We've reached a tipping point in America's political discourse. The shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility is merely the latest in an increasingly alarming series of tragedies connected to political issues, each of which has been notably distorted by conservatives — or in the case of the Planned Parenthood shooting, almost completely ignored — throughout the past year and beyond. So far, attacks have occurred in relation to the following: immigration, Muslims inside the U.S., reproductive rights, LGBT equality and racial justice.
As far-right propaganda grows louder and increasingly divorced from objective reality, it seems as if incidents of violence have escalated accordingly. While there might not be a direct one-to-one correlation, it's obvious to anyone paying attention that the GOP's eliminationist rhetoric, intentionally or not, serves to inflame those who are already prone to radicalism and violence.
In the wake of the legalization of same-sex marriage and one of Summer 2015's biggest issues -- Kim Davis's refusal to authorize marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- there have been 12 attacks and counting against gay men in the Dallas suburb of Oak Lawn alone. In a statement released by Rally for Change, the extent of the attacks were described like so:
“Survivors have been beaten with bats, stabbed with box cutters, pistol whipped and pummeled with fists. In several of these attacks, homophobic language has been used by the assailants.”
The 12th attack occurred two weeks ago when Geoffrey Hubbard was bashed in the skull by an assailant shouting anti-gay epithets.
Of course, anti-gay hate crimes have been around for quite some time, but when the conservative movement ratchets up its language about same-sex marriage — suggesting that it not only signifies the end of traditional marriage but, more importantly, the end of America, and, in some cases, the literal End Times — it shouldn't be a surprise that violence would increase in turn.
Black Lives Matter
Prior to the most recent attack against Planned Parenthood, the next most recent instance of harrowing gun violence surrounded Black Lives Matter protests in Minneapolis. In addition, to disturbingly frequent incidents of police violence precipitating the rise of BLM in the first place, white supremacists have begun to infiltrate protests, opening fire on the peaceful activists on at least two occasions.
It's difficult to look at these stories without flashing back to statements by various Republicans who believe that BLM activists are the real killers.
“I don’t believe that that movement should be justified when they’re calling for the murder of police officers, no.”
“If you look at the Black Lives Matter movement, one of the most disturbing things is more than one of their protests have embraced rabid rhetoric, rabid anti-police language, literally suggesting and embracing and celebrating the murder of police officers. That is disgraceful.”
“They’re an extreme group, the Nazi party. #BlackLivesMatter is also an extreme group.”
Anyone following Donald Trump's campaign should be quite familiar with stories of anti-immigrant violence. According to ThinkProgress:
Trump supporters have told immigrant activists to “clean my hotel room, bitch;” shouted “if it ain’t white, it ain’t right” while ripping up posters; told Latino U.S. citizens to “go home” while grabbing their hair and spitting on them; told prominent journalist and U.S. citizen Jorge Ramos to “get out of my country;” joked “you can shoot all the people you want that cross illegally;” and beat up and urinated on the homeless. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of incidents against Latinos.
The attack on the Latino homeless man was carried out by two self-identified Trump supporters while the GOP candidate's anti-immigration plan was among the top political stories of its news cycle.
While certain types of religion-based hate crimes have dropped slightly, violence against Muslim-Americans is on the rise -- by 14 percent nationally according to the FBI. Case in point: Dearborn, Michigan's Arab-American population has seen a significant increase in anti-Muslim violence against citizens and mosques alike. Again, the GOP's anti-Syrian-refugee demagoguery and suggestions that anyone who attends a mosque could be an ISIS sleeper waiting to strike at any moment.
Or worse. Michele Bachmann on Monday tweeted an article that suggested Syrian refugees are interested in gang-raping Americans, even though there's zero evidence to verify such an outlandish claim. But as we've witnessed on countless occasions, nonsense like this tends to resonate inside the far-right bubble.
Prior to the Black Friday attack in Colorado Springs, there were at least two other recent attacks against Planned Parenthood facilities in both Thousand Oaks, California, and Pullman, Washington. All three attacks can easily be labeled domestic terrorism -- a phrase which the GOP can't quite bring itself to repeat.
The abortion issue is particularly incendiary for anti-choice zealots who believe Planned Parenthood is butchering children in a second Holocaust. Add to the mix a series of deceptively-edited videos alleging that the healthcare provider is harvesting and selling "baby parts" on the black market. Of course seven state-level investigations, along with an HHS investigation and a series of debunkings by various independent fact-checkers have disproved this claim dozens of times over. However, it's nearly impossible for, you know, facts to overcome visions of dismembered fetuses collectively stirring some vigilantes to violently lash out against women and healthcare clinics like Planned Parenthood.
When we combine these stories with inflammatory pro-gun rhetoric by the National Rifle Association and its puppets inside the GOP -- rhetoric that's included the use of the phrase "Second Amendment remedies," it's easy to see why far-right radicals are taking matters into their own hands. In many cases, they believe it's their responsibility as Americans to use their Second Amendment rights, which many believe includes all forms of weaponry including explosives, to resolve issues pertaining to the alleged end of America as we know it.
The far-right, and especially the NRA, is never bashful about suggesting that mass shootings can be touched off by outside influences like video games or rap music. At least, this is what we heard in the wake of Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Aurora. Germane to current events, Republicans have flatly stated that Black Lives Matter and its so-called anti-cop language will lead to more violence against cops. So why, by the same token, can't the men and women spreading lies and propaganda about women, Muslims, African-Americans, gays and immigrants be equally if not more influential when it comes to deadly violence? After all, we're talking about very serious presidential candidates and national leaders who are marketing in hate speech. And it's time for Americans of all political parties to begin holding accountable the usual suspects who seriously believe they can incite violence with impunity.