مسیح برخاسته است
Several weeks ago, Kristor posted two essays on the Orthosphere about politics that I highly recommend: “The Metastasy of Wickedness” and “A Modest Proposal: Enclose the Commons.” In them, Kristor diagnoses a disease and proposes a treatment. His diagnosis is obviously correct, but I am not fond of the suggested health regimen. Read it and ponder.
I do think that Kristor’s corporatization of politics, if ever possible, would be better than the dysfunctional and insane commontheft that we have now. However, there is no substitute for an outright principled rejection of modernity’s many idols, including and especially the liberal, egalitarian, democratic republic. Kristor’s idea is fascinating—just like fascism, Falangism, distributism, syndicalism, neo-corporatism, salafism, and other “reactionary” models for modern society. They are pretty good on noting the problems of the liberal commonwealth, the socialist state’s corrosive, enfeebling effects on its people as well as its tendency toward hard or soft tyranny, and the soul killing and flattening natures of capitalism and democracy, but they all carry a somewhat unpleasant odor. When they are not guilty of pendulum swinging overreaction or subtle or cowardly submission to leftist folly, they appear as politics’ version of a snake oil peddling crank. I think that is because they are revolutionary movements that have begun in the imaginations and mental abstractions of intellectuals rather than having slowly emerged from the trials of life through the centuries. A sane and stable political system must organically develop among civilized people with generally wise and virtuous leadership. Tragically, the last three centuries have turned every traditional society upside down and destroyed every virgin forest of the pre-revolutionary soul. Any way forward (or shall we say back to the good path) will necessarily be reactive, intellectual, and crankish—but it is a frightfully dangerous business for men to presume themselves equal to the accumulated wisdom of generations. How rare a wise lawgiver and founder of a new regime is!
I learnt yesterday of the death of Mrs. Barbara Willke this past Sunday evening. The Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati posts the details: “In Memoriam: Mrs. Barbara Willke”:
With great sadness, Cincinnati Right to Life mourns the loss of Mrs. Barbara Willke, who served as co-founder along with her husband and as chairman of the organization for 28 years. She died peacefully Sunday night at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, after suffering a severe head injury due to a fall. Funeral arrangements are pending.
“Mrs. Willke was a woman of courage and intelligence whose lifelong commitment to preserving the sanctity of human life is a moving legacy,” said Paula Westwood, Executive Director Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. “No one can fill her shoes.”
Barbara Willke was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and internationally known author, lecturer, and expert in human sexuality. She held B.S. and R.N. degrees from the University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing & Health, plus graduate studies at University of Dayton.
Mother of six, grandmother of 22, foster mother of several teenagers, Barbara headed the Department at the College of Nursing for five years before her full-time career as wife and mother. She is the wife of Dr. John Willke, past president of National Right to Life, president, Life Issues Institute and president emeritus, International Right to Life Federation. They would have been married for 65 years this June.
With Dr. Willke, Barbara co-authored twelve books on human sexuality and abortion. Together they created audio and visual materials that were proven to be basic teaching tools throughout the world. Their materials have been translated into 30 languages on all five continents. She and Dr. Willlke frequently appeared on radio and TV shows. They have spoken in 64 different countries.
Mrs. Willke was awarded honorary doctorates from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and, along with Dr. Willke, Cincinnati’s Xavier University.
Congressman Henry Hyde’s words bring to mind Barbara Willke:
When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God — and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world — and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him, because he loved us!’
I used to volunteer at the Right to Life office in North College Hill when I was a teenager, and I would always find Mrs. Willke tirelessly working in her office, though she was decades older than retirement age. Even though she and her husband were instrumental in founding the right to life movement in America and were internationally celebrated in prolife circles, Mrs. Willke humbly remained in Cincinnati and toiled in our small, unpretentious R.T.L. headquarters. She would frequently come out to say encouraging words and to show her appreciation to the volunteers while we helped stuff envelopes and did other clerical tasks in the back workroom. She was always kind and grandmotherly, manifesting a quiet but radiant and peaceful joy. May her memory be eternal! And of that, I am certain. I do not have definite views on the afterlife, but if souls may converse in the presence of the Lord, then I suspect that her friend the late Nellie Gray was there to welcome Mrs. Willke home.
Yesterday, Baroness Margaret Thatcher died. May her memory be eternal.
