Over the past week, my Facebook newsfeed has been bombarded with articles and comments about the recent Planned Parenthood attack in Colorado. Their contents have been varied- some articles identify pro-life activists with “homegrown terrorists,” while others accuse the media of demonstrating a bias against the pro-life movement. Both liberals and conservatives have taken a stance on the recent shooting, and between the conflicting data, it’s hard to tell what really happened.
According to most media sites, this is what happened: a crazed pro-life advocate stormed into a Planned Parenthood clinic and began shooting at everyone in sight, eventually killing three people, including a police officer and veteran. According to most news agencies, Robert Dear was just one of many pro-life extremists, a brand of “homegrown terrorist” that has been protected by conservatives. While Republicans waste their breath screaming about potential terrorists among refugees, they hide the true danger: pro-life advocates living right here in the United States who are clearly more of a threat than ISIS infiltration. As they’ve repeatedly reminded our country, Muslim extremists should not be equated with Islam. Islam is fundamentally a peaceful religion, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that welcoming myriads of Muslim refugees would increase our chances of letting a terrorist cross our borders. According to most media sites, this most recent Planned Parenthood shooting is just another affirmation that we need to forget about our worries concerning potential terrorists masquerading as refugees and focus on a real threat: pro-life activists.
In reality, even Planned Parenthood has admitted that none of the people shot during the attack were staff or patients at the facility, and most wounded were actually police officers arriving at the scene. Furthermore, the attack, contrary to most news sites, didn’t occur inside the Planned Parenthood clinic. According to the police report, Dear was outside the facility when he open-fired on those men and women in the immediate area. It seems unlikely that Dear was targeting those involved in the abortion industry. Though some of the victims were accompanying friends seeking abortions, even the local Planned Parenthood office admitted that they could not be sure that Planned Parenthood had been the target. In fact, one of those killed, police officer Garrett Swasey, was pro-life himself and a co-pastor in his church.
It seems highly suspicious that a man who is supposedly a pro-life extremist would shoot a fellow pro-life activist. In reality, the only reason that the media jumped to the conclusion that Dear was a pro-life activist was because he supposedly mentioned “no more baby parts” as he was being arrested, but those who knew him best asserted that Dear had never expressed pro-life sentiments before. They also affirmed that the man was not at all religious and was most likely mentally unstable. Not exactly the pro-life extremist that the liberal media has painted for us.
But so what? So what if the media skewed the data to make a point? So what if news reports misrepresented the truth of the shooting to get at a deeper truth? So what? Because this is not the first time that a Planned Parenthood has been bombed or abortionists have been shot. This is not the first time that Planned Parenthood has become the target of violence by pro-life extremists. Even if Robert Dear wasn’t really a pro-life activist, there have certainly been others who were (though certainly less than the media would have us believe, as other bloggers have pointed out). There have been extremists who have threatened the lives of abortionists and nurses, who have planted bombs in Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. So what if the most recent accusations turn out to be false? Some have argued that the liberal media has merely taken some creative license with the facts to get a more important point across. We shouldn’t give them a slap on the wrist for their actions, they tell us; we should give them a medal.
Even if the most recent shooting at Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with the pro-life movement, the truth remains: pro-life activists are more dangerous than ISIS infiltrators. We actually know that the former exist; the latter is just a hypothesis. Because let’s be honest: we’re not trying to keep out Muslim extremists. We’re trying to keep out helpless little Muslim orphans. Let’s just let the refugees flood our borders- even though we don’t have the means to run background checks on all of them- we have a greater threat right here in our midst. We shouldn’t spend all this time and energy worrying about Muslim extremists when we have so many homegrown terrorists living among us. And we’re not talking about Muslims; we’re talking about pro-life advocates.
Before I continue, let me set a few things straight. First of all, I don’t think that all Muslims are terrorists. I’m sure that there are plenty of peace-seeking Muslims living right here in America and abroad. I don’t think that all refugees are secretly terrorists either. The vast majority are families with children who are trying to escape violence. I also think that if some of these young men and women are really Muslim extremists, there are easier ways for them to infiltrate our country. Masquerading as a refugee would not be the ideal way to invade, as has been pointed out by other bloggers. But that doesn’t mean that we should let them all flood our borders, especially when we can’t run background checks on them all. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to be prudent when dealing with refugees. Yes, we should want to help the refugees, but sometimes we just have to admit that we can’t do everything. And if we don’t have the manpower to run background checks on these men and women, then we might need to take some precautions to protect ourselves. Because even if most refugees are not Muslim extremists, we’d be leaving ourselves vulnerable to future terrorist attacks if we can’t even take the most basic precautions to protect ourselves. It’s true- not all Muslims are terrorists, but we cannot overlook the obvious fact that some Muslims are.
And I think this is where we find the biggest difference between pro-life and Muslim extremists. A pro-life extremist is really a contradiction, at least if we’re assuming that pro-life extremists are those advocates who use violence to promote their cause. In truth, I think as soon as a pro-life activist wants to turn to violence, they’ve ceased being pro-life. They’ve abandoned their cause. Because the pro-life movement is fundamentally pro-life. Pro-life advocates are fighting for the right to life and the dignity of the human person. This dignity extends to all men and women, regardless of their circumstances. The right to life extends to everyone: the unborn, the elderly, the mentally handicapped, and our enemies. There are no exceptions. A fundamental principle of the pro-life movement is that all people deserve the right to life. Even if we disagree with them. Even if they want to murder millions of innocent children. We can pray for their conversion, but we cannot kill them. If you act against that principle, you cannot be pro-life. You cannot seek to protect one life and end another. Once you choose to act against life, you cannot be pro-life. It’s a violation of logic.
