Jan 30

Are we talking about the Charlie Hebdo unity rally and demonstration? Or the March for Life?

There’s a thought experiment. Robert Royal calls it “Magical Thinking” and  helps us think through it here.

“I am Charlie,” the common slogan, is silly and emblematic of how we express ourselves publicly about moral matters these days. But no shame on that crowd for saying – no matter in how confused a fashion – that we don’t allow some people to kill others, simply because they think they have a right to.

What shall we say, though, about the people who have remained largely passive in a world in which 1.32 billion babies have been aborted since 1980?

Or an America that has killed, without losing much sleep, 57.5 million babies since 1973?

More than Stalin (40 million).

Way more than Hitler (30 million).

Chairman Mao edges us out (60 million), but he had a bigger population to work with. And anyway, we’re catching up.

Out of those 57.5 million, 17.3 million black babies were aborted. It’s hard to get your head around such numbers, so this may help: That would be like eliminating the entire black populations of New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, Baltimore, Washington DC, Dallas, Columbus, San Diego, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Boston – combined. And more than twice. Put a different way, it amounts to almost half the current African-American population.

If America’s police departments did that, we’d be seeing a lot more than demonstrations about “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Perspective is everything, especially if it’s keen and clear and not seen through an ideological lens. Young adults and adolescents in greater numbers every year, along with other generations of Americans from the Roe era to the children in strollers, get the truth of the pro-life cause and movement.

It should not surprise America that the pro-life movement is growing younger and stronger. Incredible advances in science have made it possible for young women such as myself to first greet our children and witness their miraculous development beginning when they aren’t much bigger than a legume. Today’s women track their baby’s developments with any number of smartphone apps. Today’s children are growing up in a world where ultrasound pictures of their siblings are taped to the family refrigerator. Today’s would-be parents are bringing children into the world where tremendous medical advances keep nudging backward the age at which babies born prematurely can be kept alive…

The 2014 midterm elections saw a huge number of legislators who self-identify as pro-life elected to office. Pro-choice darling Wendy Davis was a spectacular failure, and candidates like Mark Udall, who campaigned on abortion rights, not only lost but were criticized for emphasizing their pro-choice positions. The war on woman rhetoric the abortion rights camp has been using will likely be retired, especially when the youngest woman in history was elected to Congress last year, and she is a staunchly pro-life woman in fiercely pro-choice state.

The tide has turned, the truth of human life and dignity is again self-evident to more Americans. The March is getting bigger, younger, more joyful and hopeful every year. It’s joined by burgeoning groups of witnesses to the demonstrable ravages of abortion, like Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Created Equal, Centurions, And Then There Were None, Rachel’s Vineyard, Live Action, and so many others.

The media mostly didn’t cover the March for Life. But they’re rendered more irrelevant every year by ignoring hundreds of thousands of exuberant young people pouring into the nation’s capitol, cramming Constitution Avenue and the streets and avenues crisscrossing Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Especially when participants take to social media to share the news themselves.

And it’s those thinkers and writers who are engaging the culture with challenging responses to the tired slogans of a dying movement that claims the right to kill in the name of an ideology of ‘freedom of choice.’

Here’s a good example.

I don’t have the right to force someone to be pregnant. I don’t have the right to force someone to continue to be pregnant. I don’t have the right to force someone to become a mother against her will. I simply don’t.

And neither does anyone else…

What we, as a society, do have the right to do is to require, and we do that all the time.

It is an accepted norm of human society that we require parents (this includes mothers) to care for their minor children. We do not accept conditions and exceptions to this rule. The age, sex, stage of development, and location of the child do not in any way preclude the obligation, the societal requirement, that the parents ensure that that child’s basic needs are met. This is true whether the child is living in the same residence as the parents or not. The obligation remains intact even if the minor child is away at boarding school, or living with relatives. Human society requires that the parents of each child be responsible and answerable for his/her health and safety.

In the event that the biological parents choose to pass the obligation for raising that child along to someone else (adoption), we still require that that happens in a way which is in the best interest of the child.

And it’s about time we look out, once again, for the best interests of the child.

This is not a new and radical position. The social contract which exists between parent and child is ingrained within every culture on Earth. This basic understanding of the duty owed by parents to their offspring predates its being codified into written law. There has never been a human civilization which did not hold this expectation for parents.

Now pay attention to this:

What is new is the position we now hold. Western society has decided that in the unfortunate instances when the biological parents of a child are incapable of caring for their child, we as a society will step in as a safety net, and see to his/her health and safety collectively. We recognize and so value each life that we have made the historically unprecedented decision to fulfill the parental obligation even in the absence of parental ability.

It is this basic human premise and recognition of human value which Pro-Life people call upon with regard to what is owed the child in the womb. We acknowledge the biological fact of the humanity of that developing human being, and require of its mother the same societal norm which exists for the well-being of all children. We expect that the parents of that child will meet and fulfill the basic needs of that child. In the event that they feel incapable of caring for that child long term, we place upon them the same obligation which is already in place – that they transfer the care of that child to someone else in a manner which safeguards the health, safety, and well-being of that child.

Recognition and protection of the right to life and human dignity are preeminent, the right upon which all others build. Rallies for the rights to free expression of speech, even of the most vile and obscene sort, no matter how many world leaders lead the march, make no sense whatsoever if that first and fundamental right is subjected to an ideological bias against life deemed disagreeable.

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Jan 16

He doesn’t soft-peddle his approach.

In another airplane press conference on an apostolic journey abroad, Francis called out anyone who commits violence in the name of religion. And while he emphasized the importance of free expression, he admitted it necessarily has limits.

Here’s the transcript of his remarks. A key exchange, on the tension between freedom of religion, and freedom of speech:

Sebastien Maynard (La Croix): Holy Father, yesterday during Mass, you spoke about religious liberty as a fundamental human right. With respect to other religions, how far can the freedom of expression extend, since this latter is a fundamental human right, too?

