Magazine: the Body Politic
Issue: March 1994
Title: Politics of Fear - The Use of Nazi Strategies by Anti-Choice Groups
Author: Richard R. Belton
The preacher sat behind his microphone. It was Sunday
morning and his words traveled across the airwaves to thousands
of radios tuned in to hear his "words of wisdom".
"The great floods that ravaged the midwest this summer were
sent by God to punish this nation because it allows abortions.
As long as babies are murdered, God in his righteousness will
send His wrath against this nation."
And so the propaganda continues. Using the radio and the
pulpit as a conduit, anti-choice groups and their fundamentalist
preachers play on the fears of anyone who will listen.
It was not so long ago that another group used these same
tactics to inspire loyalty and acts of violence from their
followers. It was 1933 and again the words traveled across the
airwaves to the thousands of radios across the nation, tuned in
to hear the "wisdom" of their leader.
"The Jews are a lower form of life, yet they have held our
beloved Germany in thrall. The Jewish parasites have
plundered the nation without pity. For this race, the
misfortune of our people is an end in itself."
And so the propaganda of this group, the Nazi party, continued
using all forms of communication at their disposal: press, radio,
children's books, posters and hand bills. For 17 years they
battered the air waves and the bookstores, playing on fears and
frustrations, calling for action and then presenting a single
target on which to vent the hate and violent action.
Hitler's propaganda minister declared, "Propaganda must be
essentially simple and repetitious and the single simple message
is, 'The Jews are to Blame For Everything'."
The anti-choice leaders have used a similar tactic, blaming
whatever ills befall people as God's wrath incurred by legal
abortions. Their message is also simple and repetitious,
"Abortion is Murder", women's clinics are "killing centers", and
"abortion doctors are butchers". This play on words repeated
often enough creates in the minds of those who listen the image
of a monster that must be destroyed. It is the first step to
advocating and subliminally encouraging violence.
PLAYING ON FEAR
Playing on fear is just the first step. The fear is then
channeled into hate: hate for something despicable, something
lower than life, to make it okay to kill, like squashing a roach.
The Nazis did this by producing films that portrayed Jews as
villainous caricatures. In one film the Jews were portrayed as
plague infested rats that must be exterminated. In children's
books such as _The Jew From Mussbach_ and _The Poison Mushroom_,
Jews were portrayed as child molesters, monsters from whom
children should run and protect themselves.
Similarly, anti-choice groups have published the pamphlet,
_The Bottom Feeders_, portraying doctors who perform abortions as
the lowest form of life feeding on scum at the bottom of the
ocean. They essentially advocate that this lower than life
creature should be exterminated like so many rats and roaches.
Anti-choice zealots tell stories to their children, especially
the very young, that women's clinics are places where they kill
babies. The children are warned to stay away from abortion
clinics or they will be dragged in and killed.
Once the fear is built and the hate channelled to a specific
target, the next step is a call for action. It is a call to use
the hate, to release it through violence. To give the violence
legitimacy it is called a "Holy War". Hitler called the Nazi
movement a "Holy War against the Jews".
In Hitler's "Holy War", he creates a "crusade of hate",
invents an emotional language, evokes new myths, creates martyrs
out of murderers, and patriots out of brutes. He rewards those
who meekly submit to his will with illusions that they are
important by following God's word. In his speeches (dramatic
oratories as podium thumping and ranting as a fundamentalist
preacher-general), he portrays the Nazis as those who will "SAVE
Germany", "maintain Christianism", and "bring back respect for
In Hitler's symbolic oratory are oft repeated platitudes:
* To be Nazi is to be good, to be God's chosen, to be superior
to all others.
* To be Nazi is to change society to fit this way of life and to
eliminate or dominate all those who don't "fit in" with the
* To doubt is to be blasphemous, to disagree is to be against
God's chosen, to be Un-Christian, Un-Patriotic.
If these words and phrases sound familiar, it is because
they are used currently by religious fundamentalist anti-
choicers. They use the term "Christian", not in its true sense
of the word, but to describe who they are and their way of life.
They also want to "SAVE America", to maintain their form of
"Christianism" to bring back "traditions" and "family values", to
show America has lost its former Glory, that society is falling
apart, and all because of "abortionists" (and feminists, gays,
"New Agers", drugs, etc.). To doubt them is to be blasphemous,
because only THEY represent God's will. To disagree with them is
to be "Un-Christian", to be "of the devil". They also call
themselves "soldiers in a Holy War". It is a war complete with
TRAINING FOR FEAR
These Operation Rescue "boot camps", as they call them, are
national gatherings of anti-choicers. They sponsor workshops on,
among other things, how to close down clinics, how to stalk
doctors and patients, and how to get around the law or use the
law against itself. Merideth Rainey, one of their leading
"Anything we can use to encourage anyone, especially doctors,
to stop working, we'll use it."
In a recent article in _Florida Today_, one of their
followers stated, "The more people we have in the street, the
more disruption we can create". And this year, when a judge
tried to limit their disruptions, their gutter warfare, these
disruptors were quoted as saying, "It's unconstitutional, they
are limiting our free speech.".
Similarly, when Hitler's "SA" stormtroops created
disruptions in the street and the government tried to stem their
tide of violence he gave speeches saying,
"The government is trying to rob the people of their freedom.
No matter how hard the government tries to suppress us, we
will never yield".
