Schindler's List of Helpers (With Friends Like These...)
Regardless of how you feel about the Terri Schiavo saga, there are some folks you just don't need in your corner. And it's more than a bit disturbing to see that Terry Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have enlisted the help of two luminaries of the American lunatic fringe: Operation Rescue co-founder Randall Terry and militia crazy Lt. Col. James "Bo" Gritz.
On Saturday, March 19, the first day that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed (the U.S. Senate has since hammered out a compromise to make a federal court the final authority on the case), police busted Gritz and several other protesters for trying to symbolically smuggle bread and water into the hospice of the brain-damaged woman.
A former Special Forces commando, Gritz has been at the forefront of the protests calling for Terri Schiavo to remain on a feeding tube. It is only the latest chapter in Gritz's decidedly unconventional career. In 1992, he briefly ran for vice president on the racist and anti-Semitic Populist Party ticket, playing second fiddle to the top of that ticket, former KKK leader David Duke.
Yes, Bo knows wacko. He has been active in the anti-government militia movement, and proved central in turning the 1992 federal seige on Randy Weaver (in Ruby Ridge, Idaho) into a major rallying cry for militia groups. At the time, Gritz called for the arrests of everyone involved, from then-FBI chief William Sessions to Idaho governor Cecil Andrus.
Since that time, Gritz has dedicated himself to hawking survivalist training, warning fellow conspiracy mongers about a Zionist plot for worldwide domination and championing the extreme fringe group called Christian Identity, which views the world through the prism of racism and anti-Semitism.
"Do you see the sign, scent, stain and mark of the beast on America today?" Gritz asked back in the early 1990s. "The enemy you face today is a satanic overthrow where he would change the United States of America, a nation under God, into USA, Incorporated, with King George [the first President Bush] as chairman of the board, and a Zionist group that would rule over us as long as Satan might be upon this earth. That is your enemy."
But Bo Gritz isn't even the most high-profile of the Schindlers' defenders. The couple's spokesman is none other than Randall Terry, who helped establish Operation Rescue (until mounting debts just got to be too much of a headache), where he advanced the anti-abortion fight by conducting commando-style raids on women's medical centers around the country.
This is a guy you want articulating your cause? Randall Terry who has unabashedly vowed to help transform the U.S. into a Christian theocracy? Randall Terry who is on the record supporting the death penalty for homosexuals (despite of, or perhaps because, his own son is gay)? Randall Terry who was jailed for trying to present a fetus to President Clinton?
Yep, the same Randall Terry who once warned doctors who perform abortions, "When I, or people like me, are running the country, you'd better flee, because we will find you, we will try you and we will execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed. If we're going to have true reformation in America, it is because men once again, if I may use a worn out expression, have righteous testoserone flowing through their veins."
We are wary of how Terri Schiavo's parents are really helped by a man who noted during a speech in 1993, "Let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good."
If you are judged by the company you keep, the side battling for Terri Schiavo's feeding tube are not doing themselves any favors.