A solitary 57-year-old man, in a terroristic act, allegedly opened fire inside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on the day after Thanksgiving. He wounded nine and slaughtered three, including a police officer who was an elder in his church, an Iraqi veteran who died trying to warn others and a mother of two who had accompanied a friend to the clinic.
Authorities say the motivation of the shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, is not yet fully known, but they know that he held anti-abortion, anti-government views and that, in remarks after his arrest, he said “no more baby parts,” almost certainly a reference to the high-profile, heavily distorted videos that made the rounds in recent months.
Those videos were part of a decadeslong stretch of hateful, inflammatory rhetoric and periodic violence employed to limit the constitutional right of a woman to control her body. So intense has the vitriol become that Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois went on television to castigate Planned Parenthood while the shooter was still in the clinic. The “barbaric videos” were a legitimate concern, he said, noting that if Planned Parenthood was not targeted by an anti-abortion shooter he would “fully expect an apology” from the organization that did not yet know at that point how many lay dead in its Colorado clinic.
In the words of President Obama, enough is enough. Americans have been split by the abortion issue since the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. That rift will not knit together anytime soon, and those on both sides of the issue have every right to continue to peacefully express their views. But the warlike attitude that brooks no compromise, only surrender, must end before it feeds further violence. Interestingly, those who wage endless war against the constitutional right to an abortion tend to also be intolerant of those who would restrain in any way another constitutional right — to bear arms.
One of the foundations of this nation is that it is one of laws. That was the genius of this country’s founders. They knew, as Aristotle said, that “the law is reason free from passion.” If Americans allow themselves to be governed instead by the passions of the moment, the country risks a descent into chaos, where facts and logic are ignored for hot rhetoric.
In a season of peace, let those on both sides look for ways to come together.