Flip Benham is coming to town on Friday, March 8, otherwise known as International Women’s Day. This may be coincidental, but the irony in any case is hard to overlook.
Benham is the head of an organization called Operation Save America, formerly known as Operation Rescue. With God as their witness, the dedicated men and women of OSA are on a holy war to save the unborn from the “Gates of Hell.”
OSA has local and national faces. They have local representatives in front of abortion clinics all over the country and they sponsor an anti-abortion rally every summer –their 2002 festivities will be kicking off in Dallas, and from what I understand, the theme of this year’s convention is “blood guilt.”
In an attempt to explain their operation, the best place to start is their Web site, which is replete with ideological gems. The top of their Web site has a picture of the smoking twin towers, then a quote: “Because you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed is pursuing you.”
A blurb then explains the thrust of their argument: Sept. 11 is a punishment for our sins; we are being called through “signs, judgments, and prophetic witness” to repent, and the violence will not stop until we heal our wicked ways. They lament the apathy of the church in their cause — one of the articles on their Web site is entitled “what if God gave a war and his church did not come?” — and are hellbent on overcompensating.
One article on their Web site asks, “What do abortion, homosexuality, and Islam have in common?”
The answer can be easily surmised from what has come before, but let me use their words: “They are all inspired by the same liar who has come to the earth to rob, kill, and destroy. All three are the beneficiaries of the marvelous liberties and freedom we have in America. All three have violated freedom and perverted liberty –making it license. All three deny God and the truth of His word. All three have entered into a pact with death.”
OSA takes to the streets of Connecticut at Bridgeport’s Summit Women’s Center. Two women, Marilyn and Carmen, run the show, as groups of protesters hurl insults and misinformation at the women entering the clinic and the escorts who try to aid them in getting past the protesters and in the door.
I have had the privilege of being the subject of their attacks on more than one occasion, and I learned much about myself that I hadn’t know before. Namely, I bow down to the throne of Satan, and if I continue to do what I am doing, I will become prematurely aged. They heckle men entering the clinic and assure women that death, breast cancer and sterility await them. And on Friday, March 8, International Women’s Day, Benham will be in Bridgeport as a champion among them.
Benham will be here as well.
That same day he will be leading a talk called “Civil Disobedience and the Pro-Life Movement.” Describing what Benham does as civil disobedience establishes a tenuous connection between his specious brand of harassment and other types of peaceful activism. It is most certainly true that Benham has been in trouble with the authorities.
An article in the Houston Chronicle of May 31, 1998, puts his arrest count at “less than a hundred, more than 50.” But what Benham calls civil disobedience is more an incitement to domestic terrorism. Their rhetoric of punishment and retribution is not non-violent; it is ominous and bloody. What they call civil disobedience is really a policy of intolerance, and one which leads to the murder of abortion providers, six of whom have been killed.
Their Web site boasts that 600 clinics have been closed in the past six years. Although the statistic is probably inflated for propaganda purposes, it is none the less indicative of their determination and desire for results.
Leslie Cozzi is a junior in Ezra Stiles College.