The Telegraph lists reactions from British and world politicians and other public personalities, including the following tribute from Nancy Reagan:
It is well known that my husband and Lady Thatcher enjoyed a very special relationship as leaders of their respective countries during one of the most difficult and pivotal periods in modern history.
Ronnie and Margaret were political soul mates, committed to freedom and resolved to end communism. The world has lost a true champion of freedom and democracy.
As Prime Minister, Margaret had the clear vision and strong determination to stand up for her beliefs at a time when so many were afraid to ‘rock the boat’.
As a result, she helped to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the liberation of millions of people. Ronnie and I knew her as a dear and trusted friend, and I will miss her.
The United States knew Margaret as a spirited and courageous ally, and the world owes her a debt of gratitude.
Here is the lady during her last few days as Prime Minister arguing against the latest levellers to plague Albion:
An admirer who maintains the Youtube channel thatcheritescotthatcheritescot has compiled bits of speeches into two videos that will surely bring a smile to your face:
Thatcher now joins the other formidable and courageous persons of her generation, including Ronald Reagan, Václav Havel, John Paul II, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who have fully graduated from their service to the common good and have journeyed to better climes. Let us pray for their souls, and, God willing, may they pray for us in troubled times.
Last week, George Michalopulos posted a piece by some folks in the O.C.A. opposed to Bishop Matthias’ (Moriak) resuming his episcopal duties in the O.C.A. Diocese of the Midwest: “The Sons of Job vs Syosset.” I do not have a strong opinion about the matter, as I am not a member of the O.C.A. and because I generally have a strong aversion to penal actions. I am happy to let others deal with punishments; I just want everyone to do what is right. Sadly, men are obstinate in their wickedness, and les gendarmes et alia are necessary in society. Anyway, though I am not a partisan in the O.C.A. bishop’s battle, I did object to the reasoning and language of the “Sons of Job” statement. So, I commented:
While I am sympathetic to those fine Midwesterners who expect their bishop to behave like a bishop, I cringed at some of the statements in this article, especially in the dean’s letter:
When they observe that the Church has lower standards of consequences for sexual misconduct, harassment, and ‘Zero Tolerance’ than the U.S. Military or Corporate America – it is too much.
Both the military and the corporate world are governed by mad leftist worms and by cowards who bow to them and to their demonic ideology. Sexual harassment “law” in the United States is an unpleasant reminder of how weak and pathetic money-worshiping bourgeois society has become. Don’t rock the boat, and you’ll keep your job and paycheck — justice and integrity be damned!
And the language of the Sons themselves shows that they have adopted the mindset of feminism:
We had an archpastor with an immeasurable power differential of age, gender and office . . .
“Power differential,” “gender,” — these are ominous signs that the churchmen have fully adopted the Zeitgeist.
The bishop appears to have poor judgment, where he is more concerned about his own desires than about the good of his flock. There is no need to borrow the contaminating values of the enemies of traditional civilization to call his fitness for the episcopate into question.
This heretical attack on American orthodoxy (though pleasantly in timely accord with the Orthosphere) elicited many negative comment “votes” and even a few critical comments. Commentator “Catholic Observer” added:
I see what you are saying, kinda-sorta, but would you really want to return to the era when there were no sexual harassment laws? As a woman, I sure wouldn’t.
It’s not just leftist whiners who appreciate such laws. It’s any woman who has ever been humiliated by innuendo-laced questions at a job interview. Or who has attended an offsite sales conference that featured a “wet T-shirt” contest. (For female employees only, of course.) Or who has repulsed an attempted RAPE by her boss in the bowels of Widener Library and then received neither credence nor support from her employer, Harvard College Libraries. Or who has been fired from an ad agency after complaining to her superior about an influential client’s repeated sexual advances.
All of the incidents I’ve recounted above are 100% true stories. The first two occurred in my own life; the last two happened to friends.
You may want to go back to those days, before the “leftists” insisted that women have some protection and redress against workplace predators.
As for me…thanks, but no thanks.
(Yes, I am aware that there are male victims, too, but they are outnumbered by female victims, as you yourself seem to concede via your references to feminism.)
