Myths to Kill Forrn”I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list,”rntwitters the Lord High Executioner in arnfamous line of Gilbert and Sullivan’srnMikado, and indeed these days whorndoesn’t have one? Abortion protesterrnPaul Hill seems to have had a little list ofrnhis own, and early in the morning onrnJuly 28 of this year he leveled a shotgunrnat two of those whose names led all thernrest and dispatched them to that greatrnabortion clinic in the sky (or perhaps it’srnlocated in a rather lower altitude). Forrnthe next several days, the official prolifernmovement spent its time condemning,rndistancing itself from, and expressingrnrepugnance for what Mr. Hill had done,rneven as the supporters of “choice,” thernpreposterous euphemism for abortionrnthat everyone now uses, insisted that thernmurders with which Mr. Hill was immediatelvrncharged, if they did not have thernexplicit support of the pro-life movement,rnat least grew logically out of thernpro-lifers’ own rhetoric and ideology.rnWhether they did or not is a questionrnnot to be dismissed as derisively or asrnspeedily as most respectable pro-lifersrnhabitually do, but whatever the answerrnto the question, it’s clear that Mr. Hill isrnnot alone in having come to the conclusionrnthat there is a time to get down tornthe business of ridding the planet ofrnthose society offenders who might wellrnbe underground and who never, never,rnnever would be missed.rnA few years ago a friend of mine toldrnme there are only two political mo’ementsrnin the country for which he hadrnany respect— the animal rights and anti-rnabortion movements—^because thesernare the only ones composed of personsrnwho are willing to go to jail for their beliefs.rnPerhaps this tells you more aboutrnthe kind of people I have for friends thanrnanything else, but he had a point thatrnmany on the right seem to find incomprehensible.rnIt is all very well to canvassrnthe neighborhood for votes, raise moneyrnby direct mail, publish magazines, hostrntalk shows, and write books and newspaperrncolumns, but unless you’re willing tornsuffer for the cause in which you are enlisted,rnit will never get very far.rnWillingness to suffer, of course, doesrnPrincipalities & Powersrnby Samuel Francisrnnot necessarily mean willingness to die,rnto be maimed for life, or to lose vour jobrnand family, but it does mean willingnessrnto endure rather more unpleasantnessrnthan most on the political right theserndays seem prepared to accept, and it impliesrnalso a willingness to inflict somernsuffering upon one’s adversaries. It isrncharacteristic of the right that its adherentsrntend to be well-off and comfortable,rnand any political action they endorsernor involve themselves in must notrnthreaten that comfort or even suggestrnthat there may be times when living inrnaffluent vegetation and voting Republicanrnare not enough to preserve a way ofrnlife, a nation, or a civilization that consistsrnof something more than fiscal restraintrnand cakes on the griddle. Antiabortionrncrackpots like Mr. Hill arernmerely among the first to reflect on suchrnmatters, but the time may soon be comingrnwhen others on the political right inrnthis country need to ponder the samernmatters: When, if ever, is politicalrnviolence justified? What other kinds ofrnextralegal action might also be justifiedrnor necessary? And—perhaps for manyrnon the right the most unthinkablernthought of all—just how close are we inrnthe United States to such a time?rnFor the left, such issues have neverrnbeen a big deal. The left appeared inrnhistory armed with a formal politicalrntheory that wrapped itself in absoluternnatural rights (later replaced by therndialectic of history and the mythrnof progress) and the myth of the consensualrnbasis of political legitimacy. If arnpolitical order violated what the left tookrnto be such “rights,” if it behaved in arnmanner that did not respect the mechanismsrnof political consent, or even if itrnenlisted itself on the wrong side of history,rnwoe betide it and its partisans.rnThus, the notorious “double standard”rnof the left, by which it ignores or applaudsrnthe most brutal repression andrnthe most vicious violence committed byrnits pals even as it giggles in glee over thernpunishment of its enemies on the right,rnis not really a logical contradiction.rnA few years ago, when neo-Nazi thugsrnwere ripping up the streets of a newlvrnunified Germany, the German governmentrntalked seriously of banning evenrnmoderate right-wing groups there, andrnthe Progressive element amongst usrnclapped and cheered at the prospect,rneven though the neo-Nazis had donernvirtually nothing that both the Europeanrnand American New Left in thern1960’s had not also done. The neo-rnNazis, you see, were simply on the wrongrnside of history and had no rights, whilernthe New Leftists over whom the progressiverntypes gibbered and drooled werernhistory’s good guys. The same view is evidentrnin the wretched and mendaciousrnmovie Mississippi Burning, where Southernrnracists murder three “civil rightsrnworkers” and are finally brought to justicernby FBI agents who literally threatenrnto torture, castrate, and burn to deathrncitizens who had nothing to do with thernkillings. The assault on the Southern socialrnorder by organized armies of “civilrnrights workers” is never considered anrnact of violence, even though at the timernalmost all such activists saw themselvesrnas the agents of an openly revolutionaryrnand socially destructive mission.rnFor Christians, of course, the legitimationrnof violence for political purposesrnis quite a bit more challenging a problem,rnand that is the formal reason sornmany pro-life activists leaped to condemnrnMr. Hill’s actions. Nevertheless,rnthe Christian apologetic for attacking orrneven killing those who practice abortionrndoes have a foundation in logic. As DonaldrnSpitz of Operation Rescue Chesapeakernsays, “If there was a sniper in thernschoolyard sniping off children one byrnone and the only way you could stoprnhim was by stopping that sniper . . . yournwould stop that sniper.”rnTo that argument, mainstream prolifersrnvoice several different responses,rnnamely: a) Christians may not kill or usernviolence (but Christians do endorsernviolence in the form of self-defense, capitalrnpunishment, and just war); b) usingrnviolence against abortionists and theirrnclinics is counterproductive, at least asrnlong as lawful and nonviolent politicalrnand legal action is possible (thoughrnwhen liberals used the “counterproductive”rnargument against the New Left inrnthe 1960’s, they were laughed to scorn byrnoutraged conservatives who demanded arnstronger response and a more fundamentalrnobjection to political violence);rnand c) perhaps the most compelling ar-rnNOVEMBER 1994/11rnrnrn