Friday, February 24, 2012

A few little notes on the news

OK, I get the whole "let's not kill off our future" thing that the American black pro-life movement is saying, and I'm with it all the way...

But I have to say, I really don't understand American race issues at all. Never have. I mean, in what universe is this person "black"? What counts as "black" in the US seems to be more a political question than a question of genetics.

And finally, what the hell difference does it make what colour you are? Isn't there something... well... racist about the 'black pro-life movement' altogether? Is it asserting that people have value in spite of their colour or because of it? I'm really not sure, since the message is so confused. I understand that the people who founded Planned Parenthood, and the people who run it today, have been and remain very interested in killing as many black children as possible, both domestically and abroad.

Some years ago, I was having a conversation with a woman in the pro-life movement about some issue or other, and she asked me, "I'd like to know what you think of this as a woman." I had absolutely no idea what she meant. I don't think things "as a woman". I just think things. I told her that it was a meaningless question. The moral law does not make such distinctions. I have not looked very closely at the "pro-life feminist" sub-branch of the movement, but I can't help think that there is some deep contradiction at work there, some profound misunderstanding either of what feminism is and where it came from or what the pro-life philosophy means taken in its entirety.

I don't think the "black pro-life movement" is saying that it is more wrong to kill children who are black. But maybe they are saying that it is more wrong to kill a child because he is black, and I'm not sure I would go with that. The end result is the same. A child is dead. The child is just as dead if you kill her because she is black, or because she has Down's syndrome, or because the mother simply didn't feel like having a child. Dead is dead.

The same question can be applied, and is being applied, to this latest kerfuffle in the UK over sex-selective abortions. What difference does it make if you kill a child because she is female or kill the same child because she cramps your personal style?

We've got a video clip that illustrates perfectly the absurdity of British abortion laws and procedures. In Britain, you can get an abortion, paid for on the public dime, if you give the right reason. The kerfuffle now is over women getting abortions after giving the wrong reason. This means that if you want to kill your child because she's a girl, that's "morally wrong" (according to Andrew Lansley, the health secretary) but if you want to kill the same child because you're "not ready for pregnancy" that's just fine, morally respectable and perfectly legal.

So, the Telegraph reporter and the pregnant woman go to the abortion facility and she says, "I want to kill this child because she's a girl..." What happens next?

"Is that the reason?” asked the doctor, who introduced himself as Dr Raj. "That's not fair. It's like female infanticide isn't it?"

When the pregnant woman asked if he could put down a different reason for the termination, the doctor said: "That's right, yeah, because it's not a good reason anytime

… I’ll put too young for pregnancy, yeah?"

So there we have it. That this is how the law works in Britain is, I suppose, something very few people ever think about. So, despite the whole thing seeming utterly silly to us, people who do understand why the entire premise of the UK abortion law is insane and self-contradictory (not to mention evil), this is probably the first time that regular, normal people, people who do not have a lot of training thinking logically, are being confronted with such a stark presentation of that insanity that we all know so well.

If this matter gets enough attention, and if the pro-life people in England make the right points, this may actually do some good. It seems possible that this will open a debate in Parliament in which something might get said that makes some sense. At last.



a Christopher said...

My best guess is that the moral intuition your black-pro-life video people are pointing to is that, if one kills an unborn baby for being black, one is compounding the sin of murder with the heresy of racism. It's not that the murder itself is worse, it's that there are two sins being committed. And racism in all its shapes is really an excuse for murder, anyways.

Beyond that, me neither: I don't understand American race issues. The most cogent thing I've read on the subject was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and I understand Showboat has more to say; but the world has changed since then.

Sylvia said...

What is interesting is that you might have a point of intersection with the Thomistic account of moral actions: the secular culture would say that only the intention and/or circumstances makes an act good or bad, rather than including the object of the act (the thing itself being done). Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hello! Jumping out of lurkerdom to add that the way I took the 'black pro-life' thingy was to mean 'black people banding together to promote the pro-life cause'. If a movement is or seems to be predominantly white, sometimes a group will spring up which says 'black people think this too!' and is tacked onto the wider movement. I think. No comment on whether that's a good or bad thing.

bridget said...

Two thoughts:
And finally, what the hell difference does it make what colour you are? Isn't there something... well... racist about the 'black pro-life movement' altogether?

At least in America, a disproportionate number of abortions are performed on black women, and Planned Parenthood targets blacks for abortion. While there is something unseemly about assuming that abortion would be okay if it happened more uniformly, I think that the essence of the black pro-life movement, as well as the feminist pro-life movement, is pointing out how these policies result in dead children and harm those they are (allegedly) trying to help.

Here in America, it is assumed that pro-lifers are wealthy (or at least middle-class) older white men, because naturally everyone who doesn't occupy a privileged place in society ought to support abortion. Part of the war is fighting that assumption.

I had absolutely no idea what she meant. I don't think things "as a woman". I just think things.

Interestingly, that "as a woman" mentally presupposes that there is a "normal" (i.e. male) way to think, and then an "as a woman" way to think, peculiar to our second sex.

Ingemar said...

I think "what you think as a _____" (insert in the blank: woman, minority, homosexual) questions are a prod to find what self-serving intentions a person has for engaging in an activity.

Not that the self service is WRONG (in their eyes) but that it makes it more RIGHT.

AngelaG said...

I think the black pro-life movement is just the result of a community waking up and realizing what's happening to their communities. I also agree with Ingemar; the point of fillintheblank politics is to make evil oppressors realize other people have "valid" reasons for doing things we'd rather they didn't (like kill children). It's basically a tool for causing division.

Zach said...

It's one of those "everybody knows" things in the liberal miasma that links being pro-abortion and being anti-racist. (Because, you know, only CONSERVATIVES are racist, and CONSERVATIVES are anti-abortion. QED.)

So the notion that abortion was and is disproportionately applied to black babies (and that this is no accident) is (a) news and (b) subversive to both the political and race-relational stereotypes in America.

Yes, this is bizarre.

God have mercy,