Elsewhere, “Catholic Observer” identified himself (I assume) [wrong—I had overlooked “As a woman . . .”] as a Roman traditionalist. He is not your typical “Take Back the Night” marching, Vagina Monologues watching member of N.O.W., but he nevertheless has accepted the feminist (sic) version of society and history. It is for such reasons that I think that our society will perish—not because of the abundance of crazies but because of the dearth of the sane. The leftist invasion of the mind snatchers has been quite successful. I responded:
Oh, absolutely. Those grievous dark days — you know, the 1950′s — when crimes were about transgressing clearly defined boundaries rather than about the subjective, perceived discomfort of “protected classes.” When standards for proper conduct were based upon the common, received morality of a Christian people rather than cowards’ fear of lawsuits by the Left’s designated pet victim groups. When society had the good sense to carve out spheres of sociable interaction for men and women and to regulate, through social force and through law, the necessary decorum and behavior required for a civilized society. After the deluge, when we live in an anarcho-tyrannical state of fear and mistrust, we have far more use, abuse, and degradation of women than existed in those intolerable years before the sexual and cultural revolution. Would I return society to civilization and away from barbarism? Definitely!
This prompted “Pere LaChaise” to write:
Joseph, you write like a true zealot for a vague reminiscence of things that were better before women and people of color got involved. Welcome to the past, sir.
I rather fancy the word “zealot.” I have often written that, to the consternation of my betters, I have a leftist personality. Unlike the Left, though, the past truly is welcome to me; I feel neither temporal alienation nor the burden of my predecessors. I just do not have those “Daddy issues.”
Well, I normally ignore leftist trolling and snarks, but I took the bait. Most readers of Monomakhos are generally conservative Orthodox Americans from the more modernist jurisdictions. They are like Republicans; the leftist transformation of society upsets them but they lack clear principles to know why it is bad. Hence, they usually adopt the framework and the principles of the enemy unaware, and they thus eventually fold like cardboard housing in a storm. I figure that my insignificant witness online and in person may help to counteract the incessant onslaught of confusion for the few with ears to hear. So, I replied:
Leftist regimes are unsustainable. For they misunderstand human nature (egalitarianism, refusal to acknowledge sex differences and roles, inconsistent awareness of the tribal reflex in man, and pretty much everything else characteristic of their insanity) and they aim for improper ends (autonomy of the individual will, fulfillment of the appetites, destruction of any hierarchy of values, priorities, or tastes beyond the individual’s choosing, overturning of all traditional, time-tested restraint, and the necessary, unavoidable contradictions of trying to impose liberalism – a glorification of the self – on others). And so they will not last long. The more successful they are in implementing their perverse understanding of justice, the quicker they will kill their host society. They are thus bad parasites (bad for the host and, in the long run, for themselves). One would think that so many who claim Darwin and natural science as unassailable authorities would apply the concept of fitness to their own political situation.
It is fitting that you take the name of a graveyard; it reminds me of Dostoevsky’s famous line about Europe. In that lovely Parisian plot lies the corpse of Jim Morrison, whose own life manifests well the disorder of the new regime and of the new man. In it, also, are the bodies of Héloïse and Abélard, who dealt with the injustices of the old regime—though a regime capable of regularly producing such beautiful and noble souls that transcend the shortcomings of an unjust world. In any human society, comprised of fallen men, there will be ugliness and rot. Some societies, however, cultivate virtue and goodness. Ours gives us Sandra Fluke. I’ll happily remember (through cultural memory, not my own) the time before sluts as sluts became our society’s heroes.
