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Things I Wish I’d Blogged in 08: Abortion

January 10, 2009

10 Things I Wish I’d Blogged in 2008

Ok, wish is way, way the wrong word here. I have no particular desire to be misunderstood, misrepresented, and excoriated, and trying to articulate anything outside of the two polar black holes that constitute “debate” on this toxically sterile issue guarantees that this will happen.

Any objective observer of the abortion rights issue in the United States will I think have to agree that partisans on either extreme are not actually talking to each other. Extremists on both sides – and I do have friends and colleagues at both extremes – so badly distort opposing arguments, so viciously impugn the moral character of those who disagree with them, and so vehemently insist that this issue is of transcendent importance that it threatens to destroy the possibility of civil political discourse entirely. Even partisans of the extremes tend to agree on this – though they know that it is the other side that is doing all the distorting. So, like most people, who I think intuitively at least have a much more nuanced position (which, of course, partisans at the extremes denounce as “soft” or “unclear”), I have studiously avoided the issue. No good will come of handing a match to someone dousing the room in gasoline, eh?

But during this presidential election year, it was just about impossible for a Catholic to avoid the issue – even though the candidates did. For example, after Sunday mass one October morning I found a leaflet on my car informing me – complete with graphic photos and “dripping blood” fonts – that a vote for Obama was complicity with the murder of millions of babies, and thus meant a renunciation of Catholicism and a sure ticket to Hell. As a Catholic who felt that it was important to support the modest change in direction Obama offers from the catastrophic course the United States has been following, I felt it was important to respond. So, while I did not address the issue of abortion rights per se, I did write a post relying on the Bishop’s document on faithful citizenship to advance the obvious but modest argument that a pro-life Catholic could in fact vote for Obama in good conscience.

Predictably, the post drew hostile comments, ranging from fairly civil renunciation to bitter vituperation. However, I was gratified that Obama won the majority of the Catholic vote, leading to speculation (and some handwringing in the Catholic blogosphere) that Catholics will no longer constitute a reliably conservative voting block on the basis of the single issue of abortion.

All of this leaves me with a feeling of uneasiness, as though we are trying to ignore a landmine that we know is buried somewhere in the vicinity. Quite beyond its ability to destroy political discourse, abortion does remain a profound moral problem, the occasion of so much terrible pain in our world. So I find myself wishing to say something about abortion, to be able to engage in a real conversation that could get past the vituperative cant of the extremes, that would actually regard the ideas of Catholic teaching and liberal political ideology not as weapons to castigate those we disagree with, but as tools for forging greater understanding.

To partisans of either extreme, before denouncing me please note that I have  not actually said anything about abortion rights yet. Please tell me what would be wrong with having a real conversation? What would it look like? What would be the rules?

How much good we could do. How do we begin?

