COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 29: Nasya Fair looks at the growing memorial for the shooting victims with her son Korbyn, 4, at Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard on November 29, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The investigation moves into its third day after a gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood, killing three and injuring nine. (Photo by Brent Lewis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
A memorial for the victims at Planned Parenthood.



A Paradox of the Planned Parenthood Shooting

Once again, America is wrought with grief over another shooting. On Friday, suspected shooter Robert Lewis Dear killed three people and wounded nine more at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, CO. After a five-hour shootout with police, the 57-year-old Colorado resident was taken into custody. He was allegedly mumbling “no more baby parts,” referring to the (edited) videos released this summer accusing Planned Parenthood of harvesting the organs of fetuses.

The reaction to this tragedy has been polarizing. Many have once again called for gun reform. But strangely, as detailed in The New Yorker, conservative politicians have taken a very different stance. They’ve either been broad and opaque when conveying their sympathies, or stayed completely silent. Ben Carson told CBS, “There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, right or left, is something that is detrimental to our society.” Donald Trump, when asked by NBC if pro-life rhetoric went too far, responded, “No. I think he’s a sick person. And I think he was probably a person ready to go.” 

Robert Lewis Dear

Carly Fiorina, who has often stood by the inflammatory fetus videos, spoke to Fox News about the tragedy, saying, “[…] this is so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing the messenger, because they don’t agree with the message.  The vast majority of Americans agree, what Planned Parenthood is doing is wrong” (a poll by NBC and the Washington Square Journal says otherwise). Now, The Gateway Pundit, a self described ‘right-of-center new website,’ released Dear’s voter registration, which reported his gender to be female. This has lead to a growing conservative narrative, culminating in presidential candidate Ted Cruz claiming that “it’s also reported that he was registered as an independent and as a woman and a transgender leftist activist.”

These reactions have highlighted a paradox that’s not entirely new. All the candidates basically call Dear a crazy person, but why isn’t he being treated like a terrorist? Even Cruz’s inflammatory statement never uses the word. Dear is, like most mass shooters within the United States, labeled as a mentally ill person. But Muslim terrorists are rarely, if ever, called the same. Dear was white, and a supposedly devout Christian, so even though he killed people for a blatantly political agenda, he’s still not referred to in the same way. As his ex-wife told The New York Times, “He believed wholeheartedly in the Bible. That’s what he always said, he read it cover to cover to cover.”

While many moderate Muslim believers flooded the Internet to denounce the terror attacks in Paris, moderate Christians aren’t pressured to do the same. When it is a Christian subject, it’s so much easier to other the alleged attacker as a “maniac” and leave it at that. Because Dear is a member of the nation’s dominant race and religion, it’s less complicated to decide that he was an “outlier” then to actually examine the problems with our culture. 

As lawyer and devout evangelical Joshua Rogers wrote in The Washington Post, “It must be so frustrating for Muslims, who…are held accountable if they don’t do a news conference and publicly denounce every terrorist who commits terrorism in the name of Allah.” Rogers sympathizes with Muslims, saying that as a Christian, he often has to defend his religion in the wake of terrible crimes, like the bombing of abortion clinics. But moderate Christians still don’t really face the same burden as Muslims, at least not in the United States.Should Christians face the same burden of responsibility that Muslims do when it comes to these kinds of attacks?

Maybe, in the wake of all of these horrendous tragedies, we should just start blaming the only people responsible: those who actually kill, who actually commit acts of terror. Robert Lewis Dear isn’t any different from a suicide bomber, and moderate Muslims aren’t different from moderate Christians. The only people to blame are the murderers themselves. Let’s stop putting the burden of responsibility on entire entities of people. And for good measure, let’s stop killing innocent people all the time. The world seems pretty exhausted.

Images via the Associated Press, New Yorker

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