This afternoon, anti-abortion activist and former Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry went ahead with his second press conference in as many weeks at the National Press Club, the first of which was held in the immediate aftermath of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas. As promised, there were hot wings and Guinness. But there was also an ominous warning that the Obama administration may be making more violent attacks “inevitable.”
I asked Terry whether he’d received any complaints or criticism for proceeding with his event despite the tragic murder just yesterday of Holocaust Museum security guard Stephen T. Johns at the hands of a right-wing extremist. He responded, “we’ve had this in progress for about a week. If I had known we would have done it at a different time.”
But then Terry took a curious turn.“Let me preempt all the bloggers in the world, OK. Here’s where the bloggers are going to head.” Affecting a sneer, he added:
“The white supremacists and the pro-lifers really are terrorists. Just like that paper from Homeland Security said.” They’re going to try to lump pro-lifers with this lunatic man who walked in and killed this fine security guard…. The bloggers are gonna make–trust me–I’ll bet my last dollar. I’ll give you a thousand-to-one odds on a dollar bet. Mark my words everyone. Watch. And by the way, you know the Homeland Security paper that came out about I don’t know six, eight weeks ago? This list of all these bad people. And now they’re gonna go “See! She was right! Pro-lifers and these white Idaho minute men or whoever they are–they’re all bad! They’re a threat to America! They all should be tried for terrorism and sedition!”
Fair enough–I hadn’t mentioned the DHS report, but OK.
He didn’t stop there, though. In response to a follow up question from The Washington Independent‘s Dave Weigel about the correlation between violent right wing extremism and Democratic administrations, Terry recalled a quote, which he believed to have originated with either Robert or John F. Kennedy: “When you make peaceful protest impossible, you make violent protest inevitable,” adding, “I can promise you this–there is visceral contempt for this administration,” in the pro-life community.
Terry spent much of his presentation drawing a tortured analogy between abortion and slavery. Pro-life Americans, Terry said, are the ethical heirs of Northern abolitionists, who refused to flinch when the violent Nat Turner rebellion sent Southern slave owners into an angry panic. Tiller’s murder, he reasoned, was like the Turner rebellion–the sort of event that becomes inevitable when systemic injustice thrives. “They want to blame our rhetoric,” Terry said. “They don’t want to face that child killing has something so insidious inside of it that it will boil over and create havoc and heartache and violence.”
Ed note: The quote Terry referenced comes from JFK: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Late Update: Here’s the audio of Terry’s presser.