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Mexico City? Try Gaza Instead…

January 24, 2009

So, on cue, Obama repeals the ban on US funds (largely through USAID) being used to support foreign entities that either provide abortion of provide counselling about abortion. And, on cue, the usual suspects who told us that voting for Obama was a mortal sin are now in their “I-told-you-so” mode. Sigh. MZ says it best: this policy will have scant effect on abortion rates, and yet the cultural warriors will gleefully raise this trivial issue as their standard. This tactics, combined with the typical inconsistency of those who espouse them, will only act as a roadbloock against true conversion on this issue.

Inconsistency? Indeed. Obama, like every other ruler with authority over a powerful and offensive military, by his executive actions, flirts with evil every day of the week. And yet we conveniently toss this out the window and make mountains of trifles instead? Let’s take a pertinent example. When it comes to foreign aid, the biggest beneficiary by far is the stateof Israel, and most of that “aid” is of  a military nature. In other words, the brutal bombing of civilian centers in Gaza by the Israeli military, combined with a ban on humanitarian aid, can be traced directly to funds coming from the United States. Remember, the Red Cross concluded that Israel “failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law.” And the United States is funding it. This is a grave scandal, far worse than the piddling amounts sent to abortion providers and counselors. And yet, nobody is talking about this, are they? Funny, that…

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84 Comments
  1. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:07 am

    Disgusting.

  2. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:08 am

    This is a trifle? You heard it folks. And he says it’s “funny”

  3. Jeremy permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:19 am

    Typical american dualism out of MM. We are either concerned over this or that. If we are concerned with this, then we must not be concerned about that.

  4. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:19 am

    Oh yeah, I thought I’d point out that Obama could have signed an executive order limiting the funding of military actions of Israel. After all, he is the President.

    What was you point again?

  5. January 24, 2009 11:24 am

    When it comes to concern about funds being used for nefarious purposes, you all seem very concerned about one dollar spent here, and totally oblivious to a thousand dollars spent there. That is the point.

  6. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:27 am

    So your point is that spending a little isn’t as bad as spending a lot? That sounds an awful lot like what you argue against all the time.

    So what is your point again? That the “small” amount of money being used to fund abortions isn’t as bad as the money used by Israel to buy military hardware?

  7. Policraticus permalink*
    January 24, 2009 11:29 am

    MM,

    I do not share your conviction that the reversal of the Mexico City Policy is less alarming than the funding and military build-up of Israel. I do not think there is any comparison to be made.

    However, like you, I am getting the sense that there is a sense of satisfaction among some Catholic bloggers that Obama is making good on his abortion promises. The almost gleeful anticipation of this reversal and the eagerness to put “ObamaCatholics” in their place is disgusting, reminding me that some of the most “pro-life” Catholic bloggers are more interested in playing political games than in getting out to abortion clinics, crisis pregnancy centers, or their local parishes to effect change in MORAL dimension of abortion.

  8. January 24, 2009 11:31 am

    I don’t mind you criticizing other things. I’ve spent a good bit of the last month or two of blogging arguing against the false notion many have that bombing innocents in war is legitimate “unintended” collateral damage. You are free to look at my posts on W4 and my blog about it, as well as reams of comments at Mark Shea’s.

    But you endorsed Obama, supported Obama, voted for Obama (after pledging to me in a combox at W4 that you would not), spent vast amounts of effort pooh-poohing Obama’s abortion policies, etc. You have a special obligation, you personally, to fight tooth and nail against his evil abortion policies, just as Bush supporters had a special obligation to fight tooth and nail against his embrace of torture, though yes there are other issues.

    But for the most part they didn’t, and you don’t.

  9. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:32 am

    It’s not glee that he reversed it. It’s that MM and his like can finally see how WRONG they are about Obama and make good on their own reversal next election.

    Can he really be that stupid to think Obama wouldn’t reverse this?

    We told you prior to the election, we told you after he was President-elect. We told you after he was inaugurated, we told you a day before he signed it.

    What else did you expect?

  10. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:35 am

    Just to be clear, repealing the Mexico City Policy doesn’t fund abortion. The Mexico City Policy funds have nothing or little (contraception education/procurement) direct effect on abortion. The Mexico City Policy discriminates based on affinity. If any part of your organization gives abortion referals or performs abortions, your organization cannot receive a federal grant. As an example, Planned Parenthood Int’l would not be able to receive government grants for an AIDS program in Nigeria under MCP.

  11. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:37 am

    Funding planned parenthood is indefensible.

  12. January 24, 2009 11:38 am

    Keep it up, MZ: keep downplaying the gravity of it, just like Bush supporters downplayed the gravity of torture.

    Shame on you all.

  13. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:40 am

    Correcting the conflation of others is not downplaying.

  14. blackadderiv permalink
    January 24, 2009 11:44 am

    As I recall, the U.S. aid to Israel really got going as a part of the peace deal with Egypt. So I guess it’s all Jimmy Carter’s fault.