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2010 8:25 pm

    CATHOLIC LIBERALISM OR LIBERAL CATHOLICISM–
    IS THE Denial of the supernatural……a short synopsis ……
    Peace in war is an incongruity. Foes in the midst of battle cannot well be friends. Where the pressure of conflicting forces is intensest there is little opportunity of reconciliation. Yet this absurdity and contradiction we find in the odious and repulsive attempt to unite Liberalism with Catholicism. The monstrosity resulting is what is known as the Liberal Catholic or the (36) Catholic Liberal. Strange as it may seem, Catholics with good intentions have paid tribute to this absurdity and indulged the vain hope of peace with the eternal enemy.
    This fatal error has its source in the vain and exaggerated desire of reconciling and harmonizing in peace doctrines utterly incompatible and hostile by their very nature.
    Liberalism is the dogmatic affirmation of the absolute independence of the individual and of the social reason. Catholicity is the dogma of the absolute subjection of the individual and of the social order to the revealed law of God. One doctrine is the exact antithesis of the other. They are opposites in direct conflict. How is it possible to reconcile them? Opposition here necessarily means conflict, and the two can no more harmonize than the square can be made one with the circle.
    The Catholic Liberalist or the Liberal Catholic admitting the fatal distinction between the private and the public reason, thus throws open the gates to the enemies of the faith, and, posing as a man of (39) intellect with generous and liberal views, stultifies reason by his gross offense against the principle of contradiction. He is thus both a traitor and a fool. Seeking to please the enemies of the faith he has betrayed his trust, the faith itself; imagining he is upholding the rights of reason, he surrenders it in the most abject way to the spirit of denial, the spirit of untruth. He has not the courage to withstand the derision of his cunning foe. To be called intolerant, illiberal, narrow, Ultramontane, reactionist, is gall and wormwood to his little soul. Under this epithetical fire he gives way and surrenders his birthright of faith and reason for a mess of Liberal pottage.
    Amongst Catholic Liberals many of them go to Mass, even make novenas, and yet when they come in contact with the world lead the lives of practical Liberals. They make it a rule “to live up to the times,” as they call it. The Church they believe to be somewhat outofdate, an old fogy; that she is held back by a certain set of reactionaries, Ultramontane; but they have hopes that she will in the course of time catch up with the modern spirit of progress, of which they are the van. The barnacles of medievalism still encumber the bark of Peter, but time, they believe, will remedy this. The straw of medieval philosophy and theology they hope before long to thrash out by the introduction of the modern spirit into her schools. Then will a new theology be developed more in conformity with the needs of the times, more in harmony with the modern spirit which makes such large demands upon our “intellectual liberty.” So they believe (or imagine they believe) that all is well. Is their responsibility before God, therefore, lessened? Assuredly not. They sin directly in the light of faith. They are less excusable than those Liberals who have never been within the pale of the Church. In short they sin with their eyes open.
    Secular education. To gain the child is to secure the man. To educate a generation apart from God and the Church is to feed the fires of Liberalism to repletion. (140) When religion is divorced from the school Liberalism becomes its paramour. Secularism is naturalism, the denial of the supernatural. When that denial is instilled into the soul of the child the soil of the supernatural becomes sterilized. Liberalism has realized the terrific power of education, and with satanic energy is now striving the world over for the possession of the child. With what success we have only to look around us to realize. In its effort to slay Christ it decrees the slaughter of the innocents. “Snatch the soul of the child from the breast of its mother the Church,” says Liberalism, “and I will conquer the world.” Here is the real battle ground between faith and infidelity. Who is victor here is victor everywhere.
    from the book, LIBERALISM IS A SIN…which is online, just google it.

  2. January 4, 2010 8:27 pm

    Nurse says Obama supports infanticide

    Washington DC, February 16 (CNA).-A pro-life nurse is seconding a statement made by Alan Keyes that Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama, pointing to his support for infanticide.

    Jill Stanek is a nurse who discovered babies were being aborted alive and shelved to die in soiled utility rooms while working at a hospital in Illinois and since has been a strong advocate against partial-birth and live-birth abortions.
    According to her commentary on WorldNetDaily.com, Stanek explains why Keyes made his statement.

    At the federal level, legislation was presented called the Born Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) which stated all live-born babies were guaranteed the same constitutional right to equal protection, whether or not they were wanted.

    BAIPA sailed through the U.S. Senate by unanimous vote and by an overwhelming majority in the House. President Bush signed the bill into law in 2002.
    Stanek wrote that, “in Illinois, the state version of BAIPA repeatedly failed, thanks in large part to then-state Sen. Barack Obama. It only passed in 2005, after Obama left.”

    “Obama articulately worried that legislation protecting live aborted babies might infringe on women’s rights or abortionists’ rights. Obama’s clinical discourse, his lack of mercy, shocked me. I was naive back then. Obama voted against the measure, twice. It ultimately failed.”

    “So, the reason Keyes said Jesus Christ wouldn’t vote for Barack Obama was because of Obama’s fanatical support of abortion to the point of condoning infanticide.”

    In a recent USA Today opinion piece, Obama admitted being “nagged” by the Jesus-wouldn’t-vote-for-him statement, but only because he wished he’d given a different comeback.
    Obama’s initial response, as stated in USA Today was “that we live in a pluralistic society, and that I can’t impose my religious views on another.” He added that he was running to be the U.S. senator of Illinois, and not a minister.

    Stanek summarized Obama’s second response saying that “Obama insinuated opposition to abortion is based only on religion, lecturing pro-lifers like me to ‘explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.'”

