By all accounts, including an ex-wife who watched his personality darken, 51-year-old Scott Roeder became a willing foot soldier for extremists. First, it was anti-government tax-resisters. Then, militant anti-abortionists filled his head with hateful intolerance for abortion clinics and physicians.
By last Sunday, Roeder had turned from vandalizing abortion clinics and manning protest picket lines to murder. Witnesses said he gunned down Wichita Dr. George Tiller inside a church where the prominent abortion physician was an usher.
Some anti-abortion firebrands immediately disowned Roeder's violence, claiming self-righteously they don't believe in violence.
Nonsense. Extremists deal in excessive, inflammatory language that can only result in triggering violent behavior in weak-minded recruits. It's known as brainwashing, most chillingly portrayed in the film "Manchurian Candidate," in which a Korean War POW is indoctrinated to become a political assassin.
One of the most notorious anti-abortion extremists, Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry, devoted himself to condemning Dr. Tiller as "an evil man (whose) hands were covered with blood." On the day of Dr. Tiller's killing, Terry dismissed the slaying. He "reaped what he sowed," Terry crowed.
For years, anti-abortion websites along with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly publicly condemned the physician as "Tiller the Killer," suggesting his abortion work needed to be stopped. Some in the movement even suggested eye-for-an-eye biblical justification for murder.
Anti-abortion extremists may not have handed Scott Roeder the pistol. But they surely armed him with a weapon just as deadly in the hands of an agitated convert—incendiary language that blindly loyal followers mistake for righteous retribution.