Pope Francis: Thanks for the question, that is smart, it is good. I think that both are fundamental human rights, religious liberty and liberty of expression. You can’t … Let’s think, are you French? Let’s go to Paris. Let’s speak clearly. You cannot hide a truth. Everyone has the right to practice their religion, their own religion without offending, freely. And that’s what we do, what we all want to do.

But…

Secondly, you cannot offend or make war, kill in the name of your religion, in the name of God. What has happened now astonishes us…Killing in the name of God is an aberration against God. I think this is the main thing with freedom of religion. You can practice with freedom without offending but without imposing or killing.

The freedom of expression… Every one of us has not just the freedom, the right, but also the obligation to say what he thinks to help build the common good. The obligation. If we think of a congressman, a senator, if he doesn’t say what he thinks is the true path, he doesn’t collaborate in the common good. We have the obligation to freely have this liberty, but without offending. It’s true that you cannot react violently. But, if Dr. Gasbarri, my great friend, says something against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others, you cannot make fun of the faith.

Pope Benedict, in a speech, I don’t remember which, he spoke of this post-positivist mentality, of the post-positivist metaphysics that brought people to believe that religions or religious expressions are a type of lower culture: that they are tolerated but that there’s not much to them, that they are in not part of an enlightened culture. And this is a lecacy of the Enlightenment. So many people speak against others’ religions. They make fun of them. Let’s say they “giocatalizzano” (make a playng out of) the religion of others. But they are provoking, and what can happen is what I said about Dr. Gasbarri if he says something about my mother. There is a limit. Every religion has dignity; I cannot mock a religion that respects human life and the human person. And this is a limit. I’ve used this example of the limit to say that in the freedom of expression there are limits, like the example I gave of my mother. I don’t know if I was able to respond to the question. Thanks.

This is so Francis-like. Honest and sincere, off-the-cuff spontaneous remarks, in the colloquial expressions he’s familiar with but we all are too, in our own way. So we can relate. Would you hear Pope John Paul II or Benedict talking about ‘expecting a punch’ for insulting his mother? No. But Francis is Francis. Catholics refer to ‘Holy Mother Church’, which was a point he was making. Freedom of expression is important, but all freedoms have to be exercised within the limits of truth, right order and the common good (think ‘You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater’).

More on his thoughts about religion being abused in the cause of war here.

When confronted with the question of truth commissions in war torn nations, Francis said this:

I support efforts to find the truth, balance efforts; not those in search of vindication, but balanced efforts to help to reach an agreement.

I heard something from the President of Sri Lanka – I don’t want this to be interpreted as a political comment, it is only phenomenological: I repeat what I heard and I agree with. He said he wants to move ahead with the work of peace, reconciliation. Then he used another word, he said we must create harmony in the people. That’s something more than peace, more than reconciliation, and it’s beautiful, it’s musical, too. Then he used another word. He said harmony brings happiness and joy. I was amazed. I said: I like hearing this, but it’s not easy. He said yes, we must touch people’s hearts. That’s what I thought of in answering your question, only by touching the hearts of people who know what suffering is, what injustice is; who had suffered many things from war, so many things. Only by touching hearts can people forgive, can we find the right path, without incorrect compromises to go forward.

This all comes right after the week of terror in Paris and the extraordinary weekend unity rally that drew world leaders and massive crowds together in a demonstration of solidarity against extremist violence. Francis has been working on that, through the channels available to him, throughout his papacy. In the footsteps of his predecessors, according to former US Vatican Ambassador Francis Rooney, who wrote this Time.com opinion piece not long ago, which becomes timely again with current events.

It has now been announced that Pope Francis will make a state visit to Turkey in November [which he made]. As with Pope Benedict’s visit there in 2006, a papal visit to the secular Islamic nation will garner the attention of everyone who is concerned about the violence and civil wars in the Middle East. Like the Albania visit, the Pope’s very presence will symbolize hopes for genuine religious tolerance and inter-religious dialogue, while drawing the clear distinction between religion and lawlessness and murder.

Following Regensburg, several groups of Islamic scholars acknowledged that Koranic teaching must reconcile with modernity.

Few people know that fact, to this day.

Continuing with Ambassador Rooney

Pope Francis’ engagement of the Holy See, both in calling for an end to the persecution of Christians and implying recently that even military opposition to ISIS in Iraq and Syria could be supported a “just war,” has similarly brought constructive results.

…Grand Mufti Abdul-Aziz, the leading Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia, spoke out clearly against radicalism in response to King Abdullah’s public request for all clerics to raise their voices on this issue. While King Abdullah visited Pope Benedict in the aftermath of Regensburg, this is the most clear expression of Saudi opposition to radicalism to date.

On September 10, some two dozen MuslimAmerican leaders met in Washington with officials from the Department of Homeland Security and spoke out against Islamic terrorism and the recruitment of young Muslim Americans to extremism. More recently, in a direct reference to the need for “soft power” solutions, the Minister of Religious Affairs for Jordan, Hayil Abdelhafeez Dawoud, told the Wall Street Journal that “to fight terrorism, we need to fight its ideology. It can’t be solved militarily.”

George Weigel has recently summarized the problem and suggested a solution, stating that the modern world is at a crossroads with Islam, which requires that Islam reconcile its theology with the tolerance, freedom and respect for human life that the rest of the civilized world has come to expect, as well as with the nature of the secular, modern state and its relationship to religion.

While optimism is hard to find right now, and the violence and persecution in the Middle East and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa continue unchecked, these recent expressions offer promise that a broad community of nations will congeal to create a supportable, “just” force against Islamic extremists and that the Muslim states and leaders themselves will work to devise theological and philosophical constructions to bring Islam at large into accord with the modern world.

