Let's Change the Subject? Catholics on the Left

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?

30 Responses to Let's Change the Subject? Catholics on the Left

  • Obama authorized international funding for abortion.

    No, he didn’t. That isn’t what the Mexico City Policy effected.

  • Your inability to read continues to amaze me.

    1) MM’s post has nothing to do with those Bush-supporting Catholics overlooking his sinful, criminal policies.

    2) MM did not criticize the statement from the Vatican on the matter.

    3) Nor did he say that those who are criticizing the Mexico City policy are wrong to criticize it and “should be talking instead about U.S. funding to Israel.”

    4) He is saying that so-called “pro-life” Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings. He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God.

  • some on the left, only seems to care about dead terrorists, and the people that put them in power and subsequently used as human shields. Dead babies make them sleepy (unless the babies are Palestinian and died being used as a human shield, no problem if they died from having their skull crushed).

    Interestingly…
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/world/stories/DN-pakistan_24int.ART.State.Edition1.4ebeeb7.html

    It seems a healthy dose of reality is setting in for Obama, he knows now the consequences of losing the war against Islamo-facism.

    So, what good has Obama done from a lefty Catholic perspective? He supports Israel’s right to self defense, he wants us to pay for foreign and American babies to be killed on request, he isn’t closing Gitmo for at least a year, AND he is shooting missiles into villages, possibly killing civilians.

    Matt

  • “Nor did he say that those who are criticizing the Mexico City policy are wrong to criticize it and “should be talking instead about U.S. funding to Israel.”

    What? Look at the title of the post :)

    I think its clear that The effect of the reversal of the Mexico POlicy is anything but scant. If it was scant I dont think in the 90’s our Envoy to the Vatican would have flown home and waited two days in CLintons outer officers to please take a phone call from John Paul the II on this issue

    The Catholic blogsphere has been talking about Gaza non stop. Now not all hold the view that waht the Israelis did was some war crime but there was sure a ton of discussion.

    Catholics on both side can find common ground with Obama. To be honest speaking as someone from the right I thought the biggest indictment as to the Catholic right was not they did not question Bush on certain issues but did not support him in a nearly enough vocal manner on issues that causes us heartburn with other conservatives and when it gets rough. Such as immigration reform

  • John Henry

    I would add one thing. Yes prayer is important but also we must do more than that. We need to be on the phone with our Congress folks saying we very much disagree with this and raise some heck about this.

  • Michael,

    4) He is saying that so-called “pro-life” Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings. He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God.

    1. why is it that the left always considered the positions of their opponents “partisan”, whereas their own are always considered principled?

    2. US Policy vis a vis Israel is for Israel to be able to defend itself against attack, not to kill innocents. This is clear and irrefutable.

    3. Israeli policy and actions are clearly not intended to kill innocents as evidenced by their restraint (it is reasonable to argue it is insufficient restraint, but it is clear there is no immoral intent). I have gone over this with you in the past, you never respond: Israel could level Gaza in a weekend, killing everyone there… they have no desire to. Instead they limited their targeting to Hamas operatives and their arms caches, sadly the evil Hamas uses civilian sites for these purposes. Israel even sends out warnings about which sites would be attacked in many cases.

    4. The babies we’re trying to save by not PAYING for their abortions under the Mexico Policy are BROWN, not white.

    jh,

    Good comments, but I while many conservative Catholics did support Bush on immigration, many others after reflection believed that his proposals did not serve the common good, as they were intended to. Right or wrong, I don’t think it’s fair to indict them for it, as long as they gave due weight to the Catholic principles involved, and not just paying lip service to it. Catholics in good conscience can disagree on this matter.

    It would be interesting to see what a group of orthodox Catholics would come up with as an immigration policy which balanced the needs of those in the country, and the need to welcome the stranger, as well as a just approach for those who have violated these policies in light of the effect it has on those waiting patiently to be admitted legally. Sadly the political process is deeply affected by political considerations, perhaps on both sides.

