Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later, I Don't Suck As Bad

A lot of bad things have happened since the sun came up on this day ten years ago. Many people have died: some tragically, some heroically, some justly. Innocent people have been caught in the crossfire of a war that began -- let us not forget -- when deranged fanatics attacked a civilian target in the most populous city in our country.

But good has also come of this horror. Saddam Hussein was removed from power in Iraq and replaced with a vastly improved government. Osama bin Laden was finally found and killed. Terrorists of various stripes have been destroyed or weakened by our resolve. And across this great nation, brave men and women -- Soldiers, firefighters, police, civilians, and officials -- have protected and inspired us with acts of courage and honor and sacrifice.

Oh, and another good thing that has come of this tragedy: I don't suck quite so hard anymore.

You see, I have a confession to make, and for those who haven't known me for very long this will come as a shock: I used to be a liberal. And I don't mean a mild, gentle, lukewarm liberal, like John McCain. I mean a rabid, screeching liberal. I made Keith Olbermann look like Charles Krauthammer. I was a member of the ACLU, Amnesty International, and I got Ralph Nader to come speak at my college during his 2004 campaign. I owned Fahrenheit 9/11 on DVD. I edited a student magazine with an anti-war theme so extreme a concerned father called the school and threatened to remove his son from the journalism department. I believed in freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the immediate closure of Guantanamo, and that Bush, Cheney, and Rove were the real "Axis of Evil." I believed our government was complicit in 9/11 and would not rule out the idea that Dubya and his cohorts orchestrated the entire thing as an excuse to go to war "for oil." I even went out in the middle of the night with stickers reading "FORTIFIED WITH 100% PURE IRAQI BLOOD" and stuck them on gas pumps around the city.

I was barely to the right of those people in black bandannas in Seattle who hurled Molotov cocktails at World Bank officials... and honestly if I could have afforded the plane ticket I probably would have been there and done that.

I would tell you the name of the anarchist website I got this from, but I don't believe in your rules.

I owned several books by the organization CrimeThinc., which encouraged armed resistance against our corporatist, fascistic, totalitarian police state, as well as dumpster diving, shoplifting, and forming anarchosyndicalist squat communities in abandoned buildings. I also evangelized, passing these books and ones containing similarly crazy ideas, such as Kalle Lasn's Culture Jam, on to my younger brothers. (God forgive me.)

The anti-war magazine I edited featured a giant full-color comic as the center spread, which I commissioned from a very talented artist on the newspaper staff. It was a parody of The Wizard of Oz called "The Wizard of Oil." Condi Rice was Dorothy, and Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were her companions. Other features in that issue included a "form letter" from Bush to the family of a slain soldier, featuring various misspellings and a childishly callous attitude. For example, "As a tokin of thanks for yer sacrafise, I have attached a 30% off coupon for Pizza hut." It also contained a handwritten note saying "Daddy, please corect my spelling." Yet another page contained a "lost recording" of Bush's secret tour in Vietnam, revealing why the government kept it a secret. (His ineptitude, of course. He said "clacks" instead of "clicks" and thought all the Viet Cong were actually named Charlie. Har har.)

Twenty pages of that. Seriously.

I argued about the war with everybody who would sit still long enough. I knew all the talking points, and I threw in lots of colorful little tidbits. "Halliburton got an illegal no-bid contract! Condi Rice had intel from the CIA in August showing a Bin Laden attack was imminent! Dubya's National Guard papers were doctored! The towers collapsed into their own footprints! Into their own footprints!" Etcetera.

Every year on 9/11's anniversary, my friends and I would have 9/11 parties. We would watch conspiracy theory videos and "jokingly" toast to jihad. In fact, some of my friends and family are having just such a party today. I no longer join them.

It's important that you know that on 9/11 I was as horrified as you were. I was curling my hair in my mom's house, getting ready for school, when she told me to come look at the news. I was standing in front of the TV, wondering if it was an accident or what, when the second plane hit the tower. At that moment, like everyone else in the world, I knew. It wasn't an accident. I drove to school in my mom's red Blazer with the radio on. I sat in the parking lot listening before I went in to my Logic class. Our professor didn't mention it until the end of the class, when he let us go early, saying it was surely hard for everyone to concentrate. I wandered through my home away from home, the theatre department. It was deserted except for the department head, an older man I much admired, sitting with his office door open and one cowboy boot propped on his desk, listening to the radio. We expressed our mutual bewilderment and then I wandered off again, towards the cafeteria, where students sat on chairs and tables and the floor staring up at the TV.

Later, at home, I remember very vividly sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table watching footage of people jumping from the buildings. I put my head in my arms and sobbed. One of my brothers, thirteen years old at the time, happened by and said, "Why is she crying?" My mom nodded at the TV and said, "Why do you think?"

Like many people who would later condemn the mindless, flag-waving patriotism of the coming few weeks, I was completely caught up in the mindless, flag-waving patriotism of the coming few weeks. I watched Congress gather on Capitol Hill and sing patriotic songs, and I cried. I watched an exhausted Giuliani deliver a press conference extolling the heroism of the FDNY, and I cried. I watched endless newsreel footage of brave first responders battling dust, debris, weariness, and sorrow, and I cried. I wanted whoever had done this found and shot and stabbed and hanged and resuscitated and stabbed some more. In other words, my reaction was normal, healthy, just, and human.

I don't remember when I went full-bore leftist and started with my conspiracies, Bush-bashing, pacifism, and "poor poor terrorists" rhetoric. I can't point to one event or piece of knowledge or conversation that started it. What I do know is that it was after the immediacy of the attack faded, when I stopped feeling that awful sadness for those tiny faceless people jumping to their deaths from the flames, because that's when I stopped feeling that the people who did that -- who did that -- could only be evil. I didn't believe in evil. I was rational. I was an agnostic, not some simple-minded Christian. I knew that good and bad were relative, and if we could only understand the motivations for the attack, we could amend our behaviors so we weren't hated anymore, stop being unjust to the poor Muslims, and then everything would be fine. My idea of how this would all happen was hazy, but I was pretty sure it involved the U.N.

Look at 'em go! I can feel the problem-solving.

When I started believing in God, everything changed.

It's only recently that I have begun to understand why we have a two- party system in our -- and most -- countries. It's because when you break it down, there are really two ways of looking at the world: with God or without God. Without God, everything is up to us humans. We are capable of paradise ourselves. We can solve any problem. We are the best that exists or ever will, and we are also the worst. "Evil" is a fairy tale word. There are no evildoers, only wounded souls who need understanding and hugs and Toms shoes.

With God, we see that humans are a creation, a creature, and flawed, and we will always be flawed. No amount of appeasement or reason or humanitarian aid will stop it. No amount of human will can put an end to evil. Only one Will can -- and will -- do that.

