In an article being shuttled around the social media, James Schlarmann compares the alleged silence of “white Christians” regarding the recent attacks on a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs to the silence of “moderate Muslims” concerning the atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State and its allies in different countries around the globe.
While the attractiveness of this comparison is understandable, since Christians (rightly) look to remove the plank from their own eye before removing the speck from their brother’s eye, in this case the comparison is invidious and misbegotten.
To make his case, Schlarmann makes use of a a 27-year-old Muslim woman, Anika Kaber, who apparently said she was “sickened” by the news of the shooting and that “she was outraged that more moderate, white Christians haven’t denounced the shooting as an act of terrorism, as so many demand of her whenever an act of terror is carried out in another part of the world under the banner of Islamic terrorism.”
There are three fundamental problems with this line of reasoning that should be borne in mind when speaking about the recent Colorado tragedy.
First, the 57-year-old shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, is not part of a radical Christian movement trying to found a Christian state based on the extermination of people who think differently from him. As far as reports have revealed thus far, Dear was not even a practicing Christian. He never seems to have justified his attack with quotations from the Bible nor invoked the name of God as a motive for his actions.
In other words, Dear has nothing in common with radical jihadists who seek the establishment of an “Islamic Caliphate” and justify their heinous acts of terrorism with quotations from the Qur’an.
Second, according to reports, Dear was a solitary figure and part of no network of any kind. That would mean his actions were completely unconnected from the actions of anyone else. If the shooting had been part of an ongoing series of attacks on Planned Parenthood facilities rather than an isolated incident, it would be incumbent on anyone associated with the perpetrators to distance themselves from the attacks by publicly condemning the illegal actions and the organization behind them. In this case, the nation grieves for yet another example of senseless violence, but no group, association or church is implicated.
A public outcry begging moderate Muslims to denounce the jihadist activities of the Islamic State came only after repeated attacks revealed a systematic terrorist enterprise in the name of Allah. If this were the case in Colorado Springs, every Christian group in the country would be stepping up to condemn it.
Third, it is false to say that Christians have not condemned the shooting. According to the Huffington Post, “Anti-abortion advocates were quick to condemn the shooting” despite the fact that it was “not yet clear what the motives for the attack were and whether Planned Parenthood was the intended target.”
In fact, David Daleiden, the head of the Center for Medical Progress, the group that released the series of damning videos of Planned Parenthood representatives discussing the sale of parts from the bodies of aborted human fetuses publicly denounced the shooting the very day it occurred.
“The Center for Medical Progress condemns the barbaric killing spree in Colorado Springs by a violent madman. We applaud the heroic efforts of law enforcement to stop the violence quickly and rescue the victims, and our thoughts and prayers are with the wounded, the lost, and their families,” Daleiden said in a statement.
A final word must be said about efforts to silence critics of Planned Parenthood in the aftermath of the horrible attack in Colorado Springs.
What Robert Lewis Dear did on Friday was reprehensible. Regardless of his motives, his actions were illegal and immoral and deserve nothing but reproach and condemnation.
This does not mean, however, that efforts to show the evil of Planned Parenthood’s activities are responsible for Dear’s actions or should be diminished in any way because of them. Planned Parenthood kills unborn children. Its executives have been caught on tape by investigative reporters openly discussing the sale of the organs of aborted fetuses. One Planned Parenthood doctor haggled over prices because she wanted to buy “a Lamborghini.”
Responsible journalists will continue exposing these horrendous crimes.
An example may help. The media have been applauded in recent decades for investigative reporting highlighting the evil of sexual abuse perpetrated against children. Because of this reporting, isolated incidents of deadly violence have occasionally been committed against abusers.
In 2004, shortly after the Boston Globe won a Pulitzer Prize for its exposé on clergy sexual abuse, child sex abuser and former Roman Catholic priest John Geoghan was strangled by a fellow inmate at a Massachusetts prison. Joseph Druce admitted to murdering Geoghan because of his crimes of sexual abuse of minors. No one blamed the Boston Globe for Druce’s actions or suggested that it should be any less vigilant in its reporting.
Though in his vigilantism Druce acted in an immoral way against the evil actions of Geoghan, this didn’t make Geoghan’s actions any less evil. Newspapers rightly didn’t stop reporting on child abuse for fear that others might feel empowered to take the law into their own hands and hunt down abusers.
Robert Lewis Dear’s November 27 shooting was tragic, and all Americans—Christians and non-Christians—should condemn the killings and mourn the victims.
Reports and exposés on the evils of Planned Parenthood, however, cannot be deemed responsible for the actions of those who would act in an immoral fashion. The responsibility is completely their own.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome