The New Politics of Intimidation

by Patrick J. Buchanan – October 30, 1998

A week ago, an assassin fired through the kitchen window of Barnett Slepian, an obstetrician who did abortions in Amherst, N.Y. And like the murder of Matthew Shepard, the slaying of Slepian was seized upon and exploited to initiate a new moral pogrom against the American right.

In Shepard’s case, social conservatives who condemn homosexual conduct as immoral were charged with giving aid and comfort to his murderers. And those who decry abortion as “the killing of the unborn” are now accused of giving moral sanction to the killing of Slepian.

The “hot rhetoric” of “right-wing extremists,” the charge runs, has created an environment in which men feel justified in murdering doctors and gays. That it is a vicious lie, however, does not make it ineffective, especially when the Big Media concur in and promote it.

This slander has become the left’s weapon of choice in our political and cultural wars. We saw it used after the Oklahoma City bombing, when the anti-government rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich was said to have created a climate in which Timothy McVeigh might feel justified in massacring government workers. We saw it in 1963, when the right was charged with creating a climate of hatred in Dallas, where JFK was assassinated, though Lee Oswald was a Communist.

The lie serves several leftist goals: to brand conservatives as extremists beyond the pale of decent politics and to intimidate and silence them on moral issues. The implied threat is that either you censor yourselves, or you, too, will be portrayed as a purveyor of hate when the next gay is killed or the next abortionist is shot.

But there is larger game afoot here. The left seeks to redefine morality and paint in the public mind the picture of a land where gay activists are moral heroes in the vanguard of human rights and abortionists are brave doctors who risk their lives for women’s rights. In this picture, social conservatives are thin-lipped haters who, like the old segregationists, block the way to a better America.

Shepard and Slepian are now being beatified as martyrs to the causes of gay rights and abortion rights. This, too, is false. Shepard was not fighting for gay rights on the night of his death. He was killed while out cruising for gay sex by thugs out cruising for easy mugging victims. Dr. Slepian was almost surely murdered by someone who believed he had been doing to death unborn children, which is exactly what Dr. Slepian had been doing, though that did not give anyone the right to murder him.

Because the killings of Slepian and Shepard were wrong does not make what they were doing heroic or right. Men may alter laws to say that homosexual couples must be treated the same as married couples; they can reinterpret the Constitution to say a woman has a right to abort a child and a doctor has a right to assist her. But changing man-made laws does not change the laws of God that are written on the human heart.

And consider the deeper message behind the cry of “Stop this hate speech which gives moral sanction to murder!”

If denunciation of abortion as the slaughter of the innocent is an incitement to murder, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa are guilty. If calling abortionists destroyers of human life is the mark of an extremist, America, for the century when abortion was a crime and partial-birth abortion an act of infanticide that could put you in prison for life, was a land of extremists. And if saying homosexual conduct is morally wrong and spiritually ruinous is hate speech, the Bible is hate literature. Indeed, it is this very redefining of morality and dethroning of truth that is the hidden agenda of the radical left.

What is the truth? America is a country where slurs about minorities have been rightly purged from public speech, but the left freely employs such hate terms as racist, bigot, Nazi, fascist and homophobe. It is a country where — as one can divine from the identity of the speakers shouted down on campuses and the storm troopers doing the shouting — the greatest intolerance is on the left.

It is a nation where the principal victims of sex crimes are not gays but women, boys and girls, and pedophiles are among the principal victimizers of the latter.

It is a land where 35 million defenseless unborn children have been done to death in 25 years, and, yes, two abortionists have been killed and a number of clinics bombed. It is a nation where people who pillage and burn cities like L.A. are more likely to belong to the Crips and the Bloods than the Michigan Militia.

Social conservatives will be making a fateful mistake if they do not stand in battle against this wicked characterization of who they are.