I don't do fisks often. Don't much like doing them, in fact. But there was quite a bit of misunderstanding about what I wrote re: Pat Archbold's piece castigating what he called "armchair pro-life" that I thought that fisking Pat's piece was probably the best way for me to be clear.
My comments are in red. Spelling or other errors are due to the migraine that won't quit.
It should not surprise that I hold in low esteem a particular breed of man who, while claiming the name Catholic, supports openly and actively that wretched party of death. They fret over a folly, which they basely baptize as “social justice”, which inexplicably counsels the right of broadband internet access and condoms for the poor, while innocent life is extinguished by the millions at the cruel hands of the federally subsidized. In so doing, they weave for themselves a seamless garment as a shroud, befitting the whitewashed tombs they gaily inhabit. [The “seamless garment” notion did, actually, include opposition to abortion. But one should never let a fact get in the way of a good metaphor.]
Still, another breed of man occupies a rung on my ladder of loathing barely an amoeba’s head above the aforementioned—the armchair pro-life. [Because we’re supposed to loathe people, as good Christians, of course--alas, that the great hymn “Christians, Let us Loathe One Another” has fallen so sadly out of favor.]
The armchair pro-life oppose abortion much in the same way that I oppose cannibalism in Papua New Guinea—in theory. Their active opposition to abortion, usually restricted to tut-tutting the occasional article on African-American abortion rates, underwhelms. [I must take Mr. Archbold’s word for it that there are such people in such sufficient number as to make this article burningly necessary. I have not, myself, encountered people who are sort of mildly in favor of ending abortion but only when statistics involving African-American abortion rates come up in conversation.]
But the moral lethargy of the armchair pro-life does not raise my ire so, rather it’s my conclusion that their disdain for abortion barely eclipses their evident contempt for the activist pro-life. […person? I assume there’s a word missing. Anyway, again, I’ve not met too many people who say, “I am really, truly pro-life! However, I’m deeply personally opposed to actually doing anything about it.” Mr. Archbold’s circle of acquaintances must be a great deal wider than mine.]
We find ourselves at the commencement of perhaps the great pro-life battle of this generation, de-funding the racist eugenics organization Planned Parenthood. [Certainly a worthy battle. Also, as certainly, not a new one. It has been tried, as the article at the link mentions, at various times over the last 25 years. Mentioning this fact may remove a little gloss from the “We’ve never made it this far before!” narrative, but it’s true, for all that.]
Yet, in even the skirmishes leading to the looming battle, the armchair pro-life have attempted to cede the moral high-ground while excitedly preparing their “I told you so” speeches anticipating, perhaps even hoping for, defeat. [I utterly reject the notion that anyone who is actually pro-life is hoping for defeat. Anticipating it might be another thing--it could, for instance, be the result of an awareness of history, an appreciation of the present dynamics, and a strongly realistic assessment of our chances just now. But that sort of thing produces no excitement, believe me.]
Much of this armchair defeatism stems from the choice of political bedfellows by the activist pro-life, Republicans. [This sentence confuses me. I think what it means to say is that the fact that activist pro-life people are working with Republicans is causing the armchair defeatism, but that would seem not to follow from, well, what follows.]
In a two-party system, legislative advances require activists to sometimes pick sides. Given that the Democrat party sold its soul years ago and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of big abortion, we are left with the Republicans. Pro-life advocates have for years tried to work with and through the mechanisms of the Republican Party. While they have had moderate successes on the local level, little has been accomplished on the federal level, but momentum is on their side. [This would certainly be nice, if it proves true.]
Just in the last year there has been a sea change thanks to Republicans elected to State houses and Governorships nationwide and a young woman who didn’t take no for answer.
In Virginia, state legislators have passed one of the most sweeping reforms of the abortion industry ever voting to regulate abortion clinics the same way as hospitals. This may very well shut down abortion clinics around the state. You know who did that? Republicans did that. [Good for Virginia Republicans!]
A young woman by the name of Lila Rose took on the abortion behemoth Planned Parenthood in a continuing video series exposing the organization for what it is. This young woman has almost single-handedly has brought Planned Parenthood to its knees. All the while, the armchair pro-life sniffed at her tactics and offered ex cathedra pronouncements from the comfort of their la-z-boys decrying the unseemliness of it all. [Ah, now. Are these the same armchair pro-life people who never get interested unless statistics about African-American abortion rates come up? Seems interesting that such people would care so much about the morality of lying, which was the issue being discussed. And why should the truly-true pro-life people care about this discussion, anyway? They’ve already decided that Lila Rose did not lie at all and is, in fact, a shining example of honesty and truth. Which is fine--but if they decided, instead, that there’s such a thing as a noble and virtuous lie and that the Church is wrong to think otherwise, the problem may not really be with the armchair people…]
And while the armchair pro-life argued about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, the Republican governor of New Jersey, armed with a fiscal crisis and the embarrassing sting videos, vetoed funding for Planned Parenthood. Who? The Republican governor, that’s who. [Good for him!]