  15. January 24, 2009 12:07 pm

    Bad ideas have bad consequences

  16. S.B. permalink
    January 24, 2009 12:10 pm

    MZ — do you have some reason for not thinking that money is fungible? If I donate a million dollars to a Mafia-run restaurant just out of appreciation for their good food, that frees up more money for them to use for nefarious purposes.

  17. S.B. permalink
    January 24, 2009 12:12 pm

    And yes, it’s shameful that MM again can’t bring himself to criticize Obama. Everything he writes is of the following vein: “Maybe Obama isn’t right here, but ooooh watch me write 100 times as many words pointing out that Obama’s opponents disagree with me about some other issue.”

  18. S.B. permalink
    January 24, 2009 12:19 pm

    This is a grave scandal, far worse than the piddling amounts sent to abortion providers and counselors.

    1) Unless you have dollar figures here, this is a baseless assertion.
    2) Raising the ire of the Red Cross does not make a particular military action equivalent to abortion under Catholic doctrine. You’ll have to provide a lot more reasoning and evidence in support of that claim, particularly given that Catholic doctrine expressly provides for prudential judgment as to military action. (You seem unaware that anyone could in good conscience disagree with your prudential judgments.)

  19. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    January 24, 2009 12:19 pm

    S.B.,

    As a matter of fact, I don’t happen to think money is all that fungible. The putative AIDS program in Nigeria gets $X from US grants. If those grants go to the Fictional African AIDS Coalition or PPI they will be spent on the AIDS program. If PPI doesn’t get the grant, they simply won’t run the program and won’t offer an alternative program.

  20. January 24, 2009 12:36 pm

    Well, it would be quite an odd “AIDS Coalition” that simply shut down rather than agree (as the Mexico City Policy would have required) not to engage in abortion activities on the side.

  21. January 24, 2009 12:38 pm

    And yes, it’s shameful that MM again can’t bring himself to criticize Obama.

    MM has criticized Obama.

  22. January 24, 2009 12:46 pm

    Never without following it with an order of magnitude more effort, words, energy, and emotion in bashing Obama’s opponents for supposedly being wrong about a completely different issue.

  23. January 24, 2009 12:47 pm

    “Criticize” is a word almost as fungible as a dollar. Yes, MM has criticized Obama mildly in those areas where MM find is temperamentally easy to do so, especially war.

    Obama voters/supporters have special grave obligations to, first of all, not downplay or minimize the gravity of his despicable abortion policies; and secondly, to fight those policies, publicly and unequivocally, tooth and nail. Just as Bush supporters had special grave obligations w.r.t. torture.

    But in truth, MM by his actions shows himself no better, and indeed worse, than the Coalition for Fog. How much less excusable is ripping innocent babies to pieces than waterboarding a terrorist? There is no excuse for the latter, and nobody argued more vehemently against it than I did; but MM is just as selective in his outrage as the worst of the torture supporters.

  24. January 24, 2009 12:51 pm

    Zippy,

    First of all, I appreciate that you do possess the virtue of consistency, which is why I continue to respect you (despite the barbs you send my way!). Nonetheless, as I’ve said before, you make far too much of a decision to support and vote for a certain candidate. Such a decision is merely based on who among the available choices would best serve the common good in a holistic sense. Your vision is almost utopian, holding out for a person of virtue you are unlikely to find in this fallen world, especially among political leaders. I am puzzled by your attitude when I look at the history of Europe, and the kinds of leaders the Church endorsed over the centuries– based on the notion that they were the best choice at that particular moment, not because they embodied the Christian ideal. The advent of democracy did not change this, but you seem to think it raised the bar substantially.

    As for me, I will continue to advocate a consistent ethic of life. I believe that the only way to win on the abortion issue is to change hearts and minds, to “hope” as Pope Benedict talked about. As the priest at the thr right to life Mass I attened on Thursday put it, with Christ on out side, we cannot lose. Focused on the intricacies of partisan political calculus, people too often neglect this crucial dimension. So, yes, we should do whatever we can to reduce abortion. FOCA is big; Mexico City is not. And by drawing the kinds of comparisons I did in this post, Catholics can stay above the fray, and earn respect for their moral consistency.

  25. January 24, 2009 12:53 pm

    SB just proves my point: forget what the Red Cross says, and the bombing of civilian centers in Gaza is just a “prudential jdugment”. I thought we had advanced past this simplistic nonsense.

  26. January 24, 2009 12:57 pm

    It goes without saying that Zippy’s much-uttered COF analogy is fundamentally flawed. If a Catholic opted to vote for Bush in spite of his support for torture, that could have been a legitimate choice (and no, that person is not personally obliged to spend every waking minute protesting torture because of a simply voting decision). The problem with the COF is that they did not do this: they actually defended torture, or defined away torture. In other words, they supported Bush because of, not in spite of, his support for torture. Zippy is smart enough to understand this core distinction, without playing semantic games to prove false equivalence.

