the war for the unborn
from Pro Life Action bulletin # 5 October 1992
We will never stop abortion within the limits of conventional politics. People who have left the illusions of conventional politics behind them can see that. The
short-sighted and the venal go on forever in the vain attempt to do
something through the clogged and crooked channels of conventional
politics, but those who strongly feel the need to stop abortion begin to
think in terms of war, because it is the only way they know to get
serious. As it stands now, unless we give up on it, and beat a shameful retreat, we are headed for a war.
isn't that a moral crusade to put an end to the killing of unborn
babies cannot succeed without violence--actually, violence will hinder
it, not help it--but war is built into the way we do things, and the
struggle for power in America that has become entangled with the battle
over abortion is almost certain to lead to a violent confrontation,
beyond anything we saw in the 1960's.
Great moral issues often do lead to war. The
war isn't really necessary to decide the moral issue, but the moral
issue provides the necessary cloak of nobility for the fierce and basic
passions that have been turned loose. It provides the great symbol for the war and it provides the moral absolute that seems to justify the war. It gives us the excuse we need to do what we want to do.
reason for a war in America is that power is being monopolized by a
minority who use money and manipulation to rule over an increasingly
restless majority, which has begun to organize around the abortion
battle. Like most of our laws, the law in effect on
abortion was established by undemocratic manipulation and judicial
usurpation of power. Not 10% of the country agree with it,
although the stranglehold on the power of media and the power of the
government by these anti-democratic minorities has kept many people from
perceiving the real situation. But those that hold power won't give it up without a fight--they never do.
those who are sincerely dedicated to nonviolent direct action seem to
see it as only a practical necessity for the time being. You use the weapon you have only until you get a better one. Violence
is so built into the way we do things, that there is a kind of
inevitability about it, which implies that, when we get serious--and we
are getting more and more serious, day by day--we will use violence. For most people, nonviolence means a lack of serious commitment. You make a desultory and half-hearted effort to change things because no one is ready to pay the price for going to war. They see nonviolent direct action as a poor substitute for war.
But war is a poor substitute for war. The reality of it never comes close to the image that recommends it to us. War is supposed to be a moral crusade but it never is. The moral aim is only a pretense that conceals the real aim for those that wish to deceive themselves. It is supposed to be, at long last, a serious and sustained commitment. Which means that we draft someone else's son or hire those so desperately poor that the job looks good to them. Everyone else goes on as before "supporting" the effort--which means, participating in it vicariously. It is supposed to be a courageous effort. How
much courage can there be in this gang of men, dressed all the same
like convicts, so they can't run away, herded together like sheep and
driven forward by the threat of execution or prison if they refuse?
What we need is not war but rather the effort that war is supposed to be. We need a serious, sustained, united, self-sacrificing and above all a moral effort. We need the real courage that the Spirit gives to the person who decides to follow Jesus. We need to reject the illusion of war and commit ourselves instead to a moral revolution.
In a strange way, morality always turns out to be practicality. But, what is stranger still, people are unable to see it. There is a blindness that causes us to stumble into evil. Sexual
morality is actually the practical, common sense way to arrive at the
love relationship we all want and the stable and happy family we all
want. But, somehow, we can't see that clearly, unless we have faith in what cannot be seen. The wreckage of lives caused by drugs and alcohol, the destruction of relationships by sexual immorality, the folly and futility of violence--people never can see it unless their minds have first been cleared by a spiritual vision. So faith in Jesus Christ is the necessary foundation for the belief in nonviolence. All
the same, it is true, for those who do have eyes to see it, that the
moral road is the only road that takes us where we want to go.
the futility of violence
Most of what Jesus said about violence stressed the morality of violence. But what he said to Peter, that all they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword, speaks to the practical uselessness of violence, the self-defeating character of it--its futility. (Matthew 26.52, Revelation 13.10) It wasn't an offhand remark. It was a prophecy of the terrible doom of the Jewish nation and of every other nation that relies upon violence. [ duplicate in warfare ]
The Jews believed in the kingdom of Israel and they couldn't believe in the kingdom of God that Jesus preached to them. What use was the kingdom of God to them, if it didn't give them the worldly power they wanted? (cf. Matthew 20.21) They wanted freedom from Roman rule, not freedom from sin. They wanted worldly power, not just the power of the Spirit. [ duplicate in warfare ]
crucified the nonviolent messiah they didn't want, the Jews followed
warrior messiahs who led them into a great rebellion against Roman rule
in 66 A.D., only 36 years after the death of Jesus. The war was a success at first. [ duplicate in warfare ]
They expelled the Romans from Jerusalem and took a long-awaited revenge upon the captured soldiers. But, in the end, Israel was no match for the military might of the Roman empire. The final long siege created a terrible famine in Jerusalem. Josephus describes parents fighting with children over scraps of food. He tells of a woman who butchered her own infant for food. (War 6.201) The rival factions among the Jews continued to kill each other to the very end. Amidst such scenes as these, Jerusalem was leveled and the great Temple destroyed. wu-12 [ duplicate in warfare ]
Then the natural fortress of Masada was the last stronghold in Jewish hands. A change in the wind brought the flames of the Roman siege fires against the last wooden defenses. Seeing
themselves to be abandoned by God, the defenders resolved to kill
themselves and their families rather than see their wives made into
Roman concubines and their children turned into slaves. So they died by their own swords after first killing their own mothers and wives and children. Altogether
more than a million Jews died in a war that destroyed their nation, and
the Jews that survived were driven into exile to be strangers in many