No sovereign is more aligned with these efforts nor more suited to weigh in diplomatically than the Holy See and Pope Francis.

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Jan 13

Will it be a new direction, or a short term distraction?

The massive rally in France drew European leaders together with a defiant and determined population in response to last week’s lethal attacks there by Islamic radicals. As big as it was, it was still little and late. It was trending, live in Paris and on social media, the thing to do at the moment. It was impressive to witness and encouraging to consider the opportunities this moment in history presents. Still, in these days in the immediate aftermath.

But look with the longer lens.

Why is free speech so fierce a battle cry now? The sudden, vicious and terrifying attacks on a publication in France started this new wave of international unity for free speech. Pens have become emblematic of this revolution against violent extremism that seeks to destroy free expression of ideas repulsive to the terrorists. But it took this week of terror to come to this unified stand against radical extremism. Before this, even the threat of such violence worked to stifle free speech, as Nina Shea has said time and again, and most recently here.

What lesson will Europe draw from the Charlie Hebdo massacre? Will it get serious about ending Muslim extremism within its borders, or will it try even harder to curb offensive political cartoons and speech about Islam? Up to this point, Europe has responded to Islamist violence in retaliation against ridicule, and even against sober critique of Islam, by taking the latter course.

In 2008, the EU mandated religious hate-speech laws, with European officials indignantly declaring that there is “no right to religious insult.” More revealingly, one official European commission delicately explained that this measure was taken to “preserve social peace and public order” in light of the “increasing sensitivities” of “certain individuals” who “have reacted violently to criticism of their religion.”

Consider this recall Shea makes:

Europe was frightened and wanted to cool down its angry Muslim populations and appease the censorship lobby that claims to represent them in the 56-member-state Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Since 2004, it had seen the assassination of Theo van Gogh in an Amsterdam street for his and Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s film on abuses against Muslim women; worldwide Muslim riots and economic boycotts over an obscure Danish newspaper’s caricatures of the Islamic prophet Mohammed; and yet more rioting and murders after Pope Benedict presented a paper to an academic audience at Regensburg University that questioned Islam’s position on reason. The subjective hate-speech laws were intended to placate those — including Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who in 1989 issued a fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie — who demand that Europe police its own citizens for conformity to Islamic blasphemy codes. European leaders insisted that this could be accomplished while somehow still upholding Western principles of free speech.

These hate-speech laws have failed in both aims. Islamist extremism continues to grow in Europe, while speech critical of Islam is undertaken at ever greater personal risk, including risk of criminal prosecution. Some are so intimidated that they remain silent even when it is their duty to speak up.

And so on. Read Nina Shea’s whole article. She’s an expert on persecution and terrorism against minorities, and continually shines the spotlight on hard truths that slip into obscurity if not recalled as she does so often.

NRO’s Andrew McCarthy makes the same case, about what has happened for years when the fundamental principles, liberties and essential identities of Western nations were threatened by radical extremists opposed to their core values and being.

What is the response of Western governments, particularly in the United States — the leader of the free world, whose government was formed for the primary purpose of protecting our God-given fundamental liberties, including the right to free expression?

Surely we know this as a knee-jerk response by now.

Snug among her “Istanbul process” partners in Turkey, then–Secretary Clinton lamented that — despite energetic Obama-administration efforts — the campaign to muzzle “Islamophobia”…had been hampered by a legal inconvenience: Throughout American history, free speech had been deemed “a universal right at the core of her democracy.”

But there was, she declared, a way around the First Amendment, a way around the parchment promises of law. The United States government would “use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming so that people don’t feel they have the support to do what we abhor.”

Was that clear enough? Since we can’t make the law prohibit critical examination of Islam, we hereby endorse coercion.

It wasn’t long afterwards that four American officials, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were murdered by jihadists in a terrorist attack on Benghazi. Almost all of the terrorists are still on the loose, but Secretary Clinton, President Obama, and their underlings took pains to blame the attack, falsely, on an anti-Islamic video. In particular, they choreographed a high-profile jailing and prosecution of the video producer.

That was shameful then, all the more culpable now for probably emboldening radical jihadists.

This Wall Street Journal editorial continues the point. Consider it carefully.

Wednesday’s massacre, following a long string of plots foiled by police in the U.K., France and elsewhere, is a reminder that jihadism isn’t a distant Middle Eastern phenomenon. There will be many more such attempts at mass murder, and authorities in the U.S. and Europe need broad authority to surveil and interrogate potential plotters to stop them.

This offends some liberals and libertarians, but imagine the restrictions on liberty that would follow if radical Muslims succeed in blowing up a soccer stadium or half a city. Men willing to execute cartoonists in Paris and 132 children at point-blank range in Peshawar in the name of religion

(remember that?)

won’t shrink from using more destructive means to impose mass casualties. Better to collect metadata and surveil some people now than deal with public demand for mass Muslim arrests or expulsions after a catastrophe.

Wednesday’s attack also demonstrates again that violent Islam isn’t a reaction to poverty or Western policies in the Middle East. It is an ideological challenge to Western civilization and principles, including a free press and religious pluralism. The murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists is merely the latest evil expression of a modern arc of Islamist violence against Western free speech that stretches back to Ayatollah Khomeini ’s 1989 fatwa calling for the killing of novelist Salman Rushdie.

There are the reminders again. How quickly we forget atrocities when the cameras go away and the headlines move to other news. Or fail to cover atrocities at all.

Like the story I heard Saturday on the BBC about a 10 year old girl strapped with explosives and sent into a busy market in Nigeria.

The bomb exploded in a market in the city of Maiduguri, in Borno state.

“The explosive devices were wrapped around her body,” a police source told Reuters.