  • I asked this on another thread, but no answers yet. I’d like to understand what it means to be a progressive yet orthodox Catholic? The underlying philosophy escapes me.

    Obviouslt, by orthodox, I mean adheres to all of the teachings of the Church, even the patriarchal or “bigoted” ones.

  • Obama’s Minion would sooner chew ground glass than deal with the simple fact that he is an ardent supporter of the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history.

  • I wrote: Obama authorized international funding for abortion. M.Z. replied: “No, he didn’t. That isn’t what the Mexico City Policy effected.”

    It certainly did. The Mexico City Policy required NGO’s that receive federal funding to refrain from promoting or performing abortion services in other countries. Overturning it allows funding to those organizations to be used for abortion; which, basically, authorizes funding for abortion internationally.

  • John Henry is absolutely correct. Additionally, since money is fungible, every dollar they get from the US allows them to allocate other dollars from other sources for abortion. Not to mention the fact that this shift deprives the Vatican of US support for the fight against abortion abroad, and places the US on the pro-abort side.

  • Your inability to read continues to amaze me.

    Well, let’s see what you mean.

    1) MM’s post has nothing to do with those Bush-supporting Catholics overlooking his sinful, criminal policies.

    Well, if you read the post, I never claimed it did. I used that as a jumping-off point to discuss what I see as a broader concern. Namely, the odd tendency to attack people who criticize Obama’s abortion policy rather than the policy itself.

    2) MM did not criticize the statement from the Vatican on the matter.

    Well, no. He didn’t mention it at all, and then he criticized U.S. Catholics for talking about it instead of Gaza.

    3) Nor did he say that those who are criticizing the Mexico City policy are wrong to criticize it and “should be talking instead about U.S. funding to Israel.”

    I agree that he didn’t say they were wrong to criticize it (and, if you read, I didn’t say he did). Instead he criticized the people who were criticizing it on other grounds. In any case, the text of the post is included above. Anyone reading this can evaluate that for themselves.

    4) He is saying that so-called “pro-life” Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings. He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God.

    Michael, that is a deeply ironic response. We are talking about the Mexico City Policy which funds the abortion of non-‘white, american babies’. We do not need to be reminded that their lives are valuable; that’s why we object to funding to abort them.

  • Writing for Vox Nova means never having to say “I’m wrong, sorry.”

  • He is saying that so-called “pro-life” Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings.

    Is calling the Mexico City Policy a trifle de-emphasizing a grave matter of U.S. policy?

  • Overturning it allows funding to those organizations to be used for abortion; which, basically, authorizes funding for abortion internationally.

    No it doesn’t.

  • He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God.

    Once again, a completely spurious insinuation of racism. It’s hard even to put into words how stupid Michael I. is, given that the Mexico City Policy has nothing to do with “white, american babies” — quite the contrary.

    [Ed. Please refrain from referring to people as 'stupid']

  • MZ,

    This line of yours is getting deeply obtuse. As you know, money is a fungible resource. If the US government provides lots of “family planning” money to organizations which also provide abortion internationally, it frees up the other funds they were previously using to pay for “family planning” services to fund abortion. It scales their operations overall, and that can’t help but end up funding abortions.

    Come to that, how about if you go shout at MM that although the US provides Israel with lots of financial, humanitarian and military aid, it doesn’t specifically earmark that money for Gaza, and so obviously there’s nothing to protest.

  • Michael, that is a deeply ironic response. We are talking about the Mexico City Policy which funds the abortion of non-’white, american babies’. We do not need to be reminded that their lives are valuable; that’s why we object to funding to abort them.

    Well, I find it interesting that no one on this blog has expressed concerns about Mexicans having abortions — only that we will now supposedly be funding them. Do you care that they are having abortions in Mexico, or that you are now connected to them in a more clear way?

  • Well, I find it interesting that no one on this blog has expressed concerns about Mexicans having abortions — only that we will now supposedly be funding them. Do you care that they are having abortions in Mexico, or that you are now connected to them in a more clear way?

    Wha?