lands for many long centuries thereafter. wu-13 [ duplicate in warfare ]
There is a remarkable contrast in an incident that Josephus relates, which happened about 26 A.D. Under cover of night, Roman soldiers brought their military ensigns into Jerusalem, images of Caesar,
worshipped by the Romans, which were blasphemous objects to the Jews,
objects which desecrated the Temple precincts by their very presence. The Jews confronted Pilate at Caesarea with a demand that the images be removed from Jerusalem. His
reply was to surround them by a triple ring of Roman soldiers with
drawn swords who threatened to kill all of them if they did not
disperse. Hereupon the Jews, as it were at one signal, fell down in
vast numbers together, and exposed their necks bare, and cried out that
they were sooner ready to be slain, than that their law should be
transgressed. Hereupon Pilate was greatly surprised at
their prodigious superstition, and gave order that the ensigns should be
presently carried out of Jerusalem. (War 2 .173)
is one of the earliest examples on record of the successful use of
nonviolence and it displays the essential characteristics of a way of
fighting for what is right that relies upon moral power rather than upon
military power: 1) the willingness to personally face death because of a fearlessness born of faith in God. 2) the
absence of any return threat of violence sufficient to provoke and
justify the violence against them and thereby to turn the moral contest
into a military contest. 3) the spiritual
power generated by this courageous witness, which wins a grudging
respect from a worldly and powerful man who more than once ordered the
slaughter of rebellious Jews. 4) both sides win. Instead of murdering your enemy--or getting yourself murdered in the attempt--you turn him around. 5) when
you aim at a spiritual goal, in a direct and simple way, without trying
to use it as the entering wedge for a hidden political agenda, you
achieve it. [ duplicate in warfare ]
It foreshadows the triumph of the Christians over the Romans who earnestly tried to exterminate them. The Roman empire, with all its wealth and all its awesome military power, went down into the dust of history. The
pacifist Christian church grew until it passed far beyond the furthest
frontiers that the Roman empire ever held at its zenith. The empire that was created by the sword, perished by the sword, as the Jewish nation had before it. The spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ is still growing 2000 years later. The nations that the Romans conquered were conscripted, trained and armed to continue the work of conquest. But then they returned as marauders. The empire perished by its own swords! The
destruction of their nation forced the Jews to turn away from visions
of national pride and power and to renew the spiritual character of
their relationship with God and that is how they found the strength to
survive the centuries of persecution and exile. [ duplicate in warfare ]
destruction of the civil rights movement
mindless violence of the black rioters in Los Angeles is the last act
of the civil rights movement of the 1960's and the epitaph for what
happened to it. The miles of burned out buildings stand as a memorial to "black power" and the passion for violence. Long
ago they destroyed the nonviolent direct action movement which tried to
change the lot of the poorest of the poor in America. It
is fitting that it ended in Los Angeles, where the wave of riots began
that poisoned 100 American cities between 1965 and 1969.
There is a basic spiritual similarity between the early civil rights movement and the early pro life movement. When
they came out of the Woolworth store after the sit-in of February 1st
1960, that group of sit-in pioneers joined hands in a circle and said
the Our Father. The dedicated few who built the
movement were devout Christians who sought justice by relying upon the
help of God, and by using the methods that Jesus Christ showed us.
Six years later, the Black Power advocates sought power,by any means necessary--that is, by violence or by conventional politics, by force or by fraud. It was astonishing how fast the movement went from nonviolence to violence, and from moral goals to the obsession with power. I don't want to see a basic spiritual similarity between the black power movement and the pro life movement as it grows larger. But, already, I do see it. The same devils are on the loose again.
Terry's mandate to "take back the power bases" awakens strange echoes
of the "black power" movement which destroyed the civil rights movement
of the 1960's. The idea is that we blacks or we Christians
have the moral right to power, that all of our problems can be solved
when we get that power--can only be solved that way. That happens to be the oldest illusion in the Book, the devil's number one snare. But Randall Terry is only articulating what many in the pro life movement feel. What many are in fact already doing by trying to use the pro life movement to achieve power.
drunk with power
Black power was a strange illusion. The intoxication with power is a kind of drunkenness, a wicked insanity that drives us to destruction. It led to an orgy of self-destructive violence. The
riots all over America destroyed homes and businesses, destroyed the
bright prospects that the civil rights movement had labored to create. Like the factions in the old Jewish war, the black militants murdered each other in a premature showdown as to who would rule the new Negro nation they envisioned. They
destroyed the movement that had brought a new freedom to American
negroes and that was just beginning to focus upon the terrible poverty
that is their real prison, their real slavery.
A dozen people died in the whole history of the nonviolent civil rights movement. Their blood gave the movement a strength and a seriousness it didn't have before. (So it will happen in the pro life movement.) Hundreds died after the movement turned violent. You
could say they died for nothing, but it would be truer to say that they
died in the cause of stupidity and wickedness, they died to make the
devil happy. The died to undo the good that had been done by those that tried to help them.
the foolish attempt to seek power by arming themselves hurt the
movement less than the partly-successful attempt to take power through
conventional politics. It was a kind of political gold rush in which a few found what thousands tried to find. When
the movement became a political success, thousands of ambitious blacks,
all those who had avoided it, when it was difficult and dangerous,
flooded into the movement. Instead of pushing the wagon, they all tried to ride on it, and it soon broke down. Jesse Jackson and a few hundred others succeeded in cashing in on the civil rights movement. Thousands of others tried and failed--they only succeeded in destroying the moral character of the civil rights movement.
