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Rachel Maddow: Right-Wing Terrorism Must Be Stopped

The tactics of anti-choice extremists are designed to change policy by terrorizing Americans. How do we stop them from committing violent acts?

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I am not a member of the far right—until I voted for Barack Obama in the last election, I am lifelong Republican.  I am still pro-life.  I also believe abortion should be legal, but I agree with Barack Obama when he says we ought to find ways to help women, help children, give contraceptives, sex education, to lessen the number of abortions.  I think abortion is a tragedy.

But I also think that pretending that you can call abortion murder and Tiller the baby killer, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera—and that these worlds don‘ words don‘t have an impact, is crazy.

So, this is what helps unhinge a society, talking like this.  And I was part of that, and that‘s why I apologize—and I would apologize again I am sorry for what I did.

And I think that people who say extreme things should stand up and take the consequences and admit when they were wrong.  And in this case, we were wrong.  We were wrong more really.  We were wrong politically.

And as a believing Christian, I was wrong in terms of someone who says he follows Jesus Christ.

MADDOW:  There are a lot of people in this country, obviously, who are part of the pro-life movement, the legal pro-life movement, and who hold pro-life views and who seek to change the laws of this country about abortion.  There‘s obviously what I consider to be a terrorist movement who believes not that the laws should be changed but that the laws should—but that people who are legally engaged in providing abortion services are legitimately targets of violence that they should be intimidated, harassed and in some cases killed.

Those two movements are not the same thing.  And it‘s important to me as an American that people who are pro-life feel that they can safely articulate those views and that they are not being attacked for what extremists have done.

SCHAEFFER:  Right.

MADDOW:  But I also don‘t want to excuse anybody who incites violence, or who, I guess, makes excuses for the violent wing of this movement, that has two very different wings.  How do you see the connection there?

SCHAEFFER:  Well, you know, the book you mentioned earlier, “Crazy for God,” has a number of chapters talking about the way we took the movement from its early stages when it was more a moral concern, not so much about politics and not so much about changing the law, and radicalized that movement.  I follow the step by step process.  Secret meetings with Pat Robertson down at the 700 Club, Jerry Falwell sending his jet up to me to bring me down to his church to speak a couple of times.

And what we did is we talked one game to the large public and we talked another game amongst ourselves.  And amongst ourselves, we were very radical.  And I don‘t think it takes much imagination to guess that, tonight, there are people who are publicly saying, “This is terrible, we never advocated killing, abortion is murder, but we didn‘t mean people to take us this seriously.”  But in private, you know, if these folks popped champion bottles, they would be drinking a toast to this murder tonight.

I know that this is the case because of the fact that I was part of the movement, but also understood very well what we were doing back then was to attack the political issue when we talked to people like Ronald Reagan and the Bush family and Jack Kemp—the late Jack Kemp that we were very close to in all this.  But on a private side, we also were egging people on to first pick at abortion clinics, then chain themselves to fences, then go to jail.