  27. January 24, 2009 12:58 pm

    Blah blah blah, fog, fog fog, blah blah blah. You’ll have no credibility until you stop saying things like this:

    FOCA is big; Mexico City is not.

    If you consider what your own reaction would be to someone like (this is just an example, I’m not imputing the notion to him) Feddie saying “Abu Ghraib is big; waterboarding KSM is not” you might begin to get an inkling of the credibility problem you have, which has less to do with my consistency than with your inconsistency.

    Mexico City is big. It should be at least as big or bigger to you than torture ought to have been to erstwhile Republicans.

  28. George Crosley permalink
    January 24, 2009 12:59 pm

    50 million unborn killed in the US alone, estimates of one to two billion globally.

    Yeah, that sounds a lot like what those dirty Jews in Israel are up to.

    Why not just have a post justifying this as something meager (which it may or may not be) without the empty attempt at equivocating?

  29. January 24, 2009 12:59 pm

    The problem with the COF is that they did not do this: they actually defended torture, or defined away torture.

    And the problem with the new abortion CFF is that you make posts like this one.

  30. S.B. permalink
    January 24, 2009 1:41 pm

    I thought we had advanced past this simplistic nonsense.

    And I would think a Catholic who purports to be faithful would be even further beyond the “simplistic nonsense” of deeming federal support for abortion-related activities to be “trivial” and a “trifle” — all because he’s too deep in the tank for a particular political party to admit that it ever succeeds in carrying out its evil intentions.

  31. Bill H permalink
    January 24, 2009 4:09 pm

    It seems to me that the most likely reason that the Mexico City Policy has been the subject of one of the first executive orders of the last three administrations is precisely because it has little real effect on the abortion rate. It’s largely a symbolic gesture to show which side the President is on in the abortion debate. If it had a real effect on abortion, most presidents would probably be afraid to touch it in one direction or the other.

    That said, Pres. Obama has picked the wrong side and deserves most of the criticism that he will get for it.

  32. January 24, 2009 4:19 pm

    SB, talk about pots and kettles- you are one of the biggest partisan hacks still posting here.

    On the “trifle” issue– as everybody knows, I am talking about the paltry sums that will be allocated to USAID to fund various foreign family planning entities. Let me break the news to you: the US aid regime is actually not that important in the world, and is usually dwarfed by DFID, Danaid etc. On ther other hand, the single largest item in the foreign aid budget is military support to Israel, and they use that money to violate international humanitarian law. Where’s the outrage there?

    Bill H– a fair analysis.

  33. January 24, 2009 4:29 pm

    One life taken by abortion is a big deal.

  34. January 24, 2009 4:45 pm

    MM, you seem to have the tendency of defending Obama by pinpointing conservative hypocrisy. But by bringing conservative hypocrisy into the question, you (perhaps unwittingly) relativize the issues at hand. It’s as if you are saying, “Hey, it’s not a big deal – they’re even worse than we are!”

  35. January 24, 2009 6:00 pm

    Nate,

    First, the people I refer to cannot really be described as conservative.

    Second, the absolute key is consistency– not just because it is the right approach, but because Catholics will never be able to change hearts and minds if we are seen as merely another cog in the partisan machine. By saying loudly and clearly that we oppose the use of American funds to support either war crimes or abortion would present a powerful witness in today’s culture. It simply boggles the mind that so many get get so upset by a tiny amount of funding being used to support dodgy family planning groups abroad, while the elephantine sums to Israel are simply ignored. It’s not to defend the former; it’s just to put it in perspective.

  36. S.B. permalink
    January 24, 2009 6:24 pm

    SB, talk about pots and kettles-. . .

    Baloney. I’ve never said anything urging anyone to vote Republican, and I didn’t even vote in the 2008 election.

  37. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 24, 2009 6:48 pm

    Palestinian civil society is more flawed and “martyr”-embracing than just about any Muslim-majority country (sadly, this is saying quite a lot), which makes it even more tragic for those who would like to escape, and for the children who don’t have much of a chance as they are raised to be the next generation of what is essentially a cult of death.

    Hamas is now systematically murdering Fatah supporters in Gaza. Israel deserves any benefit of the doubt in these conflicts, and I hope that these military actions work to reduce the thousands of rockets that have rained down on countless Israeli civilians over the past year.

  38. January 24, 2009 7:06 pm

    MM,

    I agree when you say, “By saying loudly and clearly that we oppose the use of American funds to support either war crimes or abortion would present a powerful witness in today’s culture.”

    That’s why we should all condemn Obama’s lifting of the ban, instead of asserting that it will have “scant” or “trivial” effects. Even if you are right, still (and I know you agree with me) one murdered human life is not scant. Your pinpointing of hypocrisy only has value insofar as you are that “powerful witness” against abortion.