War and conventional politics are two roads to the same place. You muster 51% of the ballots or 51% of the bullets, and, to do either, you need at least 51% of the money. There is always the pretense of a spiritual purpose, which conceals the lust for power. People
first deceive themselves as to what their real desires are, and then
they deceive others, who wish to be deceived, because they have the same
I see the same thing happening in the pro life movement. People are avoiding personal risks and sacrifices, and instead they are using the movement to further their personal careers. Others
support them because it offers an easy substitute for doing something
serious on their own, and because they have a little larceny in their
It isn't just the leaders. People usually get the kind of leaders that they deserve. A leader often starts out as a good man and then discovers that those who follow him don't want a good man. They want a man who will lead them towards the illusion of power that mesmerizes them.
You can't cheat an honest man. You can't bamboozle people who don't have the same larceny in their hearts that you have in yours. The
fellow who buys the Brooklyn Bridge from the confidence man is rubbing
his hands at the prospect of how he will stick it to the suckers when he
starts charging tolls. We get suckered by the promise that all of us will somehow share in that power. Follow me! We'll all be rich and powerful!
It's a shuck. There is no such thing as everyone being rich and there is no such thing as everyone sharing in the power. You can only be rich and powerful in relation to a lot of other people who aren't. It is only spiritual power and spiritual riches that everyone can have--as much as you can handle, in fact.
in the pro life movement, we have a nonviolent direct action movement
which is both larger and more peaceful than the movement of the 1960's. But
already you can see in it the basic elements of the "black power"
movement--the love of power and the lack of scruples as to how we get
it. The movement is still thoroughly nonviolent but there
is a small cloud on the horizon which will grow very rapidly, if we let
it. It astonished me how fast the civil rights movement of
the 1960's went from nonviolence to violence and I see no assurance
that it can't happen again.
would never guess it from the distorted and dishonest media coverage,
but the pro life movement has been the most consistently nonviolent
social movement this country or any country has yet seen. It
has been as rigorously nonviolent in both spirit and action as the
early civil rights movement, which wasn't a tenth as large, and so far
at least, it has had none of the outbreaks of unruly behavior which more
and more disgraced the civil rights movement later on.
news media have gone to great lengths to spotlight and magnify any
episode that would make pro life activists appear as hooligans. Of
course it is impossible to put thousands of people into conflict
situations--people who have been selected by no one but themselves--and
entirely avoid incidents of misbehavior. But there are so few of them that the media has to invent stories or import them or both. A
write up of the pro life movement here gratuitously included an assault
story, from another state, which turned out to be the usual abortion
until this point we have had a hundred thousand people behave
consistently like Christian ladies and gentlemen even though they were
put into stressful situations where they were attacked by violent police
and by abusive pro abortion activists, abetted by the police. The
worst allegation made against pro lifers here is that one of the
abortion workers at a big tumultuous rescue got her finger bitten. She made the charge to a reporter, who dutifully reported it as gospel, but she made no complaint to the police. They always complain to the police about anything and nothing, and the police give them every attention. Even
if it was true, it means that she put her hand into somebody's
face--how else can you get your finger bitten in a situation like
this?--and that the police allowed her and the other pro-aborts to do
this kind of thing, which, in fact, they did.
the nonviolence in the pro life movement arises from an external
situation rather than from the inward convictions of most of the people
involved. It can change very quickly when that situation changes. That
is just what happened in the 1960's, and the potential for a violent
showdown growing out of this movement is much greater, because the
political base of this movement is much larger.
the violence of abortion
violence is already here, of course, if we are talking about the
violence of abortion and the violence of the purchasers of abortion. And violence is contagious. What else is it except violence when they tear the arms and legs from an unborn baby, crush his head and put him in the trash? Can
you put the blood of millions of babies down the drain and be confident
that the violence of such deeds won't come back upon you? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. (gen 4.10)
violence of what is done to the unborn baby puts violence into the
hearts of the abortion-bound woman and the man who is pushing her into
it. Watch out or they'll run over you! A couple, who will run over their own baby, will run over you if you get in the way! It has already happened and it is certain to happen again. There are now 30 million American women who have had abortions, 30 million men who have paid for them. Their
need to justify themselves, their need to somehow suppress the
knowledge that they have killed their own sons and daughters, creates a
violent hatred in them towards those who persist in confronting them
with what they have done.
People have forgotten how much murderous hatred there was towards those who challenged racial segregation 30 years ago. It wasn't just a misunderstanding or a difference of opinion that could be resolved by some reasonable compromise. There
was a satanic hatred on the loose that targeted those who exposed
themselves to it by participating in nonviolent direct action. That same murderous spirit has re-appeared among the pro-abortion forces. The
media conceals it by not reporting it, but those who have been on the
front lines of the pro life movement know exactly what I mean. It is an armed and deadly hatred. It
is only a question of time before the bloodshed hidden within the walls
of all those abortion "clinics" appears on the outside.
the violence against us
there is the violence of the law itself and the full force of it is now
being directed against the pro life action movement in every way they
can devise. Injunctions and jails, handcuffs and fines,
every kind of judicial and police violence is in store for those who
challenge the abortionists and their allies who control the court house.
The pro abortion wing of the Democratic Party controls many court houses. The result is that the police have violently attacked passive and peaceful rescuers in more than fifty American cities. That wasn't a coincidence and it wasn't spontaneous. There was behind the scenes coordination which led to systematic violence by the police. The
refusal of the Justice Department to do anything about it shows how
many pro-aborts there are in the bureaucracy of this nominally pro life
is the same pattern that appeared in the 1960's when the segregationist
wing of the Democratic party controlled the court house in many cities. They bent the law into a weapon and used the police as a goon squad to attack the nonviolent civil rights rebels. What the police couldn't do themselves they let the hooligans do, while they looked the other way. And they had allies among the federal judges and within the bureaucracy, including the F.B.I.