And now the Republican House put forth a plan to defund Planned Parenthood as well, setting up the looming battle with the Democrat Senate and the promised veto of the Democrat President. [Good for them, too--I admire lost causes, so long as we’re clear about their value, which is to send a message and rally troops, not actually to achieve a specific victory.]
Yet, the armchair pro-life continue to gripe. They point to the two-week continuing resolution, which did not defund Planned Parenthood, as all the evidence they need that alliance with Republicans gains us nothing. That the Republicans have already turned their backs on the pro-life movement and they retreat to their default position of “a pox on both their houses”. [No, it’s mostly “a pox on the Senate,” since the Senate’s 47 Republicans include at least five or six who tend to vote for abortion, and possibly a handful of others who will defect because they aren’t against contraception and will wish PP clinics to keep operating on the federal dime for that purpose.]
The wonderful SBA List spoke out against that continuing resolution, but does not mistake a battle for the war. The real war is on the long-term budget, not the short term continuing resolutions. But the armchair pro-life throw up their hands in feigned exasperation when politics shockingly involves politicians. These tactics are certainly debatable, but the debate on tactics is better left to those engaged in battle. Those shouting from the cheap seats don’t have much to offer. [In other words: don’t say anything negative unless you are working in politics or with politicians; however, unless you are working in politics or with politicians you are not truly pro-life. And if you point out the reality that this battle is shaping up like dozens of others, you are just defeatist and a loathsome enemy for not pinning all your faith on the strategy of working closely with the GOP, whatever the outcome.]
The battle lines have been drawn setting up the potential for one of the greatest pro-life victories ever, but the armchair pro-life have already given up. They are not calling their Congressman or Senator, they are preparing five thousand word missives to say, “I told you the Republicans were no good” in case the effort fails. [Again: if you aren’t calling your Congressman or Senator, you’re not working for life. It doesn’t matter if one of your senators is so rabidly pro-abortion that she has served on the advisory board of the WISH list which exists to elect pro-abort Republican women to the House and Senate, and that she is not seeking re-election so really doesn’t give a damn about what pro-life people think. If you’re not dialing her from your armchair, you’re the real problem.]
They sit idly by, preferring not to soil themselves by working with and for Republicans, smugly claiming some imaginary purist position. “I don’t support either party,” they claim “because neither party is as pure as me.” A pox on both their houses, they say. There is no difference between the parties, they contend. [Sure. Because people who point out that neither party really aligns in any significant way with Catholic moral teachings in a number of gravely important areas, and that too much cheerleading for either party is a bit unseemly in people who are supposed to be working for a Kingdom that is not of this world, is the exact same thing as smugly claiming to be so pure that the dirty voting booth is an impossible violation of one’s personal standards. Yep, that’s it: Archbold has people like me pegged.]
When was the last time a Democrat Governor defunded Planned Parenthood or a Democrat controlled legislature enacted a game-changing reform that might be the death blow to the abortion industry in that State? The answer is never. [When was the last time Republicans successfully removed all federal funding from Planned Parenthood? The strategy has been attempted at various times for twenty-five years now, remember.]
Being a broad-based political party, Republicans have and will often disappoint, but in order to win political victories you need to be involved in politics. In a two-party system, Republicans are all we have. You don’t have to like it, but there is no avoiding it. [Okay. But in order to win political victories you also have to accept victory in political terms. Like having the House vote to defund PP, but then the Senate fail to do so. Or having the House and Senate vote to defund PP, but having the President veto the legislation. Or having the whole thing pass, just to have the next House and Senate undo it all, or the Supreme Court declare the defunding an undue burden on women’s rights as per Roe v. Wade. So it’s fine to call the House vote a victory, so long as by “victory” we don’t mean that we expect actual real-world results in any near future.]
But the armchair pro-life, mistaking tepidness for wisdom, steadfastly maintain that there is no difference between the parties. Instead of getting in the game, they sit on the sidelines complaining about how muddy the players get. [No. We’re just a bit more cognizant of the actual rules of this particular game.]
With limited compassion and unlimited hubris, the armchair pro-life swell with repellent pride over their self-supposed Solomonic wisdom, blithely nattering on while the baby is cleaved in half. [And the phone-bank pro-life activist writes articles with Christlike humility, practicing the long-established Christian art of character assassination, no doubt.]