    While I understand that you are not “defending the former”, that you are not defending the lifting of the ban, you certainly aren’t a “powerful witness” against it. Without leading the condemnation of his action, your criticism of hypocrisy only (falsely) indicates that you are the cog in the partisan machine that you are trying so hard to fight against.

    You shouldn’t have started out by making out Obama’s action to be trivial, but should have rather quoted the USCCB: “Once the clear line between family planning and abortion is erased, the idea of using family planning to reduce abortions becomes meaningless, and abortion tends to replace contraception as the means for reducing family size.” The funding of planned parenthood, wherever it is, will lead to DISASTER, and ultimately, abortion.

    Here’s the difficulty of your position, MM. You are going to want to debate the point that the USCCB and I bring up. You will want to say, no, this is exaggeration. But then you fail to be that powerful witness against abortion, and your attacks on inconsistency fall on deaf ears.

  39. January 24, 2009 7:28 pm

    MM:

    If someone said that the closing of Guantanamo Bay wasn’t that important because there were only a few detainees there (775 total went there I think), you would flip out and accuse them of being indifferent to the real evil of torture.

    Why you then would turn around and minimize the effect of the Mexico City policy is beyond me. To truly care about the unborn is to be outraged at even the scantest increase in rates; every life is precious and every assault on it, regardless of how small, is abhorrent. Your inability to recognize this is troubling.

  40. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 24, 2009 7:38 pm

    The USCCB:

    The Mexico City Policy, first established in 1984, has wrongly been attacked as a restriction on foreign aid for family planning. In fact, it has not reduced such aid at all, but has ensured that family planning funds are not diverted to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions instead of reducing them. Once the clear line between family planning and abortion is erased, the idea of using family planning to reduce abortions becomes meaningless, and abortion tends to replace contraception as the means for reducing family size. A shift toward promoting abortion in developing nations would also increase distrust of the United States in these nations, whose values and culture often reject abortion, at a time when we need their trust and respect.

    Here, there is no surprise: Obama is fulfilling a strongly and frequently stated campaign promise. This is a very large blow to the cause of life. Our most important issue, mass infanticide, will now be an evil aided by taxpayer dollars, with worse likely to come. The moral gravity here is greater than any other issue, and we must pray continously.

  41. James Nightshade permalink
    January 24, 2009 7:48 pm

    The US sends billions of dollars to Israel…

    … and billions to Gaza and the West Bank as well.

    http://www.usaid.gov/wbg/home.html

  42. January 24, 2009 8:05 pm

    Jonathan, I think you’ll have to offer more evidence to substantiate the claim that the lifting of the ban is a “very large blow to the cause of life.” Under Clinton, the ban was lifted. There must be some research on what happened due to that, as well as what happened when Bush restored the ban.

  43. January 24, 2009 8:24 pm

    jonathan – Christianity began as a “martyr-embracing cult of death.”

  44. January 24, 2009 8:30 pm

    Iafrate:

    Yes, but there is a significant difference between the Christian martyrs who were killed unarmed because of their faith and the Muslims martyrs who die in an attempt to kill others because of their lack of faith. I may be speaking for jonathan here, but he did use quotation marks around the word “martyr.”

  45. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 24, 2009 8:38 pm

    Michael: what a diseased, sickening analogy. Are you familiar with the Palestinian concept of “martyrdom” ? Shall we go into further detail about it? It’s really quite easy to find this definition directly from their civil and religious figures, assuming you are willing to trust the English translators.

    Do you honestly believe there is any manner of comparison whatsoever with this and the early Christian concept of this term? If you do, go ahead and find one civil or religious Palestinian figure who is expressing an understanding of martyrdom that even hints at how, say, Polycarp understood it. I doubt I’d be the only one interested.

    Martydrom is not a continuation of war, and it is not a declaration or an attempt at homocide. To take one of many examples : the charter of Hamas (translation: “Islamic Resistance Movement”) – which enjoys widespread support among Palestinians,, even as it murders Fatah and the secular and homosexuals and Jews and Christians and “apostate” Muslims ect ect ect ect as we sit here typing comfortably – is a genocidal document.

  46. January 24, 2009 8:42 pm

    Yes, but there is a significant difference between the Christian martyrs who were killed unarmed because of their faith and the Muslims martyrs who die in an attempt to kill others because of their lack of faith. I may be speaking for jonathan here, but he did use quotation marks around the word “martyr.”

    So are you finally coming around to Christian pacifism, and denouncing attempts to paint Christian soldiers as “martyrs,” since they use violence?

    Do you honestly believe there is any manner of comparison whatsoever with this and the early Christian concept of this term? If you do, go ahead and find one civil or religious Palestinian figure who is expressing an understanding of martyrdom that even hints at how, say, Polycarp understood it. I doubt I’d be the only one interested.

    So are you finally coming around to Christian pacifism, and denouncing attempts to paint Christian soldiers as “martyrs,” since they use violence?