Thirty rescuers in West Hartford Connecticut suffered broken bones, dislocated joints or eye injuries on June 17th 1989. Others suffered nerve damage from extremely tight handcuffs.
Los Angeles, on March 25th 1989 and again on June 10th 1989, rescuers
were systematically assaulted by Los Angeles police officers. Four rescuers suffered broken arms, one a broken foot. Many suffered compression injuries when the police used nunchakus to drag them--a weapon that is outlawed in California.
Pittsburgh, on March 11, 1989 women rescuers were violently handled,
physically humiliated, and even sexually abused by the police inside the
Denver and many other places, rescuers have been the victims of a
similar pattern of systematic and deliberate police violence. It
seems mild only by comparison with the extreme violence in the worst
cities, but many people here suffered long-lasting injuries by the
deliberate infliction of "pain compliance" on totally non-resisting
is important to stress that, unlike the riotous rebels of the late
1960's, pro life rescuers have been consistently passive and nonviolent
throughout 60,000 arrests. Bad as they were, the violent
police of 1968-69 had some excuse for their misconduct--they had some
real provocation anyway, even if it doesn't excuse their unprofessional
response. The violent police of 1988-89 have none. I
never saw a better nonviolent discipline in either the early civil
rights movement or the early peace movement than I see now in the pro
life movement. Impressions to the contrary are due to media distortions. Also, it is clear that the systematic and calculated violence here and elsewhere was a policy which came from the top. It
was not the spontaneous action of individual police officers, at least
some of whom were reluctant participants in the assaults.
our friends, the police
Nonetheless, the police have carried out their orders whether they liked them or not. The
result is that they are rapidly alienating and antagonizing a very
large class of people who used to be the staunchest supporters of the
police. At the first rescue rallies the speakers stressed that the police were not the enemy and that they were only doing their job. They don't say that any more because it obviously isn't true. There is nothing that wises people up faster than hands on experience.
police in many cities have taken on the very dirty job given to them by
the pro-abortionists in the court house: stop the pro life movement any
way you can. It would be bad enough if the police were just defending the abortion industry because abortion is "legal." But they have gone far beyond that in many places. They have broken the law and used illegal violence in order to try and stop the pro life movement.
we morally obligated to put up with these lawless and violent attacks
by bullies wearing blue uniforms and black judicial robes--bullies, who
carry out the orders of pro-abortionist politicians, who are themselves
the errand boys and the errand girls of the abortion industry? Why? Because Christians never fight back? Because we really believe in nonviolence? Because we have to submit to anyone in a uniform, however lawless his behavior? Because we are afraid to fight?
This last reason is the most common one, and it isn't a very honorable reason nor a very dependable one. A movement can suddenly turn violent when the balance of power shifts and the fear is no longer there. That
is the basic reason why so much violence appeared in the civil rights
movement and in the anti-war movement in the late 1960s. (Far more than the news media ever reported.) The
pro life movement is growing larger, the balance of power is shifting,
and it is only a matter of time until people begin to answer violence
with violence, unless there is a much deeper commitment to nonviolence
than we have now.
the right of rebellion
the American Declaration of Independence there is a clearly stated
right--people have the right to rebel against violent and unjust
governments: "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive to .
. . life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the right of the
people to alter or abolish it." Revolution is our basic political right. It is as much our right today as it was the right of people who lived two hundred years ago. It
isn't something that could happen once only, long ago, and which must
ever after be set in cement and worshipped like the True Church. You
have only to read the news coming out of Eastern Europe to see that the
right of rebellion against violent and corrupt governments has been
dusted off and brought out in front of the court house once again.
People think that we haven't the right to rebel because we have democracy here. But democracy is more the myth than the reality of American political life. Abortion
became legal, not by any democratic process, but because the radical
feminists and their allies had the power and the influence to manipulate
an already corrupt judicial system which usurps more and more power
The injustice of that system has been clearly revealed in response to the mounting challenge of the pro life movement. The
thousands of pro lifers who have been dragged through the injustice
system and the jails have been given a field trip civics lesson which
has taught them just how violent and unjust that system really is. Those white marble court houses are white tombs full of corruption. The phony dignity of the court cannot conceal the essential hooliganism of judges who are the servants of the pro death forces.
The myth is that anyone can challenge the status quo through the electoral process. Anyone with a million dollars. Anyone who has the backing of a million dollars. Our politics is controlled by money and the distribution of money is anything but democratic. The
government itself has become the primary source, directly and
indirectly, for the money that is needed to buy government power.
is a closed system in which government money passes to those who use it
to buy the power they need to command yet more government money. Nearly all of the delegates to the Democratic Convention are already on the government payroll. The
National Organization of Women actually grew out of federal and state
government establishments and every year there are more anti-family
feminists lodged in the government bureaucracy.
has happened in America over two centuries is an increasing
concentration of power and wealth in the hands of those who are not much
influenced by the rituals of democracy. How many of us ever wanted to give billions of dollars away to the crooks in the savings and loan industry? How many of us wanted to put Susan B. Anthony on the dollar or sweep away all the state laws against abortion?
If elections could really change any of this, elections would be illegal. What they are is a kind of safety valve, which lets people blow off a little steam. People
who aren't satisfied with that have to look to direct action, where one
dedicated activist counts for more than a whole crowd of anonymous and
passive bi-annual voters, whose minds are controlled by those that control the media. The only way you can counter-balance all that money is by getting out there on the front line.
