Friday, January 21, 2011

As they should

Please do go and read Simcha Fisher's post today! Excerpt:

The NAACP hid a prominent statue of George Washington inside a wooden box during a MLK Day rally, offering the terminally lame excuse that the box would make a more suitable backdrop for the rally’s speakers. The NAACP denies any intention of disrespect, but their narrow view of history is no secret: anyone who owned slaves is a racist, and anyone who is a racist cannot be called a great man. This is what is taught in history class, and several generations have been nourished on these junk food ideas.

Students are taught that they must not squander their exquisite admiration on someone who owned slaves. They are taught, by implication, that it’s not enough for a man to give up his family and his safety for the noble cause of independence. It’s not enough to inspire and command. It’s not even enough to triumph in a way that directly benefits millions of people today.

He must also be . . . EVERYTHING MAN.

He must leap out of his time, and see with the eyes of every possible future type of enlightenment. Did he accomplish the massive victories that his generation desperately needed? Not good enough. We also require him to be the role model for solving any type of conflict that might ever turn up, or else he’s no good to us. Into the box you go, little George. You don’t impress us anymore. [Link in original--E.M.]

Do read the whole thing, if you can.

It was definitely a shameful thing that so many of America's founders saw nothing wrong with owning slaves. But that shameful thing came from the whole of society, not just the great men of the period; from the New England merchants to the British investors to some of those in Africa who sold their fellow men into bondage, no one's hands were clean.

It is similar today to abortion. Our society, our economy, our whole way of life depends heavily on two things: sex being viewed solely and reductively as an entertainment choice, and children being viewed as totally disposable before birth. Those of us who speak and write and act against both of these practices do so as a distinct minority; even many pro-life leaders have not made the connection that the widespread availability of contraception increases, rather than decreases, the demand for abortion--because contraception creates the mindset that children are a regrettable side-effect of sexual activity instead of being an integral and intrinsic part of the purpose of that activity.

Some future people, horrified by the commodification, exploitation, and destruction of innocent human life in the womb might well find the idea that there were any real "heroes" in our time, aside from specifically pro-life ones, hard to swallow. That is only fair, isn't it? More balanced voices might try to explain that in our day the unborn human being was viewed as a parasite, an unwanted intruder upon a woman's sovereignty, an interloper whom the woman had the right to kill and destroy at will; that despite a growing body of scientific data showing the clear humanity of the little one at her embryonic and fetal state pregnancy was seen as so terrible a condition, and motherhood as so vile and worthless a state--akin to slavery!--that our present-day larger-than-life figures unquestioningly accepted this great injustice in regards to both the unborn, and to all the woman forever damaged by the act of participating in the killing of their own flesh and blood, their own children.

I doubt that future generations will understand this any better than we now understand the excuses and justifications given for so many hundreds of years for slavery. But I don't doubt that future generations will be horrified by abortion and our casual, banal acceptance of this great evil; the societies which champion abortion will eventually die out by their own choices, while the places in the world where children are still valued and cherished for their own sake will rise up to take our place. As they should.


Anonymous said...

I love this, Red, as much as I love Simcha's piece. Your closing thought was perfect.

L. said...

It reminded me of how some Catholics protest when universities honor the accomplishments of men and women who aren't pro-life.

No matter where you stand on abortion, it's worth noting Simcha's words in her comments section:

"Imagine some future generation in which abortion has been utterly eradicated — in which it is known far and white, taught in the schools, and fully accepted that a fetus is a baby, and shouldn’t be killed.

"Imagine these future people looking back in horror and disgust at me, who does little more than offer the occasional prayer for the end of abortion. How impressed are these future people going to be?"

Red Cardigan said...

Well, L., when Catholic universities are honoring present-day men and women who support killing unborn humans, I think Catholics ought to protest, loudly and persistently.

Just as if George Washington were a slave-owner today, he'd be shunned from polite company (and probably put in jail).

But then, I hold Catholics to a higher standard, anyway. They know abortion is murder and that all who engage in it and materially support it are in the real and present danger of losing their immortal souls and spending eternity in Hell--so they can't pretend abortion, the killing of unborn humans, is something to be applauded.

