Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lincoln and the pro-life movement?

On this President's Day, observing (among other silly things) Lincoln's 200th birthday, shall we consider what the pro-life movement can learn from Abraham Lincoln?

1. Never let your movement be coopted by someone with a different agenda. The abolitionist movement gave itself over as a vehicle for the agenda of an ambitious man who, when it played well, decried the injustice of Negro slavery, but really was out to centralize power in Washington and replace a federation of sovereign states with a single central ... even imperial ... government, and who made it clear that if he could "save the Union" without freeing a single slave, he would do so.

Everything worked out fine for his cabal of generals and railroad owners and other industrial interests, which within a few years were pushing the Indians out of (or underneath) the western territories. But for the southern Negros, slave and free, the result was resentment and racial tensions which are a political factor to this day, and which contrast to the relative racial harmony which one finds in the dozens of countries Western Hemisphere which simply ended slavery peacefully, without an internecine war.

And today, we have seen the Bushie neocons use pro-life voters and pro-life election manpower to launch their own agenda of building a new empire of coerced global democracy. The pro-lifers should wonder if they've been had like the abolitionists, in that the neocon politicians and their war profiteering backers paid their lip-service and got what they want, but abortion on demand is still the law of the land, and the pro-lifers must now operate in the Obama backlash.

2. Read the Fine Print. It's commonly believed that Lincoln freed the slaves. Nonsense. He simply pulled a propaganda stunt by purporting to free slaves in unconquered Confederate territory. If you'll read the Emancipation Proclamation, you'll see he didn't free a single slave in territory Northern invaders controlled.

Likewise, pro-lifers today should pay attention to what really was written, in Roe and Doe, and their precedents, as well as what has happened since (and didn't happen) in Casey and other cases. Pro-lifers should also be sensitive to the federal Constitution. Justice Scalia is constitutionally correct, even as he's pro-life: this is not a federal issue. The way these cases are most likely to get rolled back is to establish that the subject of abortion, like almost all other regulatory and criminal matters, is properly the business of the states, which have plenary power.

If some post-natal person is chopped to pieces, it's a state crime, not a federal offense. So it should be. And so it should be, if some pre-natal person gets chopped to pieces.

Some dream case which rules a fetus has "personhood" will be no more sound Constitutionally than Roe or Doe (however morally sound). It will be a house built on the sand of inconsistent and incomprehensible due process jurisprudence, certain to be washed away by the next leftist wave. Pro-lifers should understand the constitutional issues, and be prepared to take their battle out of Washington to their own statehouses and state courts, where it properly belongs.

3. Don't turn monsters into martyrs. Before John Wilkes Booth's appearance, the balcony at the Ford Theatre was occupied by a man whose refusal to abide by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution caused over 600,000 deaths, who burned and looted massive swaths of his supposedly-beloved nation, and who destroyed a humane and thoughtful form of government that was founded on the Catholic notion of subsidiary (albeit by Protestants and Deists). With the pull of a trigger, Booth had suddenly created the secular saint we see in that hideous William Chester French sculpture.

And a few years ago, some loner idiots--not the organized movement--were popping off abortionists. Even if there's no sin against justice in using all necessary means, including deadly force, to stop the murder of an innocent, more harm than good is done when one raises such a vile person to to the altars of the pro-death crowd. Even for the organized movement that abhors such tactics, though, there's still a lesson here: Should we gain victories here and there, we must treat the vanquished pro-aborts with care, lest we cause a backlash and undo what we've accomplished.


Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly...

Lynne said...

Wow! What an interesting perspective...