Is revolution the answer then? At least it has more to recommend it than midnight bombings or pushing and shoving in large demonstrations. If we are going to fight a revolutionary war, let's do it right!
the morality of violence
The morality of violence exists mostly on paper. But
let's seriously consider it before we start encouraging vandalism by
misguided adolescents as the offensive weapon of the pro life movement.
Augustine, who is cited as the originator of the just war theory,
actually justified any and all wars for practical purposes. Nonetheless,
the principled limitations imposed upon violence by the just war theory
should be binding upon those who believe that violence can be godly. Three of the most important are A) proper authority B) reasonable chance of success C) try the other alternatives first. Suppose you think that war with Russia is necessary. Do you therefore applaud the actions of a couple of kids who start potting Russian tourists at random with their .22 rifles? You do if you're a moral idiot. It should be obvious that these fellows have no right to start a war on their own authority which affects all of us. It should also be obvious that it is wrong to use violence ineffectively--to hurt people to no purpose. That is what condition B) has to mean. You can't use violence to vent your personal rage.
The third major condition means that, before you use violence, you have to try the other alternatives. Violence has to be the last resort, not the first choice.
You live across the road from the death camp. Isn't it up to you to bomb the place? Well, hold on a minute. What is the rest of the story? Are you the last righteous man in the city? Why is it up to you? Are you Captain Marvel? What were you doing while they were building this death camp? Where is everybody else? Do they still have civil liberties in this country? If
they do, you should a) get out in front of the death camp with a large
sign to let everyone know what is going on there b) go down to the
church and tell the pastor to bring his congregation out to close the
place c) ask the city council why they issued permits for a death camp. If
none of that works, then you need three bombs, not one, because you
need to drop one off at the city council and another at the church. Then you need to drop some off at the homes of all the people who left you to do it all alone. In fact, if you did nothing while they built this place, you need to bomb your own house also! Apportion blame fairly!
In fact people resort to violence as a first choice, not as a last resort. The lone bomber is typically someone who never tried anything else first.
try the alternatives
The alternatives actually can succeed in doing what war pretends to do. The real reason we don't pursue them is that we want war and the power it brings, and the moral reasons are just the excuse. Were the boys in blue really sacrificing their own lives so that their black brothers could be free? Tell me another one. Did America go to war to save the Jews?
America and Britain between them could have saved all the German Jews just by letting the Jewish refugees emigrate. Before the war started the Nazi policy was to force the Jews into exile. It was the failure of this policy that led to the final solution. The policy failed because other countries would not accept the Jewish refugees and forced them to return to Germany. During
the early period, thousands of Jews lined up daily at the American
embassy in Berlin to try and get one of the few available visas. America did not want a flood of Jewish refugees.
They tried to get out anyway. One
boat load of unauthorized German Jewish refugees made it to within a
few miles of the coast of Florida before the United States Coast Guard
turned them back. Because no country would admit them, they had to return to Germany where they died in the Nazi death camps. A
ship carrying Jewish refugees sank off the coast of Palestine after the
British navy turned them away from there--a British policy to placate
refused to rescue the Jews, America then used the killing of the Jews
in Germany as a moral justification for the war, as people still do. And that is typical of what nations do and of what individuals do. They neglect doing the obvious and simple things to achieve the moral aim, but then they use the pretense of that moral aim to disguise the pursuit of power.
If you are actually sincere about the moral aim, you discover many ways to achieve it. None of them appeal to you if the declared moral aim is only the cover story for your real purpose. And people usually conceal that purpose even from themselves. They deceive themselves as to what their motives are as the necessary first step towards deceiving others. Look around you in the pro life movement. You won't have to look any further to find examples of what I mean.
is bombing effective?
To be moral, violence has to be effective We are morally obligated to stay focused on the murder of the unborn and to do the best we can to stop it. Does that describe bombing clinics? If
bombing is effective, then America won the war in Vietnam because the
air force controlled the skies and dropped a million tons of bombs. In
the last year of the 1960's the FBI logged about 10,000 bombing
incidents in the United States by all sorts of people who are now
history. All the kids in my neighborhood have the same idea around the 4th of July--make the world sit up and notice you, by making a bang!
There are half a dozen people serving long prison sentences for bombing abortion clinics back in the 1980's. They acted alone and without any sanction from the pro life movement. But
there are people who see them as at least halfway heroes for having
done something more serious than most prolifers have ever done.
But the bombings show the same pattern of one time gesture that marks so many other efforts. They
aren't capable of carrying on a sustained military campaign and so the
example they set for others is the one time grandstand gesture. For which you get 20 years in prison. We can't get people to risk going to jail for 20 hours even. How many of them will risk 20 years?
What it isn't, is a sustained military campaign under proper authority. If it was, most of these fellows would never get the assignment. This fellow would not pass the screening for the green berets. Nor the infantry. Nor the screening for a "mentally challenged" scout troop. This is someone you trust with dynamite?! This is someone you don't trust with safety matches!
For one thing, he always gets caught. Slick, he isn't. Once they've got him, he sings like a canary. If
you were foolish enough to say hello to this fellow or to offer him a
ride home, the next thing you know, the DA has you down for a
co-conspirator. He'll testify against you to get a lighter sentence. A
friend of a friend of mine is doing a long prison sentence because he
gave information about the abortion clinic to a couple of fellows who
later bombed it. Naturally, they were caught, and naturally, they fingered their buddy. It
is natural, because it is part of the character of the fellow who
sneaks around at midnight to do his pro life work, expecting to strike a
blow with impunity.
midnight bomber suffers from Lone Ranger Syndrome which afflicts those
who have read too many comic books and not enough history--or any
history. What he is saying to everyone else is "I'll take care of it! Stand back and watch the fireworks!" He
thereby makes a major contribution to the fundamental problem in the
pro life movement which is the way that people "support" things instead
of taking on any actual responsibility themselves. Everyone applauds the bomber. They applaud because now they don't have to do anything.
