January 22, 2008
Today is the worst day of the year. And so it is, every year. Other grim occasions pass me by with much less collateral damage”the death-days of each of my parents, the anniversaries of Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Armistice Day, Kristallnacht, Bastille Day. Even Good Friday (a moveable fast), which I try to spend focused on the Passion of Our Lord, doesn”t merit the same solemnity. That innocent suffering flowered into hope, just two days later. But today we are forced to remember the meaningless destruction of tens of millions of Americans”with no end in sight. We are doing to ourselves, and we aim to keep on doing it.
This year I”m in Dallas on the occasion, preparing to leave for three months’ teaching in Rome, but I feel a twinge of guilt I”m not in Washington, D.C. at the March for Life. The first time I ever saw our nation’s capital was on the March, way back in high school on a bus the Knights of Columbus rented to take us down there. Those vast, wedding cake buildings that represent the authority of the U.S. government, adorned with flags, bronze statues, bas-reliefs and grand inscriptions… it all seemed such a miserable sham. Those structures built out of butter cream looked to me like whited sepulchers. The Supreme Court on whose steps we stood seemed a structure built of bones, and the city a fortress defending a vast and soulless regime of death. And so it stands today.
After four pro-life presidents, we are only a few baby-steps closer to reopening the issue of legal abortion to the democratic votes of the people of 50 states. We are “one or two justices” short. And so we will remain. The Life issue is a carrot which the Republicans dangle before jackasses like me so we will keep on pulling the cart. If you let the beast eat the carrot, he might just slip his traces, so you make sure to keep it just out of reach.
That said, barring a Ron Paul third-party run, I will vote this November, like most of you, for the Evil of Two Lessers. In return for the faint hope that this time, maybe this time we will have the chance to swing the Court back to honest jurisprudence on this (and other) issues, I will have to vote for a candidate who favors aggressive war, ruinous spending, cheap money and cheap imported labor… out of fear that if I don”t, the Democrat who wins will get to appoint a few more justices. And that will be on my conscience. And the carrot will recede. As Vonnegut wrote of the ruins of Dresden, “So it goes.”
I cannot forget the actual day in 1973, when Harry Blackmun (moved to change his mind on the subject by a Rockefeller Foundation report on U.S. “overpopulation”) issued the farrago of logical fallacies which still makes freshman law students blush. I saw something about it on the news. Only eight years old, I needed the story explained to me, and asked my mother. She tried her best:
“Well, the government just decided that if a woman is going to have a baby, and she doesn”t want one, now she doesn”t have to.”
“So what can she do?”
“Now she can go to a doctor, and he”ll take out the baby.”
“Won”t it be alive?”
“No. The doctor will make sure it’s dead.”
“They”re allowed to do that?”
“Yes, John. Now they are.”
“In America? Really?”
It’s a question I still ask myself.