In the aftermath of the brutal attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic, we all knew it would not take long for at least one GOP presidential hopeful to say something that would spike really high on the inappropriateness scale.
Ted Cruz managed to do so in a way that not only deeply offended our sensibilities, but also gave us a peek into how fringe right politicians abdicate responsibility and leadership by avoiding answering the questions that really matter and choosing instead to distract us with inflammatory statements and lies.
Three days after a terrorist attack in Colorado Springs, here’s what we should be talking about. Three people are dead and almost a dozen wounded after a man with a gun entered a Planned Parenthood clinic and started shooting. Who the shooter was, or what box he may or may not have checked on a government form, isn’t important.
The important question is, at a time when we are seeing a demonstrable uptick in violence at clinics, what are our elected officials doing to proactively reduce the risk of terrorism?
Ted Cruz doesn’t want to talk about how he’d reduce the risk of terrorism.
Within 48 hours of three people being murdered in Colorado Springs, here’s what Ted wanted to talk about. First, he acknowledged that it was horrible. Then, he started to talk about media spin:
Cruz: We know that … that he was a man who registered to vote as a woman. The media promptly wants to blame him on the pro-life movement, when, at this point, there’s very little evidence to indicate that.
Reporter: It was reported he said no more baby parts.
Cruz: Well, it’s also reported that he was registered as an independent and as a woman—a transgendered leftist activist if that’s what he is. I don’t think it’s fair to blame on the rhetoric of the left. This is a murderer.
Nothing about a need to reduce violence, protect clinics, or prevent future attacks. Nothing acknowledging that we can actually do things and say things to reduce the risk of violence at clinics.
Americans who go to clinics worry about terrorist attacks while Ted Cruz worries about media framing.
The junior senator from Texas has shown a fondness for deploying the rhetorical technique of redirecting the conversation with a loaded question or outrageous statement, which he joked about at the CPAC gathering earlier this year:
Disproving a negative takes time and derails the conversation. It is a tactic Cruz and others utilize over and over.
Here’s the message that we should be forcing Republicans and conservatives to respond to: when you lie about what actually happens at health clinics, and use inflammatory language like murderers and baby parts, you bear some responsibility for what happens when someone takes your lies to heart.
When the right demonizes Planned Parenthood, clinics get attacked. These actions are foreseeable. Cruz and others know what they are doing.
Knowing that those who oppose abortion rights and access are going to keep repeating these dangerous lies, hoping we’ll waste time refuting them, let us press the question that we really need everyone working to answer—how can we stop terrorist attacks like this before they happen?
We need to ask these questions face-to-face, in the comments sections, in letters to the editor, and on radio call-in shows. We need to phone, email, write, and visit congressional offices to demand answers, not propaganda, from our elected officials.
We cannot let Ted Cruz control the conversation, because even today, three days after three people died, he demonstrated that when he’s in control of the narrative, he’ll spread inflammatory lies that put real people in harm’s way just to score political points: