5.04.2009

A Strange and Assorted Lot

Christian pro-life activist Randall Terry has been arrested again, having marched onto the Notre Dame campus with other demonstrators after the school gave him an order to stay off. The demonstrators were pushing strollers carrying dolls covered in fake blood.

[Back story, for anyone who doesn't know: The president of Notre Dame Catholic University has invited President Obama to give the commencement speech this year and awarded him an honorary doctor of laws degree. Since the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is gravely wrong, and Obama teaches that it is a right, a lot of people--including students--are a bit horrified.]

From Erin Manning:

"And I think Obama is hoping that protesters will show up when he comes to speak. I think he's hoping that they'll have unusually bloody and incoherent signs, be dressed like people who think Larry King's castoffs are high fashion, and be just disruptive enough for him to unleash his trademark patient smile, perhaps turning in profile just a little and hoping that the camera lights will form yet another halo around his head. Then he will be able to say, without a word, that pro-life Catholics, faithful Catholics....Catholic Catholics, are the Wrong Sort of Catholics, the people who don't have the sense to know that Notre Dame is not honoring Obama--but Obama is honoring Notre Dame, by deigning to show up and read his teleprompter for them; henceforth Notre Dame shall be sacred ground, because Barack has trod lightly upon its stage."

I'm going to go out on the good old proverbial limb here.

I am thoroughly proud of the pro-life movement for being non-discriminatory.

I've participated in pro-life protests. Personally, I prefer to stand quietly, dressed neatly, and carry a sign that says something like "Women deserve better than abortion" (although there is certainly a place for the graphic signs and in some contexts I wholly support their use.) However, in my quiet and undemonstrative preferences, I am not always standing next to someone who has the slightest concern for public opinion. Occasionally someone looks like they sleep on the street, or doesn't hesitate to return gestures to a drive-by bird-flipper, or has clearly used hair spray long enough that it's gone to their brain.

In the process I've also stood across the street from counter-protests. Granted, not all of them appear diplomatically correct, but the intent is clear if you know where to look. I got this directive to the pro-abortion demonstrators third-hand, but am copying it as received:

"IF asked...this is the statement... 'we are not affiliated with planned parenthood. We are the community and we have come here to support women in receiving affordable health care.'
No references to what kind of health care should be made......we are asked to be on th side walks and fully visable and ...yes we are to be obviously 'the sane ones.' "

(No comment on the spelling and typing. I'd love to comment on their underhanded use of "health care", but that's another post.)

In my experience, when we go to protest we are merely told to be peaceable and prayerful. And the atheists can skip the praying part.

Hyperbole aside, Erin Manning has hit exactly the attitude of those defending the legality of abortion; an attitude drawn from Hollywood and advertising experience, not from reality. It works, unfortunately; people who don't have all the information are generally more than happy to follow, sheeplike, after the person who most looks like they have answers--especially if those answers coincide with what people want to believe.

We pro-lifers are often a ragtag mix and not all of us can manage fashion or write well, but we'll take anyone honestly willing to pick up a symbolic sword--no matter how crusty--and join the battle. If we were trying to sell a product, it would be different, but if the right to life is a fundamental truth and the unborn aren't getting it, then anyone who has been born has an equal right to stand up and protest.

Sure, a demonstration like Randall Terry's latest, especially done in direct defiance of an order, probably doesn't help our case. Cheesily gruesome displays certainly don't, since people supporting the "right to choose" don't actually believe that a "real human" with feelings and everything is dying in the abortion process. The real pictures and stories are necessary for helping people understand that. Mr. Terry meant to make a point. I'm sure President Fr. Jenkins rolled his eyes.

I went to Barack Obama's website before the election and saw him "take the moral high ground" against Gianna Jessen and her publicizing of his vote against the Born Alive Protection Act (as far as I can tell, that part of the site is down now.) His self-defense was carefully and reasonably worded and it would have convinced me beautifully if I didn't believe from the bottom of my heart that it is every bit as wrong to kill a child before it is born as after.

Maybe looking silly on a street corner doesn't help us. But I would rather stand for life and truth with a strange and assorted lot than strike some deadly and carefully-worded compromise with perfectly-made-up elitists to whom the less-seemly members of society are meant to live and vote in secret (or die before birth). Life and truth are not granted only to the attractive and classy. Nor are the healthy and wealthy necessarily the wise.

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