Don't applaud anything that you aren't ready to do yourself. If you really believe in it, set an example of it. That
is the way to overcome this disease of personal irresponsibility and
vicarious participation which will otherwise destroy this movement.
the early civil rights movement there were always those who disdained
nonviolence, who insisted that violent rebellion was the only realistic
alternative. Actually, people used that as an excuse for avoiding the drudgery and danger of nonviolent direct action. When the rebellion eventually came along, these fellows were no where around.
You will notice that it is the people who have dropped out of the movement, or who have never made a commitment to it, that are so enthusiastic for bombing etc. and so prone to war talk. Essentially, it is a cover story! The sky is the limit when it is just talk. A fellow who never pickets, thinks bombing is the answer. A
fellow who doesn't have the nerve to put a bumper sticker on his car is
all for somebody slaughtering the abortionist--somebody besides him
aggravates the basic problem of the pro life movement because it
panders to those who want to "support" something instead of doing
something. The boys will do the job, all you have to do is support them. Television will deliver the pro life message, all you have to do is write a check. The billboard will deliver the pro life message, all you have to do is write a check. Father Marx will go out and educate people--write a check. The speaker delivers the pro life message--you applaud. Our candidate carries the pro life banner--so you don't have to.
where is the line?
It is obvious that many people are flirting with the idea of violence and putting out feelers. Now is the time to stop it before it seriously weakens the movement. People
have the childish notion that you can effectively attack buildings
without attacking people, that you can draw a line somehow. It is one of the perennial lies of war--you can attack military targets without hitting civilians and so on. The
student who was killed in the explosion at the University of Wisconsin
was the victim of a midnight bomber who assumed that no one was in the
There isn't any line. It is an imaginary line which soon disappears. If it is right to bomb clinics, because abortions are done there, it is right to kill the abortionist. Why damage the bricks? They at least are innocent of the crime of abortion. Not so the people that work there. If it is right to kill the abortionist, it is right to kill the other people that work there. If it is right to kill them, it is right to kill the customers who hire the killer's services. If it is right to kill the customers, it is right to kill the police and the judges who protect the abortion industry. It is right to kill all those who actively or even passively condone abortion. Where are you going to stop? No where! That is just what happens in war. Before it is over, everyone is fair game. The whole city with all its children is fair game! That's how terrorists end up leaving bombs in grocery stores. That's how we end up dropping bombs on schools, houses and hospitals.
Why singe the bricks? So they can collect on their insurance? So the people who kill babies there can pose in the newspaper as the victims of violence, as the martyrs of the pro-choice movement?
would have to have a grudging respect for the man who would shoot the
abortionist, then sit there and keep the flies off him until the hearse
arrived. Who would then explain in a rational and coherent way why the man deserved to die for his crimes against humanity.
Hern the hero
we shouldn't have any respect for crazy creeps who commit acts of
juvenile vandalism and then run off and leave others to answer for their
cowardly acts. The pinhead who fired a shot through the door of Warren Hern's abortuary one night deserves no respect. Now Hern can point out the bullet hole to every reporter that comes by and pose as a hero who risks his life to "help women." Thanks
to this chicken-hearted Lone Ranger, a man who makes a million dollars a
year for his one on one combats with unarmed babies can present himself
as the victim of violence.
What happens is, the people who remain committed to nonviolence pay the price for the violent actions of others who hit and run. The
reason that Joan Andrews could be given a 5 year sentence for a
nonviolent sit-in is that she went into a place that had been bombed
several times. Politically, they could justify making her pay the penalty for the acts of others. At last we have caught the terrorist!
And those bombings ended any participation by anyone else in picketing or rescue at that clinic. So
a one time act of ineffectual violence had, as its major effect, the
destruction of the nonviolent pro life effort it had taken years to
It isn't that bombing an abortion clinic is such a terrible act compared to the violence that goes on inside. But now you have to start making this kind of comparison because you have bought the ethics of the abortionist. You both agree that the end justifies the violent means.
Violence destroys a nonviolent movement. War and conventional politics can work together because underneath they are really the same thing. The successful terrorist is often his nation's first president. But there is no way that a nonviolent movement is compatible with a violent movement. That is what the 1960's show. The people who were faithful to nonviolence wound up in the no man's land between two armies. In
Chicago, in 1968, all my pacifist friends got bloody heads when they
tried to prevent the violence that erupted between the new left and the
Chicago police, both of whom wanted a fight.
The violent left would provoke the police and then duck out leaving others to take the brunt of police rage. They actually believed in doing that as a way of radicalizing people. They
would get in behind a large and peaceful crowd, especially under cover
of darkness, and throw rocks and bottles at the police. The policeman who gets hit goes after the nearest person, which is you. Conscious of your own innocence, you don't take off soon enough. So when you get clubbed to the ground, your sense of injured innocence makes a radical out of you. That is the theory. What actually happens is that people go home and they don't come out any more and that is the end of the movement.