Do you blame the involvement of women and “people of color” [per Lou Grant—which color?] for the fall? Or is their lack of involvement all that matters? So, a strong, prosperous, socially (comparably) unified republic—1950’s America, where, incidently, Americans of all “colors” and sexes were more involved in their communities and with each other than in our age of increasing alienation—is to be condemned because women still largely ran domestic and unofficial civic affairs rather than the corporate world and elected offices? Because American blacks lived, depending on their location, with state-sponsored or state-tolerated segregation? Behold the liberal’s true mind-set! He would rather everyone live in equal misery in the husk of a decaying commonwealth than for people to live happily unequally in a stable and generally healthy society. For women and blacks are less happy now than in those terrible days before the 1960’s, but liberals can only process information with images of white cops with billy clubs and riot gear and the poor, eternally oppressed Negro. Where is the concern for blacks’ welfare as a result of Orwellian named “welfare”? Where is the concern for blacks’ moral goodness? Where is the liberal’s self-righteousness when lower end American blacks now live in a culture so filthy and bleak that even the Hobbesian state of nature looks more human and ennobling by comparison? In the terrible days of Jim Crow, it was much easier to find intact black families, solid and packed black religious congregations, black neighborhoods where crime was low and trust was high, and individual black Americans of developed virtue and good sense. The civil rights movement was useful for the talented tenth, but things took a nosedive for everyone else once whites started “helping” the poor blacks of neverending victimhood. This should not surprise anyone honest about human nature, but liberals do not believe in human nature. Moreover, for liberals, blacks are not moral agents—not human beings who choose right or wrong like everyone else—but rather sacralized objects of devotion by which liberals may practice their substitute heathen religion on the altar of white guilt (not their own, mind you, but others’). Every misdeed by a black is not a sin, crime, or moral failing, but rather the collective responsibility of “racism” – particular or “institutional” and “systemic.” To blot out these transgressions, the white liberals atone for the sins – of others. They are like Christ—indeed, better than Christ—since Christians are such bigots, you know. Every lefty is a little John “more popular than Jesus” Lennon who glows in self adulation, knowing that he is the redeemer of the world. Verily, verily, he is the one that he has been waiting for.
It is an unworthy but nevertheless bountiful offering of traditionalist points of which many (most?) of Mr. Michalopulos’ readers have been sadly unaware. Let us all do our part to plants seeds, though we do not know when and where kernels will fall on fertile ground. Moreover, if we occasionally have the pleasure of shoving such seeds in leftist eyes, it is so much the better. We all have our sinful indulgences.
Update: One of Michalopulos’ readers who is a proud representative from the Old Left objected to my characterization of leftist regimes as “unsustainable.” He offered Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Cuba as examples. I commented:
Take Sweden, for instance. Its ideology has reduced its birthrate, made its people into heathen hedonists incapable and unwilling to uphold their own nation, and invited alien hordes into its cities — an invasion that will lead to population replacement and to a very different cultural and social regime. In the meantime, when the less than leftist newcomers rape the women and assault the men, the society is voiceless and unable to address the problems (due to its ideology). Instead of identifying the causes behind the sharp spike in sexual assaults, the Swedes double down in their error and increase their estrogenized Orwellian policies, further emasculating Swedish men — the natural protectors of their compatriotes in a sane society. Similarly, when the newbies paint religio-ethnic slurs on synagogues and render some of the most Jew-friendly cities in the world dangerous to Jacob’s children, the elite worries about the rise of the “far right.” It’s beyond dystopic fiction, beyond farce. What has led those well ordered Scandinavians to such madness? Their autophagous leftist ideology, which will destroy their society, unless, as we hope, they will repent of it before it consumes them.
Last month on The Orthosphere, Kristor published “The Production of Righteousness” about the ultimate aim of social policy. The post and its comments are worth reading.
In undergrad., I remember reading various facile distinctions between the legitimate aims of secular society and those of the Church. A common marker was that politics aimed for material well-being while religion aimed for spiritual well-being. A more respectable opinion held that the commonwealth inculcated the natural virtues, while the Church cultivated the theological virtues. I found and continue to find these distinctions bogus. If the ultimate aim—the highest good—of man is God, then all other considerations follow from that. If a king is to consider the good of his people, then he must facilitate their attainment of the highest good, in relation to which all other goods have their place and meaning. If the bishop’s job is to shepherd his flock toward salvation, he, too, must concern himself with their character development and with conditions conducive to living morally. A king and a bishop in a Christian society wear different crowns (figuratively if not literally, thanks to the Turks!), but the common delineations of their duties remain unsatisfactory. One leads the institution of the state, which is simply the organizing power of the whole people for the preservation of society, while the other leads the ecclesiastic institution, which is simply the organizing power of the whole people (in a Christian society) for the salvation of souls. However, measures that preserve society and those that foster spiritual growth largely overlap. It is for this reason that “Church and state” ought to cooperate in a partnership—a symphony—for the good of men.
Earlier in the month, Bruce Charlton posted a short but powerful summary of our contemporary predicament in “The extreme depravity of modern Western leaders.” While I read Charlton’s description of the modern Western elite, I thought of Eliot’s observation from The Cocktail Party:
Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.
May the age of self esteem soon become an age of repentence!
