News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
The Terrorists Who Aren't in the News
By Jennifer L. Pozner, AlterNet
Posted on November 11, 2006
On Sept. 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the terror
attacks that devastated our nation, a man crashed his car
into a building in Davenport, Iowa, hoping to blow it up and
kill himself in the fire.
No national newspaper, magazine or network newscast reported
this attempted suicide bombing, though an AP wire story was
available. Cable news (save for MSNBC's Keith Olbermann) was
silent about this latest act of terrorism in America.
Had the criminal, David McMenemy, been Arab or Muslim, this
would have been headline news for weeks. But since his
target was the Edgerton Women's Health Center, rather than,
say, a bank or a police station, media have not called this
terrorism -- even after three decades of extreme violence by
anti-abortion fanatics, mostly fundamentalist Christians who
believe they're fighting a holy war.
Since 1977, casualties from this war include seven murders,
17 attempted murders, three kidnappings, 152 assaults, 305
completed or attempted bombings and arsons, 375 invasions,
482 stalking incidents, 380 death threats, 618 bomb threats,
100 acid attacks, and 1,254 acts of vandalism, according to
the National Abortion Federation.
Abortion providers and activists received 77 letters
threatening anthrax attacks before 9/11, yet the media never
considered anthrax threats as terrorism until after 9/11,
when such letters were delivered to journalists and members
After 9/11, Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights
groups received 554 envelopes containing white powder and
messages like: "You have been exposed to anthrax. . . . We
are going to kill all of you." They were signed by the Army
of God, a group that hosts Scripture-filled web pages for
"Anti-Abortion Heroes of the Faith," including minister Paul
Hill, Michael Griffin and James Kopp, all convicted of
murdering abortion providers, and a convicted clinic bomber,
the Rev. Michael Bray. Another of their "martyrs," Clayton
Waagner, mailed anthrax letters while a fugitive on the
FBI's 10 most wanted list for anti-abortion related crimes.
"I am a terrorist," Waagner declared on the Army of God's
web site. Boasting that God "freed me to make war on his
enemy," he claimed he knew where 42 Planned Parenthood
workers lived. "It doesn't matter to me if you're a nurse,
receptionist, bookkeeper, or janitor, if you work for the
murderous abortionist, I'm going to kill you."
That's textbook terrorism, defined by the USA Patriot Act as
dangerous criminal acts that "appear to be intended to
intimidate or coerce a civilian population" or "to influence
the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion."
Which brings us back to car bomber, McMenemy. According to
the Detroit Free Press (the only newspaper in the Nexis news
database that reported his crime), he targeted the women's
health center because he thought it provided abortions. It
doesn't. (oops!) It provides mostly low-income patients with
pap smears, ob-gyn care, testing for sexually transmitted
diseases, birth control, and nutrition and immunization
programs for women and children.
The attack caused $170,000 in property damage and left poor
families without health care for a week. But long after
Edgerton's water-logged carpets are removed, scorched
medical equipment replaced and new doors reopened to the
public, a culture of fear will linger among doctors, nurses,
advocates and patients across the country, who will worry
they could be next. Some frightened workers will quit their
jobs; some women will be too scared to get the health care
Every fresh incident of anti-abortion terrorism is a
reminder that women's health supporters are not safe in a
country where abortion is legal but mobilized zealots
believe Jesus has empowered them to kill to prevent women
from choosing it.
Is McMenemy a lone nut case, or a member of that network of
violent extremists? We don't know, because journalists
Nor have they reported that just last year, nearly one in
five abortion clinics experienced gunfire, arson, bombings,
chemical attacks, assaults, stalking, death threats and
blockades, according to the 2005 National Clinic Violence
Survey. Additionally, 59 percent suffered intimidation
tactics such as photo/video surveillance.
Federal efforts to hunt down these terrorists improved with
the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in 1994 and
the National Task Force on Violence Against Health Care
Providers, established by the Department of Justice in 1998.
The feds have taken over McMenemy's case, charging him with
arson against a business affecting interstate commerce. Yet
as of Oct. 5, no news outlet on Nexis reported this, despite
a second AP story.
As we continue national debates on how to keep America safe
from terrorism, journalists do us -- and especially women --
no good pretending that the threats come only from radical
Muslims outside our borders.
Jennifer L. Pozner is founder and executive director of
Women In Media & News, a national media analysis, education
and advocacy group.
Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
"Don't just question authority,
Don't forget to question me."
-- Jello Biafra