Like Whittaker Chambers said of Communism, the vision of the American left is "the vision of man without God." I know because I had the vision. In it, nothing is true, nothing is good, nothing is false, nothing is wrong. Everything is whatever we think it is, and the end result of that is chaos and what I would call today moral depravity.

When people like I was are accused of not loving America, I know now that this accusation is correct. I did not love America, and neither did the people I associated with. How could I love an idea like America, which is based in morality, based in Godliness? I denied that America was Christian while I denied that I was unpatriotic. I needed America to be without morals if I were to love it. I didn't love it. After my initial "irrational" feelings of solidarity with my fellow Americans subsided after 9/11, I believed we deserved to be attacked, that we should and would cease to exist as we were. We needed to be brought down because we were a disgusting empire only after money to line the pockets of rich white men in suits. We needed to be more like Europe. I declared myself, on the masthead of that awful magazine, a "Citizen of the World," and at the same time declared myself a patriot for defending the United States against people trying to tear her down from the inside via renditions and the PATRIOT Act.

G.K. Chesterton said, "A man who loves humanity and ignores patriotism is ignoring humanity... Patriotism begins the praise of the world at the nearest thing, instead of beginning it at the most distant, and thus it insures what is, perhaps, the most essential of all earthly considerations, that nothing upon earth shall go without its due appreciation." America deserves her due appreciation. I am happy, after those years wandering in the darkness of cynicism, ignorance, and the terribly "simple faith" (Chesterton again) of atheism, to duly appreciate her.

I remember being about seven years old at a school assembly, with my hand over my heart, looking at the flag while Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be An American" played, and crying. This memory was embarrassing to me at 22. At 32, I am there again. I am seven years old, and I am glad to be seven, because Jesus tells me it's a good idea. "Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3)."

But not these children. These are bad children.

I am observing the tenth anniversary of 9/11 by reflecting on the tragedy and heroism that have resulted from that willfully terrible act. It is a reminder that evil exists, and that good exists, and that thanks to my faith, I know which one wins in the end. I am also celebrating the fact that I am a better person today than I was then. I am still desperately far from perfect, but I am both wiser and happier now than I was then. This has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with grace.
Today I am proud to be an American, proud to cry when I see pictures of George W. Bush hugging soldiers or veterans getting misty-eyed when they hear the national anthem. I have gone from a young woman who actually paid for actual print copies of "The Nation" to be delivered to her home, to the Kristen you know and (should probably) love today. So it's not too late for your left-wing nephew who thinks Obama isn't liberal enough.
If there was hope for me, there's hope for anybody.

Except for him. He's done.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NY Pro-Choice Group Files Lawsuit Challenging TX Sonogram Law

According to the June 14 issue of The Daily Texan, “A New York-based reproductive rights group filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against a new law passed by the Texas Legislature that increases regulations on Texas women seeking abortions and physicians who perform the procedure.”

The legislation in question is of course the so-called sonogram bill, signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on May 19 of this year. The law requires that women in Texas be given a sonogram before an abortion. The woman is not required to view the ultrasound, but the doctor is required to point out features such as the size of the fetus.

The argument the Center for Reproductive Rights is using to advance its anti-life agenda is privacy, and it is as unsurprising as it is unconvincing. Abortion proponents have been screaming “PRIVACY!” at the top of their lungs since roughly the 1960s. Ironically enough, the “right to privacy” is guaranteed nowhere in our Bill of Rights or other founding documents. (The right to life, however, is the first one mentioned.)

The CRR is behaving as though every abortion took place after a heartfelt, informative discussion between a woman and her private physician, when in actuality the patient at an abortion clinic usually doesn’t see her doctor until she’s got her feet in the stirrups. As former abortion clinic owner turned pro-life activist Carol Everett described in her testimony to the Pro-Life Action League of Chicago, “The doctor walks in, sees the patient for the very first time, pats her on the leg, says, ‘Hi, baby, how are you?’ You call them ‘baby’ so you don't have to remember their name. And she says, ‘Oh, I'm scared,’ or, ‘I'm cold.’ Never anything positive. And he doesn't really ask her any questions. It's just get the abortion done.”

So much for the myth of the noble doctor and his trusting patient, having their sacred and private relationship intruded upon by the tyrannical State. So much for the image of the empowered woman nodding soberly as her comforting physician helps her make an informed decision. That is what CRR would have us believe is going on when they lament, “The law treats women as if they are too immature or incompetent to make their own important medical decisions… It’s very demeaning and patronizing to women.”

Really? It’s demeaning and patronizing to women to require their doctors to make them aware of a medical procedure before they do it? Please give me just a small break.

Can we consider that maybe it’s demeaning and patronizing to women to pretend like we find this law demeaning and patronizing? Do you know how anti-lifers really find this law? Not demeaning. Not patronizing. Threatening. They know that if a woman views an ultrasound of her baby she is less likely to abort it, so they are going to do everything in their power to stop that from happening.

Behind every well-meaning feminist who has performed the logical acrobatics required to convince herself that giving medical information to a woman is somehow demeaning to her, there is a Planned Parenthood lackey who is desperate to protect a multi-billion dollar business.

Carol Everett again: “I have seen doctors walk out after three hours work and split $4,500 between them on a Saturday morning.” Not too shabby.

And speaking again of an abortion doctor, she said, “If he discovers that she may be farther along than anyone thought she was, they stop right there, collect the money, and then finish the procedure… If abortion is such a good thing, why don't they give them away? If abortion is such a good thing, why don't they go ahead and do the abortion then, and trust you to pay the extra $200 when they're finished?”

I would add: if abortion really doesn’t kill anything, really just rids the woman’s body of an extra clump of cells, why are they worried about showing her a sonogram? Is it because they’re afraid she might see something recognizable, something with a heartbeat, something human?

The sonogram image is a powerful one. It was another abortion provider turned pro-life activist, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, whose documentary “Silent Scream,” which showed a sonogram image of a fetus during an abortion, shocked the world in the early 1980s. President Reagan even had it screened at the White House. Former Planned Parenthood employee, now a best-selling pro-life author, Abby Johnson, had the epiphany that changed her life while viewing an ultrasound. Carol Everett said, “I've seen sonograms with the baby pulling away from the instruments...”

Who are we helping by withholding this information? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not women.

It’s an industry. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry.

The abortion clinic is not like a birthing center. You won’t find caring people, soft lighting, and comfortable chairs. You won’t have intimate heart-to-hearts with nurses who remind you of your great-aunt and doctors who remind you of your grandpa. You will find instruments of death and people who want your money. It’s a joke that these places are even referred to as “health care” facilities. They are factories, and the products they manufacture are dead children and wounded, empty women.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Texas-Sized Slice of Truth

Rick Perry, governor of the Great State of Texas – and I’ll admit I’m a bit partial – is about to sign a bill into law that will require women considering abortion to receive a sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure. According to the New York Times, “Though the woman can choose not to view the images and hear the heartbeat, the doctor must describe what the sonogram shows, including the existence of legs, arms and internal organs."