No group has said it carried out the attack. The market is reported to have been targeted twice in a week by female bombers late last year.

Correspondents say that all the signs point to the militant Islamist Boko Haram group.

They have been fighting to establish an Islamic caliphate in the north-eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, which have borne the worst violence in their five year insurgency.

Where and when did you hear of this, if at all?

Have you heard about the attack carried out by Boko Haram after that one? The horrific “deadliest massacre” to date, in the words of Amnesty International?

Reporting in northern Nigeria is notoriously difficult; journalists have been targeted by Boko Haram, and, unlike in Paris, people on the ground are isolated and struggle with access to the internet and other communications. Attacks by Boko Haram have disrupted connections further, meaning that there is an absence of an online community able to share news, photos and video reports of news as it unfolds.

But reports of the massacre were coming through and as the world’s media focused its attention on Paris, some questioned why events in Nigeria were almost ignored.

On Twitter, Max Abrahms, a terrorism analyst, tweeted: “It’s shameful how the 2K people killed in Boko Haram’s biggest massacre gets almost no media coverage.”

Musician Nitin Sawhney said: “Very moving watching events in Paris – wish the world media felt equally outraged by this recent news too.”

If the unity rally was to be a consequential tipping point – and I believe it was intended as that and has the potential to be that – then it has to quickly spawn groups resolved to focus global attention on all the atrocities committed by violent extremists against innocents, and ready to direct relief, aid and protection to those children, women and elderly innocent people especially endangered by them.

Full stop.

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Jan 22

Human dignity and human rights, “for all God’s children.”

How ironic that the day set aside to honor Dr. King is only a few days before the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade anniversary. What would he say?

Alveda King, the niece of MLK and a dedicated pro-life advocate, notes her uncle was strongly pro-life.

“Were he alive today, he would be working to secure peace and justice for those in the womb and healing for a nation that is still pained by over 53 million missing lives,” King says. The toll abortion has taken on the African American community is enough to shock the conscience of every American.

According to the US Census Bureau, African Americans comprise 12.4% of the American population; however, over 30% of the nation’s abortions are done on black women. Recently released data from the New York City Department of Health shows the Big Apple hitting a 40% abortion rate. As if that number wasn’t appalling enough, when the data is broken down all racial lines, around 60% percent of New York City’s abortions are done on black women. In other words, 1,448 African American babies are aborted for every 1,000 born. Among black teens in New York City, that number jumps to a staggering 72% abortion rate or 2,360 abortions for every 1,000 babies born.

Read that. Engage this issue.

Center for Disease Control data shows that since Roe vs. Wade (1973) abortion has been the leading cause of death among African Americans. More African Americans have lost their lives to abortion than to heart disease, cancer, accidents, violent crimes or AIDS- combined.

Let that sink in. It’s not a coincidence.

African Americans are a prime target of the abortion industry. In analyzing the location of the nation’s abortion centers, some have found a disproportionate number situated in majority-black neighborhoods. One such center was that of Kermit Gosnell, the disgraced abortionist from Philadelphia who is now charged with murder after the deaths of at least two women and seven newborn infants at his facility.

According to the Grand Jury report, the Gosnell abortion business preyed upon low-income black women. These women were subjected to absolutely deplorable conditions. Basic health considerations were ignored and abortions were being performed by unlicensed and even untrained staff using unsanitary surgical instruments.

That trial should have made a huge difference, one that’s bee overdue for decades.

The Gosnell case made national headlines but his business strategy of targeting low-income black women is not an anomaly in the abortion industry. This goes back to the beginning of the modern pro-abortion movement with Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, an unabashed eugenicist.

Despite its claims otherwise, the pro-abortion movement does a grave disservice to African American women and the greater African American community. Abortion advocates fail black women when they rally against common sense clinic regulations, which could have prevented the Gosnell tragedy. They fail black women when they work to undermine crisis pregnancy centers, which are an invaluable resource for so many low-income black women. And they fail the African American community by denying basic humanity to black babies in the womb.

Martin Luther King, Jr. boldly envisioned an America in which everyone would be free to share in the same opportunities as everyone else.

However…

In legalizing abortion-on-demand, the Court ruled that a group of people, namely unborn children, did not deserve any legal protection whatsoever. For this reason, Roe vs. Wade is completely antithetical to King’s Dream.

Abortion has not made our society more equitable. In fact, it has done the opposite. Abortion has allowed society to arbitrarily decide whose lives are valuable and whose are expendable. True equality treats all human life the same, regardless of race, stage of development or condition of dependency. Abortion prevents millions of African Americans from sharing in King’s Dream and it must be ended.

That’s why they march, the pro-life movement who began giving voice to the voiceless on the first anniversary of Roe. Like King, they never gave up and never will. In fact, their ranks are only growing larger and younger and more determined. They’ve spread from the annual Washington DC rally and March for Life throughout the country to the West Coast Walk for Life.

The Chicago March for Life held last Sunday had a tenfold increase in participants over last year, and they were loud, joyful, exuberant, determined, happy, hopeful, positive, and very supportive. The plaza erupted at just about everything any speaker said, starting with the young African-American woman who was pressured to have an abortion but looked into a pregnancy help center where she found support and everything she needed to keep her baby, which wound up being babies when she learned she had twins. The beautiful little girls, Amelia and Olivia, were with her on stage as she spoke of hope and life and aid for women.

Two congressmen, Democrat Dan Lipinski and Republican Peter Roskam, spoke of bipartisan support for the protection of all human life and women’s health in Congress. They were brief but powerfully moving, invoking predecessors in the cause of human rights, including the drafters of the Declaration of Independence.

Dr. Martin Luther King invoked that, too. On many occasions. Because the majority of Americans still hold those truths as self-evident.

