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 MoveOn.org 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 UglyDemocrats.com, 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.
Courtesy NJLawman.com 

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.