But I wasn’t born in Iraq. I was born in Wichita, Kansas - and I grew up at the height, and heart, of terrorism in the name of Jesus: the abortion wars.
They attacked doctors, patients, and clinics with acid, bombs, guns.
Army of God groups launched websites with “kill lists” - including patient, doctor, clinic volunteer photos, addresses, names, numbers, license plates, etc.
One was called “Nuremberg Files.”
Those sites even targeted us: teen girls.
George Tiller was an abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas.
Know something else? He was a Republican - and a devout Christian.
They finally assassinated him in 2009.
George Tiller kept going.
In 1993, Shelley Shannon shot Dr. Tiller twice - in the name of Jesus.
George Tiller kept going.
In any case, Army of God tried to kill Dr. Tiller many times - in Jesus’ name.
And Dr. George Tiller - Republican, Christian - kept going.
No terrorism charges.
Shelley Shannon is a free woman today — and Dr. George Tiller, may he Rest in Power, is now dead.
They shot him in his place of worship - Reformation Lutheran Church, while he served his congregation as an usher.
His wife was, meanwhile, was singing in the church choir.
In the name of Jesus Christ.
In the heartland of “real America.”
In Wichita, Kansas.
In my hometown.
The devout Christian, Republican doctor devoted to women’s rights over our bodies, is still dead.
I know because I grew up in it.
Wichita, Kansas: USA heartland and ground zero in the Army of God’s terrorism campaign “for Jesus.”
In memory of Dr. George Tiller.
Rest in Power.
As an adult, I saw friends in Syria beheaded by ISIS in the name of God.
Political violence isn’t religiously exclusive: best believe I know about what the fuck I speak — intimately.
Their terrorism campaign succeeded - not just in finally killing him. Fear shut down other clinics.
No one makes that decision lightly. It’s far from the easy way out.
But during the procedure, some of my tears? They were of gratitude that men like Dr. Tiller defied terrorism to fight for women like me.
I already know — and likelier than not, far more intimately than you.
Just remember - this thread is grounded in both professional expertise and life-long, intimate experience.
But I also have more to say about this heartland USA Christian terrorism campaign, because we now live in the aftermath — when “the terrorists won.”
This terrorism thread draws on my professional and personal experiences, sure, but the story isn’t about me.
So buckle up. Let's get started.
I was 4 when Dr. Tiller's clinic was first firebombed.
I graduated from high school in 1999.
A decade later, in 2009, the terrorists finally killed him - in church.
An older woman in my family, driving past a protest outside a clinic, with her best friend - who cheered and said "baby killers go to hell." My relative said nothing - that's important.
She had had her own abortion - before Roe v. Wade - yes, illegal and dangerous. It almost killed her. It was, and remains, her biggest dirty secret.
When she got pregnant, her "pro-life" community didn't give her a choice. They forced her to have an illegal abortion, again: pre Roe v. Wade.
Years later, she's still ashamed (of the abortion).
She cried, and she said - "She'd think I'm not a real Christian, and she'd stop loving me."
Mind you: SHE WASN'T GIVEN A CHOICE TO KEEP THE BABY.
Anyway, that's another story for another day. Moving on.
2009: Army of God terrorists finally succeed in the brazen political assassination of Dr. George Tiller, at his church, in the middle of a worship service, while his wife sang in the choir.
They did it "in Jesus' name."
So what happens next?
Here's how that Christian terrorism campaign succeeded over the years:
Real estate knows how expensive arson campaigns are, and how detrimental protests are to successful businesses next-door.
Throughout this entire period -- for decades -- as clinic after clinic, doctor after doctor, is terrorized into closing, into stopping -- Dr. George Tiller fights on.
One of the only clinics in the entire state, and eventually, the entire midwest.
Because the terrorism was working.
He'd fought on through fire-bombings, acid attacks, having been shot repeatedly.
This Christian doctor did not cave to terrorism.
Not everyone can know the cost to your life that political-religious violence actually has - and nonetheless, keep fighting.
2009, after his death: who's left to fight? Who's left to help women in need?
Terrorism isn't dependent on physical violence alone.
Much like, you know, a "radical Islamic cleric."
And the "good, moderate, pro-life Christians" are listening.
And then -- his clinic finally closes its doors.
It was Christian terrorism.
The terrorists won, and we live in the aftermath.
And yet -- abortion remains LEGAL.
Because you see, we're not terrorists. No, sir. We're God-fearing people unlike those subhuman demons who don't value life -- somewhere "over there."
Now, we move to the next, "normalized" / "acceptable" / "civilized" phase.
Abortion is still legal, but damn hard to get -- don't you dare forget why that is.
Terrorism set up the "civilized" next step: so-called "targeted regulations" that constitute the current phase: guttmacher.org/evidence-you-c…
Most of the US abortion debate is framed as "culture war," or "religious freedom."
But we forgot how we got here, and where it all started: terrorism campaigns in Jesus' name, actively aided and abetted by "moderate" Christians.
But now? We have cultural amnesia - as if we're "exceptionally civilized" in the realm of electoral process and public debate.
I have some more to add, but I need a quick coffee re-up and breather. BRB.
I’m going to tell you how I wound up working on ISIS propaganda (the last thing I ever wanted to do), and how it completely changed the way I viewed the terroristic violence of my entire childhood (which I had “normalized”).
I wanted to teach American students (among other things) to decenter the singular lens of "violence" through which we're trained to view the region.
I decline. I don't work on conflict (then). I don't work on Syria. It feels gross, voyeuristic.
It feels like war porn.
They resurface in ISIS videos, beheaded, made into explicit propaganda in the name of inciting a Christian West vs. Muslim World eternal conflict.
But ISIS' videos beheading my friends? They were brilliantly calculated to bait, provoke: EXPLICITLY by playing to OUR stereotypes of "them."
But if I don't? My work means nothing. I've never stood for ANYTHING. So...
Again, last thing I EVER wanted to do.
In it, as you know, media is absolutely critical, but what you (most) don't realize is how you fall for it: hook, line, sinker.
What's more, it relies on an opposite "other" to mirror it: these now "global culture terror wars" are, in fact, symbiotic extremisms.
Why? They're simple. Easy. Clear.
They're also bullshit -- and needed by both sides of the spectrum.
I'll tell you something else: the discursive veneer of religiosity, sincere or not?
It's very politically expedient. It works.
Don't ever forget that.
Names are different. The phenomenon isn't.
Again, I thought I knew better -- the whole time.
They no longer need to (already did); that phase passed, and willful amnesia helps us forget. We shouldn't -- ever.
ISIS helped me make sense of my entire childhood - growing up in the heartland of a terrorism campaign in Jesus' name, in the good ole "real America" of Wichita, Kansas, USA.
So before you hop into my @s on some bigoted ignorant shit, know this: I'm not the one to troll.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your day. #PeaceOut
I’ll also post a link to the entire thread I’m smoother, more readable format, once @threadreaderapp does me a solid.
Please “unroll.” Thanks, bot.