In one of his lesser known addresses, ‘Our God Is Marching On’, King explained why he and his movement marched.

He said “it is not an accident that one of the great marches of American history should terminate in Montgomery, Alabama.” In that city, “a new philosophy was born” of the struggle of the oppressed, one that united an entire community to squarely face the oppressors. And out of that struggle, he said, a powerful new idea was born, one “that electrified the nation and the world.”

And then “the conscience of America began to bleed.” And as a result “of this democratic spirit,” the nation finally forced Congress  to write legislation in the hope that it would eradicate “the stain of Birmingham”, of discrimination of a whole class of human beings by another class. And that legislation gave them some degree of “their rightful dignity”.

Once more the method of nonviolent resistance was unsheathed from its scabbard, and once again an entire community was mobilized to confront the adversary. And again the brutality of a dying order shrieks across the land. Yet, Selma, Alabama, became a shining moment in the conscience of man. If the worst in American life lurked in its dark streets, the best of American instincts arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it. There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger  at the side of its embattled [Blacks].

At the side of its embattled, oppressed fellow human beings discriminated against and denied human rights by a class of human beings who had the legal right to do so, until those laws changed.

That’s why they marched then, said Dr. King. That’s why they march today.

 

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Jun 20

The horrors revealed in the trial of notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell shook even pro-choice citizens and it won’t be the same again for the abortion movement. Which is probably why a bill to ban late term abortion made it to a floor vote in the House of Representatives this week, and the rhetoric about it got so dramatic.

Some people want to live in denial, in the land of make believe where language can be manipulated to mean whatever you want it to, especially as you intend it to stir people to sentiments sympathetic to your goals. Never mind what those goals actually are, and mean, and especially cause.

Thus, ahead of the vote, President Obama spoke out to threaten its veto if it passed.

In a Statement of Administration Policy, the president called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (H.R. 1797) “an assault on a woman’s right to choose” and said it shows “contempt for…the Constitution.”

Well that’s interesting. Examine just that one line. You couldn’t get more explicit in naming a bill exactly what it covers, first of all. It’s a bill to ban abortion procedures that kill unborn children by the most torturous methods, so they first suffer before they die. The bills sponsors and supporters want to protect these children. Period.

Continuing on…For the president to call it an “assault on a women’s right to choose” is just more of the same shell-game language engineering to manipulate public opinion. It assaults sensibilities over the long-misused word ‘choice’ and it needs to be challenged. What is the “woman’s right to choose”? That’s an incomplete sentence. The woman’s right to choose what?  Finish the sentence. It’s about a woman’s right to choose to kill her unborn child at some point in time before that child is fully delivered. More on that in a moment…

Next…The word “contempt” is very apt, but certainly debatable for its selective application. And applying it to the Constitution? That’s somewhere between embarrassing and baffling, for a former adjunct law lecturer, who called the Constitution a “charter of negative liberties” in a radio interview long before he ran for president.

As president, his administration has certainly shown what some would call contempt for the Constitution and at least disregard for constitutionally protected rights such as religious liberty, free speech and due process in different mandates, most notably the HHS contraceptive mandate. So there’s irony in the president’s claim. As if saying something is so, makes it so.

Back to the “woman’s right to choose to kill her unborn child at some point in time before that child is fully delivered”, specifically the reference to “at some point.” Rep. Gwen Moore delivered quite an emotionally charged attack on the late term abortion ban under consideration on that day on the floor of the House, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”

She said it would “callously and cavalierly limit access to abortion” and called it an “unconstitutional bill”, which it is not”. She heatedly said that concerning “the subject at hand, women’s right to a medically safe abortion, we once again see men taking leadership roles in invading the privacy of medical decisions of women.”

Some snips of Moore’s further comments:

“so that now we have a bill born of ignorance and disregard for medical science in every way, shape and form…with no concern for the biology, physiology, sociology of the woman”

That is just reckless pandering. It is slanderous, ungrounded and irrational. This is another case of saying what you want to believe, emphatically, turning truth on its head to perpetuate a narrative. And that narrative is what disregards medical science and the health of the woman, not to mention the child in her womb. And they definitely don’t want to mention the child in the womb.

“This bill is an abomination!” At its heart, at its foundation, is a disregard for the dignity and health of women.”

Quite the opposite. The ideology she represents disregards human dignity for all humans. The abortion movement denies or discounts the reality of post-abortion syndrome and the physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual suffering women can and do go through after abortions.

Recall, this is argument over a bill to ban late term abortions. After 20 weeks, for crying out loud. And yet Moore talks about sympathy for women who find themselves with complications and in distress after 20 weeks, “due to rape or incest, findings of fetal anomalies.” Leaving aside the question of abortion being justified for any reason at any time, for now, this raises some obvious problems in reasoning. Complications and distress over pregnancy resulting from rape or incest probably occur long before 20 weeks. And “findings of fetal anomalies” patently justifies euthanasia of impaired or special needs children.

There was another emotional plea on the floor of the House this week. It was on behalf of protecting unborn children, by Rep. Virginia Foxx. She said “no one on the other side has acknowledged that those babies being murdered feel pain, nor that half of them are baby girls”. Good point, while we’re focusing on women. And, she adds, “an affront to life for some is an affront to life for every one of us.”

“One day we hope that life will cease to be evaluated on a sliding scale…Regardless of this journey, we will continue to speak for those who cannot…

“May we mourn what abortion reveals about the conscience of our nation…There’s nothing more important than protecting voiceless unborn children and their families from the travesty of abortion.”

This goes to the Senate now. Senators need to hear from the people who elected them on this legislation. More pro-choice citizens are seeing things differently now, and their representatives need to hear about that.

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Apr 01

I was consideirng making that a question as a header. But there’s no question.

Not when things like this still turn up in what some people still consider ‘mainstream media.’

