Martha Goldberg writes at the Guardian:
This April, a leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security warned about a possible outbreak of right-wing violence. “Paralleling the current national climate, right-wing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members,” the report said, mentioning opposition to gun control, free trade, abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as racial antagonism.
Conservatives howled in protest, complaining that the government was demonising their ideology. But the DHS was on to something. Experts who study the far right saw the rhetoric in various extremist movements ratcheting up. Brian Levin, director of the centre for the study of hate and extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, is a former cop who often consults with law enforcement. For the far right, he said, Obama’s election signaled that “the country has now become the cesspool that they’ve been warning about. When people feel so disenfranchised, or an event has taken place that for an extremist is considered so pivotal, it makes sense that we look at what these extremists are saying, because someone is listening.”
I’ll certainly stipulate that most anti-abortion activists are peaceful; however, they rarely denounced the harsh rhetoric that was routinely directed at the murder victim. Tiller was regularly maligned by mainstream anti-abortion groups as an “executioner,” somebody who “routinely killed the babies of women.” And the message was dutifully amplified by O’Reilly, who used his Fox megaphone to warn that anybody refusing to “stop” Tiller would have “blood on their hands.” (This climate, of course, has been nurtured for years. Tiller is the fourth slain doctor. He was shot in both arms in 1994 by a woman who vocally praised the slaying of a Florida doctor five months earlier. That Florida doctor had been targeted by anti-abortion militants who had put his face and home number on a poster, emblazoned with the word “Wanted.”)
Actually, the fatal bullet fired Sunday by suspect Scott Roeder has pierced the heart of the anti-abortion credo. The underlying premise of the movement is that the alleged immorality of abortion is more important than its legality. The movement perceives abortion to be a sin against God (as they interpret sin, as they interpret God), and the rights of those who disagree with them are immaterial. In other words, they didn’t care that Tiller was operating within the law, because their concept of the law is more spiritual (as only they define it).