Monday, August 22, 2005
Terror Given a "Christian Identity"
The news came down just this week: terrorist Eric Rudolph was ordered to serve his multiple life sentences for the four bombings he perpetrated. Much time has been spent discussing Rudolph's bombing of Centennial Olympic Park; it doesn't need more coverage from myself. What interests me are his attacks on a suburban Atlanta abortion clinic and The Otherside Lounge, a gay and lesbian club in Atlanta. Rudolph refused to apologize for these two bombings. Wonder why?
Rudolph, on the abortion clinic bombing, via the CBC:
"What they did was participate in the murder of 50 children a week," he said. "Abortion is murder, and because it is murder, I believe deadly force is needed to stop it."
Rudolph has been linked to a loose organization of racist Christian hate groups called the Christian Identity movement. His unreasoning hatred of gays and women's rights led to several deaths and hundreds of injuries. Fortunately, his cowardice in the face of his own death has prevented Rudolph from being a martyr to the extreme right-wing causes with which he identifies himself.
The first thing that interests me about the Rudolph case is how it is an obvious foil to the racial profiling argument I've heard made as recently as last Friday on "Real Time with Bill Maher" (of which I'm normally a big fan). It's the idea that somehow all terrorists in the world are young, swarthy, Arab males which are members of Islamic extremist groups. This kind of blind racism is wrong and potentially very dangerous. Obviously terrorists come in many colors and descriptions; just ask Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh or Paul Hill. These are (or, were, in the cases of the latter two) young white, Christian men with an ideological point they felt needed to be made with some random carnage. If we spend our time profiling young Arab Muslims only as terrorist suspects, how long will it be before the next Eric Rudolph slips through unnoticed?
The second thing that jumps out at me is the amazing amount of coverage the "So-Called Liberal Media" has given to the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, while being fairly quiet on the other two. I went with the CBC as my source mainly because most U.S. news outlets barely mentioned Rudolph's other crimes, except as a footnote. I find this most disturbing as these other two bombings showed a clear anti-social hatred towards those Rudolph ideologically opposed. How many more Fundamentalist Christian extremists are out there thinking that it is their responsibility to deliver final judgement in God's name? I think it's shameful that in the United States, a bombing that kills an innocent person at the Olympics is headline news, but subsequent bombings that kill and maim abortion providers and homosexuals is nearly brushed under the rug. Is it any wonder that animals like Rudolph feel they can enact their Old Testament belief of Biblical punishment with impunity?
The third, and probably most controversial thing I have to say about this, is that I believe it is high time in the United States that we take a good, long look at groups like Christian Identity, Focus on the Family, etc., and individuals like James Dobson, Randal Terry and Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps. I've read the Bible and at no time did Jesus ever say to commit murder in his name or to ostracize homosexuals from society. These are narrow-minded and bigoted interpretations of the Bible and should have the veneer of respectability torn from them. These so-called Christian groups which denigrate homosexuals and condone the killing of doctors have about as much to do with the teachings of Christ as Social Darwinists do with Charles Darwin.
I don't support the death penalty; in general, because I will not sanction any government's right to murder its citizens. I don't support it specifically in this case because I also don't want to see Eric Rudolph made a martyr to his sick ideals. Let him rot in prison, locked away from the country and culture he so despises. Maybe alone with his thoughts, he'll find a true spirituality and leave his twisted mutation of Christianity by the wayside.
(More from Juan Cole)