Randall Smith: Why will Democrats attempt to publicly humiliate a talented, extremely qualified, perfectly decent mother of seven? One word: abortion.
The vilification has begun. Amy Coney Barrett is a “white colonizer,” a “Handmaid’s Tale” puppet of the patriarchy, and/or a “**ing nut.” And the attempts to torpedo Judge Barrett’s nomination will only get worse. They may even extend beyond the close of the hearings if someone thinks that by floating a sleazy piece of unsubstantiated and unprovable gossip, he or she can delay the Senate vote long enough to keep Judge Barrett off the court.
Why are we subjected to this disgusting display of vilification and character assassination each time a conservative is nominated for the Supreme Court? Liberal nominees are never treated this way. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was approved by a 96 to 3 vote of the Senate, and no one told stories about how she prayed or raised her children. But we all know what is coming for Judge Barrett. The “opposition research” people are looking for any detail they think they can spit at Barrett in the media to see whether it will stick, a blood sport invented by that very “civil and decent” man, Joe Biden, along with another liberal Catholic, Ted Kennedy, in their trashing of Robert Bork.
Amy Coney Barrett will be savaged, and we all know why. Her opponents are terrified that she will limit the abortion license, which allows even partial-birth abortions and infanticide of babies born alive during an abortion. They don’t oppose her because they think she will rule against them on gun control, taxes, or Obama Care. The hearings have been inhumane of late because what is at stake is abortion. One group views it as an “essential right.” The other sees it as destroying human lives.
Those who think or say otherwise remind me of the people who used to insist that the Civil War wasn’t really about slavery. Almost nobody makes that argument anymore. The South didn’t secede because of tax policy or industrialization. They seceded because Lincoln was elected, and they feared what he would do to their beloved “right to own slaves.”
If you think there are other “issues” that would outweigh allowing this injustice, then you simply don’t take seriously the possibility that unborn children are actual human lives. If they are, then we are systematically putting to death around a million human beings per year, over 61 million since Roe v. Wade, a crime so heinous that all talk about other policy differences simply fades into utter insignificance.
No one today cares what Stephen A. Douglas thought about foreign policy, taxes, or tariffs. They only care that he was pro-choice on slavery. And no one cares today that Germany’s National Socialists (a.k.a. Nazis) were, as the name says, socialists whose promises were to respect “the workers.” We assume that no Catholic should have voted for a politician, especially not someone professing to be “Catholic,” who defended, or even tolerated, slavery or dispossessing Jews of their property and freedom.
Who would be so foolish now as to imagine a person could have voted for the pro-slavery candidate or National Socialist candidate because of their “other views”? Such as what? German pride? Insurance rates? Getting the trains to run on time? What kind of “justice” could there be otherwise in a country devoted to killing or enslaving innocent human beings?
Charles Camosy suggests a useful thought experiment at Public Discourse:
Suppose a possible world in which everything is the same in the Biden–Harris campaign, and in the Democratic Party itself, except that they are beholden to an extremist group of explicit white supremacists. In this possible world, they have a viable plan to bring back Jim Crow, and even long-term plans to bring back slavery. Suppose the party and ticket offer strong support for these plans and for white supremacist rhetoric and values. Could you vote for such a party? If your answer is no. . .then maybe you can understand why certain pro-lifers, without only caring about one issue, could nevertheless have their votes swayed by a single issue. Certain topics are just so essential, and the evil involved so massive and serious, that they can make a particular ticket untouchable.
“The writing is on the wall,” says Camosy. “A Democratic administration and Congress would defend abortion’s violence as a positive good. They would completely erase an entire group of incredibly vulnerable human beings from moral and legal consideration. Indeed, they would not even protect the freedom of those who wanted to live their own lives without participating in such violence.”
And that is why the Democrats will attempt to publicly humiliate a talented, extremely qualified, perfectly decent mother of seven. As with slavery, the abortion license must be defended no matter what: no matter what scruples against sexual harassment need to be compromised (hence the presence of serial harasser Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention); no matter what it does to the independence of the judiciary; and no matter what it does to the country. When a group of people has decided that a patent evil is a positive good, they will go to any length to prevent themselves from having to face up to the truth.
Prof. Camosy believes that people should vote for a third party. Others have argued that we should not vote at all. I have sympathy for those views. But not if it is merely an issue of not “staining” ourselves by an association with Donald Trump. We are currently “staining ourselves” with the blood of millions of innocent children every year. One candidate insists on more, the other has worked for less.
Supporting abortion and simply shoving a rosary in your pocket doesn’t make you a “Catholic” any more than going to extraordinary form Mass while deporting your Jewish workers makes you a “Catholic.”
You either do what you can to stop the killing of millions of babies, or you don’t. Face it squarely and make a choice. But don’t fool yourself about what’s really at stake.
Randall B. Smith is a tenured Full Professor of Theology. His book Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Guidebook for Beginners is available from Emmaus Press. And his book Aquinas, Bonaventure, and the Scholastic Culture at Paris: Preaching, Prologues, and Biblical Commentary is due out from Cambridge University Press in the fall.
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