'Killing for Life'
KILLING FOR LIFE: THE APOCALYPTIC NARRATIVE OF PRO-LIFE POLITICS by Carol Mason, Cornell University Press: Ithaca, N.Y., 2002, 264 pp.
In KILLING FOR LIFE, Carol Mason explains why some right-wingers engage in violence, even murder, to oppose reproductive rights and why the mainstream "pro-life” movement tolerates such violence. As well as exposing actual ties between extremist groups that promote and commit violent acts and mainstream groups that condemn them, she exposes philosophical ties.
The Christian religious Right arose from the theology of "Reconstructionism"--the belief that the U.S., and ultimately the world, should be a decentralized but totalitarian theocracy run according to the laws of the Old Testament. Reconstructionists believe that a corrupt federal government and American public are drifting away from the natural order of "God’s law,” which will result in an apocalypse.
Abortion became such an important issue to the religious Right when it mostly abandoned extending to fetuses the civil rights approach, that all human life is valuable, in favor of the view that all life is under God’s control. This view motivated Christian conservatives to vote when they had formerly seen politics as secular and unworthy of their attention. Reconstructionist Paul Vigurie used this issue to create the Moral Majority and the American Life League (which have since multiplied into many religious rightwing groups) in order to influence the Republican Party.
Mason also describes the concept of the "New Warrior,” which began with the defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam. Some veterans were embittered because they believed that the federal government’s restraints on the action of the military had caused them to lose. Since then, conservative men have believed that feminism, the peace movement, and other social justice movements have "feminized” men and caused a "crisis of masculinity” by redefining men’s roles as non-violent and egalitarian.
Whether traumatized by war or "emasculated” by culture, anti-abortionists began to identify with the aborted fetus. Anti-abortion terrorists believe themselves to be fighting the restraints of the federal government (laws that allow abortion and prohibit violence against abortion providers) in order to restore masculinity and "God’s law.”
Both anti-abortion terrorists and mainstream groups also have organizational and philosophical ties to white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and Christian Identity. These groups believe that abortion is causing an "apocalypse” for the white, Christian "race.” This is why rhetoric comparing abortion to genocide, the Holocaust, and slavery can ignore the real causes of oppression.
KILLING FOR LIFE has more details about the way the religious Right thinks. It’s a good book to read to learn how these people think and understand their motivations and a little of their history.
Published by News and Letters Committees