An Abortionist and a Soldier

June 7th, 2009

There’s been a tremendous amount of media coverage and commentary on the murder of Dr. George Tiller, a doctor frequently targeted by anti-abortion groups.  Much has been said regarding the role played by right-wing anti-abortion groups and media commentators like Bill O’Reilly.  We published O’Reilly’s Responsibility, an article highly critical of O’Reilly’s frequent, severe criticism of Dr. Tiller and his incitement of anti-abortion activists.

The day after Dr. Tiller was murdered, one Army recruiter was murdered and another seriously wounded in a shooting in Little Rock, AR. 

The media made much of the fact that Dr. Tiller’s suspected murderer is a white Christian who’s anti-government and anti-abortion.  There hasn’t been much media attention to the murder and wounding of recruiters in Little Rock, particularly the fact that the suspected gunman is a black Muslim convert who’s anti-military.

Conservative blogs, in particular, have highlighted the two crimes and noted the difference in media coverage and White House reactions.  A liberal commentator has also noted the disparity in coverage. 

In A Conspiracy of Euphemism, Jeffrey Goldberg, writing in the Atlantic on June 2, said:

The eight a.m. NPR news update today included word of the fatal shooting of one soldier and the wounding of another outside an army recruiting station in Arkansas. The news reader, Nora Raum, outlined the incident and stated that the shooting appeared to have “religious motivations.” She did not name the suspect, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, or tell NPR listeners what those religious motivations might be. In other words, it could have been a radical Unitarian who gunned down the soldiers, or possibly a violent Presbyterian.

Why the shyness? Why not tell people what is actually happening in the world? We saw this a couple of weeks ago, when the press only gingerly acknowledged that the malevolent though incompetent suspects in the synagogue bombing-conspiracy case in New York were converts to Islam. How is the public served by this kind of silence? The extremist Christian beliefs of George Tiller’s alleged murderer are certainly relevant to that case, and no one in my profession is hesitant to discuss them. Why the hesitancy to talk about the motivations of the man who allegedly killed Pvt. William Long?

One significant conservative, Michelle Malkin, wrote in Climate of Hate, World of Double Standards:

When a right-wing Christian vigilante kills, millions of fingers pull the trigger. When a left-wing Muslim vigilante kills, he kills alone. These are the instantly ossifying narratives in the Sunday shooting death of late-term abortion provider George Tiller of Kansas versus the Monday shootings of two Arkansas military recruiters.

Tiller’s suspected murderer, Scott Roeder, is white, Christian, anti-government and anti-abortion. The gunman in the military recruitment center attack, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, is black, a Muslim convert, anti-military and anti-American.

Both crimes are despicable, cowardly acts of domestic terrorism. But the disparate treatment of the two brutal cases by both the White House and the media is striking.

President Obama issued a statement condemning “heinous acts of violence” within hours of Tiller’s death. The Justice Department issued its own statement and sent federal marshals to protect abortion clinics. News anchors and headline writers abandoned all qualms about labeling the gunman a terrorist. An almost gleeful excess of mainstream commentary poured forth on the climate of hate and fear created by conservative talk radio, blogs and Fox News in reporting Tiller’s activities.

By contrast, Obama was silent about the military recruiter attacks that left 24-year-old Pvt. William Long dead and 18-year-old Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula gravely wounded. On Tuesday afternoon — more than 24 hours after the attack on the military recruitment center in Little Rock, Ark. — Obama held a press conference to announce his pick for Army secretary. It would have been exactly the right moment to express condolences for the families of the targeted Army recruiters and to condemn heinous acts of violence against our troops.

But Obama said nothing. The Justice Department was mum. And so were the legions of finger-pointing pundits happily convicting the pro-life movement and every right-leaning writer on the planet of contributing to the murder of Tiller. Obama’s omission, it should be noted, comes just a few weeks after he failed to mention the Bronx jihadi plot to bomb synagogues and a National Guard airbase during his speech on homeland security. …

Is it too much to ask the media cartographers in charge of mapping the “climate of hate” to do their jobs with both eyes open?

No, it certainly isn’t too much to ask — of both the President and the media.

UPDATE:  In Obama Quietly Issues Statement on Terrorist Attack in Arkansas in The Weekly Standard, John McCormack provides the text of a statement issued by President Obama two days after the killing of one soldier and the wounding of another.  Apparently the statement wasn’t issued to the normal group of national reporters; instead, it went to an AP bureau in Arkansas.


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3 Responses to “An Abortionist and a Soldier”



  1. Larry |

    Tom
    Thank you for addressing this supposed oversight on the part of Mr. Obama.


  2. Len |

    We tend to focus our attention on those things that most interest us. There was plenty of media coverage of the shootings in Arkansas and the statement from the President was entirely appropriate. Of course Mr. Goldberg and Ms. Malkin are going to think differently because it suits their political agenda to do so. They are going to use any opportunity to cast a negative light in the direction of our President. It’s unfortunate that so many fall in line right behind them.


  3. Tom |

    Len, you need to look at the facts a little more closely. Obama’s statement on the Tiller murder was immediate, powerful, and shotgunned directly to the major media. His statement on the killing and wounding of the two soldiers was delayed, weaker, and very limited in distribution. Mainstream media converage of the two crimes was equally unbalanced. And “of course Mr. Goldberg….” You ought to check out who he is.


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