L. said...

Ah, not all of us Catholics "know" that. Some of us throw the bathwater out with the baby, so to speak. :)

Here's a question, though -- is it possible for a Catholic university to honor someone's achievements in an unrelated field, if the person doesn't happen to be pro-life? I don't mean politicians who take a public stand against legislation to criminalize abortion -- I understand why this is different, and those who protest are indeed being consistent.

But say there's a distinguished astrophysicist or something, who is believed to be against criminalizing abortion, because he/she refuses to identify his/herself as "pro-life."

Are only pro-life people's accomplishment worthy of admiration and recognition? Is the sin of supporting abortion rights so great that it negates any and all of an individual's achievements?

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, L., you do know that abortion is murder and that all who engage in it and materially support it are in the real and present danger of losing their immortal souls and spending eternity in Hell. You just choose not to believe it. Pro-choice: you get to be your own God, too, I suppose.

L. said...

No -- I don't think abortion is murder. I think it's justifiable homicide. And I don't believe that a benevolent supreme being would require every woman in every situation to gestate every baby, no matter what. I believe the Catholic Church is wrong for insisting on this.

You can go ahead and put words in my mouth all you like, but you can't tell me what I "know."

I surely fit your definition of a murderer, but not my own.

Red Cardigan said...

"And I don't believe that a benevolent supreme being would require every woman in every situation to gestate every baby, no matter what."

Leaving aside the fact that He does no such thing (since He can call unborn babies home to Him in the same way he calls the born home at some point in each of our lives) and that to Him alone belongs the power of life and death, there is the uncomfortable reality that the God you believe in isn't even remotely the God Who revealed Himself to man, was born among us, suffered, died, and rose again, and who founded a particular Church to serve as the ordinary means of salvation for all of sinful humanity.

There are gods who like the killing of children, of course. Moloch is one. Perhaps that is who you really worship--though you like to call yourself a Catholic.

L. said...

Perhaps, Erin, perhaps. Sometimes I do get the distinct impression that the God I worship isn't the God that the more strident, devout people insist He is.

But I, unlike you, do not find this to be an "uncomfortable reality."

Anonymous said...

I'll have to read the post again to catch the whole idea, but on the face of it, George Washington was a slave owner.

Was he a mean slave owner? Beheading a disobedient black man for doing something his own kin might do, or starving his workers, or did he treat the coerced help as if they were chattel? That is the question. And, not clarifying the message, perhaps by putting a box around it (perhaps no one would believe our first president could do what some slave owners did without remorse i.e. wouldn't treat a dog that way), is where the NAACP failed to tell the whole story.

But, the covering of GW did promote a discussion on MLK Day.

As for school textbooks telling history one way or the other for several generations about the first president or slavery, I fail to find that a factual observation on the part by Ms. Fischer. And, it's difficult to believe that people would argue against the holiness of our Pope John Paul II.

Red does a good job of bringing out the social ramifications of completely free-use of abortion. If I were setting out in life, I would want to hear these kinds of things, but I'm of middle-age and feel a woman's body is her own, within the beliefs she has about God.

It is my belief that people that might arrange for an abortion would not allow an abortion after a certain developmental age if they believed in my interpretation of the phrase 'sanctity of life'.

Perhaps, it's a call for Christian evangelism; to live one's life as a realistic and believable example of what life should be.

There used to be a large billboard placed on the side of I-65 by March of Dimes with the statement I interpreted as promoting adequate pre-natal care ... premature delivery (as opposed to ensuring long gestational period) can be dangerous and associated with higher rates of poor fetal outcomes.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Like most people of his time, George Washington was a complex and perplexed man. As the owner of vast acres and a large workforce, he expected his workers to be up early and working hard and long. His fortune depended upon it. On the other hand, he did advocate legislative action to phase out slavery. It was the generation AFTER his that began to formulate the philosophy that slavery was a positive good. IT could be argued that Washington laid the constitutional and political foundations which, subject to a bloody civil war, did in fact result in the abolition of slavery. There are no heroes, and rather fewer villains than many writers would have us believe.