Anti-Choice Extremist Tries To Hijack Harriet Tubman For His Own Nonsense
An anti-abortion extremist from Oklahoma with a history of perpetrating hoaxes spent the weekend in Philadelphia, protesting the fact that Harriet Tubman is not yet on the 20 dollar bill. Is it that he found a better-than-usual cause with which to occupy his time? Nope! It was actually just a weird stunt to try hijack the campaign to get Harriet Tubman on the 20 dollar bill in order to lure progressives into his cause.
On Saturday, as reported by the Louisville Clinic Escorts Twitter account, T. Russell Hunter of Abolish Human Abortion, who is so "pro-life" that he believes that people who get or perform abortions should be put to death, stood on a step-stool on the sidewalk with two of his compatriots and did his very best impression of a liberal progressive fella, saying all the things he thought a liberal progressive fella might say. He talked about how he is privileged, in the most "knows the words but not the music" manner possible. He talked, somewhat, about Harriet Tubman, veering into rants about how no one liked the abolitionists at the time and people thought they were wrong even though they were right. He talked for 22 whole damn minutes before the big but very obvious reveal that he was talking about "human abortion."
Since Harriet Tubman is already replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill — the only things holding it up right now are the security and anti-counterfeiting measures which must be taken whenever we change the currency up — it made for an easy cause to support, even for a rightwing lunatic. He's certainly not going to get up there and pretend to protest cops killing Black people who are not even fetuses.
Hunter calls himself an abortion "abolitionist" because he thinks that abortion is just as evil as slavery and wishes to invite comparisons between himself and people actually fighting for something valid and important. This is not something that people who actually are out there fighting for valid and important causes generally have to do to prove how valid and important they are. Despite being fervently rightwing, hardcore anti-choicers have long sought to identify themselves with liberal social justice movements of the past, like abolitionists and the suffragettes. Possibly because there are literally zero sympathetic conservative social justice movements of the past. Or the present.
Tricking people is nothing new for anti-choicers, who have been known to frequently set up "crisis pregnancy centers" that pose as abortion clinics in hopes of reeling in people seeking abortions in order to pressure them to continue their pregnancy and yell at them about how abortion is a sin. It's also nothing new for Hunter, who in 2016 perpetrated another bizarre hoax also involving currency he put his art on, known as "Bad Self Eater" — an anagram for "Federal Beast." This art, however, featured a portrait of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, along with a bunch of allusions to the "New World Order," the freemasons and other stupid things conspiracists are into.
Long story short: Hunter distributed the bills across the country, and people started wondering what they were about online, particularly in the conspiracy community. He set up a website at BadSelfEater.com, with a clock counting down to September, 14th, 4pm. People speculated on what they thought was going to happen, as they are wont to do, and then when the time arrived, they were shown a graphic video of what was definitely not an actual abortion. Which he referred to as a "child sacrifice."
Now, it would be easy to "whatever" this guy — except for the fact that despite not being very well known, he is not without influence. Free The States, an offshoot of Abolish Human Abortion, is an anti-choice advocacy org that has been described as "the EMILY's List for white dudes running for office on a 'death penalty for abortion doctors' platform." They have put together startlingly horrific anti-abortion bills that criminalize abortion and which have found support from several Republicans in state legislatures. Like one in Texas that did, in fact, call for the death penalty for abortion, helpfully suggesting that such a measure would "force" women to be more "personally responsible" with sex. (Please feel free to take a moment to scream into your hands or forcefully throw a plate against the wall)
Abolish Human Abortion and Free The States are also both offshoots of "Operation Save America," a Christian nationalist organization that has crafted anti-choice and anti-trans bathroom bills in several states, opposed gay-straight alliances in schools, and otherwise been terrible. They were once known as Operation Rescue, which you may recall from the time they so helpfully assisted Scott Roeder with tracking down abortion provider George Tiller, whom he later murdered.
So, you know, not exactly harmless kooks. Hunter himself is extreme. He opposes even the draconian six-week abortion bans Republicans have been pushing in several states, he opposes exceptions for rape, fatal fetal abnormalities, and life of the mother, because he considers abortion to be homicide and wants to see it punished like homicide. He also believes states have the right to ignore Roe and that any refusal to do so constitutes "idolatry" because the Supreme Court is not God.
While it's fairly unlikely that anyone on the Left with half a brain is going to be taken in by Hunter's shenanigans, it's still important to know what these people are up to and the kind of scams they are likely to pull. Unlike some others, people like Hunter are not actually trying to become famous, because becoming famous would hinder their ability to pull hoaxes and influence politicians the way they currently get to do.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse