This is Part II of a Three Part Series – Part I
Carol Crossed’s pro-life group BRAVE had tremendous difficulty fighting Planned Parenthood opening a clinic in Brighton, New York. Although Planned Parenthood eventually left without having completed construction, it seemed for quite some time that nothing could stop them.
When debating the project application, the town attorney advised the Brighton Planning Board that they could not factor the clinic’s function into their decision. So, the application for construction was unanimously approved while the public debate was still ramping up. To add to the pro-life side’s frustration, a freakish variable that went against them was the public response to the town’s most far-left councilperson.
Robin Wilt, an adherent of Black Lives Matter ideology, was more famous regionally than the town board she was a member of. She made the papers for unsuccessfully running twice in Democrat primaries against Congressman Joe Morelle, and, just before the clinic controversy, she received criticism from some Jewish residents over a photo she posted to Facebook in which she stood next to alleged anti-Semite Linda Sarsour. Wilt’s supporters from across the city attended a Brighton Town Board meeting on July 14th, 2021, to push back against critics of the Sarsour post.
While Wilt’s fans may not have known Planned Parenthood was on the board’s agenda, upon finding it was, their far-left politics made their reaction somewhat predictable. They cheered on pro-choice viewpoints expressed during the public comment portion of the meeting, while outside the building, pink-shirted Planned Parenthood supporters harassed pro-lifers. Considering that town officials also had no particular affection for the pro-life side, the deck seemed thoroughly stacked against BRAVE and other pro-life advocates.
I asked Crossed if I was right in judging the audience response at the meeting to mean that there was an overlap between the Wilt and Planned Parenthood supporters on the clinic issue. Crossed answered that she thought there was; Pro-choice commentary was loudly applauded at the meeting, while pro-life sentiment was met with a lukewarm response. Worse still were the heated moments between pro-life and pro-choice demonstrators on the walkway into the town hall. Crossed commented on the friction outside the building when she said in our interview:
“I have never seen—I have been to a lot of different protests in my life—I’m seventy-nine years old—and I’ve been part of the indigenous rights for American Indians movement, I’ve been to Central America for the indigenous populations there, anti-Vietnam War, you name it—I have never seen the disgusting filth that came from the mouths of these people that were on the lawn.”
Other pro-life demonstrators made observations about the scene outside the town hall. These testimonies were read aloud by a pro-life advocate at a town board meeting on August 11th.
One pro-life demonstrator wrote that two female Planned Parenthood advocates approached to ask if she had ever been raped. The pro-choicers—to be generous—may not have expected that she had been. Regardless, she was a survivor of gang rape and found the question particularly offensive.
If the pro-choice demonstrators had known beforehand that the question might offend, however, based on a second woman’s testimony, it is doubtful that would have changed their behavior.
The second woman’s account was not read aloud on the 11th due to time constraints but was provided to the town board. It gave more context to what was said by Planned Parenthood supporters. She wrote:
“They persistently asked if we had been raped. And before anyone could react, they concluded that we had not because we are ‘white privilege.’
One (pro-life) woman was holding a sign that said, ‘CIVIL RIGHTS FOR THE UNBORN,’ and was being attacked by the pro-choicers, asking if she had been raped, and then telling her that they were disgusted by hair and skin because she was white and they were not.”
Revenge of the Anti-Wilts
Pro-life groups continued to make their feelings known at town board meetings despite the ugliness in July. And Councilperson Wilt’s leftist politics again provided an unexpected spin to the town’s monthly meeting in August. Thankfully for BRAVE, at that time, the pro-life advocates were arguably the beneficiaries of Wilt-inspired drama.
Supervisor Moehle opened the meeting by belatedly defending the values of diversity and inclusion. His speech could be seen as a piece with the numerous woke proclamations and recognitions he’d delivered at town meetings. Wilt’s supporters were not present in the numbers they’d had in July, and just as some of her supporters had unexpectedly weighed in on the Planned Parenthood controversy, in August it was anti-Wilt residents who did.
The concluding lines of the supervisor’s defense of tolerance, delivered with deadly seriousness, were:
“Brighton is a community that values our diversity. We value inclusion, and we hereby commit to working together with all the members of the Brighton community to put those values into practice, and again let me state that this is a statement—”
The supervisor indicated his fellow counselors with a turn of his head and continued:
“—made on behalf of all of my colleagues on the town board.”
There was an almost embarrassingly small round of applause following the speech.
The meeting’s tone shifted when a Brighton resident tore into Moehle and Wilt during the public comment portion. He demanded that the supervisor acknowledge Wilt’s endorsement of a Hamas advocate and reprimanded the supervisor for using town meetings, via his proclamations, as a campaign rally stage.
