I’m going to begin with a truism: What one believes bears no necessary relationship with that which is true.
The most eloquent example, of the hundred or so I could recite, traces back to the early 1600s in Europe, when the most potent transnational power was the Roman Catholic Church. The leadership held beliefs so strong they were backed by the most heinous of inhuman savageries as punishments to be visited on any and all who dared even think, then question the validity of the postulated beliefs. A frail old man was hauled before the Inquisition and was found guilty for promulgating the Copernican heliocentric (the sun is the center) notion as correct and the Church as incorrect. Galileo was condemned to house arrest and forbidden to “believe” anything that was at odds with what the Church held.
However the roll began like a locomotive, to pull slowly out of the station, with the emerging Southern strategy of Nixon and Reagan, the conservative charge really gained vicious momentum in 1994; Democrats were demonized as not being sufficiently family oriented, as being insufficiently “Christian,” as unpatriotic, as even hating America.
I’m about as liberal — in the classic, European Enlightenment sense where the scientific method and evidence trump assertions of truth via “beliefs,” what you do with your body is none of my business, wherein no adult has authority over another to decide what any other adult may read, see, write, or say, and the Jeffersonian proposition that “Whether my neighbor believes in one god or twenty does me no harm; it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my legs.” — as hopefully as you will not find an equal.
Last week I attended a gathering that commenced with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. I excused myself at the intent. I try to stay away from events where the National Anthem will likely be played. My position is that if love of country depends on indoctrination via some memorized lines that spew forth from one’s lips with no more genuine passion than what Pavlov got from his dogs with a dinner bell, the country is probably not worth all that much. As to the National Anthem, as I cast my gaze about I’m unable to locate many who truly fit the definition of “brave.”
That said, few who know me know of no one who loves this country more. Those who have seen my naked body know the price I have paid for that love. As a young man, I served in the infantry, I served in the jungles, and I served my adoration of this country with a devotion that has never waned. I don’t need to demonstrate to anyone’s satisfaction that my love and patriotism meet their standards. And nothing angers me more than the vitriol that has gushed from the rear sphincters of conservatives, most especially from those cowards who had not the fortitude to serve, have not even the moral decency to want to pay their share of the financial cost, but have plenty of courage to send someone else, or someone else’s child, and put the financial burden on some future generation.
A few questions for conservatives; think of this as a quiz. Currently in one of the chambers of the federal legislature is a Medal of Honor recipient. Can you name the individual, the state from which this person hails, and the party affiliation? Next question: The 110th Congress consists of 435 members who are divided between Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Of the three, which has the greatest number of military veterans, and, if you summed all combat medals that have been awarded, which has the greater number? Third question: If legislating on behalf of improved equipment for the active military (including the Guard and Reserves headed into combat) and on behalf of enhanced health and educational benefits for veterans is the guide, which political party has historically as well as currently proven a genuinely greater support of the troops, and which party has steadfastly been more miserly?
(No! I’m not going to provide the answers. I want all you conservatives to do the research and thereby be disabused of your own sanctimony.)
Georgia’s Senator Max Cleland lost three limbs in Vietnam. Conservatives disparaged him as not being sufficiently patriotic and elected Johnny Isakson whose courage and bravery and patriotism were limited to six years, from 1966 to ’72, in the Georgia Air National Guard. (Those of us who served during that period fully recognized such service was a clear dodge from the peril of being sent to Vietnam, and a better alternative than facing indictment for fleeing the country.)
Conservatives have brought two other issues to the fore, as the other primary arrows in their quiver, to attack liberals: abortion and gay rights.
Let’s get one thing clear concerning “abortion”: Given there are approximately 300 million in the US today, the odds are great that some parents actually encourage their daughters to get pregnant, just so she can experience the thrill of abortion. I don’t know any that fit that population, nor have I ever heard of any who might. But I suppose there are. It’s my bet, on the other hand, that under the bell curve, way, way, way into one of the tails, most oppose it strenuously; not the right to one, but the encouragement of the experience. Moreover, all of those I’ve ever known, all of those I’ve ever heard of who support women’s reproductive rights to decide the issue themselves . . . all are staunchly in favor of human life.
(Disclosure: My personal position is that men have no moral right whatsoever pontificating on an issue, one way, or the other, that is women’s alone.)
Making abortions completely illegal will not end the practice. Prior to Roe, young women who found themselves pregnant — and the mortified parents who would face horrendous social ostracizing — had the following choices available: bear the child and keep it, bear the child and surrender it to adoption, travel outside the country to secure an abortion, seek an abortion from a back-alley butcher, use a coat-hanger in an effort to do the job herself. It was often the case that those from a moneyed family went to Europe, for an extended R&R; “Sally’s been under such stress lately that we just felt she needed a break.” Many, many other women paid a back-alley butcher, then visited an emergency room, then, and all too often, paid with their lives in a most gruesome and agonizing death. The same held true for those who went the clothes-hanger route.
What Roe did — and what those opposed to Roe refuse to acknowledge — was to save the lives and prevent the physical mutilation of countless hundreds of thousands of young women. I’m not here going to suggest Roe’s opponents don’t care about the lives and physical condition of living women, or that the pregnancy and burden of bearing and raising an unwanted child is somehow seen as just punishment for the sexual proclivities of the youth. Nonetheless, by the stridency of those opposed to Roe, the perception that that is part of their zeal is understandable.