Showing posts with label Martin Luther King. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Martin Luther King. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thanks for coming. We don't care. Next.

If you want to know how irrelevant America's right-to-life movement has become, all you have to do is turn to Page A-3 of today's Washington Post.

That's where Washington's newspaper of record
put the story telling how:

Tens of thousands of abortion opponents took to the cold, gray streets of Washington yesterday, buoyed by a recent report that the number of abortions in the United States had hit the lowest level in years and vowing to continue the fight.

IT'S NO BIG SIGN of how far pro-lifers have fallen that the Post put the story about tens of thousands of people in a protest march through its own town on an inside page -- it's done that for years. What should have the marchers -- and their leaders -- worried is that the reporter didn't bother to quote one pro-choice leader refuting anything anyone on the pro-life side said.

When no one takes you seriously enough to go to the trouble to refute what you say, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Or engage in a withering reappraisal of what the hell you're doing.

The newspaper said pro-lifers were buoyed by the news that abortions were at a 32-year low. Two questions about that: First, is it so and, second,
did the pro-life movement have anything to do with it?

from the Washington Post:
At the same time, the long decline in the number of abortion providers appears to be stabilizing, partly a result of the availability of the French abortion pill RU-486, the report found, because some physicians who do not perform surgical abortions provide it to their patients.

The report did not identify reasons for the drop in abortions, but the researchers said it could be caused by a combination of factors.

"It could be more women using contraception and not having as many unintended pregnancies. It could be more restrictions on abortions making it more difficult for women to obtain abortion services. It could be a combination of these and other dynamics," said Rachel K. Jones of the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health research organization, which published the report in the March issue of the journal
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Whatever the reasons, the trend was welcomed by abortion opponents and abortion rights advocates.

"This study shows that prevention works, and that's what we provide in our health centers every day," said Cecile Richard of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "At the end of the day, Americans of all stripes believe that we need to do more to prevent unintended pregnancy and make health care affordable and accessible."
I TEND TO THINK the drop, instead of having much to do with the efforts of the overly politicized pro-life movement, probably has more to do with naturally changing attitudes by members of a couple of generations who know they could have suffered the same fate as 25 percent of their contemporaries. As well, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that more than a few of the "missing" abortions never went missing at all.

Those probably went "Plan B" instead -- fertilized eggs that never implanted, thanks to the "morning-after pill." Still an abortion, but never will show up in any statistic as one.

So what do we make of a movement so spectacularly unsuccessful that it's ecstatic over abortions falling from 1.6 million a year in 1976 to 1.2 million a year in 2005? Even at the "low" rate, give Americans five years and they've done to their own children in utero what Adolf Hitler did to the Jews ex utero.

That ain't success.

Given that pro-lifers have sold their souls to the Republican Party for a bag full of empty promises about fixing all kinds of social ills -- most especially abortion -- and still have ended up with a couple of Holocausts a decade for three-and-a-half decades now (not to mention the "right" to kill babies at any point of their nine-month sojourn in Mama's womb), you have to wonder why pro-life Americans aren't ready to tar and feather whomever came up with that bright idea.

HERE'S THE THING. Pro-lifers put all their eggs in Republican politicians' basket, giving them every incentive to string folks along with pretty rhetoric and no incentive to actually do anything about abortion, thus eliminating a bloc of "automatic" votes.

Meanwhile, the culture -- where fads become trends, and trends become entrenched behaviors, and entrenched behaviors remake entire societies -- careens along, unmolested by church, activist and politician alike.

It's ironic that the Roe v. Wade anniversary (and the March for Life) always fall close to the commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Pro-lifers like to fancy themselves as being in the mold of the civil-rights movement, employing tactics much like those of King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

But there are three things King managed to do that the pro-life movement never even thought about. He captured a nation's imagination. He never descended into a shouting match with his opponents. And he transformed the culture of a nation.

Where is the great rhetoric of the pro-life movement? Where is its great art? Its transcendent music? Where?

There is some pretty good music related to the pro-life cause but, alas, it never made it out of the "Christian ghetto."

MARTIN LUTHER KING, on the other hand, marched out of America's black ghettos and into the conscience of a nation. Since 1973, we pro-lifers have marched . . . and we've sat in . . . and we've protested . . . and we've politicked . . . and we've prayed . . . yet what does America see amid all this?

And there lies the problem.

America, in the 35 years since Roe, has seen not Martin Luther King marching across the Edmund Pettis Bridge but instead has seen Carrie Nation busting up a saloon. America knows all about what we're against, but little of what we're for.

Hell, we know all about what we're against . . . but do we really know what we're for? Or what America might look like if we achieved it.

The Carrie Nation approach to drinking ultimately may have gained us Prohibition for a season. But now we have Double Drunk Tuesdays and college administrators across the land wringing their hands about students' wild binges -- and the consequences that follow.

Do I wish abortion were illegal, just like every other form of homicide? Absolutely.

But what's more important for the cause of life? That we pass a law (which isn't going to happen anytime soon), or that we -- somehow, someway -- persuade women, their partners, their parents and their doctors that killing is evil, no matter whether or not it's legal.

Prohibiting iniquity doesn't equal success, even though codifying the sentiment would be instructive. Success, instead, lies in fostering virtue.

And victory lies in showing a nation that loving -- not killing -- is the best way to solve even the toughest problems.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Does the GOP have a problem with G-O-D?

The vestal virgins at the temple of the elephant god (a.k.a. National Review Online) have a problem with GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee because he worships the Christian God.

I HAVE A PROBLEM with Mike Huckabee because his fealty to the Christian God has not led him to sufficiently "radical" positions to cause the denizens of The Corner to stroke out. Thus far, preacher Mike can manage only to elicit snide remarks about those who have a deity that is not laissez-faire capitalism.

Here's some of what Cornerite Lisa Schiffren
had to say about Huckabee's heresy against mammon:
What do you think God's standard is on anchor babies and birthright citizenship? (Manger!) Does Huckabee's God believe in borders? What is God's monetary policy? Is Jesus a capitalist? How much economic disparity will he tolerate? Wouldn't God want us all to have health care? Nice shoes?

What about rendering unto Ceaser
[sic] that which is Ceaser's [sic], and unto God that which is God's? Mike Huckabee is going to force those of us who have wanted more religion in the town square to reexamine the merits of strict separation of church and state.
GEE, I WONDER what Ms. Schiffren would make of this bit of odious God-creep in the public arena:
Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth century prophets left their little villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Graeco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere in this country.

You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham. But I am sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being. I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects, and does not grapple with underlying causes. I would not hesitate to say that it is unfortunate that so-called demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham at this time, but I would say in more emphatic terms that it is even more unfortunate that the white power structure of this city left the Negro community with no other alternative.


You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: There are just and there are unjust laws. I would agree with Saint Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all."

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority, and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. To use the words of Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes and "I-it" relationship for an "I-thou" relationship, and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. So segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, but it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Isn't segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, an expression of his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? So I can urge men to disobey segregation ordinances because they are morally wrong.


Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks, before submitting to certain unjust laws of the Roman empire. To a degree academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience.

We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws. I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;" who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
REALLY, WHAT STOCK can you put in some agitator who's been thrown by lawful authority into the Birmingham jail? Leave it to troublemakers and jailbirds to try to use the Almighty to cover up their misdeeds.

Right, Lisa?

After all, what do you think God's standard is on granting full citizenship rights to Caucasians but not Negroes? What about rendering unto "Ceaser" that which is "Ceaser's," and unto God that which is God's?