  47. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 24, 2009 8:47 pm

    No, I am coming around to Christian pacifism – even as that is a principled position I respect and will not argue against. My reasons are exactly the same as Nate Wildermuth, expressed here:

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/04/18/bending-my-stiff-neck

    What are your responses to my questions of you?

  48. January 24, 2009 9:07 pm

    “Palestinian civil society is more… “martyr”-embracing”

    With the way Israel has pounded innocent Palestinian civilians lately, and some of these later undoubtedly have surrendered themselves to the Ground of Being lovingly and wholeheartedly as they know how in their deaths, we can say that Palestinian civil society lately has been so “martyr”-embracing…

  49. January 24, 2009 9:32 pm

    Iafrate:

    No, I still hold with the just war theory. I do believe that there can be Christian soldiers. The difference I think is that a just Christian soldier does not kill because others lack faith.

  50. January 24, 2009 9:38 pm

    I just read the critique of the March on Life by MM’s counterpart over at the America blog: Who cares if there were hundreds of thousands of people marching? Just more right-wingers beating their heads against the wall. Nothing will get accomplished that way. Just alienates people, especially women. And so on.

    Leftist Catholics seem convinced that they have done all in their power to stop abortion (to which they are, like their messiah, personally opposed) when they beat up on other Catholics who care enough about it to speak out, even to the point of taking to the streets.

  51. TeutonicTim permalink
    January 24, 2009 9:44 pm

    jonathan – Christianity began as a “martyr-embracing cult of death.”

    Michael J. – You just can’t bring yourself to be honest in a discussion. You know very well the difference between the two, yet you make these statements anyway. I have a hard time believing that you are really that ignorant, so I’ll chalk it up to your propensity to just be plain contrary and annoying.

  52. January 24, 2009 9:45 pm

    I do not know of one “Leftist Catholic” who thinks he/she has done all he/she can in stopping abortion (war, racism, economic injustice or any other social evil).

    And calling faithful Catholics who deemed Obama the lesser of two evil candidates “like their Messiah” is about as productive as throwing stones.

  53. January 24, 2009 9:53 pm

    Jonathan Jones:

    “Israel deserves any benefit of the doubt in these conflicts, and I hope that these military actions work to reduce the thousands of rockets that have rained down on countless Israeli civilians over the past year.”

    This is a very large blow to the cause life.”

    Sorry, but it is this kind of hypocrisy that drives me demented. How can somebody claim to care about life when at the same time they support a maximal military solution to a problem, a solution that entails heavily bombing civilian centers and even refusing access to humanitarian aid? And based on consequentialist logic to boot. What is this– “War Criminals for Life”?

  54. January 24, 2009 9:56 pm

    Ron:

    What if the same people on the March fior Life marched against the Iraq war circa 2002-04, and vice versa? Now that would shake things up a bit.

  55. January 24, 2009 10:04 pm

    Le me try and restate my point, pertaining narrowly to a funding decision which encompasses some acts that are morally objectionable. Ideally, we should oppose these decisions. But, as I pointed out in the post, these decisions are made all the time, most notoriously in a military context– and few seem half as perturbed as they are about this particular decision. Why? I would really like an answer to that question.

  56. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 24, 2009 10:13 pm

    MM: No hypocrisy. Abortion is fundamentally different than the tragically long running Israeli / Palestinian conflict. You fail here on two fronts. First, the military actions are not intrinsically evil, no matter how strongly you wish to label them as such. Second, not all intrinsically evil actions are equally grave – and there is no greater intrinsic evil than infanticide. This is why your attempts to link the Mexico City policy (and sadly, this is only the beginning) with your political opinion of Gaza are not being taken seriously.

    Second, I extend my question/challenge of Michael (8:38 comment) to you. What is your opinion?

  57. January 24, 2009 10:24 pm

    “There is no greater intrinsic evil than infanticide.”

    Where does one get these rankings?

  58. January 24, 2009 10:52 pm

    Jonathan,

    You are falling in familiar flawed logic. Instrinsic evil means evil its object. Since war can in some circuumstances be just, then no, it is not intrinsically evil. But so what? A war that is not just is evil– no less evil than an intriniscally evil act. And the bar set by the just war principles is far far higher than that of the average American. Another point: the targeting of civilians in war is indeed an intrinsically evil act, quite aside for the justice of the war itself– and that is what Israel did in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza more recently.

    No graver evil than infanticide? I would not say the murder of an infant is somehow more grave than the murder of an adult, don’t know where you got that from. As for the hieraerchy if evils, Gaudium Et Spes 27 is a good start.

  59. January 24, 2009 10:54 pm

    …intrinsic does not equal grave….

    A particular instance of a non-intrinsically evil act can be more morally grave than a particular instance of an intrinsically evil one…

    For example, killing innocent civilians unnecessarily in an act of war is more gravely evil than my lying about where I was last night to my Aunt Mildred.