I wish everyone who observes Ash Wednesday today a beneficial lenten season. (This year, Orthodox Pascha occurs five weeks after the Western observance. So, it will be some time before Lent begins for us.)
I also ask that you pray for the well-being and salvation of Lawrence Auster. You may know that his health has deteriorated over the last few months (see “A Prayer for Lawrence Auster” from last month). Yesterday evening, he shared very “Bad news on the Auster health front.” It is grim, though the man is displaying admirable equanimity.
I have read Auster’s site almost every day that I have had computer access since I discovered his page in A.D. 2008. The resulting post of that discovery, “Auster’s View from the Right,” was among this site’s early entries. Ever since, View from the Right has provided me many, many hours of enlightenment, entertainment, and even a form of comraderie. On a purely selfish level, I do not want to lose what Auster gives. For he is an irreplaceable treasure, and his readership, his commentators, and the extended network of traditionalists online who have become his friends (including the folks at The Orthosphere and The Thinking Housewife) are without equal on the internet.
Moreover, Auster’s posts have inspired a good deal of Arimathea’s entries. A search for “Auster” on this page yields ninety-eight results. Today’s post will be the ninety-ninth. I expected that number to rise for years to come. It certainly will, God willing, as Auster’s observations, insights, and humor will not be forgotten. I just want the corpus austeri to be ever growing. The Lord, though, may have other plans. Perhaps, Irving Kristol has made even the saints triumphant weary over the last few years, and Lawrence is just the man to set him straight! For the time, though, Irving can wait. We need Auster here. Nonetheless, I cannot complain, as I am grateful to have had the opportunity to read and to correspond with a remarkable man. Many blessings to him!
Happy Thanksgiving to my American compatriots!
On this day of feasting and gratitude, we should count our blessings, especially being mindful of the many gifts that we always overlook.
Several months ago, I learnt about Lizzie Velasquez. She cannot gain weight or body fat; there are only three known current cases of her condition. On Miss Velasquez’s page, you may read about her extraordinary life and see the obvious challenges that she faces each day. Despite such, she has quite the spirit. The word is clichéd and Oprahesque, but it is certainly le mot juste here: young Velasquez’s story is inspiring. Watch the videos. I wish that every self-pitying teenager in America could spend a few days with the Velasquez family. It would be a good intervention for their souls.
Last week, the Austerites commiserated in the seal of republic’s destruction. Auster comments upon an essay by Daren Jonescu on American Thinker that refuses to indulge in the standard conservative American wishful thinking tripe; the American republic of the Republican imagination no longer exists. Conservatives cannot win much political power in our current society. Instead of becoming leftist lite in the hope of getting elected, conservatives should rather focus on the war of ideas. Instead of Rovian tactics and compromises, we should testify to the verity of the permanent things. Auster calls for this new conservatism—a conservatism of truth. Commentator James P. then offers powerful words from Solzhenitsyn’s “Live Not by Lies.” It is sage advice.
Ann Coulter has had a few unpleasant weeks. Her political hero fraternized with the enemy, her presidential pick lost the election, and her media buddy gave up the ship to the pirates. Imagine the insufferable commentary that she has to hear now from her friend Bill Maher. Tant pis pour elle.
Though I feel for my favorite lioness, I am saddened by her column this week: “Don’t Blame Romney.” After lamenting that America will not benefit from Romney’s executive talents, Coulter attacks Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock for their giving the Democrats two seats in the Senate:
The last two weeks of the campaign were consumed with discussions of women’s “reproductive rights,” not because of anything Romney did, but because these two idiots decided to come out against abortion in the case of rape and incest.
After all the hard work intelligent pro-lifers have done in changing the public’s mind about a subject the public would rather not think about at all, these purist grandstanders came along and announced insane positions with no practical purpose whatsoever, other than showing off.
While pro-lifers in the trenches have been pushing the abortion positions where 90 percent of the country agrees with us—such as bans on partial birth abortion, and parental and spousal notification laws—Akin and Mourdock decided to leap straight to the other end of the spectrum and argue for abortion positions that less than 1 percent of the nation agrees with.
In order to be pro-life badasses, they gave up two easy-win Republican Senate seats.
No law is ever going to require a woman to bear the child of her rapist. Yes, it’s every bit as much a life as an unborn child that is not the product of rape. But sentient human beings are capable of drawing gradations along a line.
