Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

Why Pro-life Christians should dump Trump

July 13, 2020

To some Christians, abortion is a primal sin blighting America’s soul. It’s a supervening moral issue guiding their politics; they can’t imagine voting for a pro-choice Democrat.

Pro-life is a legitimate moral stance that can be debated. Abortion does end a life. It’s reasonable to hold that at some point a woman bears some moral responsibility toward a life she’s carrying.

But can this justify support for Trump?

Michael Gerson (a Republican pro-life Christian) explored this in a recent column. He too, of course, understands why moral feelings about abortion drive some people’s politics. But he sees a problem when this becomes “a moral claim without a limiting principle.”

Abortion cannot be the only concern. Life is never that simple. You also have moral responsibility toward your neighbors, community, nation, and world. Their collective fate matters at least as much as the unborn. Gerson is saying that when you’re willing to justify anything in service to a single concern, sacrificing to it everything else, that is actually morally wrong.

Especially when it means supporting a man who, in so many ways, is shredding the basic principles, values, and ideals that used to govern America and its global role. That affects many more human lives, and is thus more morally consequential, than abortion.

Christians have a special burden here. They need to apply their overall Christian ethics not just to one issue but to the whole waterfront of what should be powerful moral concerns. The number of U.S. abortions is exceeded at least tenfold by living children who die of preventable illnesses globally. And shouldn’t “pro-life” mean wearing face masks and social distancing to keep people from dying of covid-19? And compassion for suffering refugees and their children? And when an obsession with abortion leads Christians to support a pussygrabber president who lies relentlessly, enflames racial divides,* flouts rule-of-law and democratic values —who rips children from mothers’ arms and puts them in cages — their moral compass is out of whack.** They’ve made a deal with the Devil. Jesus would not approve.

Furthermore, Gerson points out, such obviously messed up morality undermines societal respect for their religion, and its overall sway. People see it and conclude this religion is for the birds. Why listen to Christians prattling about morality when they clearly just don’t know right from wrong?***

Gerson also thinks they’re naive to imagine getting their way through raw political muscle. The hardline pro-life stance actually commands the support of only a small minority of Americans. At the end of the day, says Gerson, pro-lifers “are only going to win the abortion debate if we persuade enough people . . . We are not going to prevail by gaining power and imposing our view.” Persuasion requires thinking about how their arguments look to people coming to the debate with very different perspectives. And Gerson suggests that having those pro-life arguments linked with Trump — with all his baggage of vileness — “is not likely to be helpful.”

An understatement. Moral blindness has led them to miscalculate spectacularly in hitching their wagon to Trump. He is going down, and will take them with him.

* For some (not all), pro-life actually camouflages even from themselves what really drives their politics — hostility toward “the other” — other ethnicities and nationalities.

** Meantime, falsely claiming to “protect women’s health,” they try to restrict abortion by, for example, requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges in local hospitals, or even regulating abortion clinic corridor widths. Such dishonesty belies their movement’s moralism.

*** A true morality must be grounded in the reality of the world. Religion’s false reality undermines sound moral thinking.

Follow-up — Tony Milillo — The pathology of the hard left

May 21, 2019

My last post concerned abortion. I also put it on the Capital District Humanist Society’s Facebook page, where one Tony Milillo entered two comments — highly revealing and instructive. Here they are, in their entirety:

1. Well there you have it, according to Frank S. Robinson anyone who has an abortion from the end of the second trimester forward is killing a human being. And Frank “the expert on everything” also declares Roe v. Wade “a bad decision”. How the heck has the humanist society tolerated this blowhard for so long? From what I can see, the best that can be said about this guy is he has far too much time on his hands and far too high an opinion of himself.

2. From bad to worse from Mr. Robinson: “Talk of “women controlling their own bodies” is another big mistake of pro-choicers. If there’s a second human life inside it, it’s not just your own body any more, so the notion is morally shaky. But what the issue really does come down to is women having some control over their LIVES.”

First notice that my essay’s mainly criticizing Republican pro-lifers isn’t good enough for Mr. Milillo; I’m as bad as they are because I’m not an absolutist pro-choice zealot. 

Then notice that, to fit me into his box, Mr. Milillo’s very first sentence grossly misrepresents what I wrote; imputes to me a view my essay explicitly contradicted. 

It set forth the reasons behind my thinking. But notice also that Mr. Milillo’s two comments contain not a single word of actual argument. As though his own rightness and my wrongness is a given. Indeed, his second comment simply quotes me. Case closed! Res ipsa loquitur! It’s self-evident I’m wrong, no need to explain why. 

And what we do get, in place of any reasoned argument, is a lot of insults.

Notice particularly this line: “How the heck has the humanist society tolerated this blowhard for so long?” So he’s saying I should be blackballed. For failing a test of political correctness as decreed (though not actually explained) by Mr. Tony Milillo — who, incidentally, has never been seen at a meeting of said organization (in which I happen to fulfill three separate roles). I think the organization, which actually does adhere to the principles of humanism, including reasoned discourse, will not follow Mr. Milillo’s recommendation. 

This is why the left gets a rep for intolerance toward diversity of viewpoints. Believing in freedom of thought and expression, but only for themselves, all others be damned. Almost literally. 

Elsewhere, this same Mr. Milillo calls Joe Biden (another notorious deviant from Mr. Milillo’s catechism) “a fucking liar.” And what is the alleged lie? Biden’s comments to the effect that Republicans are human beings who can be reasoned with and who need to be kept in the fold of American society. Mr. Milillo goes on at great length disagreeing, explaining why Republicans are irredeemable. (Well, at least there’s some actual argument here.) But I’m not sure what Mr. Milillo’s solution is. Shooting them?

I’m a former lifelong Republican who hates what the party has become. But I agree with Biden that we must search for common ground. 

If guys like Mr. Milillo succeed in tearing down every voice that doesn’t gibe with their extremist hard left view, they will get Trump re-elected. Mr. Milillo’s kind of scorched-earth politics is tearing this country apart and will end in its destruction.

The dishonest Kavanaugh charade

September 7, 2018

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” Well, settled law is what the Supreme Court says. “Separate but (supposedly) equal” was settled law for 57 years until in 1954 the Court said it wasn’t. Kavanaugh refuses to admit that he would (with alacrity) provide the needed fifth vote to overturn Roe.

In fact that’s precisely his nomination’s raison d’etre. A lot of voters abide a stinking piece of shit as president just to get a Supreme Court that will end abortion rights. Trump is delivering on that devil’s bargain.

Kavanaugh’s record makes it a sure thing that he’d vote to reverse Roe. That was clear from Senator Hirono’s questioning. In one case Kavanaugh ruled that having to file a two-page form was an “undue burden,” while in another it wasn’t an “undue burden” on a woman to be held in involuntary detention — where in both cases the result was to prevent abortions.

Roe was a legal case but abortion is a political issue. If you want to curtail abortion rights, then at least have the honesty to say so — instead of hiding behind this “settled law” crap, which makes the whole process a dishonest charade.

Of course, honesty is the last thing we can expect from the Trump administration. There’s not an honest bone in its body.

For the record, I’m not pro-abortion, and always thought Roe was both badly decided and politically bad. Abortion rights were inexorably progressing through normal democratic processes, until the Court’s action made the issue toxically divisive. But for it to turn things upside down again now, by reversing Roe, would be even worse, unleashing political Armageddon. Saner heads on the Court should recoil from doing that.

But, like honesty, sanity is in short supply among today’s Republicans.