Homeland Security Chairman: Planned Parenthood Shooting Not ‘Terrorism,’ Merely A ‘Tragedy’

It shouldn’t be controversial to say that a principal responsibility of Homeland Security is to identify and prevent acts of terrorism. The agency was quite literally created for that purpose after 9/11. However, even its own congressional overseers seem to think that it’s meant to exclusively target Muslims, and ignore the right-wing terrorism that experts have repeatedly warned is much more dangerous to American lives.

To reinforce the delusions that attacks on Planned Parenthood aren’t terrorism, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) went on ABC News to assure fellow Republicans that an anti-Obama lunatic who walked in to a Colorado Planned Parenthood and opened fire, then later explicitly said he did so to “stop the baby parts,” was not an act of anti-abortion terrorism, but merely a “tragedy.”

“It’s a tragedy… It’s, I think, a mental health crisis,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) on ABC News’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

“I don’t think it would fall under quite the definition of domestic terrorism, although I’ll leave that to the Justice Department to make that determination,” he added.

Like clockwork, McCaul began pushing the tired narrative that any and every mass shooting committed by a white guy with a grudge is simply a mental health issue. There’s no gun problem in America. There’s no right-wing terror problem in America. Just an unending torrent of “lone wolves” who are mentally disturbed. In a slight break with his most ardent conservative peers, McCaul did express a desire to see more gun purchasing loopholes closed — not that his party has any interest in doing that.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFaqSSasyjs]

Already many Republican presidential candidates are sounding that “lone wolf” trumpet as well, and who could blame them? They are demonstrably guilty of inspiring this kind of hate-fueled violence against Planned Parenthood with their relentless lies and slander campaigns meant to stigmatize the doctors who perform abortions. The blood may not be on their hands, but it most certainly originated from their mouths.

How ironic, then, that the people most aggressively arguing that these attacks come from lone wolves are still blowing their dog whistles as hard as they can. Even two days after the murders, conservatives like Mike Huckabee were taking pains to point out that the real “victims” are aborted babies. Carly Fiorina, whose lies about Planned Parenthood went further than most, claimed calling her out on her rhetoric was a liberal conspiracy.

But while Republican candidates are feigning surprise about this shooting out of political desperation, McCaul appears to be either willfully ignorant or delusional. This was no tragedy. This was not a mudslide or tornado. This was the inevitable result of a right-wing propaganda campaign that hurled violent rhetoric towards pro-choice organizations on a daily basis. It’s also yet another data point in an ever growing database that proves right-wing terrorists are very real, growing in number, and terrifyingly dangerous.

Not that any of this wasn’t painfully obvious. For years, Republicans have engaged in a censorship campaign to silence anyone who speaks out about the growing danger of right-wing violence. In 2009, just months after America elected its first black president, enraging thousands of white supremacists across the country, Republicans in Congress forced the leading expert on right-wing terrorism to resign from Homeland Security for making Republicans look bad with his research.

His silence didn’t stop the violence:

[R]ight-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.

Other data sets, using different definitions of political violence, tell comparable stories. The Global Terrorism Database maintained by the Start Center at the University of Maryland includes 65 attacks in the United States associated with right-wing ideologies and 24 by Muslim extremists since 9/11. The International Security Program at the New America Foundation identifies 39 fatalities from “non-jihadist” homegrown extremists and 26 fatalities from “jihadist” extremists.

McCaul’s statement show such a disregard for facts that he should be encouraged from both parties to resign his position as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. At a such a dangerous time in America’s battle against right-wing terrorism, his ineptitude could literally cost lives.

Let’s do ourselves and the history books a favor and call attacks on Planned Parenthood what they are: Terrorism.

Feature image via ABC News screengrab