Thanks, Christy! I have turned to you for strength and honesty, for years.
In the 1990s, I set out to change the way we understand our own work, and wrote about nonviolence. And following Kathie, I set out to change the way we understand our opponents, and wrote about eugenics. It was my intention to spark two complementary changes in the pro-life movement. Not done yet.
Eugenics, in its history, has never been identified with the right or the left. The easiest example of that swerviness comes up in the fight over Hitler’s attitude toward abortion. Did he mandate it, like a pro-abort? Yes. Did he prohibit it, like a pro-lifer? Also yes. Which was he? A eugenicist. Eugenics started on the right among imperialists, but was quickly adopted by the Fabian left, then by the American right (KKK and the sterilizers), then by the left (abortionists). It’s an attitude toward human reproduction, and can appear on the left or the right. British welfare, assaulting family life, was designed by a leading eugenicist (Beaverbrook). Welfare reform, assaulting family life again, was also promoted by eugenicists (Murray’s “Bell Curve”).
So it is an extraordinarily dangerous thing when people associate this evil with the left or the right, and then stop. So with abortion, the major project of eugenicists in our generation. Abortion came from the left – but that’s not precise. Abortion came from eugenicists working on the left. If you look at abortion as a left-wing problem, then you can miss abortion promotion coming from the right. Examples:
(1) Cloning, for example: it goes a step beyond abortion, not just creating babies and then disposing of them – but creating babies specifically in order to tinker with them, and then dispose of them. We failed to outlaw it – because we attacked it as a leftwing problem. A huge portion of the left was ready to oppose cloning, but rightwing pro-lifers told them to go to hell.
(2) Forced abortion in China. A key opponent of forced abortion in Congress was Nancy Pelosi. So we could work with her opposing this evil, or denounce her as a wicked witch. We chose to denounce her, without any subtlety. So we lost the national consensus against forced abortion; it’s not important on anyone’s radar, because pro-lifers decided refused to work within an ad hoc coalition.
(3) Family cap. Welfare was designed by leftists, and damaged family life. But welfare reform was also written to put pressure on women on welfare not to have kids. The pressure was mild, and generally ineffective. But it had some effect, and chemical abortion – mostly DepoProvera – increased dramatically, partly because of the family cap in welfare reform. The people who pushed that anti-birth measure through Congress identified themselves as pro-family.
(4) FDA. The Food and Drug Administration has been weakened year by year, for a couple of decades. They are gun-shy, reluctant to take on new fights. So FDA didn’t fight hard against Accutane. It is effective against acne, but it causes birth defects. Ballpark estimate, from a decade ago: one FDA researcher estimated that there are about 5,000 abortions annually because someone took Accutane and then got pregnant and then got scared and then got an abortion. So strengthening FDA is a way to prevent 5,000 abortions annually – about as many as we targeted in the partial birth abortion campaigns. But pro-lifers never touched that issue, because it’s government regulation, and rightwing pro-lifers hate the FDA.
(5) Immigration. The Vatican celebrated its 101st annual Day for Migrants and Refugees this year. The Vatican has been saying for a century that after the colonial era, you get a migration era. Europeans wandered around the globe, seizing land and control and wealth. Now the people who live in the lands that Europe plundered for 15-20 generations are on their feet and wandering. The shoe is on the other foot. The Vatican has been saying for the past century that migration is one of the signs of our times, and that we should adjust our lives to accommodate this reality. But America, where the word “immigrant” was invented, tried to shut it down in the 1920s. The laws written in the 1920s assumed that America could and should wall itself off from changes elsewhere in the world. Maybe whites would not rule 95% of the world any more, but we could control this continent. President Johnson intended to put an end to that racist nonsense, but he didn’t understand how deeply entrenched it was; he made some progress briefly, but he left the underlying attitudes and assumptions and general approaches in place. Reagan didn’t pretend to reform; he just made a temporary adjustment to reality. Bush II made a serious effort to reform, but he failed. And since then, the nation has been frozen in place – bitter and divided. But the laws that we have in place are 1920s laws, reformed a little a couple of times: they were written by eugenicists, for eugenic purposes.
Dividing the pro-life movement, and steadily driving the leftwingers out, has a steep price. If you can’t see death coming from the right, it will come in floods.
My friend Joe Washburn and his brother point to one of the problems we face now. In our bitter division, we simply do not listen to each other. We create wacky stereotypes of each other, and smack down straw men. The Church never called for open borders. The Church says that migration is a fundamental right, AND that nations have a right and duty to guard their borders, AND that these two realities are in tension and must be reconciled justly. Instead of setting out to find a just way forward, most people assert either the rights of the migrants OR the rights of nations – and stop. And then you get totally stupid things happening, like the flood of kids last summer – a colossal problem, not caused by the left or the right but by the paralysis of adult decision-makers. Or you get Congress building fences and mobilizing an army – saying they want to stop thousands of criminals, but actually chasing millions of good people.
Stopping criminals takes skill and determination – and focus. Before the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, the USA had good number of serious professionals out hunting terrorists. They were serious professionals. But what was their focus? How many of those good men and women were focused on YOU? If Janet Reno had not pointed the best and brightest pros at pro-lifers, would Osama bin Laden have succeeded? Same thing here. If you tell the pros to stop criminals, and spend money on stopping criminals, we can stop criminals. But if you actually want to stop brown-skinned kids and hard-working Catholic parents, and you shmush the two jobs together, then the criminals have a much easier time. So Joe and Dave Washburn can say that I don’t want to stop criminals at the border, because I don’t really believe that bad people exist. I’m going to try not to argue about such stupid things; but underneath, the truth is, I think that Joe and Dave – and Senator Cruz – are NOT serious about stopping criminals. They are, at best, unfocused like Janet Reno. Or maybe, they are taken in by liars, who really do want to stop Mexicans, not just criminals – like the people who wrote the laws in the 1920s. If you are serious about stopping criminals, the first serious step is to put a cork in Janet Reno – and in Cruz, exactly the same problem.
Me, I try to follow the teaching of the Catholic Church. Later this year, Pope Francis will be in the USA, and I expect he will say things that are startling and challenging. But I also expect that he will talk about marriage, and Republicans will applaud. And he will talk about immigration, and Democrats will applaud. And he will talk about unity in Christ, and those words will get lost in cotton candy brain fuzz. A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest – lie la lie.
Please get the books.