This charming fellow is David McMenemy, who decided to try to set the Edgerton Women's Health Clinic in Davenport, Iowa, on fire -- by dousing his car with gasoline and driving into it an apparent suicide-bombing attempt:
- A Michigan man described as a bookworm by relatives has wandered the Midwest since August, looking for a medical clinic to attack with his 2004 Saturn compact car, authorities said.
It was dawn Monday when David Robert McMenemy approached Edgerton Women's Health Center in Davenport, which he mistakenly believed provided abortions.
He entered the center's driveway off East Rusholme Street and then took a few moments to turn and configure the car to face straight into the lobby, Davenport Fire Marshal Mike Hayman said.
The 45-year-old crashed the Saturn into the central lobby, coming to rest at the counter. When the car did not immediately burst into flames as he may have expected, police said he took gasoline that he had poured into a Gatorade bottle and spread it over the interior. "I lit it," McMenemy told investigators, and he exited the structure to surrender himself to startled Davenport firefighters.
"He came out and said to our guys, 'There's no one in the vehicle, and that's my car. I did it,'" Hayman related. "Our commander on the scene was very surprised, and he took McMenemy to a squad car and turned him over to police."
The health center would have been destroyed if its sprinkler system hadn't activated, police reported. Damage estimates were not available late Tuesday.
McMenemy's family later professed amazement at this turn of events, but McMenemy in fact had a long history of mental instability.
That's a theme running through a lot of these kinds of acts of terrorism, as I've noted before:
- Marking off rampages like Furrow's, Huff's, and Haq's as "isolated events" caused by mental illness is a cop-out, however. Because, as the case of David Lewis Rice made all too clear, these mentally unstable types are almost always stirred up and driven to their insane acts by haters of various stripes, the kind whose voices seem each day to be growing louder in our public discourse. These cultural vampires have developed a real knack for inspiring mentally unstable people into horrific acts of violence.
Jennifer Pozner's Newsday column hits the target precisely:
- On Sept. 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the terror attacks that devastated our nation, a man crashed his car into a building in Davenport, Iowa, hoping to blow it up and kill himself in the fire.
No national newspaper, magazine or network newscast reported this attempted suicide bombing, though an AP wire story was available. Cable news (save for MSNBC's Keith Olbermann) was silent about this latest act of terrorism in America.
Had the criminal, David McMenemy, been Arab or Muslim, this would have been headline news for weeks. But since his target was the Edgerton Women's Health Center, rather than, say, a bank or a police station, media have not called this terrorism -- even after three decades of extreme violence by anti-abortion fanatics, mostly fundamentalist Christians who believe they're fighting a holy war.
One can only imagine Malkin's reaction as well.
Of course, in this case, the intended targets were the abortion providers in McMenemy's fevered imagination, but even more generically, it was women generally:
- Which brings us back to car bomber McMenemy. According to the Detroit Free Press (the only newspaper in the Nexis news database that reported his crime), he targeted the women's health center because he thought it provided abortions. It doesn't. (Oops!) It provides mostly low-income patients with pap smears, ob-gyn care, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, and nutrition and immunization programs for women and children.
The attack caused $170,000 in property damage and left poor families without health care for a week. But long after Edgerton's water-logged carpets are removed, scorched medical equipment replaced and new doors reopened to the public, a culture of fear will linger among doctors, nurses, advocates and patients across the country, who will worry that they're next. Some frightened workers will quit their jobs; some women will be too scared to get the health care they need.
When the fanatics of the religious right talk about being solely concerned about the life of the fetus, it's perhaps useful to take into account the broad effects of their fanaticism. Because then the reality of what they are about comes into focus.
Being against abortion isn't about the sanctity of life. It's about controlling women. And the terrorists at whom they wink and nudge are part of how they keep them in line.