ANALYSIS

Amid all the gloating, anti-abortion right dreams of bigger wins — and possible violence

On social media, far right dunks extensively, promises national abortion ban and "thousand-year White Boy Summer"

Published June 24, 2022 6:35PM (EDT)

Don Jr., Dinesh D'Souza and Paul Gosar (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Don Jr., Dinesh D'Souza and Paul Gosar (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

The news that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing for immediate abortion bans in at least nine new states across the country by Friday afternoon, with the near certainty of many more to come, has led to an onslaught of celebratory statements from the right, ranging from the tepid and quasi-responsible to the gleeful and ghoulish to ominous warnings from extremists itching for violence. A warning: Some of this is really foul. 

The bad

Starting from the head of the snake, Donald Trump sent an email blast claiming credit for the ruling. "Today's decision, which is the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation, along with other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised." 

Across Twitter, many leading conservatives enthusiastically agreed, with right-wing talk show host Michael Knowles tweeting that "Trump's victory in 2016 ended the constitutional 'right' to abortion. He has secured his place as one of the greatest and most consequential presidents in American history." 

Ned Ryun, the CEO of American Majority, a right-wing activist training organization, concurred, writing that "not even Reagan could accomplish this. In my mind, Trump is easily one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Republican President ever. Lincoln ended slavery. Trump ended Roe." 

Others used the moment to settle political scores, with multiple right-wing figures following the model of Federalist CEO Sean Davis, who tweeted at never-Trump Republican lawyer David French, "If you had gotten your way, today never would have happened." 

RELATED: The end of Roe v. Wade: American democracy is collapsing

Shortly after the decision was announced, Mike Pence undermined years of claims by the anti-abortion movement that it merely wanted to return the issue to the states. The former veep, treated as a hero by the Jan. 6 committee earlier this week, called for a nationwide ban on abortion: "Having been given this second chance for Life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land." 

In Texas, Zach Despart reported at the Texas Tribune, 14 Republican members of the state House signed onto a letter to the ride-sharing company Lyft, vowing to introduce legislation that would ban companies whose health insurance policies cover abortions from operating in Texas, as well as opening company executives up to criminal prosecution under laws that predate Roe but were never repealed. Rep. Briscoe Cain, who led the group of lawmakers, warned Lyft's CEO that Texas would "take swift and decisive action" unless the company rescinded a pledge to pay for the travel expenses of employees who have to go out of state to seek an abortion, as well as to cover any legal costs for Lyft drivers targeted under Texas' "bounty-hunter" bill, which allows private citizens to sue anyone they believe was involved in procuring an abortion. 

Also in Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced he was closing his office for the day "and making it an annual holiday — as a memorial to the 70 million lives lost bc of abortion." 

Some Republican politicians, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, announced plans to "introduce a proposal to support mothers and their babies so that every child has a real opportunity to pursue the promise of America." Among some professional anti-abortion organizations, there was similar talk. 

But the predominant mood was the celebration of victory after decades of activism. Some, like Sidewalk Advocates for Life, declared that the fight wasn't fully won, and that activists who have protested outside abortion provider clinics for years would still be needed to intercept patients outside providers like Planned Parenthood that might refer women to abortion providers out of state. 

Many, following Pence, vowed to go further. Catherine Glenn Foster, CEO of Americans United for Life, called for enshrining anti-abortion laws in all states and at the federal level, saying, "We must clarify, as a constitutional matter as much as a matter of fundamental justice, that abortion shall not exist in the United States of America." The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, of the crisis pregnancy center-affiliated Stanton Public Policy Center, likewise said, "The pro-life/human rights community will never rest or be silent until abortion is unthinkable and ends up on the scrapheap of history like chattel slavery and segregation." 

The ugly 

Beyond the official responses, right-wing social media personalities reveled in the anguish of millions of Americans outraged by the decision — and counseled their fellow-travelers to join in the gloating. 

"Don't be shy about delighting in the leftist tears today," tweeted right-wing podcaster Matt Walsh. "You deserve to feel this joy and they deserve to feel this despair. So rub it in their faces, by all means. Have fun with it." 


Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.


Walsh certainly took his own advice, tweeting, "I could not think of a better way to end Pride Month." (In response, the prominent right-wing Twitter account Libs of TikTok, which observed Pride Month by directing far-right rage at LGBTQ events around the country, responded with a "100% emoji" and the "ok" hand gesture associated with white supremacists and the extremist right.) 

On his father's struggling social media app, Truth Social, Donald Trump, Jr. posted a meme showing a man tipping the first of a series of oversize dominoes — labeled "Obama making fun of Trump at a dinner in 2011" — on the path to the final, largest domino to fall, labeled, "Roe v. Wade overruled." Junior captioned the meme, "Fuck around and find out!!!" 

