Saturday, May 2, 2009

Don't know much about history

Kathleen Parker's 1 May editorial republished in the Spokesman-Review demonstrated a real snit fit over the very idea (apalling) that President Barack H. Obama (pro-choice) could accept an invitation from Notre Dame University (Catholic) as a commencement speaker and even get an honorary degree. So she starts her editorial off with this declaration; "Here on planet 'What about Me,' principled people are so rare as to be oddities. Thus it was a head-swiveling moment Monday when former Vatican Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon quietly declined Notre Dame's Laetare Medal." Seems Ms. Glendon is a Harvard University law professor and a respected author on bioethics and human rights. That is, given the tone of Parker's column to follow, Prof Glendon is thoroughly anti-abortion. And that it is on this highly political stance that Ms. Glendon won't accept this medal [in part] because Barack Obama was invited to be a commencement speaker. —Parker. Quite frankly, I'd suggest that "faith" wasn't behind Ambassador Glendon's refusal to accept such a medal so much as her political opposition to President Obama and his ideology. Which then begs the question, we know that GW Bush authorized the use of torture against terrorist suspects. GW being invited by Notre Dame to be a commencement speaker and a recipient of an honorary degree despite his history on international policies and the contravening of the Geneva Conventions; would a Ms. Glendon refuse such a medal on the grounds that GW wasn't a supporter of human rights or accept it because GW was opposed to abortion and stem cell research? But if Ms. Glendon were acting on the principles of "faith," to put it bluntly, her respected authorship on bioethics and human rights ought to put her at odds with the very church she was only an ambassador to; given the history of the church itself as not being a supporter of human rights. Under the circumstances, I wouldn't accept such a medal.

But, I highly doubt that "faith" had anything to do with it. Rather, as I suggested above, it was all about the politics.

Parker goes on to say, "It has always seemed to me that the truest form of feminism, as in the earliest days of suffrage, would be to hold abhorrent the state-sanctioned destruction of women's unique life-bearing gifts." Excuse me? Suffrage was all about women's equality. And along with Margaret Sanger's push toward the equality of women also included birth control and family planning. Thus it can be said without equivocation, that Ms. Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood. But at the time of the earliest days of the feminist movement, the "conservative" reaction was to oppose women taking their place in society as workers, voters, politicians, having an independent income and managing it on their own, deciding for themselves just how many kids they'd like to have and when. The "conservative" reaction was that women's only role was to be that of wife, mother and home maker. In the century since women's suffrage made many political and economic gains, the "conservative" reaction is to now put a new dress on a very old argument; precisely, the only acceptable feminism is the woman who is wife, mother and home maker. And this comes from the pen of a woman who is not herself only a wife, mother and home maker... presumably. No, Parker actually does work for a living in the newspaper business. And is therefore a beneficiary of the feminism that Sanger helped promote. And as for the "state-sanctioned destruction of women's unique life-bearing gifts," I think she does not recall any too well what the state allowed in the 19th century as to doctors being able to neuter women who were regarded as [retarded] by giving them hysterectomies. That is the only "state-sanctioned destruction of women's unique life-bearing gifts" that I know of. Rendering such women as incapable of bearing children. Talk about your euphemisms that not only shoot wide of the mark but head off into Never Never land. There is no life-bearing gift in getting pregnant. Only if you possess the well-functioning equipment to get there at all.

With reference to Glendon refusing to accept the medal Parker had this to say,
  • President Obama won't be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.
  • We think having the President come to Notre Dame, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.

"Glendon, who is no mortal's pawn, decided she couldn't accept the award."

Apparently, "faith" insists that neither will Prof. Glendon act very Christian, either. I am fully familiar with the bible. I am fully familiar with that scripture in Luke that advises the followers of Christ to love even their enemies. With reference to God loving even sinners by the gifts he bestows (sun and rain) upon them. True love, according to Christ, does not stop at the gate of someone you regard as a foe. In today's political language, Glendon as a "Christian" should have been more than happy to seize on an opportunity to assist Notre Dame in educating the President on the causes both she and the university cared about. But instead, she let political opposition stand in the way of Christian morality. That I regard as a real loss to herself and Notre Dame that "faith" in accordance with the bible wasn't the "principle" she wished to stand on. So, a trip down history lane: until the rise of the feminist movement, abortion really wasn't an issue from the 18th to the 19th centuries. It did occur but the precise records of how often the occurrence, how many hundreds, thousands, of women might have obtained such a procedure is not known. With the rise of feminism, only then did "conservatives" and religious activists go on record with a political opposition to the procedure. Anti-family planning laws were passed to include prohibiting the birth control pill as well as rendering illegal the abortion procedure. But regardless of the effort to render illegal the abortion procedure, women still sought out and obtained abortions, at great risk to themselves. "Faith" wasn't the article that drove such opposition. Rather the politics that opposed the existence and rise of feminism in this nation. If "faith" was the principle that Glendon was applauded for by Parker, well, it wasn't very evident by Parker's description since any dogma concerning abortion must also be met with respect as well for one's fellow Christians. Glendon had no such respect. The politics came first. Glendon might have been an ambassador for Christ and she refused. Good for her as she most certainly shot in the foot what credibility Christianity might have got in this world. But why should Obama bow out? He has demonstrated more than once his willingness to love even his political enemies.

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