  60. January 24, 2009 10:55 pm

    As for your question, no– I do not see any comparison between the Christian concept of a martyr (one who dies for the truth) and the false Islamic fundamentalist version. None whatsoever. But I do see the face if Christ in the murdered children of Palestine.

    (Not sure if this is what you wanted me to answer).

  61. January 24, 2009 11:41 pm

    jonathan, et al. – I don’t think there is one Christian concept of “martyrdom” and there probably isn’t one Muslim version, so I don’t think we are able to make simple comparisons between the two. I am a believer in the nonviolent Christ, so martyrdom that mirrors his death is true martyrdom. I don’t think this is confined to Christianity. Of course, any kind of “martyrdom” that involves intentional killing of the innocent is not martyrdom in any sense, but this is applicable to Christians as well.

  62. January 24, 2009 11:42 pm

    And yes, MM is right. Nothing can justify the deliberate murder of the Holy Innocents in Palestine.

  63. Jeremy permalink
    January 25, 2009 12:06 am

    You know, if the Hunters and the Environmentalists decided to work together to preserve as much existing wilderness as possible, and put aside their other differences … they would be an unstoppable voting block.

    Outrage fatigue – if you refuse to work with people who don’t get outraged about everything you get outraged about, don’t be surprised when the situation is reversed and everyone yawns.

    Additional tangent, why are these even being compared – we had no real say on Israeli aid and policy. Is this going to be a pattern? Every time Mr. Obama advances his abortion agenda, MM will pop up with some other National Sin that people weren’t vocal enough about? Isn’t there some atrocities in South America right now that should be addressed? Isn’t there some genocide in Africa that we are ignoring? Aren’t there the imprisoned in our own cities, the homeless, the mentally ill. Just how much outrage must we have? Are we to spend ourselves on every injustice? When we invest ourselves, are we to be ridiculed because we are working on the wrong cause – blamed as inconsistent because we didn’t also do for all?

    Just how is that supposed to work? What will be accomplished by this? The answer is nothing. So if you want Nothing to happen, if you want to make sure that there is no consensus or unity, just keep belittling concerns and calling names because people are invested in the ‘wrong cause’.

  64. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 25, 2009 12:22 am

    MM:

    Another point: the targeting of civilians in war is indeed an intrinsically evil act, quite aside for the justice of the war itself– and that is what Israel did in Lebanon 2006 and Gaza more recently.

    How about a consideration of why Israel takes these actions (which includes efforts to minimize civilian casualities, something, to say the very least, that is not exactly a concern among the Palestinians) ? And let us not forget how commonly Hamas uses “human shields”, and hospitals, and schools, and children’s centers, as storage spaces (complete with elaborate tunnels) for themselves and their weapons. In any event, last month Christopher Blosser and several others highlighted this Winters post, which is a summation of my thoughts as well:

    http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&id=88558A88-1438-5036-4FF009EB900BB493

    Of course, there remains one very simple way to break the cycle of violence in the Mideast: The Palestinians must unequivocally accept Israel’s right to exist and abandon their hopes for turning back the clock to 1966. As long as the Palestinians insist on half of Jerusalem, they will never have complete control of Nablus. And until their universities stop being recruiting grounds for terrorists, those of us who live in countries that insisted on the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany should be careful about condemning Israel.

    We all want to break the circle of violence. But, Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps more than most, knows the nasty consequences of mixing fanatic ideology with politics for he witnessed those consequences as a young man. Hamas and its allies bring eschatology where Hitler brought the Occult mixed with Wagnerian Germanic mythology, but the effects are the same: a regime that is a curse for its own people and its neighbors. Peace can only come when Hamas is defeated.

    Now what exactly would you have Israel do to stop the thousands of rockets that pound their territory? The wall has dramatically reduced “martyr” homocide, and I imagine we both agree the wall is obnoxious. But you can make a rather good case for its justification. So – your solutions, given the fanatical sicknesses that infects Palestinian civil society – as evidenced most recently by the strong support (hopefully decreasing) for Hamas and its genocidal aims?

    No graver evil than infanticide? I would not say the murder of an infant is somehow more grave than the murder of an adult, don’t know where you got that from. As for the hieraerchy if evils, Gaudium Et Spes 27 is a good start.

    Neat rhetorical trick, but not my argument. To restate: there is no greater moral crime than abortion. It is the gravest act of evil we face. And it is fundamentally different than your opinion of a political conflict: and in the case of the original post, Policraticus is right that there is no comparison to be made.

    But I do see the face if Christ in the murdered children of Palestine.

    Yes, without question. And Christ is in the face of murdered of Israel. And it is for the cause of Palestinian children that you and I and everyone must pray for a massive change in Palestinian education, civil society, and on and on. It is a deeply sick place.

    Michael:

    I don’t think there is one Christian concept of “martyrdom” and there probably isn’t one Muslim version, so I don’t think we are able to make simple comparisons between the two.

