Enough About ISIS, Let’s Talk About RWCTs (Right-Wing Christian Terrorists)

On Friday Robert Lewis Dear, a 57-year-old white male, shot 12 people at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs. Three died, including one police officer.

Armed with an AK-47 and an unspecified number of explosives, Dear’s political and religious convictions propelled him to violently terrorize the Colorado community, killing and injuring as many as he could in the process.

During his five-hour long rampage, Dear turned the community of Colorado Springs into a war zone that would make any ISIS terrorist proud.

As described in the New York Times:

“The encounter could be heard in transfixing detail on the police scanner, with authorities describing how they had driven a BearCat armored vehicle into the Planned Parenthood building, smashing through two sets of doors into the lobby and rescuing some of those inside. “We’re exchanging gunfire,” one officer said on the radio, “We are trying to keep him pinned down.” “Put gunfire through the walls,” came a reply. “Whatever, we got to stop this guy.”

In the aftermath of the shooting, Dear told police “No more baby parts,” making a direct reference to a series of doctored videos, released earlier this year by an anti-abortion front group called the Center for Medical Progress.

Over the past two days, a more vivid picture of the 57-year-old white male shooter has emerged. An anti-Obama extremist, Dear was someone who claimed that “Obama is ruining America,” and believed that the president should be impeached. He kept anti-Obama literature in his home, an isolated cabin, adorned with a cross.

Online, Dear posted about AIDS and hurricanes, pointing to these things as a sign that we are “living in the end times.” He urged people to “Accept the LORD JESUS while you can.”

Back in February, a report from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified the greatest threat to American citizens. That threat is not foreign terrorists like ISIS or Al Qaeda, but domestic terrorists like Robert Lewis Dears.

In October, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed the findings of DHS. As assistant Attorney General John Carlin pointed out, in recent years:

“…more people have died in this country in attacks by domestic extremists than in attacks associated with international terrorist groups.”

To be sure, right-wing Christian terrorist organizations are not new to the United States. Groups like the KKK and Christian Identity organizations have been terrorizing American citizens in the name of Jesus for a very long time. Since Roe vs Wade, anti-abortion extremists have waged thousands of violent attacks against women and their healthcare providers, also in the name of their religion.

But as the US Justice Department points out, terrorist attacks carried out by members of the RWCT network (Right-Wing Christian Terrorist Network) have escalated in recent years.

The definition of right-wing terrorism is as follows:

Right-wing terrorism is terrorism motivated by a variety of far right ideologies and beliefs, including anti-communism, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, racism, xenophobia and opposition to immigration.

In the United States, many of these beliefs are directly tied “Christian Identity” ideology. As Adolf Hitler discovered prior to WWII, a man can be persuaded to engage in every evil imaginable, just as long as he is under the sincere belief that he’s doing it in defense of God and religion.

Recent examples of RWCT attacks:

  • Dylann Roof, a Neo-Nazi and white supremacist viciously murdered nine people at the Charleston AME Church.
  • John Russell Houser, a Tea Party extremist, opened fire in a movie theater in Lafeyette Alabama, killing two people and injuring nine, before killing himself.
  • Three white supremacists opened fire on Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, injuring five people.
  • Jerad and Amanda Miller launched an attack that began in a Las Vegas Walmart. The couple killed two police officers, draping a Tea Party flag over one of the officer’s bodies.
  • Self-identified sovereign citizen Dennis Ronald Marx drove an armored vehicle through a Georgia courthouse. “Marx wore a gas mask and tactical armor as he laid down spike strips, threw tear gas canisters and smoke grenades, and fired at police with an AR-15 rifle.”
  • Most recently, Saturday’s attack on Planned Parenthood, carried out by Robert Lewis Dears, which resulted in a dozen injuries and deaths.

While not a comprehensive list, by any means, it provides a sampling of some of the more widely publicized right wing terrorist attacks that have occurred in the past two years.

As Mother Jones reports here, the number and intensity of these attacks has escalated over the past few years.

As the mainstream republican party embraces the kind of far-right ideology that was once confined to the radical fringe, the resulting violence is all too clear.

The republican Congress has elevated the likes of Troy Newman, a man who routinely calls for violence against abortion clinics and service providers, to a status of ‘legitimacy.’ Using doctored videos released by the bogus Center for Medical Progress, a group with direct ties to Newman, as an excuse to conduct a government sponsored propaganda campaign against Planned Parenthood, right-wing politicians put a stamp of approval on Newman’s agenda of violence.

Likewise, we saw the violence that results from Donald Trump’s hate speech, when his supporters attacked a Black protester at his urging, and before that, when two brothers beat a homeless Latino man with a lead pipe, citing Trump as their hero.

Here in America where mass shootings occur every single day, and any criminal or crazy person has access to a gun, it’s almost as if we’re being conditioned to live in a terrorist occupied war zone.

The media doesn’t use the word terrorism, or right-wing terrorism. That’s in spite of the fact the United States has more mass shootings than any country in the world.

It’s time for the citizen’s of this country to stop obsessing over the threat of ISIS, and wake up to the real terrorist threat that this nation is facing.

There are political and religious leaders in this country who routinely call for the mass execution of large groups of people, abortion providers, LGBT citizens, Muslims, immigrants and liberals, to name a few. These people are not just dangerous, thanks to the NRA and the right-wing politicians they own, they are armed and dangerous.

GOP candidate John Kasich released a video last week that paraphrases the famous “First they came for…” quote, written in Nazi Germany.

A lot of people in this country don’t seem to care if they come for the gays or the Muslims or the immigrants or the liberals, because they aren’t any of those things.

Here’s a stark reminder. Robert Lewis Dears shot 12 people on Saturday because he opposes abortion. None of the people who were killed or wounded were patients or staff of the Planned Parenthood he targeted. One of the people who died was a police officer who is known to have opposed abortion. The other 11 had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood, but were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So if you think this violence will never impact your life because you’re not a member of the LGBT community or a Muslim or a person of color or an immigrant, maybe you should think again.

*Featured image credit: Colorado Springs Police Department