This law will save lives.

Sonogram laws are a powerful victory against abortion because sonograms provide a window into the hidden world of the womb. In other words, sonograms tell the truth. Because the abortion industry subsists on secrecy and lies, the greatest weapon against abortion is truth.

Based on personal experience, it is my firm belief that most people who support abortion don’t know what it is they’re supporting, and most women who have abortions don’t truly understand what abortion is.

I was pro-choice until November of 2006, when a pro-life friend had a Conversation with me. I capitalize it because it was a Conversation that changed my life forever. I began it with the firmly held belief that being pro-choice was the enlightened, humane way to be; pro-choice was on the side of human rights, caring about women, and just generally being an intelligent, ethical person. When I saw pro-life bumper stickers on my friend’s car, I scoffed openly. “You’ve gone a little too far, don’t you think?” I said to her. She was calm and polite when, later that night, I brought it up again.

“How can you possibly be pro-life?” I asked her.

She explained the issue to me with clarity and reason, and told me that photos had played a large part in convincing her of the inherent wrong of abortion. Towards the end of the Conversation, almost (but not quite) persuaded against my will, I asked to see the photos. When I was done looking at them, I was pro-life. And not only was I pro-life, I was an activist, and have remained one.

There is a lot of debate in the pro-life community about whether graphic images are a good idea. I looked at graphic photos a million times as a pro-choicer, and all I saw was something to anger me at pro-lifers. It didn’t register to me that I was looking at a dead baby. It was simply one more thing about which to get angry and indignant at the anti-choice wackos. However, when a person is ready to see them, to really see them, as I was after that Conversation, they are the most powerful tool we have against the ignorance that is the calling card of the pro-choice base.

Most people think, as I did, in terms of “tissue,” “clumps of cells,” “the products of pregnancy,” all the euphemisms Planned Parenthood and the entire anti-life front use to dehumanize an unborn child. An image of an aborted baby says in one second what even the most well-informed and eloquent pro-life crusader could not say in two hours. It says: “This is a human being, and it is dead.” A picture of an abortion does not show you a terminated pregnancy or some discarded tissue. It shows you, clearly and finally, a child that has been killed. Legally.

Most people, almost all people, have a conscience, which means most people have a visceral reaction to such photos if they have been prepared to see them. Something in them says, “That is wrong.”

The sonogram image is the most powerful visual tool in the pro-life arsenal. It is far more effective and powerful to the woman considering abortion than even the most horrifying photo of an aborted baby, because the child is alive and the child is hers.

Women who go to abortion clinics are bombarded with the aforementioned euphemisms: tissue, clump of cells, product of pregnancy. But a moving image of the child inside her, in some cases fully formed and active, its strong little heart beating away: this belies the euphemisms. It negates the propaganda. It is the truth, in front of her eyes, and it is the most powerful weapon we have to fight the people who would kill that child and collect their fee.

Planned Parenthood and their many allies and supporters are furious  about the sonogram bill in Texas and others like it all over the country. They are angry because they are not concerned with helping women make an informed decision. They are concerned with the money they make committing abortions.

Sonogram laws are devastating to the abortion industry. The last thing in the world they want is for the woman to think about the living child inside her as a living child. After all, then she might act on her instinct to protect it and, God forbid, leave with her body, soul, and baby intact, and her money in her pocket.

As usual, organizations like NARAL clamor that the law is “designed to shame women.” This is ludicrous and condescending. If abortion is the empowering act organizations like NARAL would have us believe, they would shrug off sonogram law. If abortion is the nonchalant casting-off of useless tissue anti-lifers would have us believe, a woman could look unflinchingly at the “clump of cells” on the sonogram and say to the abortionist, “Go for it.” But NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW, and their ilk know that the woman is going to see a baby. And to NARAL I say, if it is shame that makes her decide not to kill it, then so be it.

But it is possible, and I like to believe probable, that it is a higher emotion that will cause a woman to keep her baby upon viewing a sonogram. I think it might even be appropriate to call it something very silly, like love.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Not A Winnebago

This was originally posted at the New Wave Feminists blog, which you should definitely visit. You should also check out our website and join already.


The term “crisis pregnancy” gets overused. I understand some pregnancies qualify as crises. I am thinking here of those that are the result of abuse or that occur while the mother is in prison or twelve years old or, God forbid, both.

Instead, every time someone gets pregnant out of wedlock, or below the age of 24 or so, or without specifically trying to, the word “crisis” rears it head. Really? I’m not making light of the gravity and responsibility of motherhood, but honestly, people, it’s just a baby. It’s not like a Winnebago or anything. I mean, you can take it into restaurants. It fits in the car. You can feed it with your boobs (honest to God; I’ve seen it) and it’s incredibly portable and relatively lightweight.

What’s so terribly scary about a baby? It’s a baby, the symbol for innocence, sweetness, and joy. It’s not like you’re getting your house re-carpeted. You’re going to have a baby. The natural reaction is not annoyance or fear or abject panic, but joy and excitement. In fact I would go so far as to say even in (the rare) pregnancies that warrant fear and panic, joy and excitement still seem pretty natural.

What has happened to us as a culture that we’re afraid of babies? Are we that worthless, lazy, and selfish, that so many of our young women find themselves too busy, important, or cowardly to handle a tiny infant? Like Mother Teresa said, “It is a poverty that a child must die so you may live as you wish.” Think of the word she chose there: poverty. It means, of course the state of being poor, but more specifically a lack of something. So what is it we lack? Courage? Common sense? Morality? All of the above?

Of course radical feminism indoctrinated a generation of women (and now their daughters and young granddaughters) to see children as a ball-and-chain, a barrier between ourselves and happiness, sometimes the one thing standing in the way of our remarkable career as a Freelance Graphic Designer or some other job that is just far more important in the grand scheme of things than nurturing and raising a human being.

So now that we’ve pretty successfully trained the totally natural God-given desire to produce offspring out of young women, especially the smart ones with smart parents who are encouraged to go to college, we’re also working on getting rid of a young woman’s natural maternal instinct. Because babies aren’t feminist! Babies are oppressive! They have all these NEEDS that aren’t MINE!

Couple that with the postmodern cult of Self (everyone’s favorite person AND women’s magazine!) and you have a typical young woman who accidentally gets pregnant (that’s a whole other topic) and finds herself (a) upset because babies are not cool; if they were, Lady Gaga would have four in assorted colors; and (b) unwilling to sublimate her desire to do whatever she wants for the basic needs of another human person who happens to be her own offspring.


