Sunday, March 08, 2009

Put Up or Shut Up

Have you ever heard the argument from pro-choice folks that our advocacy and protest activities are meaningless (if not hypocritical) if we don't personally do something to rectify the situation? Sometimes, their loud proclamations during a debate can cow prolife people into silence. Surely, we all must consider our abilities in responding to the situation. However, keep in mind that prolife efforts do involve both advocacy and direct action.

A good example is actor Jim Caviezel, who has adopted two disabled children. However, not all of us can afford to adopt. So we engage in other activities, such as donating time or resources to Birthright or other counseling services that don't promote abortion, or to organizations like Several Sources that provide support for single mothers who choose to carry their children to term. There is no shortage of people who are willing to help, but there is a shortage of publicity—which is why those on the prolife end often take a beating.

It's not that people aren't willing to adopt or willing to support single mothers in their efforts to keep their children. It's that public social programs aren't designed to make it easy or even probable.

That aside, let's consider the challenge we are given. If we don't do a direct action (adopt a child, prevent a pregnancy, support a single mother), we somehow lose our right to voice an opinion about a candidate's policies. I've given several examples of pro-life direct action, so clearly we have a right to speak even by this specious qualification. However, is the qualification even legitimate? If so, you would have to imagine that it would apply equally regardless of the circumstance.

Do pro-choice protestors bother to apply this logic to their own activities?

To apply this criterion to an immediate circumstance, do pro-choice Catholics who supported Obama because of his opposition to the war have any moral high ground? Is there truly any moral equivalency here?

We can talk about the vast sea of difference between the number of casualties (40 million over 40 years versus ~1.3 million over 5 years), or we can address the matter of legitimate defence (against terrorists) versus pure selfish aggression (active killing of innocents for personal convenience), but those won't make any dent. We know that there's a disconnect in terms of moral action—an absurd argument of moral equivalency. We can rail as we like, but that criterion won't matter for people who believe in moral relativism.

We won't convince the diehards, but we can point out their own hypocrisy.

Many Catholics who voted for Obama did so believing that the war in Iraq was wrong. The same often claim that the rest of us are single-issue voters and are hypocritical because we don't all actually adopt children or open homes for disabled children (despite the fact that many of us support those efforts financially). So ask this.

When did you last go to Gaza to convince Hamas to stop lobbing rockets at innocent civilians in Sderot?

When did you last go to Pakistan to tell Al Queda to stop flying planes into office buildings?

When did you last dialogue with a terrorist to pursuade them not to sever people's heads on film, or to execute innocents, or to stop attacking targets from within innocent people's homes?

You see? The pro-life movement has been doing direct action for years. We don't have to be ashamed that we don't individually adopt 24 disabled children or personally house a dozen unwed mothers. We are not hypocrites for doing what we are able to do, and we should not let progressives attempt to claim the high ground through their own hypocrisy.
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