There is a similarity between killing abortion providers and lynching blacksThe execution of Paul Hill last Wednesday offers a cautionary tale about terrorism as well as capital punishment. Hill was convicted of murdering a physician and his unarmed bodyguard outside a Florida abortion clinic.
As the hours ticked toward his appointment with lethal injection, Hill portrayed himself as a martyr, anticipating a glorious reception in heaven.
Hill was a cold-blooded murderer who gained far more currency by dying in a state-sponsored murder than he would have if allowed to grow old inside prison walls. Some people will take comfort and find retribution in Hill's execution, not recognizing that both killings were part of the same cycle of violence that we nurture in America.
Observers have made a connection between Hill's zeal in death and a similar emotion among suicide bombers operating in the Middle East or the hijackers who flew their planes into the World Trade Center. There is another connection that we should recognize. Hill's intimidation of abortion providers was reminiscent of the violence that was directed at blacks prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. White men who lynched thousands of black men no doubt justified themselves as doing God's work. Moreover, the intended effect of the lynchers and the anti-abortion killers is the same. They are both designed to silence and intimidate a portion of the population. Hill's message to abortion providers could not have been clearer. A physician who practices this medical procedure risks being murdered.
Writing in Friday's edition of The Wall Street Journal, Michael Knox Beran described Hill as "barbarism masquerading as religion." To make Paul Hill into a martyr would be as warped as beatifying the gangs of white men who hanged blacks in the heyday of lynching.