It’s a simple question, really, with a seemingly unfortunate, simple answer: Not so much.
Pro-lifers tend more to cherry-pick their “values” when and how each said value suits their underlying, functional narrative. But when it doesn’t…
Let’s look at it this way – everyone loves life, right? No one is really against life. Unless, of course, you’re a religious fundamentalist/terrorist, political anarchist or a narcissistic sociopath who could probably easily double as the next new Batman villain.
But largely, life is just peaches for most people. We enjoy it. We like to see new life, and we are saddened when life is taken away.
Which is why there is no such thing as “pro-abortion.” No one likes abortions (unless, again, see above list). There is, however, such a thing as “pro-killing.” And it is largely the pro-lifers that tend to be both for life and death at the same time.
Which is odd, since, more often than not, pro-lifers cite Jesus’ teachings as well as the Bible as their political handbook concerning nearly every controversial and often violent aspect of American politics.
Let’s briefly take a look at last week’s Republican Debate, where Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) was greeted by a round of applause when defending his record of having presided over 234 death penalty executions in the state of Texas.
The audience erupted in cheers when NBC News anchor Brian Williams cited the rather exorbitant number – a response which, while earning much criticism around the networks as well as throughout the blogosphere, Perry insists reflects how much Americans support capital punishment.
“I’ve never struggled with that at all,” noted Perry. “The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place. When someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States if that’s required.”
But is death by any measure – and toward any means – not the end of life?
Perry’s idea of “fairness” is far from air-tight – as evident in recent controversies over the “legitimacy of evidence” in a small number of the death penalty cases over which he presided – cases that ultimately saw a potentially innocent inmate executed regardless.
And while Perry is correct – polls reveal that nearly two thirds of Americans are in favor of capital punishment – the overwhelming concern is that of a “less than perfect” justice system. As it stands, 16 states across the country have abolished the death penalty.
In the follow-up CNN Tea Party debate, Republican candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas) received a similar ovation when the topic arose around a fictitious 30-year-old without health insurance who was dying. The “verdict” from the Tea Party crowd? “Let him die.”
See the issue? Where is the pro-life sentiment here? Or, as Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson put it, “Where are the compassionate conservatives?”
“According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told the Pharisees that God commands us to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’” writes Robinson. “There is no asterisk making this obligation null and void if circumstances require its fulfillment via government.”
Is one only afforded the right to life if he/she is financially or medically eligible to send in the insurance premium? Is an unborn fetus exempt from having to pay? And – with special thanks to proposed deregulatory measures concerning child workforce – how soon will it be until that statute runs dry?
This is selective moral outlining from the same crowd that gauges presidential electability on whether or not a candidate is invited to speak at the Family Research Council’s “Values Voters Summit”; a collection/hate-group of pro-Christian, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, “patriots” that know more about mindlessly and fact-less-ly bashing progressive American culture than they do about the politics they are so against.
Abortion? That’s killing, that’s against God. That’s bad. Capital punishment? That’s okay, they were criminals anyway. God hates crime. Healthcare for the poor? God has no time for that, or money. Let ‘em croak. Violence against Muslims? War in the Middle East? That’s okay, because they pray to the wrong God anyway.
As Mohandas Gandhi once said: “I like your Christ, but not your Christians. They are not very Christ-like.”
Didn’t Jesus say to “Love your enemy?” Or is that too gay?
In the same debate in which the audience cheered to let an uninsured man die, Ron Paul was greeted with jeers for suggesting – gasp! – that not all Muslims were responsible for 9/11. To add insult to injury, he dared to suggest that anti-American sentiment amongst the radical Muslim ranks has little-to-nothing to do with our “freedom”.
Oh, the blasphemy! Didn’t Paul receive the memo that the Muslim faith just isn’t “American” enough – and therefore is fair game to vicious, unethical attacks of all kinds?
According to a new report from the Brookings Institution (and conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute), “Approximately two-thirds of Republicans, Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement, and Americans who most trust Fox News agree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values. A majority of Democrats, Independents, and those who most trust CNN or public television disagree.”
American pro-lifers are made up largely of Christian conservatives – which just so happens to be the very same recipe for the notorious American Teabagger. And to that particular crowd, pro-life means enjoying a happy common ground, oddly enough, with wars against fictitious enemies that result in the “collateral casualties” of thousands of innocent lives and the illegal and globally renounced (among civilized countries, at least) act of torture.
It also coincides with the eradication of health benefits for the sick, needy and abandoned – including the very same veterans used in fighting those particularly needless wars – as well as the “right” to access grossly abundant supplies of assault weapons, firearms and explosives without recourse or – dare I say – regulation.
Perhaps more directly, those within the pro-life “movement” abhor the idea of any woman – regardless of her circumstances – having say over what happens to her own body as opposed to the legislated will of a ruling class of men, or to providing said woman as a young girl the proper sexual education and guidance to perhaps ensure her own health and well being as well as that of her children when the time is right within her own life.
Is the term “pro-life” valid, then, or is it just for the times when it most convenient fits a one-sided ideology?
Because if you “err on the side of life”, shouldn’t you always?