WASHINGTON WATCH: Why does the GOP ignore domestic terrorism?

Various Republican US presidential candidates during the second official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 campaign in Simi Valley, California (photo credit: REUTERS)
Various Republican US presidential candidates during the second official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 campaign in Simi Valley, California
(photo credit: REUTERS)
If you saw the latest GOP presidential debate you’d understand what Ted Cruz meant when he said his grandfather had told him all horse thieves are Democrats, but not all Democrats are horse thieves. It was his snide way of referring to Muslims and terrorists.
In all the testosterone drenched rhetoric being tossed around by Cruz, Trump and the rest of the crowd, and especially in last week’s debate, you’d think there’s a blood-drenched wave of Islamic terrorism sweeping this country. At least that’s what they’d like you to think.
Here’s the truth they don’t want to talk about: More Americans have been killed in this country since 9/11 by homegrown far-right white Christian terrorists than by Muslims, domestic or imported.
You couldn’t tell that by listening to more than two hours of hysterical warnings that America is under siege and if you want to survive you’d better elect me and give up some of your Constitutional rights so I can keep you safe from “them.”
A study by Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University reported that law enforcement said the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States is “overblown” while the threat of right wing, anti-government violence has been “underestimated.”
Neither the CNN moderators nor any of the candidates brought up domestic terrorism. Maybe they were scared it would lead to a discussion of the easy access to firearms in a country where there are more guns (357 million) than people.
Another reason they avoid talking about domestic terrorism is who is behind it and what they’re targeting.
Anti-abortion violence, which Wikipedia calls “Christian terrorism,” is the most common form of politically motivated violence, or terrorism, in the United States.
Last month’s attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs is only the latest example. It left three dead, including a police officer, and nine wounded before the gunman surrendered, muttering to police about “baby parts.” In court Robert Dear declared, “I am a warrior for the babies.”
It could hardly be a coincidence that Dear’s killing spree followed so closely a highly publicized doctored video by an anti-abortion group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress that falsely claimed to show an aborted fetus being harvested for body parts by Planned Parenthood.
The tough anti-abortion actions are aimed at the GOP’s influential religious Right and Evangelical base (also an important pro-Israel constituency). That group is especially powerful in Iowa, which holds its first-in-the-nation vote on February 1, followed by South Carolina 19 days later.
When Republican politicians demonize a valuable organization like Planned Parenthood, criminalize doctors and nurses and harass those seeking the medical procedure, they become enablers for terrorists like Robert Dear.
Colorado Springs was just the latest in a spate of murders of doctors, clinic workers, patients and innocent bystanders in the name of “saving babies.”
Focusing on domestic terrorism terrifies the GOP more than the terrorism itself because it means having to deal with some critical issues too close to home. It’s not just abortion – Evangelicals and others on the Right may hate it but most Americans support legal abortion. In fact, support has increased since Colorado Springs.
Another untouchable is the unfettered availability of guns used by abortion clinic attackers and other terrorists, particularly the AR-15 and AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles.
These are the same righteous leaders who have no objection to letting people on the terrorism watch list buy any weapon they wish. That’s their God given right, Cruz says. They can’t get on a plane but they can have all the guns they want. That’s how Cruz would fight terrorism.
Overwhelming majorities of Americans want to see something done about the proliferation of guns, such as more extensive background checks. But the gun lobby, which owns the GOP and a chunk of the Democratic Party, is virulently opposed. Instead they insist, along with the Congressional mouthpieces, that those school shootings are just a mental health problem.
Instead of restraint on guns in the wake of the school shootings, candidates like Cruz and Ben Carson say the answer is more guns in more hands and more places, including schools, churches, theaters, sporting events and even bars, where people never drink too much and get into fights.
Can you imagine if the audience at the theater in Aurora, Colorado, had been armed and returned fire when James Holmes walked in on July 20, 2012, and began shooting? The toll would have been far higher than 12 dead and 70 wounded. And what would the police have done when they arrived on the scene of a massive firefight? Who would they be shooting at? Anti-abortion zealotry is not the only contributor to domestic terrorism. Just listen to the debate in the House of Representatives, where some Tea Party and Freedom Caucus followers sound like anarchists as they declare the federal government is the real enemy. Or tune in right-wing conspiracy talk shows and listen to purveyors of hate like Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Mark Levin and Ann (“those fu**ing Jews) Coulter.
Some of the presidential contenders called for shutting down parts of the Internet used by Islamic State – as if that were possible – but none objected to its use to spread right-wing conspiracy theories and rabid anti-government rhetoric around this country, including target lists for anti-abortion zealots.
Trump is one of the original birthers questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in this country and feeding the fairy tale that he’s a Muslim trying to institute Sharia law.
Trump and his birther cohorts have one goal: delegitimize the president of the United States and everything his administration does.
The next Republican debate will be January 14 in South Carolina and carried by Fox Business Network. Don’t expect tough questions about domestic terrorism in the final weeks before the Iowa Caucus and South Carolina primary when Republicans will be speaking to the party’s hard-core religious conservatives.
Since Trump proposed banning all Muslims – a view largely shared by most of his rivals – there has been a wave of anti-Muslim attacks across this country, DailyKos reported. Not all the victims were Muslims, as the killers intended; some were Sikhs, but the shooter didn’t know the difference. None of the victims of a white supremacist at a Jewish community center in Suburban Kansas City were Jews, despite his intentions.
Domestic terrorism is a serious problem and one that strikes closer to home than IS. It is here and now.
As I listen to the GOP candidates rant and rave about how tough they will be with IS in the Middle East while they ignore right-wing terrorism, which is doing more damage and costing more lives here at home than IS, they look less like national leaders and more like enablers for domestic terrorism.