    As you ought to be aware, Michael, abortion is generally illegal in Mexico. The policy is called the Mexico City Policy because it was announced at the UN International Conference on Population in Mexico City in 1984. (As an interesting footnote, Alan Keyes was one of those closely involved in writing the policy.)

    Indeed, one of the reasons some of us consider this something other than a “trifle” is that organizations which are defunded by the policy (such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation) are among those US-based organizations which actively agitate against the anti-abortion laws of a number of countries with better moral cultures on this issue than our own.

    Do you really imagine the issues to be separate? When IPPF was defunded under the Mexico City Policy it lost 20% of its global funding. Do you think that _didn’t_ help reduce the spread of abortion?

    Of course we don’t want to see the unborn of other countries slaughtered — that is why we are objecting to funding the butchers. That’s why we don’t respond to this kind of thing by saying “Yawn.” or saying, “Oh, look over there!” If anyone is going to be accused of not caring about the abortion of “brown babies” perhaps it is the Catholics running interference for Obama on this one?

  • If one gets to change the subject, why not change it to this: Obama ordered Predator strikes on 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? Gee, what about the warmongering occupant of the White House? Oh, that’s right, his name’s not Bush – never mind. No anti-war organization has yet condemned, or even commented, on these strikes, although I am sure they would have if the attacks had occurred a week ago.

  • One thing that is missing from these discussions is a more serious look at what Israel is facing. Very large numbers of Palestinians – and quite a few of their “leadership” – want Jews and Christians and homosexuals and the secular and “unclean” women and “apostates” ect dead dead dead dead – especially Israelis.

    Those concerned with “brown babies” more than Internet posturing would do well to start with a failed and truly vile Palestinian civil society: this is the very root of the conflict, an absolute refusal to live in peace. “Cease fires” are a time to rearm. Fatah is replaced with Hamas. Go look at the Hamas charter – a sentiment which has widespread support in Gaza and elsewhere. Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizbollah and who knows what other groups are hanging around, ready to fund and participate in terror.

    In leftist Catholic considerations of Israel and Gaza, how often is there criticism of this madness? The “leaders” and the “men on the street” are extremely open about their views, views that ain’t that hard to discover.

  • 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.

    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.

  • “white babies”, Michael J.?

    When is the left going to get concerned about “black” and “red” babies? (I really detest using crayon colors to describe people, in this case African Americans and Hispanics, but it seems to be the going phrase per Obama’s benediction reverend.) Somewhere around HALF of all black conceptions are ended in abortions in the United States; the systematic effect of Planned Parenthood’s silent extermination of black America. And abroad, the white socialists who run PP are working over time to “keep the population down” in other non-white populations.

  • One thing that is missing from these discussions is a more serious look at what Israel is facing.

    Jonathan, I don’t disagree with you, but at the same time, such a discussion validates the rhetorical ploy of changing the subject.

  • Sorry, I got carried away. Michael I is not stupid; it’s just his reflexive impulse to cry racism where it’s not even arguably applicable.

  • Michael,

    I find it difficult to take that seriously. When I mention the worldwide abortion rate and the horrors of a spreading evil that makes other issues, by the way, look like a picnic — roughly 42 million abortions occur worldwide in 365 days — I think I’m concerned about the abortions in Mexico as well.

    As an African American, George is completely right. It is a fact that roughly 1 in 2 African American pregnancies ends in abortion. It is a fact that the abortion industry is a for-profit industry that throws up “clinics” in minority neighborhoods targetting potential groups that will make them money.

    I can’t help but find the dismissal of Obama’s abortion policies as disturbing. The attack goes to the “right” and seemingly not even a word of criticism goes to the President’s “pro-choice” policies. It’s a scapegoat. This is no small matter. You want to talk about racism, abortion is wiping out MY people. Abortion is systematically the number one killer of black people and is currently the leading cause of black deaths. In America, blacks are the only minority group on the decline in population.

