Title: The Other Side of Terror Credit: Craig Young Comment Monday 30th November 2015 - 8:26am1448825160 Article: 17611 Rights
Yet again, a US abortion clinic has been attacked and three people have been killed. While the gunman this time has a profile that suggests he was suffering from schizophrenia, and not affiliated to the US anti-abortion movement, are US LGBT individuals in any danger from the escalating cultural and social polarisation within the United States? In a recent New Statesman article, Laurie Penny starkly focuses our attention on harassment and violence carried out against women's health facilities and abortion clinics within the United States and the increasing frustration that white male anti-abortionists feel at the continuing availability of abortion within the northern United States, despite many incremental restrictions except in some enlightened Northern states. To make matters worse, Colorado Springs is a hotbed of US Christian Right activism, headquartering several such pressure groups. Penny reports that several cases of harassment and attacks on abortion clinics have occurred in several states- Illinois, California, Washington and Louisiana. What is worse, right-wingers have been successful in deterring responsible gun ownership laws, and it hasn't only been abortion providers that have been targeted- a Black Lives Matter anti-racism march was also targeted by another such individual. Witness the histrionics of Donald Trump, the irresponsible US Republican presidential nomination aspirant. To their credit, anti-abortion groups have condemned the killings, and noted that a fundamentalist Christian anti-abortion police officer was among the victims of the killer, Robert Dear. Dear appears to suffer from schizophrenia and seems to have no active links to anti-abortion groups. He may well be a victim of mental health deinstitutionalisation policies that left severely mental ill people without meaningful social service support after long-term institutionalisation within mental health facilities. One consequence of the global economic crisis is facile 'centre-right' populism that tries to harness feelings of disconnection and unaffiliation and redirect them against vulnerable 'others'- ethnic minorities, women, Muslims...and LGBT people? As I was using the Net this morning, I noted that a Kansas City Metropolitan Community Church had been attacked countless times. The Republicans seem to equivocate about violence against 'outgroups', resulting in situations where they don't immediately condemn violence but then go on to excuse the underlying purported 'causes' of the violent act. It's not okay to attack homeless people, but it is "okay" to press for anti-vagrancy laws. How close are we to this situation developing in New Zealand? Apart from law and order, the Key administration doesn't often seem to use populist rhetoric. It didn't do so when there was an outpouring of concern about the Syrian refugee crisis, although the issue of New Zealand deportees from Australia was far more controversial when Key did try to pull a reprehensible populist stunt when he labelled all New Zealand detainees 'murderers, rapists and pedophiles.' Subsequent investigation showed that he had exaggerated the situation for political gain. Indeed, the Key administration regularly notes that the Prime Minister supported the passage of marriage equality legislation, which is true- it is transgender rights that National remains intransigent on, and acts as a barrier to necessary legislative reform. However, Family First's anti-transgender demonisation tactics are met with media and political silence. There are some gaps in official political discourse, such as the Prime Minister's silence in applauding and supporting ordinary decent Muslims who are nauseated at the activities of Daesh/ISIS, but New Zealand media outlets have been praiseworthy in recognising the existence of moderate Muslims and praising them for their actions. Right-wing extremist talkback callers are treated frostily by hosts when they try to spout their conspiracy theory gibberish. So can we feel self-congratulatory about this? No, not really. We need to take a firm stand against populist, polarising rhetoric, wherever it occurs. In our own case, that means challenging and rebutting Bob McCoskrie's ravings about anti-transgender 'bathroom bills' from the United States, but it also means speaking out against other authoritarian and populist rhetoric that aims to target 'pariah groups'- be they transgender people, street sex workers, homeless people, people with psychiatric disabilities, street beggars, beneficiaries, state housing tenants or other subjects of moral panics or social exclusion attempts. New Zealand may pride itself on being 'less violent' than the United States, and we do have more stringent firearm control legislation- but our horrendous child battery and abuse levels are rightly viewed as a national shame. Let's not kid ourselves that a local version of something like the Colorado Springs tragedy could 'never' happen here. New Zealand has a quiescent abortion debate and tiny white supremacist groups, but that's not the only form of discrimination and social exclusion that exists. We need to say a collective no to populist rhetoric that promotes the exclusion of 'despised others.' Recommended: Laurie Penny: "America's domestic terrorists: Why there's no such thing as a lone wolf"New Statesman:28.11.2015:http://www. world/north-america/2015/11/ america-s-domestic-terrorists- why-there-s-no-such-thing- lone-wolf [Graphic: The Face of Evil- anti-abortion terrorist Robert Dear] Craig Young - 30th November 2015    
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