I’ve been waiting for it for a couple of days, knew it would come, and here it is–a smear of the pro-life movement by a Christian pro-abortionist. It turns out to be the ever-reliable Susan Thistlethwaite, who in the “On Faith” column at the Washington Post demonstrates that she was absent from Old Testament 101 class the day the Ninth Commandment was discussed:
“Pro-life” as the self-description of the anti-abortion movement has a fundamental flaw at its heart. The moral absolute of “life” is not applied consistently, in my view, by the majority of those in this movement. Many in the “pro-life” anti-abortion movement seem to me to only be pro-life in the case of abortion — unlike those who hold an ethic of life across a range of moral issues, not only abortion but also war and the death penalty, This makes “pro-life” in regard to abortion not only an inconsistent ethic, but an unstable one.
Translation: if your politics aren’t straight down-the-line liberal (like Susan Thistlethwaite, who gave up her seminary presidency to become a political activist at the left-wing Democratic Party think tank Center for American Progress), you can’t have a consistent ethic of life.
The Washington Post is reporting that an arrest has been made of a man matching the description of the shooter. Scott Roeder, the suspect in the murder of George Tiller, “is known in anti-abortion circles as a man who believes that killing an abortion doctor is justifiable.”
Roeder was known among a handful of pro-life extremist and militia-type groups. Putting it the way Thistlethwaite does is the equivalent of saying that the 9/11 hijackers were “known in Islamic circles.”
Violence has been a part of the anti-abortion movement from the beginning, from the overt violence of the murder of other abortion providers to the covert violence of harassing women trying to get to clinics for reproductive services.
“Covert violence” is actually referring to those seeking to talk to women entering abortuaries. In Thistlethwaite’s world, any attempt to persuade someone to act in a way other than the one they’ve set their mind on is “violence.”
As for violence being “a part of the anti-abortion movement from the beginning,” one could with equal justice say that “violence has been a part of the anti-war movement from the beginning” because a nut killed a military recruiter in Arkansas yesterday, or that “violence has been a part of the gay rights movement from the beginning” because an anti-Prop 8 lunatic assaulted a supporter, or that “violence has been a part of the environmental movement from the beginning” because of the actions of the Earth Liberation Front. But Thistlethwaite would never make those ridiculous leaps in logic, because she supports the anti-war, gay rights, and environmental movements. It is only those whose politics she disagrees with that are eligible for the smear treatment.
Violence is a logical outcome of the extreme self-righteousness of those who claim the “pro-life” label as an absolute and yet who do not have an actual, consistent ethic of life such as the views held by pacifists.
“Extreme self-righteousness.” I’m not sure what you call it when the deeply held moral beliefs of tens of millions of utterly non-violent people are smeared using the actions of a lone gunman, but the expression “extreme self-righteousness” does come to mind. Imagine how high the orbit is that Thistlethwaite rockets into when she hears people say (wrongly) that 9/11 or the London subway bombings or Madrid or Bali or Mumbai proves that violence is the “logical outcome” of Islam. And there’s no doubt in my mind that she puts herself in the camp of those who have “an actual, consistent ethic of life,” despite her unwavering, absolutist support for the destruction of life in the womb.
Dr. Charles Kimball, a Baptist minister and professor of religion at Wake Forest University, well explains this logical connection in his book When Religion Becomes Evil. According to Kimball, two warning signs that indicate a religious viewpoint is becoming evil are “absolute truth claims” and “the end justifies any means.” Violence, in Kimball’s view, is an evil.
I’m glad Kimball cleared that up for us. As for his contention that “absolute truth claims” lead to violence, I’m sure there are lots of Quakers and Mennonites, among many, many others, who would respond that such a statement is horse hockey.
I also believe that if the anti-abortion movement were honest with itself, and with the American people, it would admit that its “absolute truth claims” lead inexorably to attitudes held by those who commit crimes against abortion providers: “the end justifies any means.”
There is not a single pro-life organization or leader that has not condemned the Tiller murder. Nor are there any that have not made clear that the end doesn’t justify the means, that murder is wrong, and that violence in the service of pro-life goals is completely outside the bounds. But then, they aren’t being “honest.”
I’ll tell you who isn’t being honest: Susan Thistlethwaite. In her attempt to make political hay out of a despicable act, she mutilates logic, offends charity, and lies about the motives and methods of tens of millions of people, people who now, according to Gallup, make up a majority of Americans. If that isn’t “extreme self-righteousness” combined with the lowest form of political hackery, I don’t know what is.