The resident’s monologue ended tensely, with the supervisor informing him that his speaking time had ended. The two men talked over each other, with the resident arguing about giving up the podium. Regardless, the next resident to speak continued the line of thought.
There was a slight pause before the next speaker began a heated take-down of Wilt’s alleged antisemitism. The resident then argued off-topic and referenced the Planned Parenthood controversy. When he did, he kicked off a series of Holocaust references spanning months of board meetings. He said:
“Mr. Moehle, you recently stated you were pleased with the Planned Parenthood approval when you said, ‘It’s a medical building in an area zoned for medical buildings.’
That’s like Joseph Mengele, known as the Angel of Death, saying he conducted heinous experiments on Jews in medical buildings in Auschwitz because they were zoned for medical use.”
A Useful Adversary
Supervisor Moehle didn’t bite back, but as will be seen, the Mengele comparison evidently did not sit well with him. The supervisor would tear into Carol Crossed at a later meeting for a less insulting reference to the Holocaust and Mengele.
At the town board meeting in November, pro-life demonstrators continued to speak out, as they had done at every meeting since June. During the public comment portion of the meeting, Carol Crossed asked the town board via Zoom if she could allow another resident to have her allotted speaking time. When the supervisor denied the request, she used the time herself.
In her monologue, Crossed considered if the word “genocide” by the dictionary definition could be applied to wide-scale abortion. After she had brought up genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, and Wounded Knee, she came to the Holocaust and then Mengele. She ended with:
“By far, one of the greatest genocides was the extermination of ten million people, mostly Jews, by the Nazis.
The Nazis did not call this a ‘holocaust’ because if you look up the definition of a holocaust, it’s a mass burning, isn’t it? No, they didn’t call it that. Hitler actually called it benevolently; in a letter of September of 1939, he called it ‘extending the authority of physicians’ for emergency defense measures.
You might be surprised to know that abortion was actually permissible in Germany, but only for Jewish women. It was not [an] allowed right that Aryan women had.
Mengele, who was the Angel of Death, hid in Argentina for a number of years and— you might have remembered in the nineties the New York Times headline that shouted out that Mengele was a practicing abortionist in Buenos Aries—”
Moehle jumped in to tell Crossed that she only had thirty seconds left. He was likely incensed at that point. Crossed continued:
“—A trade he knew well.”
Public commentary was generally left without a response from board members. Moehle, evidently furious, broke tradition. At times stuttering, he said:
“I’m going to deviate from what has been our normal practice because I find it absolutely revolting to compare abortion to the Holocaust of the Jews, to the Holocaust in Rwanda.
I – I – I am absolutely—Carol, I’ve known you for a long time, and I know how passionately you feel about this subject—but I find that comparison to be absolutely inapplicable and revolting and an insult to Jews, an insult to people from Rwanda, an insult to people from Cambodia. I am just—I – I – I cannot let those comparisons stand. We’ll go to our next speaker.”
Moehle’s disgust was met by the next speaker, who was as measured and professional as he was agitated.
Pro-life advocate Dorothy Hayes preceded her planned monologue with a defense of Crossed. She told Moehle:
“I understand your reaction to Carol’s comments, but I also—quick before I say my comments—it’s because you don’t understand the humanity of the unborn. And what I wanted to get across tonight is to reconsider your approval of Planned Parenthood exactly because these are human beings that are being destroyed.”
Hayes let Moehle’s commentary regarding Crossed drop, and she moved to her prepared remarks. However, at the following month’s meeting, she returned to the subject after she had more time to consider a response. She said:
“Tonight, I’m going to direct my comments to the supervisor. Your response to Mrs. Crossed at the last meeting that you were offended by her calling the board’s attention to the connection between genocide, which is the slaughter of human beings throughout history, and abortion—and I just want to call to your attention, when referencing these horrible events Mrs. Crossed was always respectful. She recognized the magnitude of life lost; she never diminished the cruelty, the evil, and the hate that led to these atrocities. On the contrary, she made us look to man’s inhumanity to man and that we can never forget what people are capable of even today—and I would propose, Mr. Moehle, that your reaction is precisely why genocide is still possible in this world. Too many people refuse to look at why this is a perfect and profound comparison.
In each and every case, humanity was denied to human beings. People refused to look at the truth, and language was used to detach some groups from their humanity and, consequently, from society.
And when you can do that, you can do anything to them.”
Moehle let Hayes’ thoughts go without comment.
Continued in Part III