A little more than a week ago, someone walked into a Planned Parenthood and started shooting – killing people for being less “pro-life” than he was. He was an evangelical with a history of violence against women. The particular clinic, the people who died, the details of the event – those are new, and unique. But people killing people over some lose affiliation with abortion? I have memories of that happening consistently over the course of my life, damn near in my back yard. There were the summer and Christmas clinic bombings in 1984, the doctor shot in the back in 1993, and another shot in the head in 1994 – all in my small hometown.
In the 1994 Washington Post story, then-President Bill Clinton called the act of shooting a physician because s/he provides or supports the provision of abortions “domestic terrorism” and condemned it. While I’ve recently suggested that the risk of ‘everyday terrorism’ discourses is a license for ‘counterterrorism’ in intimate spaces, and have always worried about the Orientalist implications of terrorism language – this one is easy – killings that target abortion clinics are terrorism. They are a part of a larger system of violence against women and girls, and a culture that combines sexism and violence. That’s not something new to say. Someone probably said it before I was born. I don’t have anything new to say. Because nothing different is happening. Same script, different century. Its not about saying something new. Its about someone finally fucking hearing it – abortion clinics aren’t places to kill people, women’s bodies aren’t crazy and unrelated men’s business, and so long as it is easier to buy an arsenal than it is to enroll in school there’s a risk that people buy and use arsenals.
Some of my conservative friends look to make a counterpoint out of San Bernardino shootings – those were acts of terrorism, after all, by Islamic extremists inspired by Daesh. But there’s no counterpoint there. Its not scarier for people to kill people out of a terrible misinterpretation of the Islamic god than out of a terrible misinterpretation of the Christian god. Both are made possible by a culture of violence and the availability of weapons. Both are unconscionable. And both have been going on way too long.
I’m tired of responding to either. And I’m tired of sexist, racist, politically polarizing responses to something that should be not about sex, race, or politics: militarized culture, not ok; killing people in the name of life, not ok; killing people who aren’t trying toil you, not ok. I don’t have anything new to say, because I’ve said the same damn thing every time violence like that happens, and, however loudly it is said, … it seems to drown in the combination of religious and nationalist rhetoric with which both of these events, and many others like and unlike them, are normalized.