During a recent MSNBC show on abortion, [host] Melissa Harris-Perry made a comment that will surely make people wonder whether she has any grasp on the science behind fetal development.

Harris-Perry talked about how much it costs “to have this thing turn into a human” when referring to an unborn baby.

During the rest of her talk she “accidentally” breaks a model of a fertilized egg, claims there is no science supporting the notion that unborn children are human beings, and dismissively refers to babies.

Okay, starting with basics, women have an abortion when they discover they’re pregnant and either don’t want the child or are pressured into ‘terminating it.’ And they are aborting or terminating is a fertilized egg, which makes a woman pregnant. Which means the doctor treating her has two patients. 

A charitable presumption would be that the MSNBC host is one of those people who believes that conception, making a woman pregnant with a fertilized egg, means a ‘blob of tissue’ is there, and that by removing it, you can prevent it from becoming a baby. But if that presumption is true, such archaic thinking should exclude any candidate from the position of a major television network host if that network is pursuing honorable journalism.

As the best informed consent law in the country – which stands after multiple court challenges by Planned Parenthood and its affiliates – states explicitly:

…abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” The law required doctors to disclose that abortion may cause women psychological harm, and that the mother’s relationship with the human being she carries is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Human life is already present at conception of a fertilized egg. You can call that a person or not consider that a person. Your terminology doesn’t change the reality.  That human being either has rights or doesn’t have rights. But…isn’t that the same argument that raged over slavery?

Can we be honest about this?

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Feb 21

So there, side by side in two top-of-the-fold articles in the Sunday New York Times the other day, were two stories that are seemingly unrelated, but are totally of a piece. A few days later now, they demand attention.

One was ‘Papal Electors Are Sizing Up A Field of Peers’ by Laurie Goodstein, which revealed a good deal more homework preparation than her piece right after Pope Benedict’s resignation announcement. The one next to it was ‘Cuomo Bucks Tide With Bill To Ease Abortion Limits.’

What to say…

Start with Goodstein’s article about the conclave, although I’d prefer to focus on Benedict while he’s still in office. I will do that in the days to come, and probably for years afterward, frankly. He’s that profoundly important to the global mission of peace and brotherhood and the correct understanding of the human person at the center of it all.

She got to speak to Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, who is brilliant and practical and right on target with where the church is in the modern world at this moment.

“People are reluctant to speak about themselves,” said Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who voted in the conclave that elected Benedict in 2005. “So you go to a friend and say, Can you tell me about cardinal so-and-so?”

“The questions are usually about the qualities you want to see in a pope. Is he a man of prayer, is he deeply rooted in the apostolic faith, can he govern, is he deeply concerned about the poor?” Cardinal George said in a telephone interview. “It matters far less where he happens to be living or where he’s from.”

Pay attention, media. Because while you’re absorbed in political thinking about ‘constituencies’ and ‘succession battles,’ the electors who will make this transcendent decision are concerned with humanity at its core.

Goodstein cites Vatican expert Sandro Magister, thankfully, because he’s a longtime trustworthy source of truth about the church and faith. Besides handicapping the papabili candidate, she quotes him on something that receives far too little attention for these times.

The other Italians who are more solid candidates, Mr. Magister said, are Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan and a theologian who has often addressed the challenges of secularism and Islam in Europe…

Papal biographer and world renowned Catholic Church expert George Weigel makes a point of those challenges and the need to address them in this tribute to the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI, brief as the piece is. Weigel calls Benedict “a hinge man, the pivot on which the turn into the evangelical, mission-driven Church of the third millennium was completed.”…

Why? Because he understood that, for postmoderns uneasy with the notion that anything is “true” or “good,” the experience of beauty can be a unique window into a more open and spacious human world, a world in which it is once again possible to grasp that some things are, in fact, true and good (as others are, in fact, false and wicked).

(more on that in a moment)

He proved an astute analyst of contemporary democracy’s discontents, as he also correctly identified the key twenty-first-century issues between Islam and “the rest”: Can Islam find within itself the religious resources to warrant both religious toleration and the separation of religious and political authority in the state?

There is so much to unpack from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, we will be doing it for decades. Others will for centuries.

But since so much of it is about the ‘new humanism,’ the human person having inestimable dignity and worth, value that pre-exists the State and – because it doesn’t derive from the State cannot be deprived by the State – it relates to all the issues of the day from economics to foreign policy, arms control to sustainable development, digital communications to immigration.

And that relates to the Andrew Cuomo story. Because there’s such a disconnect there involving a Catholic governor using such radical rhetoric to push such an aggressively anti-human agenda, it’s jaw-dropping.

Bucking a trend in which states have been seeking to restrict abortion, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is putting the finishing touches on legislation that would guarantee women in New York the right to late-term abortions when their health is in danger or the fetus is not viable.

Wait…what? Do people in politics and media who talk like this even think about what they’re saying, much less proposing and enforcing? We need to re-set the conversation about what abortion is. Every abortion is the termination of the life of an already existing human being in its mother’s womb.

“Late-term abortions” are acts of infanticide. What qualifies as ‘health in danger’ is so elastic these days, it is not defined or definable in current law. And talking about a “late-term abortion” when “the fetus is not viable” is just incoherent, besides being inhumane. (If it’s “late-term” it’s viable, and it’s a baby no matter how much the term fetus is used to distract from that fact.)

Mr. Cuomo, seeking to deliver on a promise he made in his recent State of the State address, would rewrite a law that currently allows abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy only if the pregnant woman’s life is at risk. The law is not enforced, because it is superseded by federal court rulings that allow late-term abortions to protect a woman’s health, even if her life is not in jeopardy. But abortion rights advocates say the existence of the more restrictive state law has a chilling effect on some doctors and prompts some women to leave the state for late-term abortions.

