“The Tudors hated to be wrong, and therefore never were.” Jeane Westin, “His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester,” New American Library, New York, 2010
Arguably, the two most divisive and bitter disputes in our nation’s history, not to mention the bloodiest, remain the nadir of the deep rifts in our country still. The first was dodged deliberately by the writers of the Constitution, and the second not even conceived of as a possibility. Both of these conflicting visions were rooted in a fundamental disagreement about the nature of human dignity and held positions of prominence most clearly drafted by the largest political parties: positions which were utterly opposed to one another, adamantly maintained, and the same party was in grievous error on both. And for the same reason.
The first was temporarily remedied by President Lincoln in a dubiously legal executive order designated as the “Emancipation Proclamation.” A more permanent solution enshrined in the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution was bitterly opposed by the Democrat Party. The 13th and first post-Civil war amendment ended slavery (except as a punishment for those convicted of crimes!?!). Sending a constitutional amendment on to the states for ratification requires a two thirds majority in both branches of the Federal legislature.
The first step to ratification cleared quickly in the Senate. This remedy for the most grievous sin of the original Constitution was almost derailed by a larger minority Democrat contingent in the House. Passage in the House needed twenty Democrat votes added to all the Republican votes to attain a two thirds majority. Republican votes were secure in a party founded in anti-slavery convictions. Only Lincoln’s arm twisting and procuring patronage jobs for soon to be unemployed lame duck Democrat representatives gained the requisite minimum Democrat votes, and the vote had to be taken before the post-election new Congress was formed. Some of the lame duck “yea” voters were menaced by other House Democrats who judged their self-serving betrayal of the party line as a capital crime. A few shots were fired, beatings inflicted, and dire threats abounded.
What immense harm and folly undoubtedly would befall the country if slavery were ended? What other ridiculous indulgences would follow? Would “n****rs” (their term) be granted full citizenship and, God forbid, the franchise to vote? Impossible. Most Southern Democrats saw this as a sure road to perdition and chaos. Democrats had owned all the slaves, and Democrats founded the Ku Klux Klan. Their Democrat political heirs wrote and enacted at the state level all the Jim Crow laws that perpetuated the degradation of the black population for another ninety years, and Democrats bitterly fought every measure of full equality.
As one result of the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties led by the heroes (and martyrs) of non-violence like Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, John Lewis, Jesse Jackson and others, those horrendous laws and practices belittling the dignity and worth of human beings based on their color finally were put to a well-deserved end. All men and women of any color in our country can sit now in the front of the bus, eat in any restaurant, sleep in any hotel, and drink from any fountain of water to slake their thirst.[i]
“I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard.” Colonel Frank Slade as played by the wonderful Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman.”
In the latter decades of the twentieth century and persisting to this day arose the second divisive issue that assails our unity: abortion “rights” vs. “pro-life” advocates. Along with “Black Lives Matter,” not much will heat up the temperature in a room more quickly than this topic. Whether the discussion is elections, judicial appointments or endless social media diatribes, the positions seem ever more entrenched. The crux of the argument seems eerily like the first one, and just as intractable with no easy compromise possible. Is the tiny person in the womb a human being with inherent dignity and worth, and thus worthy of every protection she can be afforded? Or is she chattel, disposable, a relatively easily discarded encumbrance, and with her very life vulnerable to the decision of her mother, many times herself in desperate, lonely circumstances? Does the tragedy of the circumstances of the mother outweigh the humanity of a new victim? And if so, how are these conflicting needs to be resolved without multiplying tragedies?
The embryology, and thus the science, is undisputed: a newly conceived fetus (from the Latin meaning pregnancy, childbirth, and offspring) is forever uniquely endowed with genes from her mother and father. She begins at conception a continuum lacking only oxygen, food, and protection from harm, and without violent interruption, she is inevitably bound towards a life as a mature fully formed adult human being. The science is clear. Her fate is not.
Democrats who are not completely on board with public funding for abortion for any reason at any stage of fetal development up to birth are subject to harassment, stripped of Democrat credentials and political power or threatened with being “primaried,” which has become a coercive verb. Disavowed, disinherited, expunged from the record and party support. The money behind this comes from Midas wealthy and seemingly bottomless sources like Planned Parenthood and George Soros. They will not quit, and their pink shirted, vagina hat wearing, full throated, true believer underlings flood state houses across the land to intimidate and shout down all opposition to their program.
After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many lamented the passing of this brilliant long serving jurist. Agree with her judicial philosophy or not, her dedicated service as a jurist was defining. Sadly, mourning was co-opted by the abortion agenda in many places. Here in Rhode Island, an RGB shrine was set up at the State House as for a saint, ostensibly to honor the memory of Justice Ginsburg, but the hardcore subtext of this shrine was the perceived peril to unfettered abortion access, the blasphemous sacrament of the progressive movement. If any doubt exists about its primacy, zoom in on the picture of the Rhode Island statehouse shrine to RBG shown above.
Just as after many battles the dignity of the individual human person of color was declared and clarified in the civil rights struggle, will the innate humanity of tiny people worthy of love and safeguarding be similarly clarified and authenticated? Will choices we make about who is free, who prospers and who dies continue to be utilitarian decisions, disregarding the intrinsic worth of that single life created Imago Dei? By denying the innate value of even one human person because of their race, gender, ethnicity, degree of imperfection or tiny size, we diminish the value of every life, including our own.
Those, dear friends, are questions worth pondering and the answers to them will characterize our civilization or its degradation, and inevitably form our individual hearts.[ii] Will we hasten our slide into dehumanizing the most vulnerable individual human life, or will we begin to claw back up the hill towards rediscovering and resurrecting our humanity? Quo vadis, America?
“’I hope you care to be recalled to life?’
And the old answer.
‘I can’t say.’” Charles Dickens, “Tale of Two Cities”, Chapman and Hall, London, 1859
[i] This is not to say that all Democrats of that era were bigots or persisted in fighting for repression of and disrespect for the dignity of black people through these heinous rules and regs. Certainly, John and Robert Kennedy along with Senator Hubert Humphrey come to mind. Ultimately after the assassination of JFK, the powers in the Democrat Party saw begrudging opportunity in the franchise for black voters, and they shifted to the cynical sanctimony many still pretend to. When President Lyndon Johnson was speaking to his mentor and friend, Southern Democrat, Senator Richard Russell, who was leading the longest filibuster in Senate history (over 75 days) against the Civil Rights Bill (as reported by Doris Kearns Goodwin in her book” “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream”), Johnson said this:
“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don’t move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there’ll be no way of stopping them, we’ll lose the filibuster and there’ll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It’ll be Reconstruction all over again.”
[ii] In relating these two issues, I was struck also by the other egregious instances of utilitarian dehumanizing of innocent men, women and children perpetrated by the United States government: the firebombing of Bremen, Dresden, Tokyo and most other large cities in Germany and Japan near the end of WWII. As well, the only use of nuclear weapons against civilian populations in world history in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was by the U.S.
One also is reminded of the stigmatizing of Japanese Americans, many of them generations deep as American citizens by the Roosevelt administration, which sequestered them involuntarily based solely on their race in stockade internment camps during WWII, judging them as less than human and not worthy of trust, respect or dignity.
All these atrocities were presided over by Democrat presidents. First it is necessary to strip human beings of their status as human beings, and once dehumanized, almost anything is possible from lynching, mass murders and imprisonment to abortion and slavery. The common factor in these affronts to human dignity is obvious: the party of the perpetrators.