Just because I need iron to live doesn’t mean I have to accept 100,000 milligrams, which will kill me. If we give the guy who passed bad checks a prison furlough, that doesn’t mean we have to give one to Willie Horton. I like a tablespoon of sugar in my coffee, but not a pound.
The overwhelming majority of people—including me—are going to say the law shouldn’t force someone who has been raped to carry the child. On the other hand, abortion should be illegal in most other cases.
Is that so hard for Republicans to say?
Purist conservatives are like idiot hipsters who can’t like a band that’s popular. They believe that a group with any kind of a following can’t be a good band, just as show-off social conservatives consider it a mark of integrity that their candidates—Akin, Mourdock, Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell—take wildly unpopular positions and lose elections.
It was the same thing with purist libertarian Barry Goldwater, who—as you will read in my book, “Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama”—nearly destroyed the Republican Party with his pointless pursuit of libertarian perfection in his vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
I like a band that sells NO albums because it proves they have too much integrity to sell out.
We have a country to save. And just as the laws of elections generally mean the incumbent president wins, they also mean the party out of the White House typically stages a big comeback in midterm elections. BIG. Don’t blow it with purist showoffs next time, Republicans.
Coulter has long been consistent in her political advice, following Buckley’s venerable rule of supporting the most conservative politician electable. I do not fault Buckley or Coulter for this view. In terms of political strategy, it seems sensible. However, one of the roles of law is to teach men what is right and what is wrong. Truth matters in the practical world. When a society leaves the golden path and heads toward perdition, righteous men should speak out against such aberrations and their consequent wickedness. In the United States, we find much evil accepted and celebrated. Just men may argue how best to address the times, but, heeding Isaiah’s warning, they should be unanimous in their commitment to call that which is good good and that which is evil evil. If Republicans aim for the outlawing of abortion at the State level but grant exceptions for the cases of rape, incest, and mortal danger, then such may be an acceptable policy for our society now. However, leaders should not hesitate to point out to the public—to teach the people—that such exceptions are a condescension to a sickness in our society. They should admit and instruct that the basis of the prolife position—that there is an innocent human being whose life is at stake—does not lead to the first two exceptions.
The Republicans’ exceptions are less logical and less morally defensible than the Clintonian Democrats’ goal of making abortion “safe, legal, and rare.” If abortion is a hunky dory medical procedure “between a woman and her doctor,” then why should it be rare? No one says that periodic tooth cleaning should be rare or that colonoscopy should be rare (well, many may wish otherwise, but . . .). However, one could say that abortion should be rare because it is a medical procedure to “fix” an unfortunate situation (unwanted pregnancy), and we should reduce the frequency of that unfortunate situation. In this way, abortion would be like cancer treatment—it should be rare not because the treatment is objectionable but because we want to eliminate the condition. The Republicans admit that they oppose abortion because it kills innocent children. They acknowledge the salient fact. Nonetheless, they then proceed to justify murder in certain cases that do not weigh a life against a life. In the cases of pregnancy by rape or incest, we weigh an innocent human life against a victim of sexual abuse’s aggrieved state. What exactly are we supposed to achieve by killing the unborn baby in such cases? The removal of a painful reminder? A rape victim is not going to forget the trauma of sexual assault, pregnant or not. The removal of miasma? If we accept spiritual purity as a legitimate basis of law, then we must do quite an extensive revision of our legal code. Even so, capital punishment for the perpetrator and handing over the child to a convent appear better solutions to miasmic contamination than compounding the offense with innocent blood. The removal of an unjust burden? Unfortunately, bad things sometimes happen to good people, though laws and political policies may temper the effects of bad fortune. Instead of killing babies conceived in horrid circumstances, our society could recompense the victim, preferably by confiscating the property of the perpetrator (or wages earned in slave labor, if the vicious is allowed to live).