To put it crudely, wearing the right uniform does not make you a baseball player. In fact, putting on a glove and holding a ball don’t make you a baseball player. Playing baseball makes you a baseball player. You can say that you’re a baseball player, but if you never swing a bat or throw a ball, you’re just lying to yourself. The same applies to the “pro-life” extremist who wants to kill and destroy. You can claim that you’re pro-life, but your actions will always betray you. If what you say and what you do contradict, it will be your actions that inevitably define you. And the Planned Parenthood shooter will always betray himself as fundamentally anti-life.
The same cannot be said of the Muslim extremist. In the end, a pro-life extremist has betrayed his cause, and thus can no longer be considered truly pro-life. A Muslim extremist has not betrayed his cause. Yes, there are plenty of Muslims who seek peace through peaceful tactics, but there are also Muslims who seek peace by eradicating everyone who disagrees with them. There are two ways to work for unity: either you evangelize peacefully and pray for those who will not convert, or you evangelize until you come across a group that will not convert- and then you kill them.
So which interpretation is correct? Which interpretation is more “Muslim?” Are those peaceful Muslims traitors to their faith, as ISIS maintains, or is ISIS the anomaly that must be explained? Are Muslim terrorists more faithful followers of Muhammad, or have they betrayed their cause?
Let’s start with the life of Islam’s greatest prophet, Muhammad. Was he a man of peace or a man of war? Regardless of our opinion of modern-day Muslims, we have to admit that Muhammad did not convert with love and peace. He conquered people, often forcing them to convert to Islam as he threatened their lives. The original Muslim conversion tactic was convert or die. I think that ISIS would approve.
You can attempt to rationalize Muhammad’s actions, but in the end, we have to admit that he was a man of violence. I don’t care why he held hostages for ransom and bought and sold human beings as sex slaves. I don’t care why he thought it was a good idea to overtake villages with this ultimatum: convert or die. I don’t care why he had those who spoke against his tactics assassinated. I don’t care why he did any of these things. The significant point is that he did them. These are not the actions of a man of peace.
But can a man of war be the founder of a religion of peace? I suppose it’s possible, albeit incredibly unlikely. Divine providence could intervene, preventing Muhammad’s violent tendencies from poisoning Allah’s religion. Surely, that’s what happened. The Qu’ran assuredly teaches peace and tolerance, right?
Wrong. In reality, the Qu’ran has not been hijacked by a handful of Muslim extremists. The terrorists are not misrepresenting the word of Allah. If anything, it’s those Muslims who desire peace and tolerance who are misrepresenting the word of Allah (not that I’m too upset about that fact). Yes, the earliest sections of the Qu’ran call for tolerance and peace, particularly when dealing with those “people of the Book” (i.e. Jews and Christians), but in later sections, Muhammad’s writings become more and more violent. Why? Perhaps there was a change of heart. Perhaps Muhammad began as a pacifist, but eventually opted for more violent tactics of terror in his quest for conversions to Islam. Or perhaps violence was his preferred method all along, but he needed to attract more converts before instituting more violent methods of conversion. I cannot say for certain what his motivations were, but the progression towards violence is apparent. The Qu’ran instructs that those who resist conversion should be “killed, crucified, have their hands and feet cut off on opposite sides, or banished from the land” (Sura 5:33). Well, I guess exile might be considered tolerant, especially when considering the alternative actions that could be taken. Not exactly peaceful though.
In another section of the Qu’ran, Muhammad goes on to describe how Allah’s prophet had 600 Jews executed, while the Jewish women and children were sold into slavery, which was most likely sexual in nature (Sura 33:25). Not exactly what you would expect from a man who was supposedly a prophet of peace.
While it’s true that there are portions of the Qu’ran that discuss peace and unity, other portions of the Qu’ran- and the actions of the prophet Muhammad himself- suggest just how Allah expected this peace and unity to come about: through war, violence, and death. I admire those Muslims who uphold a personal belief in the importance of love, peace, and tolerance, but I cannot say that they follow Muhammad more closely than their extremist counterparts do. In the end, Muhammad was a terrorist himself. He did not preach love; he brought fear and death wherever he went. Today’s Muslim extremists are just following in their leader’s footsteps.
ISIS is not an anomaly for Islam, even if such extremists are an anomaly among modern Muslims. Even if the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, even if most of them seek peace and unity through non-violence, the truth remains that those Muslims who do choose death and destruction are not betraying the words of the Qu’ran or the actions of Muhammad, but are following them more faithfully. Unlike those supposed pro-life extremists who bomb clinics and shoot abortionists, ISIS is not betraying the Muslim quest for unity through total conversion. They are simply taking the words of the Qu’ran seriously. They are simply doing what Muhammad wanted them to do. They are simply doing what Allah has told them to do. And that’s the kind of extremist that poses the greatest threat, regardless of what the media might want to tell us.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!