Well, guess what? The world around us is teeming with solutions for every last “crisis” pregnancy, real or imagined. I promise you, if every sixteen-year-old girl in the tri-county area got pregnant tomorrow, there are enough waiting couples in this country to adopt the hell out of every last baby. There is a staggering shortage of infants and a waiting list that makes childless couples sick.

Being afraid of childbirth because it will hurt your vagina does not a crisis pregnancy make. Being scared because your dad will yell at you or take away your Blackberry doesn’t do it, either. Being annoyed at missing a semester of college, or disappointed because your boyfriend is mean, or anxious because you don’t make much money, these things are not crises or tragedies. A brain tumor is a crisis. A toddler with HIV is a tragedy. Your pregnancy is probably, sorry ladies, not all that damn big a deal.

Isn’t it time we expected a little more of our young people than to know how many tracks Weezy dropped this week? Shouldn’t we be teaching our daughters to respect themselves enough to keep their legs closed or accept responsibility if they don’t? Shouldn’t our young women be taught to view family life as something timeless, beautiful and fulfilling, and children as gifts from God?

And by the way, those gimmicky Home Ec programs in which high school students are given egg, peanut, or flour sack babies to “scare” them out of procreating don’t help at all. It’s supposed to be a big dose of reality that teaches you how hard it is to care for a child, but I call B.S. I left my egg baby in a mini-fridge for three weeks. I’m pretty sure you can’t do that with a real baby. But I’m also pretty sure human babies are a little bit more rewarding to be around, take care of and love than babies made of dry goods.

This is the kind of indoctrination I was talking about. They’re teaching our kids that babies are about as worthy and interesting as a sack of flour with a pierced nose – (I was rebellious) – in other words, a lump of unrewarding responsibility whose only redeeming characteristic is you get to name it something cool. (“Reznor.” Again, rebellious.)

As a matter of fact, let’s get these stupid programs taken out of schools. But meanwhile, let’s stop reinforcing the usually unfounded fears of the accidentally knocked-up, which are supported mostly by postmodern angst with no basis in reality. Let's encourage young women to make positive, moral choices, to respect themselves body and soul, not out of irrational fear, but out of virtue and intelligence.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No Exceptions, No Apologies

As someone who has spent the last three and a half years involved in various ways in the pro-life movement, I hear the phrase “except in cases of rape or incest” a lot. It’s kind of a buffering clause, an apologetic little qualifier that people – especially politicians – like to throw out to soften their big mean “anti-choice” message.

The most oft-quoted figure, from a study by Planned Parenthood's own Guttmacher Institute, states that only around 1% of aborted babies are the product of rape or incest. Yet I know a few people who are pretty firmly pro-life, but still waver on the rape/incest issue. They shouldn’t. We should be pro-life without exception, and we should declare this firmly and without apology.

I will explain why this is so using a scene from a film.

The movie Rob Roy (1995) starred Liam Neeson as the title character, Robert MacGregor, a real-life legendary Scot who lived in the 1700s, and Jessica Lange as his devoted wife Mary. A nobleman called Cunningham, believing MacGregor owed him money, paid a visit to his home while MacGregor was away and burned it down, but not before raping Mary.

Mary decided not to tell her husband, because she knew he would challenge Cunningham to a duel, and no one ever survived a duel with Cunningham.

Later, MacGregor found out himself that his wife had been raped, and when he confronted Mary about it, she told him, “There is more. I am with child, and I do not know who the father is.”

Sobbing, she told him, “I couldn’t kill it, husband.”

And he replied, “It’s not the child that needs killing.”

The filmmakers may not have intended to make the argument against abortion in cases of rape and incest, but they did, quite succinctly, through the fictional dialogue of an 18th century Scottish commoner. Having a rugged, simple man utter this bit of wisdom highlights how plainly commonsensical it is; even someone with the most rough-and-ready plebeian take on morality and logic can reason that if anyone deserves to be hurt or killed as a result of a rape, it’s the rapist, not the innocent, defenseless product of his crime.

Rape is a heinous act of violence committed against an innocent person. So is abortion.

Organizations like Planned Parenthood use this rape/incest clause to their advantage. The truth is, as long as people believe abortion is "okay" only in some cases, it is going to keep being okay in any case at all. Adding the “except in cases of rape or incest” phrase to a pro-life message reinforces the mistaken idea that abortion is somehow therapeutic to a woman who has been harmed, and that is not only false, but is a slippery slope to elective abortion on demand. If it can be argued that abortion “helps” a woman in a state of psychological trauma due to rape or incest, it can be argued that she is “helped” by having an abortion in any number of traumatic circumstances.

Proponents of the rape/incest exception argue that the woman who carries her rapist’s child to term (even if releasing for adoption) suffers great psychological trauma. Assuming this is correct for the sake of argument, it is still true that abortion causes great psychological trauma as well. The difference is, one option kills an innocent person and the other doesn’t.

There is no procedure that can erase the pain of rape. A woman does not skip out of the clinic after aborting her rapist’s baby, cleansed of all pain and ready to go shoe-shopping, nor does an abortion catalyze a profound healing process. Quite the opposite: the woman has been violated twice, first by a criminal who gets off hurting women, and second by a greedy “doctor” willing to kill her child for money.

The same goes for incest: it is a grave wrong that should not occur, but if it does, and if a child is the result, the child does not deserve killing, nor does killing it erase the crime or ameliorate the effects.

As Patricia Heaton of Feminists for Life of America said, “A woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy deserves to experience unplanned joy.” This should apply even to the victims of rape and incest. A child is not guilty of its father’s sins, and even the child of a rapist deserves a life lying before her full of joyous possibility. Whether she is parented by her birth mother or released to a loving family through adoption, her fate needn’t be determined by her tragic origin.

As pro-life citizens, we fight for the right to life of every unborn child, no matter the circumstances in which he or she was conceived, and we are committed to the care of mothers as strongly as we are to their children. Women who have been raped or abused – just like all women in crisis pregnancies – deserve care and honesty, and that means not the deadly greed of an abortion clinic, but the kind of support only the pro-life community gives women and their children, through churches, crisis pregnancy centers, other non-profits and individuals. These women need special help to heal and make positive decisions for themselves and their babies. They do not need to be violated again by the abortionist’s grisly tools. Killing is not healing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Confessions of a Former Hater

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I ran into George W. Bush in an ACE Hardware store. He was wearing the “ranchin’ boots” I saw on the Hannity interview with some jeans and a button-down shirt. The former president tapped me on the shoulder and asked my opinion on bolt cutters. The weirdest thing about the dream – despite the idea that someone might, upon looking at me, figure I would know something about bolt cutters – is that it wasn’t weird. He is exactly the kind of guy you might run into in a hardware store in Dallas.

In the dream, Dubya asked me, looking directly into my eyes with that squinty grin of his as we knelt in the aisle, “How come you hated me so much?” In the dream I felt terribly embarrassed, and also like I might burst into tears for some reason. George seemed to sense my consternation, and patted me on the back, as if to say, “Never mind.” Then we went back to looking at bolt cutters.