    “I don’t recall mentioning religion when I testified against live-birth abortion. I only recall describing a live aborted baby I held in a hospital soiled utility room until he died, and a live aborted baby who was accidentally thrown into the trash,” she told WorldNetDaily.
    Yet, Stanek pointed out that religion was never part of the abortion ban debate. “I recall comparisons made to U.S. laws ensuring animals being killed are treated humanely. I recall testimony that late-term babies feel excruciating pain while being aborted.”

    Stanek concluded by asking Obama, why do “you think Jesus should vote for you?”

    “During the 19th century, slavers said black people weren’t human. They were wrong. During the 20th century, the Nazis said Jews weren’t human. They were wrong. Since 1967, the House of Commons has said the unborn are not human. They, too, are wrong.”

  3. January 4, 2010 8:28 pm

    Cdl Mahony: Kennedy Was Champion of Powerless

    This one sickens me. And not just a little gurgle in my stomach. I’m talking about Linda Blair projectile vomiting, spin my head around, and hurling insults at anyone near me. Yeah, that kind of sickening.

    According to the LA Times:

    Cardinal Roger Mahony issued a statement today calling the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) a champion of “the voiceless, the powerless and the most needy of our citizens.”

    This is sickening and troubling at the same time because Kennedy was a debauched politician who turned his back on the unborn for political expediency. Yeah the unborn who are the voiceless, the powerless and the most needy of our citizens.

    Now you can argue that Mahony was likely referring to illegal immigrants. But it seems the Cardinal needs an editor because illegal aliens or undocumented workers aren’t citizens. We can argue about whether they should be but it’s just not factual. So to get this straight, if anyone walks over the border they’re citizens who deserve all of the rights granted to Americans but those little people in the womb aren’t citizens worthy of all the rights of citizens.

    I’d also bet that Mary Jo Kopechne qualified as voiceless and powerless as Teddy swam away.

    Kennedy believed in 1971 that the unborn were worth standing up for. Sadly, as the Democratic Party headed towards abortion extremism Kennedy didn’t defend the unborn, he acquiesced and even became a leader in the cult of baby killing offering millions of Catholics cover for turning their backs on the unborn as well.

    In ’71, Kennedy wrote:
    While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized — the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.

    On the question of the individual’s freedom of choice there are easily available birth control methods and information which women may employ to prevent or postpone pregnancy. But once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely by desire.

    I share the confidence of those who feel that America is willing to care for its unwanted as well as wanted children, protecting particularly those who cannot protect themselves. i also share the opinions of those who do not accept abortion as a response to our society’s problems — an inadequate welfare system, unsatisfactory job training programs, and insufficient financial support for all its citizens.

    When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.

    Sincerely,
    Edward M. Kennedy
    Kennedy knew that standing up against abortion was about willing to care for the “unwanted” who cannot protect themselves. And in one of the most tragic about-faces of the 20th century, Kennedy turned his back on those whom Cardinal Mahony praised him for defending – the powerless and the voiceless.

    Update: As Pundette says: As a Catholic I pray for their souls but I wouldn’t hold either Kennedy or Mahoney up as a role model for my kids.

  4. January 4, 2010 8:30 pm

    Family of Irving ‘Bud’ Feldkamp, Owner of the Nation’s Largest Privately Owned Abortion Chain, Dies in Montana Plane Crash
    Contact: Gingi Edmonds, http://www.gingiedmonds.com, 559-772-7911

    MEDIA ADVISORY, Mar. 24 /Christian Newswire/ — Some of you may have seen the major news story of the private plane that crashed into a Montana cemetery, killing 7 children and 7 adults.

    But what the news sources fail to mention is that the Catholic Holy Cross Cemetery owned by Resurrection Cemetery Association in Butte – contains a memorial for local residents to pray the rosary, at the ‘Tomb of the Unborn’. This memorial, located a short distance west of the church, was erected as a dedication to all babies who have died because of abortion.

    What else is the mainstream news not telling you? The family who died in the crash near the location of the abortion victim’s memorial, is the family of Irving ‘Bud’ Feldkamp, owner of the largest for-profit abortion chain in the nation.