Read that paragraph again. It’s very revealing of the radical abortion agenda. Right down to the language used for “abortion rights advocates” as opposed to “anti-abortion activists” or other jargon for pro-life advocates.

Mr. Cuomo’s proposal…would also clarify that licensed health care practitioners, and not only physicians, can perform abortions. It would remove abortion from the state’s penal law and regulate it through the state’s public health law.

Okay, two things. Now he proposes going from bad to worse, letting the broad field of “health care practitioners” to perform abortions and “not only physicians.” And states’ public health laws haven’t been equally applied to regulating abortion clinics as they have other medical facilities, in many states. That’s a smokescreen.

There’s so much wrong with this. Which is confirmed by how it’s being received.

Abortion rights advocates have welcomed Mr. Cuomo’s plan, which he outlined in general terms as part of a broader package of women’s rights initiatives in his State of the State address in January.

We need to examine “women’s rights initiatives,” which we will continue to do here.

But the Roman Catholic Church and anti-abortion groups are dismayed; opponents have labeled the legislation the Abortion Expansion Act.

And once again, the Times and other major media outlets revert to their updated, agenda driven style books for reporting that requires pro-life groups to be labeled “anti-abortion groups” and “oppenents,” giving readers the cue to think negatively about…what?…human life? Yes.

I saw a clip from Gov. Cuomo’s press conference in which he firmly declared and then repeated two more times “It’s a woman’s body. It’s a woman’s body. It’s a woman’s body.” And, he said, it’s her choice what to do with it. But the other body, and it may be female as well, is the one inside the woman’s body. It is not her body, she is only carrying that child she conceived. No matter how strongly Cuomo states his refutation of that fact by his single focus on the ‘woman’s right to choose,’ that doesn’t change the reality that the doctor seeing a pregnant woman has two patients. And the abortionist kills one of them.

Pope Benedict has addressed life issues, as Pope John Paul II did, over and over in every message whether spoken or written, on one way or another, because it’s the consistent ethic of life that determines how a society will live. Or not.

In this one, Pope Benedict said “…everyone must be helped to become aware of the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion. In attacking human life in its very first stages, it is also an aggression against society itself. Politicians and legislators, therefore, as servants of the common good, are duty bound to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of God’s love.”

And again:

Life is the first good received from God and is fundamental to all others; to guarantee the right to life for all and in an equal manner for all is the duty upon which the future of humanity depends.

Weigel says Pope Benedict understood and showed the way to “a more open and spacious human world, a world in which it is once again possible to grasp that some things are, in fact, true and good (as others are, in fact, false and wicked).” Whoever succeeds Benedict will need to continue making that robust affirmation.

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Jan 21

First, respect the fact that he was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend first.

Everything he preached and said and wrote was based on the Gospel and the example of Christ. His niece Dr. Alveda King tells me that in every interview. But it’s self-evident in his writings and speeches.

Politicians and social activists who stand on his shoulders today and invoke his name and memory selectively skip over the most siginficant part of his identity.

Martin Luther King Day is a time to promote racial harmony in America and honor the slain civil rights leader who was “inspired by the teachings of Christ,” says the head of the Knights of Peter Claver.

“Considering that so many ‘church-going folks’ were supporting segregation and Jim Crow laws during the civil rights movement, it is wonderful that King dedicated his life to employing Christ’s teachings to resist and counter the very social sins of prejudice, racial discrimination and segregation,” Supreme Knight F. DeKarlos Blackmon told CNA Jan. 18.

He said Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. a Baptist minister, was “a man of faith and deep conviction” who studied Catholic theology and was “particularly impressed” with St. Augustine.

And St. Thomas Aquinas. Kathy Schiffer gives perspective here, starting with a snip from King’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail.’

How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

Schiffer continues:

Was Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. a Thomist?

Well, yes. Thomas Aquinas argued that laws bind the conscience—that is, obligate one to obey—only when the laws conform to “eternal law.”…

So Martin Luther King, Jr. is, in fact, a Thomist. In his famed Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he argued that a nonviolent campaign follows four stages:

1. collection of facts to determine whether injustice actually exists;
2. negotiation in order to resolve the matter peacefully;
3. self-purification, in which there is careful preparation for nonviolent direct action;
4. direct action through nonviolent means.

Were the civil rights protestors in 1963 offending God when they broke the law and sat at a lunch counter, or refused to give up their seat on the bus to a white person? No, said Dr. King; and to prove that, he cited Aquinas’ argument. “Any law that degrades human personality,” said King, “is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.”

What King did was skillfully apply Aquinas’ Third Objection—teaching that the South’s segregation laws were unjust because of the moral and physical injury they induced.

Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., continues his legacy of peaceful protest today—reminding us that her uncle was pro-life. Had King lived to see the dire consequences of Roe v. Wade, the innocent children torn apart in the womb, he would have applied Aquinas’ logic to this most pressing societal ill.

Correct. Dr. Alveda King affirmed that, eloquently, in our discussion today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “Uncle Martin was pro-life and would be in the pro-life movement today,” she said. “If you read or listen to his words, you can see that he promoted and respected the life of all God’s children.”

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Jan 21

On two Bibles, one formerly belonging to President Abraham Lincoln, the other to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Background:

NO VERSES.  Unlike the seven most recent residents of the White House, President Obama has not selected a Scripture verse which he likes, and upon which he will base his presidency.  He will place his hand on the stack of closed bibles, but will not read the words which they contain.

In contrast, when Abraham Lincoln swore on that velvet Bible, he placed his hand on three favorite verses:  Matthew 7:1 and 18:7, and Revelation 16:7.  Those verses are:

Mt 7:1  Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

Mt 18:7  Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!