    Then don’t make it. And let us recognize how truly vile and widespread the Palestinian concept of “martyrdom” is.

  65. January 25, 2009 1:09 am

    Then don’t make it. And let us recognize how truly vile and widespread the Palestinian concept of “martyrdom” is.

    “The” Palestinian concept of martyrdom? You do realize that “Palestinians” are diverse, right? And that there are Palestinian Christians, for example?

    Lay off the Ann Coulter.

  66. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 25, 2009 1:39 am

    The Christians have fled because of the Islamic-based fanaticism, a pattern also seen in Egypt and throughout Africa, and in Syria and Lebanon, in Indonesia, ect ect

    This is an easy and fair generalization to make. In 2006, the Palestinian people chose Hamas (granted Fatah made them look better). Since that time, as Hamas has conducted war and used the “cease fires” (what a joke those were) as an excuse to rearm, how have the people responded? Have they turned away from Hamas and Fatah and the varied support of Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah ect, and from the rivals to Hamas who may in fact turn out to be worse? How do all of these varied groups, who share remarkably similar goals of murder and terror when it comes to Christians and Jews and homosexuals and the secular and the non-properly Islamic and “defiled” women ect view “martyrdom?”

    Care to enlighten? Please do explain the diversity of thought when it comes to this term. Look at the civil society of Gaza and draw out something positive, kind, Christ-like.

    Or will there be a retreat into insult?

  67. S.B. permalink
    January 25, 2009 10:11 am

    Jeremy’s point is quite perceptive and accurate, and explains why some (including Nate above, it seems) think that MM is on a partisan mission of distraction. No matter what Obama does, no matter how vehemently he supports abortion, MM will always ignore it by turning everything into a tu quoque: “But you weren’t complaining about torture/Guantanamo/healthcare/immigration/whatever.” Well, so what? Even if all of Obama’s opponents are evil people, that doesn’t change the fact that on this issue, they’re consistent with Catholic teaching and Obama is not.

  68. January 25, 2009 10:18 am

    If your an immigrant or a Palestinian, your bound to get hit with some appalling generalization at least once a week by one V-N contributor here.

    Sad.

  69. January 25, 2009 12:58 pm

    Jonathan,

    You’re not getting it. You want to appeal to the reasons Israel does what it does, and we both agree that Hamas targeting civilians is intrinsically evil– but so is Israel’s response. Human shields do not matter– you cannot simply bomb a civilian target. Anscombe dismissed the whole human shields distraction when she condemned the bombing of the Belgrano during the Falklands war. Dropping a bomb and a school while telling yourself taht you don’t really want to kill any children there, and that they are only there because the enemy puts them there simply does not cut it.

  70. Donna permalink
    January 25, 2009 1:15 pm

    MM wrote: “Human shields do not matter – you cannot simply bomb a civilian target.”
    Well, apparently the current occupant of the WH just doesn’t get that either. Obama ordered Predator strikes in Pakistan on Friday:

    Two missile attacks launched from remotely piloted American aircraft killed at least 15 people in western Pakistan on Friday. The strikes suggested that the use of drones to kill militants within Pakistan’s borders would continue under President Obama.

    Remotely piloted Predator drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency have carried out more than 30 missile attacks since last summer against members of Al Qaeda and other terrorism suspects deep in their redoubts on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan.

    But some of the attacks have also killed civilians, enraging Pakistanis and making it harder for the country’s shaky government to win support for its own military operations against Taliban guerrillas in the country’s lawless border region.

    …In the second attack, missiles struck a house near the village of Wana in South Waziristan, killing seven people, according to local accounts and Pakistani news reports. The reports said three of the dead were children.

    Gaza? Try Waziristan instead,…,

  71. January 25, 2009 1:17 pm

    It interesting that many on the Catholic right who dislike this post are making this about me, how I am in the can for Obama etc. Nope, it’s about you, you and you smug inconsistency that is destroying any chance to advance the culture of life.

  72. Donna permalink
    January 25, 2009 1:43 pm

    Nice dodge, MM. Inconsistent? I will look forward to your loud and frequent condemnations of Obama’s bombings of Pakistan. He plans to double the US troop presence in Afghanistan. I think he might be taking his cues from his undoubtably hair-raising security meetings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, not from Anscombe.

    • January 25, 2009 1:49 pm

      Donna, since the beginning of his campaign, Obama said he would take the war to Afghanistan and increase troops there, and do what he thought necessary to get Bin Laden, including going into Pakistan. This was not left unnoticed on VN — and on more than one occasion, it was discussed, pointed out how it is erroneous to think only in the stand of war and yet it was more understandable than Bush’s Iraq War, and the situation and context of the two differ. Indeed, inheriting the problems from Bush make the context of Obama’s actions different. Are they what I would think best? No. I think most on VN would say as much.

  73. January 25, 2009 1:59 pm

    Donna,

    The irony is that you have been an outright cheerleader for thisvery usage of U.S. military power in the Mid East for the past few years.