    Family Planning Associates was purchased four years ago by Irving Moore “Bud” Feldkamp III, owner of Allcare and Hospitality Dental Associates and CEO of Glen Helen Raceway Park in San Bernardino. The 17 California Family Planning clinics perform more abortions in the state than any other abortion provider – Planned Parenthood included – and they perform abortions through the first five months of pregnancy.

    Although Feldkamp is not an abortionist, he reaps profits of blood money from the tens of thousands of babies that are killed through abortions performed every year at the clinics he owns. His business in the abortion industry was what enabled him to afford the private plane that was carrying his family to their week-long vacation at The Yellowstone Club, a millionaires-only ski resort.

    The plane went down on Sunday, killing two of Feldkamp’s daughters, two sons-in-law and five grandchildren along with the pilot and four family friends. The plane, a single-engine turboprop flown by Bud Summerfield of Highland, crashed into the Catholic cemetery and burst into flames, only 500 ft. from its landing destination. All aboard were killed.

    The cause of the crash is a mystery. The pilot, who was a former military flier who logged over 2,000 miles, gave no indication to air traffic controllers that the aircraft was experiencing difficulty when he asked to divert to an airport in Butte. Witnesses report that the plane suddenly nosedived toward the ground with no apparent signs of a struggle. There was neither a cockpit voice recorder nor a flight data recorder onboard, and no radar clues into the planes final moments because the Butte airport is not equipped with a radar facility. Some speculate that the crash was due to ice on the wings, but this particular plane model has been tested for icy weather and experts have stated that ice being the cause is unlikely.

    In my time working for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, I helped organize and conduct a weekly campaign where youth activists stood outside of Feldkamp’s mini-mansion in Redlands holding fetal development signs and raising community awareness regarding Feldkamp’s dealings in child murder for profit. Every Thursday afternoon we called upon Bud and his wife Pam to repent, seek God’s blessing and separate themselves from the practice of child killing.

    We warned him, for his children’s sake, to wash his hands of the innocent blood he assisted in spilling because, as Scripture warns, if “you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you”. (Ezekiel 35:6)

    A news source states that Bud Feldkamp visited the site of the crash with his wife and their two surviving children on Monday. As they stood near the twisted and charred debris talking with investigators, light snow fell on the tarps that covered the remains of their children.

    I don’t want to turn this tragic event into some creepy spiritual ‘I told you so’ moment, but I think of the time spent outside of Feldkamp’s – Pam Feldkamp laughing at the fetal development signs, Bud Feldkamp trying not to make eye contact as he got into his car with a small child in tow – and I think of the haunting words, ‘Think of your children.’ I wonder if those words were haunting Feldkamp as well as he stood in the snow among the remains of loved ones, just feet from the ‘Tomb of the Unborn’?

    I only hope and pray that in the face of this tragedy, Feldkamp recognizes his need for repentance and reformation. I pray that God will use this unfortunate catastrophe to soften the hearts of Bud and Pam and that they will draw close to the Lord and wash their hands of the blood of thousands of innocent children, each as precious and irreplaceable as their own.

    “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then.” (Deut. 30:19)

    Gingi Edmonds is a freelance pro-life activist, writer and photographer based out of Hanford, California. Gingi writes a bi-monthly ProLife Opinion Column and is available for pro-life presentations and speaking engagements. Visit http://www.gingiedmonds.com for more information.

  5. January 4, 2010 8:33 pm

    Catholics and other Christians have a duty to vote. Catholics have a duty to form their conscience in the light of the truth of Church teaching.

    How we vote has tremendous consequences not just on our civic life here and now, but also for the next generation. Several bishops have also reminded us that our vote also has consequences for our eternal souls.

    Last November, I woke to the news of the death of Illinois Rep. Henry Hyde. Hyde was a champion of the unborn, and I had the honor several days later of attending his funeral. On a cold overcast day at a Catholic Church outside Chicago, I watched political leaders from both parties file into the Church to honor the life of the “gentleman of the House.”

    Printed on the back of the pamphlet handed to each person who attended the funeral was one of Hyde’s most famous quotes. We could not think of anything more fitting for our message today than to reprint the famous words of Rep. Hyde:

    When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God – and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world – and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him because he loved us,’ – and God will look at you and say not, ‘Did you succeed?’ but ‘Did you try?’

    Tomorrow: Pray for the unborn. Fast for the unborn. VOTE for the unborn.

