One of the most frequently voiced criticisms of right-leaning Catholics is that they were insufficiently critical of the Bush Administration over the past eight years. According to this criticism, conservative Catholics were too eager to paper over the faults of the Bush Administration, and they failed to object at critical points to the Administration’s policies. While such generalizations can be problematic, I agree with this critique in broad outline. One of the lessons I’ve taken from the past eight years is that this is a temptation that must be consciously resisted.
It’s hard to express my disappointment, then, at the recent post entitled Mexico City? Try Gaza Instead…over at Vox Nova. Here’s the post:
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…
For those who didn’t make it to the end, the basic message is “Talk About Gaza, Not About Obama and Abortion!” It’s an interesting piece of writing. Let’s set aside the obligatory opening caricature (people who talk about abortion policy are extremist ‘culture warriors’ who tell you it’s a sin to vote for Obama). Let’s grant for the moment that this is a ‘trivial issue’ (not trivial enough to be pushed past Obama’s first week in office and not trivial enough to escape the criticism of Vatican officials, but ok). And we’ll even ignore the dubious suggestion that talking about changes in abortion policy “will only act as a roadblock against true conversion on this issue” (are we to assume silence or non-verbal communication will bring about ‘true conversion’?).
Setting all of that aside, the post is still a non-sequitur. Obama authorized international funding for abortion. Catholics, including some in the Vatican, criticized this decision. Morning’s Minion says these people should be talking instead about U.S. funding to Israel.
U.S. aid to Israel is a very interesting subject, and it has a lot of important ramifications. But abortion policy is not among them. Raising completely unrelated topics to distract people from President Obama’s recent actions doesn’t help anybody. Far better to acknowledge his actions with sadness, and move forward in prayer.
I point this out not because the post is that important, but because it raises an important question about the next four (or eight) years. Many on the right failed to offer criticisms of the previous administration when they were most necessary. They either denied the validity of the criticisms or attempted to change the subject. Will we be saying the same thing about Catholics on the left in four years?