I woke up feeling that dream sensation of embarrassment and sorrow, but I shook it off, the way we all shake off the emotions we feel in dreams, so that the stunned terror of the car wreck or the jubilant elation of the water balloon fight with the Goonies is gone by the time the coffee starts to drip.

I shook the feeling, but I didn’t shake the question: “How come you hated me so much?”

It seems like there are a growing number of people like me: Americans who were quite young when Bush was elected and are now, in the wake of the current administration, a few years of perspective, and a lot of soul-searching, finding our opinion of the man has changed. It almost feels right that we would gather in church basements, sit on folding chairs with Styrofoam cups of coffee, and share stories of recovery from our deep personal hatred of George W. Bush. I'll start.

“Hi, my name is Kristen, and I hated George W. Bush.”

I don’t use that word lightly. There is a short list of living people I can honestly say I have at one time hated, and Dubya was near the top, right under Courtney Love, who remains on the list. (That is a subject for another essay.)

Actually, do I really need an essay? I think this picture should just about do it.

I was editor-in-chief of one issue of a biannual student magazine in college; this would have been around 2002. The topic I chose was “War.” The issue, under my direction, excoriated Bush, personally and presidentially, for page after page after page. One feature I remember vividly was my take on a letter from President Bush to the family of a slain soldier. It was a “Bush is stupid” gag piggybacked on a “Bush doesn’t care about soldiers” gag, featuring poor spelling and a postscript noting that a 30% off coupon to Domino’s Pizza was included with the letter.

If you had asked me, at age 23, what I thought about Bush, I would have found myself unable to answer you without swearing.

Over the course of a few years, I stopped believing he was blood-related to Lucifer, and started, like many Americans around 2004ish, believing he was a stupid, misguided puppet controlled by evil men who met in shadowy Pentagon rooms and plotted… stuff. Lots of conspiratorial stuff. Probably concerning oil. Oooh, oil! Yes, it was all about oil!

Later, around 2006 or 2007, I stopped thinking he was necessarily a puppet and started thinking he was probably a really convicted guy who thought he was doing the right thing but was too simple to understand all the super complex issues involved in the conflict… which I, apparently, understood? I guess? He had CIA briefings, I had The Nation online. But somehow I “got it” and George W. Bush didn’t.

By 2008, I was even able to find Dubya likeable. I came to enjoy his folksy Texanisms and even feel a little, well, proud, that he was a fellow Texan, adopted or otherwise. I couldn’t have explained why. I even began to quip that I wouldn’t mind floating the Guadalupe with him (preferably sharing a raft with other likeable Texans, especially Ron White and Matthew McConaughey) but I still thought he was a bad president.

Ron White 2012!

It’s possible my suddenly warm-hearted, if condescending, feelings toward Bush were a reaction to Obama’s “big bad Bush” rhetoric during the 2008 presidential campaign.

It wasn’t until late 2009 that I began to reconsider my estimation of ol’ Dubya, not just as a person, but as a president. By this time I had become, quite against my will, a conservative. Then, in late 2010, when his book Decision Points was published, I read a few pages of my dad’s copy and was particularly affected by an account of his mother’s miscarriage, an episode that formed Bush’s early understanding of the sanctity of unborn human life. (He has the most strongly pro-life record of any U.S. president.)

Sitting here today, in the year of Our Lord 2011, I can say not only that I like Bush, but that I think he was a good president. I don’t worship him, and I don’t think he was perfect. But I do think history will treat him far more kindly than did his own country during his administration. The change of heart has already begun. 

My change of heart began when I reconnected with my Catholic faith and immediately regretted my decision to vote for Barack Obama. I have mentioned before in this blog that as a liberal and even moderate I was terribly uninformed about politics. Perhaps, you are thinking, I am still uninformed, and maybe so. But in those days I was really uninformed.

When I was in my late teens and early 20s I got most of my “information” and ideals from online magazines like The Progressive and Counterpunch, shows like “The Daily Show,” organizations like and CrimethInc., and books like Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men and Nietzche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I did not read mainstream newspapers, which I felt had a conservative bias. (It is important to note that I did not think the newspapers had a conservative bias because I read them and found one, but because all the progressive magazines told me they did.)

Years later, after my abrupt conversion from pro-choice to pro-life and my gradual conversion from agnostic to Catholic, I voted for Barack Obama, having somehow convinced myself it was a pro-life thing to do. He’ll fix our country so fewer women will want to have abortions! Such was my rationalization. Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell circulated a letter to all the Catholics in his diocese urging us to vote pro-life. His argument was, of course, in perfect keeping with Catholic teaching, and basically said that our consciences can guide us one way or the other on almost every issue, from immigration to war to taxes to spending, but there is only one stance we as Christians are allowed to take on abortion, the most important moral, ethical human rights issue of our time. It followed, therefore, that we must vote pro-life.

I agreed with all of that but I still voted Democrat. I regret it to this day.

Mainly because, according to, Republicans are prettier.

I had not been practicing my faith for about a year when I cast my vote for Obama. The Bishop’s letter actually pissed me off. How dare they tell me I have to vote for McCain! A few months later, I returned to church and inevitably to a deeper understanding of the administration I had helped elect. By late 2009 I was not only not impressed with Obama; I was deeply troubled by him. In trying to understand what troubled me I began to compare and contrast him with President Bush and discover, to my chagrin, that I had been unfair to the man, that we as a nation had been unfair.

Victor Davis Hanson can defend Bush far more eloquently than I can, and I suggest you read what he has to say. As one of the world’s preeminent military historians, an expert on Western warfare and a best-selling author, the Stanford professor’s endorsement of the Bush administration, particularly Bush himself and much-maligned former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, speaks volumes.

When I look back at Bush now, I see, first of all, a moderate, not the hard-right ideologue the left made him out to be. Domestic policies such as No Child Left Behind found him not only reaching across the aisle but spending money more like a Democrat than 2011 Kristen would like. But 2003 Kristen would have condemned him anyway, using words like “unilateralism,” which sounded evil to me because The New York Times said it was evil. If you had pointed out that Congress voted overwhelmingly for war with Iraq, I would have said it was because of lies about WMDs. And if you had countered that there were actually 23 separate items in the Iraq War Resolution on which Congress voted, I would have said it was all a front, a lie told to America so the evil right wing conspiracy could blow up innocent brown people and take their oil.

The widespread hatred for George W. Bush went far beyond disagreement with his policies or even the war. It was a personal loathing. A major publisher released a book about Bush being assassinated. Bookstores around the country had whole designated sections of anti-Bush books and gifts; I saw one myself in a major chain bookstore in Texas. Celebrities and journalists called him names on TV; one even lamented that there was no John Wilkes Booth or John Hinckley, Jr., when we needed him.

