Blog Post

Credible Threats Made Against Pro-Life Lawmakers

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

Authorities have found “very concerning” items in the home of a man arrested for threatening the lives of pro-life lawmakers and their families.

Fox News is reporting on the threats made against Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) by 63-year-old Carlos Bayon of Grand Island, New York.

According to Townhall, the message left by Bayon for Rep. Scalise on June 30 stated: “Hey listen, this message is for you and the people that sent you there. You are taking ours, we are taking yours. Anytime, anywhere. We know where they are. We are not going to feed them sandwiches, we are going to feed them lead. Make no mistake you will pay. Ojo por ojo, diente por diente (Spanish for ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’). That is our law and we are the majority. Have a good day.”

U.S. Attorney James Kennedy said the voicemail threats, which are believed to have been in regard to the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border, are considered credible.

Authorities searching Bayon’s home, which is located just north of Buffalo, have reportedly found “very concerning” items in his possession. They have not identified these items.

Scalise and McMorris are the third and fourth-highest ranking Republicans in the House, behind retiring Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

"Whip Scalise is grateful to law enforcement for their actions," spokeswoman Lauren Fine said in a statement. "He will never forget how their heroism saved his life and those of his colleagues last year. As he has said before, there is absolutely no place in our political discourse for violent threats."

Also threatened last weekend was pro-life champion Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey. Police arrested 43-year-old Dereal Finklin, a registered Democrat in East Orange, who was charged with making terroristic threats against the life of the congressman.

Smith told the Asbury Park Press that this was just one incident in a pattern of abuse that he and his staff have endured over the last five years which he blamed on the toxic political climate in the US. Things have gotten so bad that the congressman and his staff have established new safety protocols and installed electronic security.

But even with these precautions, the tires of his personal car have been slashed seven times in as many months.

Smith believes a movement is underway to intimate some members of Congress into retiring if they can’t be defeated fairly at the polls.

“There is a lot of workplace harassment,” Smith said. “I know it’s worked on some (in Congress). … They just got tired of being threatened. Not me. I double down.”

Last year was an equally bad year for pro-life conservative lawmakers. On June 14, 2017, Rep. Scalise was shot by a left-wing activist while practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia. The Virginia Attorney General concluded that the attack was “fueled by rage against Republican legislators” and called it “an act of terrorist.”

Earlier in 2017, Texas lawmaker Tony Tinderholt and his family were put under state protection after Tinderholt introduced the “Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act.”

According to St. Louis Public Radio, Missouri state Senator Kurt Schaefer, who was investigating the ties between Planned Parenthood and the University of Missouri in connection to the trafficking of human body parts, was also threatened last year by a caller who stated: “Christianity is dying in this country. People like you – people with your beliefs – many of us would rather string you up to (expletive-deleted) tree and hang you and (expletive-deleted) choke out and watch the life slip away from you, because you want to ruin the lives of other people.”

This is why inflammatory comments such as those made by Rep. Maxine Waters who encouraged her supporters to “harass” and “push back on” Trump staffers, should never be tolerated by members of either party.

There are too many people out there who, for whatever reason, are already prone to violence and can be triggered by this kind of rhetoric.

If we want to continue to call ourselves a civilized society, we need to do a much better job of encouraging real tolerance, i.e., the kind that knows how to to tolerate the presence of opposing argument without resorting to vulgarity, name-calling, and violence in order to stifle it.

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