    Not to diminish other issues’ importance, but really, in 2006, I think it was, there were an estimated 42 million abortions worldwide that year and what I’m certain of, was that this number was a decline from 1995’s 48 million abortions worldwide — and I cannot be convinced that the removal of international funding of abortions did not play some part in this. So really, if we’re have well over 40 million abortions every single year in the decades that abortion has been common and widespread…the near 40 million people who’ve died from AIDS in totality, from WWI, WWII, the holocaust, Darfur, other diseases, domestic violence is pale in comparision to the scope and gravity of abortion…for really even now since the founding of America, from the beginning capital punishment only amounts to 4 days of abortion; the war in Iraq, 15 days of abortion.

    I’m no conservative and I am in no way making an argument that those other issues should be thrown on back burners, but the seeming way abortion is just another issue in your eyes is profoundly mistaken. If the issue were slavery or human trafficking that were being funded, I imagine, for some reason, that your response would be different. If we were explicitly sending money and weapons to Israel encouraging a war, you’d be blowing a trumphet and perhaps accusing the “right” of being apathetic — this would be my guess from all I have seen you say. However, when Obama does something profoundly out of accord with the natural law, the scapegoat is “well, you don’t care about these issues…you don’t look at these issues….or, that’s partisan” and you don’t simply seem torn by the fact that Obama’s own rhetoric is being consistent though many people who voted for him seemed to believe that he would be bipartisan.

    Abortion, by far, is the gravest evil that humanity has found itself capable of because the target is most vulnerable and defenseless target one can possibly imagine. It is the legalized, public funded, organized systematic elimination of human life on a global scale that is hardly given second thought by billions of people.

    In light of this, comments like “‘pro-life’ Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings. He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God’ is absurd.

    The first line instinctively creates division by framing the argument that any disagreement with you leads to a status of not being “pro-life.” The second matter presupposes that any disagreement on a means to an end is based solely on partisanship and not on reasonable disagreement. It presupposes that people are racist and only care about white American babies, when oh, just in fact, yesterday at the Texas March for Life a pro-life white mother speaking had adopted 3 black children to save their lives from abortion. The rhetoric of the argument hinges itself on contemporary “liberal” mentality, that is, I am the agent of tolerance and everyone who disagrees with me is intolerant, which leads to an imposition of one’s views on everyone else as the only real tolerant views, which is not “tolerance” but rather fascism.

    If you don’t think the conflict with Gaza and Israel, terrible as it is, is *equal* to the mass, quiet extermination of unborn children at the rate of over 40 million a year, then you aren’t “pro-life” and don’t care about babies in other countries, which are made in the image and likeness of God too, you know — as if everyone didn’t already believe that.

    The framing of your argument is divisive…and the other side is being partisan?

  • I meant to say Obama’s rhetoric is INCONSISTENT.

    oops.

  • Eric, that is a telling and very tragic perspective you give. I don’t think it would be hyperbole to label abortion, among its many other horrors, as something like a black genocide. That’s a phrase that gets sensationalist attention at pro-life marches, but the numbers do back it up.

    Fredericka Mathews-Green hopes that our generation wakes up and realizes the crimes of the previous generation. I hope we do too.
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YThhMThhOWE5MzQwNGFkMWJlZDYzYWUyYjdjOGFlZjc=

  • I saw the posting about Holy Innocent’s of Gaza on Vox Nova the other day and it really turns my stomach, the real Holy Innocents are the 40 Million aborted children. One could include the children of Gaza in that class too, as long as one acknowledges fairly who plays Herod in that scenario… it is their parents who support Hamas and the Hamas terrorists who use their homes, and neighborhoods to launch terror attacks at Israel. While it’s possible, some Israeli responses are excessive, and a degree of culpability may apply, it is a moral certainty that Hamas is responsible for those murders.

    Eric,

    we don’t always agree, but you have hit the nail on the head here. Well said.

    Matt

  • M.Z.,

    It would be helpful if you would explain the delicate distinction you are making here. To me there is no distinction to be made between providing funding to organizations that perform abortions and funding abortion, but I would be relieved to be proven wrong. Why do you say that overturning the MCP won’t lead to funding abortion internationally?

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