The animosity was instigated, as public opinion so often is, by the leftist elite in Hollywood and New York and the intellectual elite in the news media and on college campuses around the country and abroad. They could not stand Bush’s perceived simplicity. They whined that he was not inquisitive. They condemned him as anti-intellectual, unwilling to see other cultures as just as valid as America’s, uninterested in why the terrorists hated us, narrow-minded about other values systems, and too stubbornly convinced that America was right and the rest were wrong. They hated his down-home accent, his brush-clearing vacations to Crawford, his traditional marriage to a classy woman, and, maybe most of all, his born-again Evangelical Christianity.

These are all the things I hated about Bush. Today, these are the things I like about him.

People hate Sarah Palin for very similar reasons – folksy populist rhetoric, back-of-beyond gun-toting frontier sensibility, a traditional family life, flag-waving patriotism, a straight-forward belief in good vs. evil, and an attitude toward national defense that can best be defined as “Don’t retreat. Reload.” These things at which the elites scoff and roll their eyes are the character traits that make a president who will defend American values at home and abroad… which is exactly what the left doesn’t want.

You betcha.

 Don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating for willful anti-intellectualism, and neither is Hanson when defending Bush, who upon meeting the president found him to be an avid reader and quite “learned… the opposite of the popular caricature.” I’m just saying that if I have to choose between someone who can use big words to speak at length about various themes in the work of Virgil and someone who can use small words to explain and defend the Constitution, I’m going with the latter. How many pompous academic blowhards have you met who know everything, but know nothing? (See Obama.)

I don’t particularly care to have a president “smart” enough to understand “why the terrorists hate us” and see things from their different, though “equally valid,” point of view. I would prefer a president with the common sense and the moral fiber to know that a terrorist is a terrorist and the proper response to terrorism is not deep bowing, apologies, or UN resolutions, but bombs. And, later, when the time is right, more bombs.

The problem is the moral relativism of the hyper-educated progressives, which they picked up in their universities. For example, a noted professor of bioethics – I am not making this up – at Princeton University has taken the brave though rare ethical position in favor of infanticide up to the age of about one year. What a heroic intellect! What an ethicist

This moral relativism, which the left clings to harder than us mean-spirited right-wing bigots cling to our religion and our guns, is best summed up in the idea that there is no such thing as absolute truth, just differences of perspective. There’s no such thing as good and evil, just different values systems, all of which are equally valid. And so forth. Pardon me for my abject simplicity, but I want a president who not only believes in good and evil, but recognizes evil and is willing to fight it. 

I like my American leadership like I like my American literature: muscular, simple, timeless, decisive – like Hemingway. Not sophomoric, banal, silly, amoral, and ambivalent, like Anne Rice. Anne Rice can be a fun read, and she’s oh so very provocative and stylish! But that’s not what I want in a president.

Dubya is not exactly Hemingway – he’s too centrist and, in some ways, too soft – but he goes in the right direction. Obama is Anne Rice up and down: in love with his own words, incapable of discipline, and stuck, like all leftists, in the mindset of a rebellious adolescent who doesn’t understand that all his bold new ideas for creating equality and peace and understanding are not new at all, but have been tried and found not only wanting but dangerous.

I understand that way of thinking because it was once my way. I know how dangerous it is for the soul of our country because I know what it did to my soul.

Today, when I see George W. Bush on television, I smile. I remember what it was like to have a real man for a president, arrogance and shit-eating grin and all, and I imagine I would really like to run into him at a hardware store, though I doubt he would ask my opinion on bolt cutters. If I were lucky enough to have such a confrontation, or if my prayers were answered and I actually found myself tubin’ the Guadalupe in a raft with Dubya, Ron White, and McConaughey, I would have a pretty good answer for G-Dub if he asked me that simple, somehow heartbreaking question: “How come you hated me so much?”

“I was stupid, Mr. President,” I would say. “I was stupid…”

“…Pass the O’Doul’s.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hooray for Hollywood

Life Decisions International has compiled a lengthy list of celebrities who support Planned Parenthood and legal abortion, either through simple lip-service or by donating considerable time and money. In case you’re wondering who’s on the list, the answer is: almost everyone. Brace yourself before you read it. You’re going to see people on that list you really like, and you’re going to feel disappointed.

From music to film and beyond, most of Hollywood not only supports legal abortion but rallies around Planned Parenthood to defend it, showing once again how out of touch the entertainment industry is with the rest of America. As Ramesh Ponnuru delineated in his book The Party of Death, most Americans are unaware just how few restrictions there are on abortion in the United States. The average American is probably not aware that there are places in this country where a woman can go have her baby killed at any time before the due date, for any reason at all. Most Americans are not aware that the ban on Partial Birth Abortion was a ban on one particular method of killing the baby in the second trimester. It was not a ban on late-term abortions. Those still happen, and they are still legal in some states.

Gwyneth Paltrow, who along with her mother Blythe Danner is a Planned Parenthood supporter, appeared on the hit TV show “Glee” the other night as the substitute sex ed teacher. In an episode I like to call “Planned Parenthood: The Musical,” the show's writers played mouthpiece to the PP approach to educating the young about sex: abstinence is stupid, more information -- even in the Google age -- is the only way, and here’s a cucumber-based demonstration of how to put on a condom. The only missing plank on the platform was abortion, which I imagine the show will get around to eventually.

Paltrow’s character Holly, in a conversation in which another teacher (Jayma Mays) advocated celibacy, referred to her as a “crazy Pope lady.” Holly began the class’s sex ed “lesson” by singing a song, along with the class, that featured a refrain of “Do you want to touch me there?” After a few minutes, the two girls from the celibacy club shrugged, smiled, and got up and joined in the fun, after Holly assured them they were “naïve, and possibly frigid.” Meanwhile, throughout the episode the president of the celibacy club confirmed this assertion by being both naïve and frigid. Later, Holly encouraged two girls in their fledgling lesbian relationship while the father of the main gay character lamented that there were many schools without sexual education that covered gay sex.

The opposing argument – that celibacy is often chosen by teenagers and adults who wish to make an intelligent moral decision; that abstinence education has been proven to reduce teen sex; and that condoms and birth control pills often lead to unwanted pregnancies and hence abortions – this opposing viewpoint was non-existent. The only advocate for celibacy was, as mentioned, a woman with a personality disorder who couldn’t stand to be touched, even by her husband. (See “flippancy.”)

It’s common sense that abortion doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It begins with a lack of basic sexual morality, the kind of lack we often see touted, even in "family" programming, as routine and even enlightened. The simple truth is if people only had sex with those with whom they intended to have children, abortion would not be a problem. This is why Planned Parenthood offers more than just abortion services. It’s not because they care about women; their own stated reason for existing is population control. No, they peddle cheap pills and free condoms and encourage the underage to have sex, as Live Action’s investigations have discovered, even when their partners are adults who are endangering them.

