Donald Trump’s spectacle of racism, sexism, and xenophobia in Greenville, North Carolina Wednesday night also featured a band called the Terry Train, made up of a man and his four MAGA-hat adorned homeschooled sons, who also are quite accomplished racists.
The teens, who sang a song called “CNN Sucks”—incredible songwriting, really—got a lot of attention. They served, for certain segments of the liberal and progressive media and public, as a way to highlight and ridicule the idiocy of Trump supporters.
But as journalist Melissa Gira Grant noted, the father of the teens is none other than Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, the extremist right-wing anti-abortion group that for years terrorized abortion clinics and fed a climate that led to the killings of abortion providers around the country in the 1990s.
Yet the Atlantic, which interviewed Terry at the rally, merely noted he was an “anti-abortion activist.” The outlet then gave him free rein to describe Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley as “disrespectful wenches.” Terry continued:
Well, Ilhan Omar, go back to some Middle Eastern country where you’d be afraid to live under Sharia law! I’m of Italian descent. I don’t care what color the skin is … You don’t like America? Go back to where your ancestors are from and then try to make that country better.
I’m not sure what it adds to our collective body of knowledge of Trump supporters to hear from Terry, but if you’re going to print his words and share videos of him and his sons (which, as a fairly high-level troll, is exactly what he wants), it seems necessary to at least nod to his prominent role in Operation Rescue and that he gloated over the murder of Dr. George Tiller, describing him as a “mass murderer” who “reaped what he sowed;” called all forms of birth control “human pesticide” that should all be illegal; and believes that people should go to prison for having an abortion. Today, while Terry no longer is with Operation Rescue, he and the anti-abortion activists he came up with, mentored, and inspired continue to animate not only the rightwing anti-abortion movement, but a white supremacist movement that, as the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out more than 20 years ago, “have come to share the same enemies list.”
Erasing Terry’s history of rightwing extremism is a neat elision that serves to distance his past (and present) from the America that enabled and elected Trump, an America that has always been present. It continues, as Wednesday night showed, to continue to be a home for him today.