Any large crowd is liable to have infiltrators from the other side who are there to provoke violence. It
is easy for them to do it if there has been a lot of loose talk about
violence and there are no firm principles of nonviolence in place. (One defense against such infiltrators is to have everyone sit down so that the rock throwers are exposed.)
first thing that happens when you give even verbal sanction to
violence, is that it gives the other side the excuse for violence. For all their war talk, the black militants did not in fact carry out anything like a sustained military campaign. Most of their militance was just posturing for the media. But, by declaring war, they justified a war against them by the police, who had the means to do it, as the militants did not. Most advocates of violence are just talk. They'll be off and running at the first shot. But their irresponsible talk can get other people killed. That
is just what happened in the late 1960's because the war talk primed
the police for violence and justified them doing it on very little
pretext. There may or may not have been a shot fired at
Kent State or Jackson State and Orangeburg, South Carolina where
students were shot and killed. Maybe it was a firecracker and maybe the police imagined it. But all it takes is a lot of loose talk and one loud bang! to justify the police (the National Guard at Kent State) opening fire on an unarmed crowd of people.
Norman Weslin is the leader of the lambs, which is about the toughest
and most determined group of rescuers in the pro life movement. Before he became a priest, he spent a good part of his life in the army--he was a major in the Korean War. He has more first hand experience with military action and also with nonviolent direct action than anybody else in the movement. In
his recruiting letter for the lambs, Father Weslin stresses the
complete commitment of the lambs to nonviolence and then he says: If you are inclined towards violence, please do not gather with the lambs. You will set us back ten years.
It's true! The violence that engulfed the civil rights movement in the late 1960's set Negroes back 100 years! That is why we have to be absolutely intolerant of violence in the pro life movement.
the illusion of a mass movement
who rely upon the media for their information still believe the myth
that the civil rights movement was a mass movement in which American
Negroes turned out to demand civil rights. It never happened.
average black person, living in the United States in the 1960's --I
mean 99% of them!--never gave a dollar to the civil rights movement, and
never gave it a day out of his life. A lot of people
think they participated in the movement because they "supported" it,
because they identified with it and participated in it vicariously. That is, they watched it on television, and they were sympathetic.
closest they came to a "mass movement" was the three day riot in which a
lot of people helped themselves to merchandise after a gang of kids
broke the windows. They thereby created neighborhoods where there are no stores. You have to walk a mile to buy a bottle of milk at three times the price they charge in a normal supermarket. Because there are no stores, there are no jobs. Because there are no jobs, there is no future--no present even, except the "present" that can be created by drugs and alcohol. What
was typical of the black rebellions of the 1960's is that they were
even more pitiful than the "mass movement" as a substitute for a
There was a nonviolent civil rights movement that began long before the 1960's. The first-sit in to desegregate a restaurant was in 1943! There
was a slow but steady growth throughout the 1950's, much like you see
in the direct action pro life movement in the early 1980's. It was always a handful of dedicated people who made the movement grow and there were always as many whites as blacks. The movement required a special kind of dedication. Because there was no money to be made and no political mileage to be gained, the self-seeking stayed out of it. But
once it began growing rapidly, once it began to hit the front pages, it
began to attract people who had every reason to be there except the
right one. That will happen to the pro life movement, if we let it.
illusion of a mass movement is the illusion that you can find the power
you need by turning out quantities of people, somehow. Quantity will make up for the lack of quality. None of us has to do much if we all do a little--a very, very little. But, oddly, the more that turn out, the weaker the movement gets. The mass rally in Wichita killed the rescue campaign. Every one of those 35,000 people apparently said to himself: What a great turn out! these people are going to take care of it! I'll go home and watch it on TV! And so they did. The next morning there were 35 people ready to rescue.
to build a mass movement on a superficial basis leads to manipulating
and deceiving people to push them into a battle they are not ready for. That is a major reason for the abrupt collapse of the rescue movement. People are easy to fool once but not twice.
The belief in a mass movement is a belief in the power of the people. It
is a kind of humanist idolatry and it is like the other illusions in
which we look for some kind of effective power other than the power that
manifests itself in individuals who let the Spirit work through them.
You try to build a mass movement on the basis of a moral appeal. It doesn't work. The few people who can be appealed to on that basis are already out there because they answered the call of the Spirit. The average person has disconnected the phone. So you try to frighten them with the apocalyptic bogeyman. But people can't see real dangers that are close upon them. So
what you have left is to pander to their ambitions and their illusions
or to coerce them, because most people won't do anything seriously
unless they are paid to do it or forced to do it.
That is why violence seems to be the only effective way. Most people are controlled by fear. Every idealistic rebel who ever counted in vain on the people to rise up and do it, has learned the same bitter lesson. People won't help unless they are coerced into doing it. They will die for nothing if the state orders them to. They will trot off like a band of sheep being driven over a cliff. But they won't take even a small risk for a great cause on their own initiative, when there is no one to make them do it.
Unless I am forced to do it or paid to do it I won't do anything beyond the token gesture. I won't do that much if I don't feel like it. That is what you run into. Because
people spend their lives doing what they are made to do or paid to
do--it amounts to the same thing because the money drives them. Anything left over is for entertainment, and the Lord's work, if any, has to come out of that.
You can't have an army without the power of coercion. Before
you can mount effective violence against the enemy you first have to
successfully use violence against your rivals, to establish your
authority and then you have to successfully use violence to intimidate
the mass of people and to make them obedient. The black militants of the 1960's never got past the battle with one another to decide who the government was. Their attempt to coerce the black population only drove them to move away from the inner city the first chance they got.
There is really no such thing as a volunteer army. They are "volunteers" only in the sense that they weren't conscripted. But hired soldiers are no more volunteers than hired police officers are volunteers. And, once in there, they are subject to the same coercion as any draftee. But
the pro life movement is a true "volunteer army," and we have to ask
what can motivate people to fight in the absence of any effective
the army of saints
Instead of a mass movement, instead of an army, we need an army of saints. We
need people who are personally led by the Holy Spirit not people who
are childishly dependent upon authority, who have to be told what to do
and when to do it, like most "Christians." Instead of
exploiting that childish dependence to establish our own authority, we
need to attack it, because it is the primary spiritual source of the
evil in our society.
To trust in the power of God has to mean that we trust in those who answer the call of the Holy Spirit. That is how God works. It is the only basis for a movement that stays on course and that stays the course. We must rely upon that power and no other.
army of soldiers eliminates everyone except physically fit young men,
who are turned into a military machine, who have no will of their own,
who do whatever they are told to do. A nonviolent army is entirely different. It is made up of everyone who answers the call. The marching orders come from the Spirit that they willingly follow. The only commander is the Holy Spirit and He never needs to delegate authority because He can be everywhere at once. Your best nonviolent warriors can be old people who find it hard to walk. Women with babies. Children. In
Mississippi, in the darkest days of the civil rights movement, a 14
year old girl led a children's march while all the adults stayed home
the spirit of repentance
The underlying problem in the pro life movement is the lack of faith in moral goals arrived at by spiritual means. Instead there is an obsession with power as this world gives it, a false belief in success as defined by conventional politics and by the attention of the mass media. And nonviolence isn't the road to worldly power. Without admitting it or even recognizing it, people have adopted a focus which is quite different from saving the lives of babies in a spirit of repentance.
means that we turn our lives around and that we confront the Christian
community we belong to with it's complicity in abortion. It means that I take the beam out of my own eye first.
What has begun to appear instead is a quest for power which uses abortion as its moral justification. It causes us to project the evil onto our enemies instead of looking for the roots of it in ourselves. It makes the struggle physical and political. Abortion becomes the political football in a power contest. So we define the evil as the possession of worldly power by folks other than ourselves. Which shows that our real goal is to take it from them.
Are the militant pro-abortion homosexuals the enemy? They are a minority of a minority. Their gross behavior embarrasses and alienates most of the people even on their side--that's why the media won't show them. We
should thank them and bless them for bringing the real demon's face of
the abortion supporter out in the public square where everyone can see
it. If they weren't doing what they are doing, we should hire them! But that kind of public relations can't be bought! When
the hooligans in Birmingham attacked the Freedom Riders, while the cops
looked the other way, they revealed to everyone, in the full light of
day, the malevolent hatred of the segregationists, and the nonviolent
courage of the freedom riders.
Are the radical feminists the enemy? They are a minority of a minority. Their extreme position on abortion alienates 90% of the voters. The
politically foolish and self-defeating adoption of that extreme
position by the Democratic Party gives their candidates a ball and chain
to carry around with them. It is the only thing that is
keeping all the compromisers on our side and on theirs from resolving
the abortion issue in an immoral and specious way. Do we need to fight these people? Why? They are our allies! And too dumb to know it!
enemies are the Catholics, the Lutherans, the Baptists, the
evangelicals etc.--all those nice Christian folks who tacitly go along
with abortion, who will do nothing effective to stop it. If
all these people would turn against abortion, if they would join the
orthodox Jews and the orthodox Moslems in strictly banning abortion from
their congregations, who would be left in America still supporting
abortion? Without the "Christians" they would be such a small minority, they would have to quit. The so-called "Christians" are the enemy!
All right, let's destroy the baby killing equipment! But let's get it all this time! Let's get the master switch that turns on the whole abortion industry! Where is it? Inside the heads of the men and women bound for the abortuary this morning. Inside the heads of half of your friends and relatives. Don't you understand how they think and feel? If you can't convert that person, who can? But if you really believe that violence is the way, set us the heroic example. Start with your own relatives! Why damage the bricks?
How do we target the heart and mind of an abortion-bound man and woman? With a scope-sighted sniper rifle? At least it isn't a weapon of indiscriminate violence, like a bomb. But
before we do that, we have the moral obligation to confront those
people with a personal witness, to target their minds with the truth
about abortion. And it isn't enough, it isn't half enough, to try and confront them 5 minutes before the abortion appointment. It isn't enough to confront just them. We also have to confront all those who push them into the abortion. In short, until we have thoroughly tried the alternative of direct action in education we have no righttoeventalkofviolence! How many pro life leaflets have you handed out this month?
Bad aim is characteristic of violence. It is always the wrong people who get killed in war. The fire storm caused by allied bombing killed all the people in the city of Dresden--children, hospital patients, old folks. It didn't singe one hair on Adolph Hitler's head. What evil madness is it that brings us to kill millions of people supposedly to get at one bad man? In
the recent Persian Gulf War 200,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed, many of
them buried alive in the trenches and left to suffocate. They were mostly teen aged boys forced into the army at the point of a gun. First they were his victims and then they were our victims. Besides the soldiers, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed as a direct result of the war. All this violence to punish one Mr. Evil, the president of Iraq, who comes through it without a scratch. We had mercy on him--that is, we cut another cynical political deal. We had no mercy on the others who were the pawns in the game.
Nonviolence is a way of taking a precise aim at evil. It is like a moral lazar beam that destroys only the cancer without damaging any of the healthy tissue. It is the only truly accurate weapon there is. That is why we have to use it and shun every kind of violence.
The War for the Unborn
from Pro Life Action bulletin # 5 October 1992
John Brown's Shadow
bulletin # 6 from 1993
bulletin # 8 from 1993
The Media Murders the
Pro Life Movement
bulletin # 11 from 1993
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