Hitler blatantly stated his strategy, "Possession of the streets
is the key to power". When others tried to speak out against the
Nazis, his "troopers" would drown them out with shrill cries and
chants and shouting. When others tried to engage in dialogue,
the Nazis would engage in incoherent monologues.
The Nazi tactic followed a pattern from city to city:
* Create incessant propaganda.
* Form groups from those who will listen.
* Use the groups to create street disruptions and intimidate
those who disagree.
* Call for violence, not only against those who speak out
against them, but also for vandalism against Jewish
They even had their groups form picket lines around Jewish
businesses, not allowing people to enter. Their goal: to put all
Jews out of business.
Similarly anti-abortion groups intimidate and harass people
who work at women's clinics and try to harass women or keep them
from entering clinics. In a recent newspaper editorial in
_Florida Today_, the Reverend Ken Babbington stated,
"If we can get the women to not come into the clinics, then
the abortion issue is Moot"
The anti-choicers in the streets try to create disruption and
when engaged, refuse dialogue but stare blankly into the void
while spouting incoherent monologues.
SUCCESS OF FEAR
In 1932 alone, Nazi followers precipitated 461 street riots
killing 82 people, disrupted Jewish businesses and destroyed
Jewish property. By 1937, the Nazis unleased a full force of
violence that destroyed nearly every Jewish business and
synagogue across Germany in what is now referred to as
"Krystillnacht", or "Night of Broken Glass".
The constant haranguing of the fundamentalist right has
proven to create similar trends of increase in violence. Since
1977, the violence has increased against clinics, their operators
and their doctors from around 20 incidents of violence per year
to over 200 per year. And the violence that was limited to
blockades, invasions and assault has now escalated to kidnapping,
bombings, arson, and murder.
During 1981-1984 alone, there were 25 bombings, 11 arsons, 2
kidnappings, 25 death threats, and 62 acts of vandalism reported.
Nearly ten years later the violence has escalated to the murder
of 2 doctors and the attempted murder of a third who survived his
gunshot wounds. There have been hundreds of acts of vandalism,
death threats, and intimidation of clinic workers, including
stalking and threats to their children.
The ultimate Nazi tactic was to use the system against
itself. Thus, they used freedom of speech as a means of twisting
truth into half truth and lie, and to drown out dissenting voices
with shouting and diatribes. When arrested for assault, murder
or disruption, they would use the court as a platform for their
cause, giving national focus to their propaganda and painting
themselves and the country as a victim.
Recently, when anti-choicers violated the law by disrupting
business at a Melbourne, Florida abortion clinic, they used the
media and the courts to paint themselves as innocent "Christian"
victims, protecting the country's right to free speech. They
clogged the courts with chanters and "Christians" praying, while
venting their wrath at those who opposed them. They even called
the judge a "judicial whore" when he ruled in favor of the
Although the Nazis never gained a majority of followers as a
political party, they were the most organized and boisterous. In
the Parliamentary elections of 1930 they won 16% of the vote,
gaining 107 out of 650 seats in the German Reichstag. These Nazi
congressmen did not come to Parliament to debate, but to end
debate. They came not to respect parliamentary process, but to
destroy Parliament itself. As one elected Nazi official stated,
"We support a program of catastrophe which will bring an end
to the system. By threats, abuse and incessant disruptions,
we will bring orderly government to a standstill".
Again, anti-choicers have used similar tactic, starting with
getting elected to local school boards in order to change the
education system. They have also wormed their way into the power
structure of the Republican Party and changed its platform to
represent anti-choice philosophies. Their goal: to cut any
government protection of, or outright outlawing of abortion
NAZIS AND THE BIBLE
In _Mein Kampf_, the Nazi Bible, Hitler based Nazi
philosophy on several key points:
* German Aryans are God's chosen people, all others are chaff
* The symbol of evil assumes the shape of the Jew.
* The enemy must be destroyed in a just and righteous Holy War.
* Terror will always succeed unless opposed by equal terror.
The anti-choicers also use a Bible. But they take the words
of the Old and New Testaments and twist their interpretations to
fit their own life view. They also see themselves as God's
chosen and those who disagree as possessed by Satan. They also
label an enemy: the abortionist (or feminist, gay New Ager,
liberal, etc.) for destruction in a Holy War and look to terror
as a way of achieving their ends.
Hitler once said before he entered the Sudetenland,
"If my first aggression is challenged, I will retreat, but if
unchallenged, I will take more. My enemies are worms. They
will not challenge me.
In the end, madness unleased respects neither reason nor
boundaries. Because others were timid, too apathetic, or filled
with self-interest, Hitler triumphed and unleased a nightmare.
The religious right and their terrorist front-line of anti-
choicers will retreat if challenged by a majority. But if the
silent majority is too apathetic to become aware now, to
challenge now, then one day we will look up and see many of our
freedoms gone... And hear the cry of the self-righteous saying,
"You who disagree: your heads must roll.
After all, it is God's will."
This article is copyrighted and the author expects to be given
credit whenever published. Anyone printing or publishing this
article or ideas or associations generated in this article can
only do so with the express written consent of the author.
Reprints are available from the author for $3.00. Order by
Richard Belton c/o
Aware Woman Center for Choice
PO Box 033365
Indialantic, FL 32903
Richard Belton is 40 years old, a former teacher and now
administrator at a local community college. He has a BA in
English from the University of Virginia, and an MA in theater
Arts from Schiller International University in Strasbourg,
France. His favorite pastimes include, studying history, film,
nature, and politics.
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