Rev 16:7  And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”…

OTHER PRESIDENTIAL VERSES

And here’s just a peek at some of the verses chosen by earlier presidents as they began their terms of office.  All verses, regardless of the original translation used, are taken from the New American Standard Bible.

George W. Bush had his family bible opened to Isaiah 40:31

Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

William J. Clinton used a King James Bible which had been given to him by his grandmother.  For his first inauguration in 1993, it was opened to Galatians 6:8

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Four years later, for his second inauguration, Clinton used the same treasured bible but rested his hand on Isaiah 58:12

“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

And so on. Point well taken that this president went for the symbolism over substance of those Bibles and the men who owned them, though one can hope and pray that in his heart he tries to carry on their tradition of struggling for equality and freedom for all human beings, protection in law, and dignity conferred by God.

His inaugural address was lacking in direction and substance, say even moderate or some liberal pundits who analyzed it all. Not a lot to analyze, but this New York Times piece was interesting, starting with the headline they put on it when it first posted online. Suspecting it would change, I noted it early: “Obama Sets Goal to Broaden Equality.” But he stopped short of full equality, and distorted what that even means.

Mr. Obama went out of his way to mention both gay rights and the need to address climate change in a speech that seemed intended to assert his authority over his political rivals and to define his version of modern liberalism after voters returned him to office for a second term.

Yes, it did seem that.

The president’s second inaugural speech was more forceful than his first, putting the nation’s voters and the political establishment on notice that he intends to use his remaining time in office to push for the America he envisions.

“On notice” is well put.

Mr. Obama honored Dr. King, recalling the time he proclaimed that “our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on earth.”

But the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King included every human being born and unborn, his niece Dr. Alveda King reminded me in an interview today.

Mr. Obama made a point to single out gay Americans — the first time that a president has said the word “gay” in an Inaugural Address — comparing their struggle for equality to the fights that African-Americans have waged. Having offered his support last year for same-sex marriage after years of opposition, Mr. Obama used his inaugural speech to embrace the idea that there should be marriage equality.

“Marriage equality” is political terminology that does no justice to the truth being debated in this country about human rights and the recognition of marriage in law and the state’s interest in marriage.

But that reference sure got a lot of headlines. Like this one in ABC News.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama said in his address on the Capitol steps after his swearing in…

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth,” Obama said.

Mr. Obama should read the Rev. Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech to which he refers.

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The first among these is life, ordered by “the architects of our republic” in their “magnificent words” for a reason.

Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

Born and unborn. Otherwise, you are redefining “all.”

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity…

And the ultimate such violation is abortion, which this president supports more than any other in American history.

It is inconsistent and intellectually dishonest and unbefitting the office of the presidency of the United States. Especially one who swears on a stack of Bibles, once owned by great leaders and defenders of human rights.

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Jul 23

With the Tour de France just completed and the Olympics about to begin, many fans around the world are focused on sports celebrities and aspiring champions and stars all too often called heroes for excelling in athlethics. Let’s take a closer look at the true story of a man who deserves to be honored as all of the above.

I discovered it, thankfully, in the masterful book written by the brother sister team Andres and Aili McConnon, about the life and heroism of Gino Bartali.

Let your virtues expand to fill this sad situation: Glory ascends the heights by a precipitous path.

Who would have known of Hector, if Troy had been happy?

The road to valor is built by adversity.

-Ovid, Tristia

What a perfect title, Road to Valor. Anybody fighting the terrain and sometimes hazardous racecourse and natural elements of the three weeks of the Tour or any other cycling championship achieves a certain level of command over adversity. But who has added to that the challenge of secretly saving endangered lives and escaping the dangers of detection except for Bartali?

What a story. The publicist release has to summarize a lot:

Set in Italy and France against the turbulent backdrop of an unforgiving sport and threatening politics, Road to Valor: A True Story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation is the breathtaking account of one man’s unsung heroism and his resilience in the face of adversity…

At the age of 24, he stuns the world by winning his first tour de France and quickly becomes an international sports icon.

After Mussolini’s Fascists try to hijack Bartali’s victory for propaganda purposes and as the Nazis occupy Italy, Bartali, a devout Catholic, becomes involved in the Italian resistance and undertakes dangerous missions to help those being targeted. In addition to sheltering a family of four Jews in an apartment he financed with his cycling winnings, Bartali smuggles counterfeit identity documents past Fascist and Nazi checkpoints. Recognizing him simply as a national hero in training, the soldiers never suspect he’s hiding precious papers in the hollow frame of his bicycle, documents that helped save countless Jews hiding in Tuscany and Umbria from deportation to to work and death camps.

But that’s not all.

In 1948, the stakes are raised…Despite numerous setbacks and a legendary snowstorm in the Alps, the chain-smoking, Chianti-loving, 34-year-old underdog comes back and wins the most difficult endurance competition on earth.

Elie Wiesel recommends this gripping true account with these words:

‘Thou shall not stand idly by’ is a powerful Biblical command. In [the McConnon's] book it offers a moving example of moral courage. A simple citizen and great athlete chose to oppose a cruel and racist political dictatorship by saving Jewish victims in Italy. Was it so hard to become a hero then? It was enough–enough to remain human.

Among many other accolades, Cardinal Timothy Dolan added this:

Part sports biography, part real-life action adventure, Road to Valor is the remarkable true account of a man whose Catholic faith inspired his greatest achievements.

And author Fred Plotkin says:

This book is a magnificent ride through the uphill-downhill-uphill story of Gino Bartali. It inspires anyone who tenaciously holds to doing what is just, no matter how difficult, in the face of ignorance and terror. Bartali is a hero for all times.

Having just followed most every stage of the 2012 Tour de France, and about to engage the 2012 Olympics, in the year when the freedom to exercise a religiously informed conscience about social justice is most seriously challenged, I really appreciate the fortifying story and the witness of Gino Bartali.

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