They do this because, as former abortion clinic director turned pro-life advocate Carol Everett has said, “… [B]irth control sells abortions. If I could get into fourth, fifth, sixth grades, I’d say, ‘Your mother’s an old fuddy-duddy about sex, isn’t she?’ They would all nod and say yes. So I’d tell them to come to me. I’d give them a low-dose pill.’”

The great battle cry we’ve heard for years is, “They’re gonna do it anyway!” This is true. But to illustrate an extreme example, people are going to commit murder anyway, but as a society we still pretty strongly encourage people not to do it, and I daresay, were it perfectly legal, they’d probably do it quite a bit more often.

Sex before marriage is not new to our time, but what is new is that in the last fifty years or so, beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s, we as a culture have slowly unburdened ourselves of a high standard, or really any standard, when it comes to sexual morality. In 1955, a young woman having sex with her boyfriend, though not unheard of, was considered far from ideal. Today, there is no ideal, and the fact that teenagers will have sex with each other is par for the course – as are teen pregnancy, abortion, single motherhood, the welfare state, and juvenile delinquency. Coincidence? No.

Planned Parenthood delights in the death of sexual standards, and Hollywood helps them sell it. Like Paltrow's "Holly," they break down a young woman’s natural modesty about sex and assure her it’s the most natural thing in the world to pack her purse with flavored condoms. Why? Because a young woman who says “yes” to sex before she’s ready could one day be a young woman who says “yes” to an abortion, allowing PP to continue their intended mission: ridding the world of “human weeds.”

And my, how the money rolls in.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Big Mean Israel

Women of the Israeli Defense Forces. Courtesy IDF, Copyright 2008.

In 2008, a staggering number of Catholics and Jews voted for Barack Obama. I don’t feel like looking up the numbers and I’m not getting paid for this, so I won’t. But rest assured it was a lot.

I will tackle Catholics on another day, and since I am a Catholic, I will not go easy on us. Today I address the issue of our spiritual progenitors, the Hebrews.

I can’t speak for Jews, although I can speak to them, as Rudy Giuliani did recently when he visited Israel and, as he related in his interview with Sean Hannity a couple days ago, said to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “You must be the first Israeli prime minister in history who is not absolutely certain he has the support of the president of the United States.” Netanyahu did not reply, Giuliani hypothesized for diplomatic reasons.

I have met many secular pro-Palestinian Jews in the U.S. They freak me out. Fortunately – and obviously – most of their Middle Eastern brethren feel very differently. As military service is compulsory in Israel, every citizen walking the streets of Jerusalem or Caesarea feels a personal sense of responsibility for the safety and continued existence of their country. The woman standing in front of you in a Tel Aviv Starbuck’s knows how to krav maga you to the ground and handle an Uzi. The Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, is known around the world as a formidable force, second only to the United States military, and even that is arguably more about size than strength.

What Israel has is something we are sorely missing in the United States. I am not advocating for the draft necessarily, although I understand that Israel, a nation that could fit inside North Texas yet is surrounded by countries dedicated passionately to its destruction, may not have much of a choice. No, I am not lamenting the lack of mandatory armed forces training in our country, but I do regret that the people of the United States do not have the same personal sense of responsibility for the integrity of their country felt by the Israelis.

Americans are soft. We sit around in dive bars with our ironic beards, playing with iPhone apps and repeating what we just heard on “The Daily Show” about how Palin is dumb and Bush is evil and war is bad mmkay while we drink our faggy European beer. If there were a draft, I would heartily suggest it be restricted to only those guys, the Stella Artois-swigging Whole Foods shoppers who know nothing of the ancient and rather tired origins of the "progressive" ideologies they espouse, or the bloody, genocidal, and terribly recent history of the Fascist Left.

Not pictured: Christian, Republican, or conservative.

As for Israel, many American Jews engage in the same kind of armchair strategizing about what Israel should and should not be doing about Palestine, Gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah, et. al., as their non-Jewish counterparts. I find it upsetting. Just as I feel we should let the fighting men, not the sociological activists, decide whether or not to allow gays in the military, and the American people, not the courts, decide on abortion law, we should let Israel decide what Israel needs to do, and then we should back them up. If this sounds extreme, well, first of all, I don’t care, and second of all, maybe I can explain.

Whether you personally, reader, are a Christian or not, you are still a product of a culture, a history, and a nation that was born out of what used to be called, with fierce pride and terrible love, Christendom. The United States is based on a document most of us have never read in toto called the Constitution, which is based inarguably on Judeo-Christian morals. Your beliefs, reader, are based in no small part on Judeo-Christian morals, whether you like it or not.  (I’m not gonna get into a debate about the origins of morality. If you want to argue a Darwinian basis, that we condemn killing and raping and condone loving our families for the biological survival of the species, I’ll let you roll around in that mud puddle of lunacy in the comments.)

Christianity, and therefore America, was born out of Judaism. We have an eternal link. They’re not into Jesus being the Messiah, but other than that, we have a helluva lot in common. I remember being told by a Jewish convert to Catholicism that the first time she went to Mass, she was startled to find that it was “just like Temple, but with Jesus.”

Jews and Christians share a strong historical, cultural, and spiritual bond. One half of our Holy Bible is the Jewish Tanakh, or Written Torah. You can almost say we have half our religion in common, which is quite a bit. If it weren’t for the Hebrews, Christianity, Christendom, the West, would not exist. We owe them a great debt.
Since they gave us Jesus, we can forgive them for Bette Midler. Barely.

As a card-carrying member of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, I am undeniably biased towards Israel; my point is, so should you be.
Peter Kreeft makes a strong argument that the Jews’ claim to be the chosen people is in fact a humble one. Were they to claim that their remarkable history were based on their own merits or actions, we could condemn their hubris. But no, they say, God chose us for some reason. That’s the only explanation. Christians of course believe the Hebrews were chosen to bring forth the Son of Man Jesus Christ.
Israel exists, as we know, as a refuge for 20th century Jews who somehow survived the horror of the Socialist-Fascist-atheist genocide of the Nazis. It is also exactly where the Jews belong: the Holy Land. It was Jesus Christ the Jew who carried his cross down the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, which is marked and treated with respect by Jews to this day.

Israel is the keeper of the Holy Land for Jews and Christians alike, in fact for all the West, formerly known as Christendom. Our shared history is there. Were it to fall into the hands of Muslim terrorists, those sacred places where Christ and his Hebrew fathers and brothers walked, dined, and got all miraculous would be desecrated or, at the very least, placed in the hands of those who hold such history in contempt, and all that implies. I am not making this up or hypothesizing. I am not being “mean” in claiming Islam hates Christianity as well as Judaism and wants to destroy it all. This is them talking. Don’t kill the messenger.

