One year ago this Sunday, a man named Robert Lewis Dear attacked a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colo. During the assault and resulting standoff, he shot and killed three people and wounded nine. While he suffered — like many mass shooters — from mental-health issues, his motives seemed clear. In court, he shouted that he was a “warrior for the babies.” In a rambling interview after his arrest, he allegedly said “no more baby parts” and made other statements indicating that his terrorist attack was motivated by an opposition to abortion.
The incident immediately kicked off yet another “national conversation,” this one about “Christian terrorism” and the threat of pro-life speech. Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, accused pro-life groups of igniting a “firestorm of hate.” She claimed that pro-life activists “knew there could be these types of consequences” yet “ratcheted up the rhetoric anyway.” Over at Patheos, atheist writer Dan Arel wrote a widely shared piece proclaiming Christian terrorism “a bigger threat to U.S. freedom than Islamic extremism.” ThinkProgress made sure to label the violence specifically Christian and went on to repeat what was (before San Bernardino and Orlando) a favorite left-wing talking point: that right-wing extremists had killed more Americans since 9/11 than Islamic terrorists.
Fast-forward one year from Dear’s attack. Last weekend, four police officers were shot on a “bloody Sunday” for our nation’s law enforcement, three of them in what appeared to be targeted, ambush-style attacks. In San Antonio, an assassin killed a police officer and sped away. In St. Louis, a man shot a passing officer in the face and was later killed in a gun battle with other cops. In Sanibel, Fla., an officer was shot as he sat in his patrol car after a traffic stop.
These attacks come on the heels of the mass shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, where politically motivated gunmen killed a total of eight police officers. The San Antonio cop was the 20th police officer killed in an ambush attack this year. Even before December, the number of ambush attacks on officers has hit a ten-year high. Year-to-date, there is a shocking 67 percent rise in fatal shootings of police.
This is the worst kind of double standard. When violence is done in the name of a right-wing cause, it’s used as evidence that the Right writ large is dangerous. When it is done in the name of a left-wing cause, it’s rationalized, minimized, or excused to the point where a good cop, bad cop dynamic emerges, in which the political system is forced to deal with the “respectable” activists or feel the fury of the street. And if some cops die? Well, the murderers of 2016 will be the “political prisoners” of 2036. The sad cycle will repeat itself.
— David French is an attorney, and a staff writer at National Review.