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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Pro-Life" put in context

Here is a great piece by Cliff Schecter in Al-Jazeera that puts the pro-life movement in context. He describes how incompatible the name "pro-life" is with the broad belief system shared by most of its adherents. He writes, "The sad reality is that, to be pro-life in the US today, which is to be conservative in almost all cases, is to love thy enemy by supporting illegal wars - or just plain stupid ones - that kill hundreds of thousands of innocents, cutting health-care benefits and nutrition programs for children and the poor, and turning the other cheek … of the person you're torturing. It is also to cut funding for bridges that are falling down to make room for slashing the tax on yacht shoes, make a best faith effort to ensure criminals, the mentally unbalanced and terrorists have access to assault weapons and C4 explosives, and to love thy neighbour - to love them so much as to give him or her a lethal injection if you think they killed someone." There's more, and it's worth the read.

The right don't care about their inconsistencies. They have their goals in mind, which seem to be gaining and maintaining money and power. They don't think about the process, only the product. The end justifies the means. Machiavellian in the extreme, how they get there is immaterial.

The left, on the other hand, think about process all the time. And it's hard work, because we have a diverse movement with all kinds of different goals. To see where those goals coalesce is sometimes difficult. If we were to put an umbrella over all the movements, and give it a name, would we call it "social justice" or "equality" or "social and environmental justice" or something else? What about animals? We can't leave out animals. Are animals understood to be included in a word like "environmental" or "ecological?" Is eliminating racism and sexism and all the other isms understood to be part of a phrase like "social justice." Does this phrase do us justice?

See how hard it is? We debate, quite publicly and openly, the flaws of our various positions, which has primacy and the inconsistencies which threaten to unhinge us. We debate tactics that are best used, and how they will affect the outcome. Is street level activism like a SlutWalk good for the overall cause (whatever that is) and does it have to be? Is violence ever justified? We know that the means are important to the ends, that how we get there is as important, maybe even more important, than where we get.

The right doesn't care about process, about consistency, about any of that. They'll murder doctors to save a fetus. They hate and call it love. They can live with being pro-life AND pro death penalty. The ends justify the means. And what is the end again? Money and Power? Preserving the patriarchal status quo?

These are the big questions, people. And although I curse the left sometimes for what I'll delicately call our "collective inefficiency," our failure to keep the eye on the prize (even if we can't agree on a name for that prize), the older I get, the more I know that how we get there is everything.

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