    You have linked to Little Green Footballs repeatedly in your internet warmongering, still defend the invasion of Iraq, and celebrated Israeli action elsewhere.

    MM and VNERs do not defend abortion or abortion-supporting activity. But you have joked over pictures of Palestinian children asking for an education; made blanket statements about the Palestinian and Lebanese people and, generally, gloated over Israeli and US miltary force.

    If I were you, I would not be playing the consistency game.

  74. January 25, 2009 2:09 pm

    Beautiful Donna elsewhere…

    “jonathanjoones02: Exactly right. A Vox Nova poster absurdly referred to the Palestinians as “Holy Innocents” – this is a society where “Mein Kampf” is a best seller, “martyrs” who blow themselves up at Jewish seders are celebrated, and children are fed Jew hatred with their mother’s milk. The greatest abusers of Palestinian children are their own elders.”

    Clue: Read Edward Said on the West’s enframing of Palestinians..

  75. January 25, 2009 2:12 pm

    And Donna then gets down to brass tacks for us:

    “…That’s because it really isn’t about “little brown children.” The Left has never shown much concern when brown people kill each other. It’s about their hatred for Israel and the US.”

    This type od discouse should not be lent respectability with even a silent passing over.”

  76. Donna permalink
    January 25, 2009 2:35 pm

    Mark D: I am entirely consistent – I approve President Obama’s attacks on Pakistan. I recognize that, given the fact that terrorists do not wear uniforms and use women and children as cover, civilian casualities are unfortunately unavoidable, although we should always do our best to avoid them. Our new President seems to agree with that, given his orders on Friday. So I’m not being at all inconsistent. I predict you, on the other hand, will have some very uncomfotable moments during the next 4 years as The One will continue to use our military in ways not sanctioned by Anscombe. (CIA Predator drones, Mark, imagine that!)

  77. January 25, 2009 2:59 pm

    Donna,

    I voted for Obama as the lesser of two evils. I am sure that there will be many uncomfortable moments in the next 4 years.

    But your casual dismissal of Catholic social thought on just war is disheartening, yet indicative. I am not sure where your consistency lies. Maybe in your uncritical embrace of Americanist ideology and powe.

    It is also sad that you cannot see the innocent Christ everywhere he is. And where , by the awymdo they publish best-seller lists for books in Palestine?

  78. Donna permalink
    January 25, 2009 3:01 pm

    And, MD, you left out the beginning of my comment:

    jonathanjoones02: Exactly right. A Vox Nova poster absurdly referred to the Palestinians as “Holy Innocents” – this is a society where “Mein Kampf” is a best seller, “martyrs” who blow themselves up at Jewish seders are celebrated, and children are fed Jew hatred with their mother’s milk. The greatest abusers of Palestinian children are their own elders.

    But in the moral calulus of the Left, nothing Israel does to defend itself is ever justified and no action of the Palestinians, however depraved, ever discredits them.

    No, I don’t believe and will never believe that the Left gives one fig for “brown people” except if they can be used to further an anti-American and anti-Israeli cause. There were no cries of outrage from the left about Saddam’s children’s prisons and his charming habit of feeding people into woodchippers feet first. The Jordanians slaughtered thousands of Palestinians – no peep from the Left about that. The Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens throughout the Arab world – again, that doesn’t seem to matter. One thing the Palestinians have going for them – they have the “right” enemies – another Arab country would have ground them into the dust years ago and the world would have paid very little attention.

  79. January 25, 2009 3:01 pm

    MM:

    While it’s true that many aren’t listening to your intended point in Gaza, it’s hard to blame them. As you point out all the time, and in this post, a lack of a consistent life ethic hurts one’s credibility. By blowing off the damage done to the unborn, you show yourself to be indifferent to all attacks on life, thus hurting your credibility.

    A post that might have made people listen would have started out not with minimizing Obama’s reversal but by strongly condemning it. That people turned you off after that is your fault, not theirs.

  80. Donna permalink
    January 25, 2009 3:06 pm

    “The lesser of two evils?” Obama will continue to wage war, while furthering the pro -abortion agenda. That’s “lesser”- in what universe?

  81. January 25, 2009 5:16 pm

    MD

    Sadly, some people show us why there is validity to the Black Legend (even if the mythology exaggerated the situation). I just finished La Casas’ Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Much of what he opposed, what justified the enslavement and abuse of Native Americans, can be found in this thread.

  82. c matt permalink
    January 26, 2009 12:27 pm

    MM

    The difficulty with your approach is that any criticism of Obama’s support for abortion seems to be immediately followed by some sleight of hand, refocusing on onathoer issue. For example, the very juxtaposition of the two posts – the one below on Obama reversing the MCP gets immediately followed by one from you titled “Mexico City? Try Gaza instead.” It seems you can never let any criticism of O’s abortion moves go unanswered with some redirection – it happens like clockwork.

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