Fireworks Over a Stilt-Walker
Such was the title of an amusing response to the discovery that I had been contracted to entertain at a Fourth of July reception at the Kennedy Center in D.C.
By Lloyd Grove, July 25, 2002
Some faces are red and feminist blood pressure remains high since The Post published a photograph of a grinning stilt-walker dressed as Uncle Sam for the Kennedy Center’s Fourth of July reception. Our colleague David Fahrenthold reports that the very tall patriot in the photo — published in the July 8 “Out & About” column — is actually Michael Bray, a Bowie antiabortion activist who went to prison for his role in the firebombings of 10 mid-Atlantic abortion clinics in the 1980s.
Nobody was injured in the bombings, in which Bray acted as a scout, but federal judge Alexander Harvey II noted during Bray’s trial that “many innocent persons suffered substantial trauma and psychological damage.”
Eleanor Smeal, president of the pro-abortion-rights Feminist Majority, told Fahrenthold yesterday that an associate instantly recognized the 49-year-old Bray, who served two years of a six-year sentence after being convicted of conspiracy and explosives charges. Smeal added that her Arlington-based group enlarged the photograph to make sure it was a positive ID. “It’s outrageous,” Smeal told Fahrenthold. “You’ve got a convicted felon playing Uncle Sam!”
Another abortion rights activist, Vicki Saporta of the National Abortion Federation, called Bray “one of the most well-known domestic terrorists.” Bray, who says he has sworn off violence, still sells his book, “A Time to Kill: A Study Concerning the Use of Force and Abortion,” on the Internet. According to his Web site, Bray hosts the annual White Rose Banquet, which honors the action “our brothers and sisters have taken to protect the unborn from the bloody abortionist.”
Kennedy Center spokeswoman Tiki Davies said reception organizers, including the Columbia entertainment company About Faces, were surprised to learn of Bray’s checkered past. “It is a very reputable company,” Davies said. “We presume everyone they send over is appropriate.” About Faces owner Michael Hasson said that when he saw a photo of the clinic bomber on the Internet, his reaction was: “Oh my God, it can’t be the same guy — it’s the same guy!”
Bray, for his part, called criticism of his stilt-walking gig “archaic intolerance” and described his detractors as “some carping wench [who] wants to go about plowing her issues.” He added: “What bigotry that they would want to deny employment to an ex-con for his religious beliefs.”