Robert Dear committed acts of domestic terrorism against innocent civilians and law enforcement officials in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Brandishing an AK-47-style weapon, he steadily opened fire on first responders and innocent bystanders from within a Planned Parenthood facility on Centennial Boulevard. Inside, he cowardly shielded himself with hostages, resulting in a five-and-a-half-hour standoff before he finally surrendered to law enforcement officials.
In his attack on America, he murdered two civilians and a Colorado Springs police officer. He additionally wounded five Colorado Springs police officers, four civilians, and left an improvised explosive device in his vehicle, described as a propane tank with wires sticking out of it.
Dear is not merely a gunman, or a shooter, or a loony tune; that man is a domestic terrorist. It is easy to forget that domestic terrorists are still active within the United States while we have been directly at war with foreign terrorists since 2001. Even so, terrorist acts committed by domestic terrorists have killed twice as many Americans as Islamic jihadis have since September 11th.
The law will support the allegation that Dear is a domestic terrorist under 18 U.S.C. § 2331, which defines “domestic terrorism” as activities with the following three characteristics:
- Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law
- Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping
- Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:
- Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct
- Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).
The premeditated attack by Robert Dear was intended to intimidate and coerce the government and the civilian population. Attacks on Planned Parenthood facilities and staff are not fresh news in the United States of America. Although the mainstream media often brushes these people asides as lone lunatics, unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dear is a terrorist, not a psycho like James Holmes, the 2012 attacker of a Colorado movie theater. There is a difference. Holmes was clearly acting alone and out of his own delusions, which we may never understand. Robert Dear, conversely, had a message to send at the Planned Parenthood facility.
Both of these tragedies can be simply blamed on old, weak-willed fallacies such as easy access to weapons, untreated mental illness, or negative social encounters. While these factors do play a role in the big picture, the causation is clearly rooted in sensationalism and the near rhetorical innocence given to the terrorist and psychos responsible for these attacks. Experts and critics will assign liability to the trending social hot-buttons of the day (bullies, depression, racism, and so on) and essentially blame society, making no one responsible. Meanwhile, they skip over the fact that either a direct act of domestic terrorism has been committed, or they have played into the sick fantasy of a psycho by momentarily providing them celebrity.
The mainstream media tends to highlight gunmen, but ignores repeated acts of domestic terror carried out by domestic terrorist organizations such as the Christian right’s domestic terrorist organization, the Army of God. AoG has been active since 1982, continuously operating on American soil, and has committed thousands of acts of terror on the American people over the decades. The Army of God uses a firebrand religious philosophy to justify their bloody aims. This domestic terrorist organization and others who abide by similar religious justifications, using bloodshed as a tool to spread their message and coerce others using their senseless philosophy, are no better than any foreign terror organization. In fact, they are worse, as they shed the blood of their fellow Americans and cite misinterpreted scripture as justification.
These so-called Christians have forgotten how to improve their lives and their communities, and instead have decided to wield fear and terror as weapons like a hillbilly Osama bin Laden, spouting off religious edicts and sentencing those who oppose them to death. The anti-abortion domestic terrorist movement has sown the same seeds of any foreign hate-spewing terrorist organization, but has carried out more successful attacks on U.S. citizens than any foreign terrorist organization. They continue to be a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the United States of America and its citizens.
Since 1982, under their Taliban-style ideology, these people have committed seven direct murders, 10 after counting the events of the 27th of November.
Their campaign of terror is farther reaching, though, and includes 41 bombings, three kidnappings, 17 attempted murders, 100 butyric acid attacks, 153 assaults, 373 physical invasions, 655 anthrax threats, and 383 death threats. They are also responsible for 173 acts of arson, 91 attempted bombings, 619 bomb threats, 1,600 incidents of trespassing, and 1264 incidents of vandalism.
All of these acts of terrorism were committed against American citizens, on American soil. Robert Dear is simply another name on a growing list of religious fundamentalists shoving their beliefs down our throats using the barrel of a gun. Followers of such an ideology would be at home on the receiving end of a U.S. air strike in Syria.
Regardless of whether one is pro-choice or pro-life, an opinion or religious belief does not authorize one to commit acts of treason against the nation, harm fellow citizens, or impose your belief structure upon the general population. If this is how one wishes to live their life, there are more than enough Third-World backwaters to move to, places where human life is treated cheaply and the lunatics are running the asylum.
This is America, and we the people as a whole, not the few dangerous psychopaths, have the freedom to vote on the laws of the land. Most importantly, under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, American citizens are entitled the right of free exercise of religion. This means an individual is permitted to exercise their religion, not force it upon another.
Also found under the First Amendment is the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, right to peaceably assemble, and petitioning the government for a redress of grievances, all of which are important and wholesome Constitutional rights giving us an opportunity to voice our opinions in opposition or support. These are intelligent alternatives to running around like a caveman on drugs, armed with explosives. Perhaps if these people spent as much time practicing articulating cogent arguments in favor of their beliefs rather than emulating al-Qaeda, they would get much further in persuading people to agree with their viewpoint.
Be that as it may, this type of violent behavior for a fundamentalist cause is similar to al-Qaeda or Daesh (IS/ISIL), and their seeking a religious state of rule under a select dogmatic purview is very much like the Taliban. All of these groups are evil, and those who promote their messages of hate and commit acts of terrorism deserve no quarter. After all, many of us have taken or are at least familiar with this line of the oath:
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
(Featured image courtesy of AP Photo/David Zalubowski)