There is a fundamental difference between Israel and the Muslim world. That difference is that Israel, one tiny nation, has never threatened to wipe Islam off the face of the earth or declared that all Muslims everywhere should die forever and ever. Meanwhile, Israel is surrounded by extremists who want to turn it into a smoking hole in the ground, which they will then, I’m assuming, fill with the bodies of women who talked to white men or had the gall to get raped.

Let’s say our country were a nation of sovereign states – as they once sort of were, but whatever – and suddenly all those rectangular states in the middle decided to pick on, I don’t know, let’s say Kansas.  If Oklahoma, Utah, Indiana, all those middle states you got mixed up in elementary school geography tests, declared their intention to wipe Kansas off the face of the earth, surrounded it so closely on all sides that it had four or five minutes to rally defense in case of attack, as Israel does, and proceeded to launch rockets at it and send suicide bombers into it and threaten it with nukes, Kansas would be justified in doing whatever they had to do to survive, up to and including nuking the living hell out of all the rectangular states that were trying to kill it. It is the right of a sovereign nation to defend itself.  A nation is made up of people who have the right to fight for their lives if attacked. It’s pretty simple, folks. But, like Chesterton said, moral issues are always very complicated, for those who have no morals.

(By the way, if you want to know if you have morals, go here. If you look at it and think anything other than, "That is wrong and should not be legal," then congratulations, you have no morals.)

Israel is our sister nation for many reasons. We have promised her she is. Reagan called Israel “our friend,” and you don’t treat a friend the way the current administration has treated Israel. I won’t go over the various put-downs of Israel made by Obama, Biden, and Clinton (oh my!) in the past three years. Google it or something. I will only say if our government, whether under Obama or anyone else, chooses to be anything but supportive of Israel, we are not only insulting a friend, but our own history, our own culture, and our own commitment to the sacred, moral right of a nation to use reasonable force to defend itself.

When you google "reasonable force," you get a lot of pepper spray photos.

Perhaps, as my friend who has visited Israel suggests, we should drop every Israel-bashing American, Jew or not, by parachute into Palestine or Libya or Syria or Iran. If they are lucky enough to get out, after their rape shower we can ask them again what they think of big, mean Israel, and all the poor Muslims.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Media Battleground

A couple weeks ago, after the House voted to defund Planned Parenthood, I found myself on my couch late one evening, half-working and half-watching a rerun of “The Daily Show.” The lead-off segment was about the PP bill, and Jon Stewart, with the help of Daily Show correspondent Kristen Schaal, proceeded to satirically skewer the House’s decision and its supporters.

How did they do this? By providing a biting yet cogent refutation of the bill’s argument? By looking soberly at both sides and presenting a humorous yet fair analysis?

No. They did it by being completely dismissive of the defunding argument, acting as though it were not even worth considering a ludicrous idea that was clearly designed for the express purpose of denying women access to “convenient" health care. In fact, the title of the segment was “Motherf#@kers,” in reference to the imaginary motive of the bill’s supporters: harming women. They did not even come close to accurately representing the opposing argument.

“Among flippant people,” said C.S. Lewis, “the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it.”

In this way, the Daily Show writers and comedians, like many others in the media and especially in comedy, dismissed the whole idea of defunding PP without actually having to make an argument. All they had to do was act as though it were already obvious that it was a ridiculous idea, and the audience – many of them – nodded in agreement, enjoying that smug sense of self-satisfaction that comes with knowing they have the “right” idea, just like Jon Stewart, when in fact they don’t have any idea whatsoever.

Sure, “The Daily Show” is a comedy. It’s supposed to be entertaining. But it is also a major source of political commentary in our culture. Last year’s Rally to Restore Sanity, Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s “moderate alternative” to the Tea Parties, was supposed to call for a return to centrism and reason and fairness and open dialogue. But there is nothing fair about the way the argument against Planned Parenthood was treated by Stewart and his show.

Flippancy is not the only tool the popular media uses to discredit pro-lifers by making us look like a deranged group of violent, zealous lunatics. For example, this past January the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of Dallas, in cooperation with many pro-life organizations, held its annual downtown Roe v. Wade memorial activities, including the March for Life. Of course, the big march every year is in D.C., but in Dallas we feel a special obligation to demonstrate on that day, considering the original suit leading to the Roe decision was filed in the courthouse to which we march every year.

There were several thousand people at the march and rally holding several thousand pro-life signs. I saw many that were religious, some that were challenging, a few that were a little weird, but only one did I find to be truly bizarre. Someone had fastened a baby doll to a piece of poster board, and words – no idea what they meant – were scrawled on the sign in Spanish.

The next day, the Dallas Morning News story on the march featured a giant photo of – you guessed it – the crucified baby doll, replete with a headline reading: “Hundreds March for Life Downtown.” Hundreds. Not thousands. Deliberately misleading? As Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha.” And she knows a thing or two about bad press.

From dismissing us as nutcases to misrepresenting our motives – as in a recent blog by a Dallas Observer writer who claimed the pro-life cause is an elaborate excuse to engage in “slut-shaming” – we are continuously misrepresented and ridiculed by those who don’t even bother to learn what we’re about. I used to do it myself. I was what I call a “Sure Why Not?” pro-choicer. I thought it just kind of came with the territory of being a young, hip, intelligent woman. This is what G.K. Chesterton called “the degrading slavery of being a child of [ones] age.” I had no idea, as most people don’t, what an abortion was, what it did, or what was its miserable aftermath, but I nonetheless proclaimed loudly all the talking points about why “a woman’s right to choose” was as sacred as… actually I don’t think I believed in the sacred at the time. (That was my first problem.)

So how do we combat these injustices? Largely, by doing what we’re already doing: using the media to speak the truth whenever and wherever we can. If you’re not using Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and more, to disseminate the truth about abortion, you can start today for free. Do it with intelligence and class and humor and grace. Show them we’re not morons, lunatics, or mean-spirited woman-haters. Avoid flame wars and endless, counterproductive arguments with those who are inflammatory and hateful. Like Jonah Goldberg said, "Don’t wrestle in the mud with pigs. You get dirty and the pig likes it."

But be unafraid. You have nothing to fear from the truth. So you may lose a few Facebook friends. You’ll give them something to think about before they click “Delete,” and you never know when that tiny seed you planted will grow and blossom into a converted soul, profound healing, or even a single, miraculous, human life.

As an actor and entertainer who works for a live music company, I often wonder if I have not damaged professional relationships. We don’t speak about politics or religion in the workplace, but I am anything but shy about voicing my opinion on Facebook. I’m sure I work with people who disagree with me, and it’s quite possible I have lost opportunities due to my beliefs. I may never know. But I will never stop. “Our lives begin to end the day we stop talking about things that matter,” said Dr. King.

Keep talking about and acting on the things that matter. In the end, truth will prevail.