fits the FBI’s definition), but good to add!

  5. Cynthia Williams says:

    Since you failed to elucidate on the meaning of your comment, i.e. :” sounds like a pretty explicit claim as to what the government should do about fetal tissue research to me.” I shall merely direct you to information on what the use of donated fetal tissue has accomplished.
    http://www.usnews.com/news/slideshows/top-discoveries-from-fetal-tissue-research/2

    http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20150929/fetal-tissue-research

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    Right wingers who incite violence with hate speech are accomplices to that violence and if we had a decent hate crimes act, they’d be prosecuted.

  7. Indigo says:

    Offending Eric Erickson is easy. Just mention his name in a context that includes facts and he’s offended.

  8. BeccaM says:

    Influencing government policy and intimidating people through implied and explicit threats of violence and murder should they fail to comply with the forced-pregnancy agenda of the radical Christianist conservative far-far right. It’s terrorism all right.

    And Erick “Erick” Erickson is an apologist for terrorists and his equating Cecile Richards with Josef Mengele means only one thing: He wants someone to murder her, and he’s using the exact language of Blood Libel to advocate for it.

  9. ComradeRutherford says:

    “Because if we take pro-life rhetoric seriously then violence sounds like a perfectly reasonable response.”

    Because violence is Pro-Life? See, I can’t be a Republican because I can’t stoop down that low. I can’t accept hypocrisy as a way of life.

  10. Gary Harmer says:

    Erickson (among others) needs his worthless, ignorant, inbred, bigoted ass kicked in the worse way. I’d like to volunteer my services and time to aid in this worthy effort!

  11. Ol' Hippy says:

    Home grown terrorists are a far bigger problem than foreign ones. And yes, these acts would qualify as domestic terrorism. When health care providers can’t work in peace because these “activists” are calling to arms, one has to reassess the actual motivations involved. These people see a loss of control as a prime motivator and violence is one, albeit a dreadful one, way to restore order in their lives. The easiest way is to control women’s rights as expressed in biblical literature, as the “ownership” of their women. It’s a means of control by power through violence, an ancient effective way to achieve a goal. It’s now time for the moderates to call the extreme ones what they really are, old school type bullies, to reach a peace by letting people control their own destinies. Let go of control and live your own lives and leave others alone in the process. Quit imposing your(sic) narrow views on others, abortions aren’t criminal, your actions are.

  12. therling says:

    I just wanted to point that out because I recently got into an Internet Bickering Match with someone who tried to use the FBI definition to claim that the attack on Planned Parenthood “wasn’t terrorism because PP is not a government organization.”

  13. Jon Green says:

    Sure, any one of the three is sufficient, although they seem like variations of the same general theme. But given the context, “no more baby parts” sounds like a pretty explicit claim as to what the government should do about fetal tissue research to me.

  14. therling says:

    The FBI’s definition of terrorism doesn’t necessarily mean that an act has to be an attempt to influence government policy. Note the “or” just before the third clause, which means that one of the three motivating factors is sufficient to judge an act as “terrorism,” though often all three are involved.

    “Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping;”

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