There were all flavors of slavery and civil rights analogies, reflecting, in their combined incoherence, the far right's unhinged desire to be both the "Party of Lincoln" and the party of white grievance. Dinesh D'Souza tweeted, "Democratic segregationists went berserk after the Brown decision and we can expect Democratic pro-abortion types to go berserk now. It's ok. Civil rights progress never comes without some reactionary resistance." 

The Claremont Institute shared a picture of a Klansman and an abortion provider, standing side by side below a tree festooned with nooses. Former Trump administration and Turning Point USA staffer Collin Pruett responded to a tweet by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, warning that the SCOTUS ruling "brings us back to the 1850s," by writing "Lol is this a threat?" 

On Telegram, as NBC reporter Ben Collins noted, the largest Proud Boys channel competed to come up with the most ghoulish response. A sampling: "Whores are BIG mad." "Who wants to dig up RBG so we can tell her the good news?" "When leftists were putting coal miners out of work, they told them to 'Learn to Code.' When they complain that they can't get abortions, tell them 'LEARN TO SUCK DICK.'" And on incel forums, Collins added, posters were jubilant about the idea of women being raped. 

Jeff Tischauser, a senior researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center, similarly noted that on Telegram, far-right activists were discussing "how to use Dobbs to 'make life suck' for their left-leaning neighbors" — including by "stalking pregnant women to make sure they follow through" with their pregnancies, brandishing guns or burning crosses — as well as whether the decision merited declaring Justice Clarence Thomas "an 'honorary aryan.'" 

Elsewhere on social media, accounts posted memes of frat boys throwing up "victory" signs in front of a grave marked Roe v. Wade, declared that "A thousand year White Boy Summer" — a term associated with the white nationalist groyper movement — "starts today" and proclaimed that the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had "lived, and died, for nothing." 

The ominous 

Alongside the general ugliness, another theme emerged clearly on Friday afternoon: that the pro-choice left would imminently respond with violent riots. That narrative had been building from before the decision was announced. 

On Thursday, far-right Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., wrote on Gab, "Upon hearing the news that the Supreme Court will release additional rulings tomorrow, I would like to ask all patriots to please consider watching your local churches and pregnancy centers. If you see vandals and arsonists, call the authorities and record what you can." On Fox News, one host predicted "a summer of historic violence," while former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker expressed certainty that "Dems will use political violence." 

One Catholic right media outlet, LifeSiteNews, warned that Friday would witness a "radical pro-abortion extremist" "Night of Rage." Another such outlet, Church Militant — which, as Salon has reported before, has significant ties to far-right extremists involved in aggressive protests against both abortion and LGBTQ rights — asked during its livestream coverage, "Now are Catholics supposed to be afraid of going to churches? Buckle up, because this is going to be a summer of rage and you are going to see violence out there." 

But as Mollie O'Reilly of the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal reported, the same suggestions came from more official sources: The New York Archdiocese Respect Life Office issued a press release speculating about "the loud, angry, potentially violent response of the pro-abortion movement." 

Jared Holt, a researcher on domestic extremism and the internet at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, warned that all of this amounts to a familiar pattern. "I'm watching the far-right this morning lay down the same kind of prep work they did before violence in 2020 and the Capitol riot," Holt tweeted. "Claims that there are antifa infiltrators ready to make them look bad, that riots are a given, cops standing down, etc." 

From the preemptive responses across right-wing Twitter to the supposed threat of a night, or summer, of rage, it wasn't hard to imagine how that might play out, as one high-profile conservative figure after another repeated the same joking threat: The Supreme Court had wisely ruled in favor of dramatically loosening gun restrictions just before its Roe decision. 

Others, like Colton Duncan, a former Turning Point USA staffer turned political consultant for far-right Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, skipped the subtlety. He wrote in a long post that pro-choice protesters are "Nasty, ugly gender-confused animals" intent on "torch[ing] American cities" and doing "everything they can to tear down the fabric of America." Consequently, he continued, "They should be shot. …If you live in a big city, arm yourselves, Get ready to defend your homeland. Because the enemy is at the gate. If they threaten you or your livlihood [sic]…shoot to Kill." 

John Doyle, the self-described Christian fascist and America First/groyper affiliate who, as Salon recently reported, helped lead a vicious attack on an LGBTQ bar in Dallas earlier this month, followed the example set by Gosar, one of the groypers' staunchest allies. In posts on Instagram, reported journalist and researcher Nick Martin, Doyle called on his followers to defend churches and crisis pregnancy centers with "rifles" and "men," speculating about the situation "popping off."

In another post, a Proud Boys account issued a broader threat: "We will not tolerate political violence in our town. There are more of us than there are of you. We will be watching. And we are everywhere."

Read more from the Supreme Court and the fall of Roe v Wade:


By Kathryn Joyce

Kathryn Joyce is an investigative reporter at Salon, and the author of two books: "The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption" and "Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement."

MORE FROM Kathryn Joyce