I was raised in a prolife home. My mother began toting me to anti-abortion marches in elementary school. However, I always heard the unquestioned acceptance of the “hard case” exceptions, together, of course, with the relevant statistics—the percentage of abortions that involve the “hard cases” is quite small. So, I accepted the exceptions, as well, never thinking more about the issue. When I was a fourteen year old high school freshman, I befriended a girl whom I met in a religious youth group. She was from a troubled family, and she told me more and more of her story as we got to know each other better. I remember well the night that she told me she had suffered sexual abuse by her stepfather. She had become pregnant, and her mother made her get an abortion to “fix” the problem. My friend told me that she was haunted by her action—and by the thought of her child. She suffered every day; abortion did not solve her “hard case.” Her grief struck me profoundly. Of course, I sympathized with her. I wished that I could have removed her from the trauma that she experienced. Yet, her personal story made abortion in “hard cases” real to me. A pregnancy from rape was still a pregnancy, and an abortion of a baby conceived after rape was still an abortion. Such is obvious, but my mind had relegated the phenomena into their own special unexamined state until my friend’s pain reified them. How could I deny the humanity of such children? How could I consider murder an acceptable therapy for a victim of a horrific crime? From that night, I rejected the “hard case” exceptions. I knew no one who thought similarly until I went to college, where I encountered others who analyzed morality from principle rather than from politically useful myopia.
That said, I support incremental approaches to legal reform because such saves lives and moves the national conscience closer to where it should be. I moreover recognize that our laws cannot instill perfect virtue. Thomas reminds us of such in the Summa Theologiae (I-II, 96-2):
The purpose of human law is to lead men to virtue, not suddenly, but gradually. Wherefore it does not lay upon the multitude of imperfect men the burdens of those who are already virtuous, viz. that they should abstain from all evil. Otherwise these imperfect ones, being unable to bear such precepts, would break out into yet greater evils: thus it is written (Psalm 30:33): “He that violently bloweth his nose, bringeth out blood”; and (Matthew 9:17) that if “new wine,” i.e. precepts of a perfect life, “is put into old bottles,” i.e. into imperfect men, “the bottles break, and the wine runneth out,” i.e. the precepts are despised, and those men, from contempt, break into evils worse still.
It is for this reason that I find Republicans’ condescension morally acceptable to support, though only strategically and, ideally, temporarily. Even so, I support an unwavering fidelity to solid moral reasoning and sound principle. By contrast, Coulter’s damns intellectually consistent prolifers. Consider the “disaster” of Richard Mourdock. Mourdock stated, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The dishonest minions of hell twisted Mourdock’s wholly mainstream Christian understanding of God’s role in the proliferation of the human race by stating that Mourdock’s God intends rape. Mourdock’s Democratic opponent and eventual victor Joe Donnelly shamelessly reponded, “The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen—ever. What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.” The alinksied Mourdock clarified his remarks, “What I said was, in answering the question from my position of faith, I said I believe that God creates life. I believe that as wholly and as fully as I can believe it. That God creates life. Are you trying to suggest that somehow I think that God pre-ordained rape? No, I don’t think that. That’s sick. Twisted. That’s not even close to what I said. What I said is that God creates life.” Instead of attacking the Democrats for their bad faith and instead of defending a normal Christian understanding of God’s role in life, the Right from Romney’s campaign to pundits like Coulter denounce and blame Mourdock. Rather than sinking to the lowest level of idiocratic pandering, conservatives could ask Mourdock’s “Christian” detractors how they conceive of divine providence in a fallen world. It is not a simple issue, and I have never been able to get a satisfying grasp on the issue. Yet, Mourdock’s position appears to be a standard theologoumenon. In our age of the anti-Christs, though, fundamental Christian doctrines—and those who espouse them—are anathema.
Though of lesser importance, Coulter’s swipe at Goldwater disheartens me, as well. Goldwater’s courageous and prophetic opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an attempt to defend the American constitutional regime from a bloodless revolution that has rendered us ever more shackled by intrusive statists (well, not so bloodless, actually . . .). American conservatives should never have accepted the leftist attack on the freedom of association and the freedom of contract. They should have never accepted the underpinning mechanism of racial Marxism, whereby the government tramples on American liberties—and American individuals—in its interminable quest to “close the gap” between different ethnic groups. For all his faults, Goldwater’s stand should remain a source of pride and inspiration for American conservatives, even a touchstone in determining the proper role of government in a liberal republic of the Anglo-Saxon tradition. If we are unable or unwilling to defend the basic principles of the traditional American regime, what good is there in scraping over policies to which those neglected principles redound? In Christian theological terms, Coulter would have had the Boston Congregationalists reject trinitarianism but argue vociferously with the Unitarians about hymnography.
Goldwater and his supporters were the Spartans at Thermopylae. Would Coulter counsel Republicans to follow Ephialtes?