  6. January 4, 2010 8:34 pm

    Voting Pro-Abortion Called Cooperating in Evil
    Texas Bishops Resolve Doubts for Faithful Citizens

    DALLAS, Texas, OCT. 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Voting for a pro-abortion candidate when there is an alternative option is to cooperate in evil, and therefore morally impermissible, clarified two Texas bishops.

    In a message made available to the faithful during this Respect Life month, bishops Kevin Farrell of Dallas and Kevin Vann of Fort Worth seek to “dispel any confusion or misunderstanding that may be present among you concerning the teaching contained in” the U.S. bishops document on faithful citizenship.

    “‘Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship’ clearly teaches that not all issues have the same moral equivalence,” the bishops explained. “Some issues involve ‘intrinsic evils’; that is, they can never under any circumstance or condition be morally justified. Preeminent among these intrinsic evils are legalized abortion, the promotion of same-sex unions and ‘marriages,’ repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research.”

    Thus, bishops Farrell and Vann stated, “we cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion — while not the ‘only issue’– it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last 35 years. […] This electoral cycle affords us an opportunity to promote the culture of life in our nation.

    “As Catholics we are morally obligated to pray, to act and to vote to abolish the evil of abortion in America, limiting it as much as we can until it is finally abolished.”

    Not enough

    The prelates acknowledged that there are a number of important issues voters must consider “such as immigration reform, health care, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror.”

    “As Catholics we must be concerned about these issues and work to see that just solutions are brought about,” they wrote. “There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of ‘prudential judgment.'”

    “But,” the prelates emphasized, “let us be clear: Issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate’s unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection of ‘abortion rights.'”

    Salvation at stake

    The Texas bishops, citing the U.S. episcopal conference document, addressed the question of if it is “permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil — even when the voter does not agree with the candidate’s position on that evil.”

    They said there are only two conditions when voting for a pro-abortion candidate is permissible: “A. If both candidates running for office support abortion or ‘abortion rights,’ a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,

    “B. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no ‘truly grave moral’ or ‘proportionate’ reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.

    “To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or ‘abortion rights’ when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil — and, therefore, morally impermissible.”

    The bishops concluded affirming that the decisions made on such political and moral issues “may affect each individual’s salvation.”

    “As Catholics, we must treat our political choices with appropriate moral gravity,” they wrote, “and in doing so, realize our continuing and unavoidable obligation to be a voice for the voiceless unborn, whose destruction by legal abortion is the preeminent intrinsic evil of our day.”

    Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org
    …..Matt 6:24 & Job 36:11
    “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24
    “If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.” Job 36:11

    “During the 19th century, slavers said black people weren’t human. They were wrong. During the 20th century, the Nazis said Jews weren’t human. They were wrong. Since 1967, the House of Commons has said the unborn are not human. They, too, are wrong.”

  7. January 4, 2010 8:37 pm

    What I don’t understand is how catholics that believe in “social theology” cannot want to protect the most vulnerable of all human beings. If you cannot help and protect them, then how can you help and protect others. Your treatment of the unborn sets the tone on what you value in life.

  8. January 4, 2010 8:38 pm

    The Deceiver- the book
    The most shrewd serpent takes advantage of the natural and understandable concerns of man regarding the problems of daily living. He seeks to blow these worries out of proportion, as if their solution depended only upon us and God did not care about His creatures. Satan succeeds in generating anxiety about the future, robbing our hearts of peace, faith, and belief in the providence of the celestial Father. He makes you obsessed with economic or health problems, succeeding in diverting you from the most important objective of life, which is not the conserva¬tion of the body destined for death, but rather the eternal beati¬tude of the soul.
    If your principal worry is that of nurturing your soul with the truth and love of God, you can be certain that the Creator will not deny you whatever is necessary for your daily life. If you are con¬cerned to nurture your soul, then God will provide for the needs of your body Whoever gives to God the first place in his daily life will be assured of the divine blessing on his work and his home. If our chief worry is that of serving the Lord on the good way, all the rest will be given to us besides. To those who worry about the spiritual health of the soul, the celestial Father guarantees not only what they need at a material level, but also often more that what is necessary.
    Watch, therefore, that the evil one does not rob you of your confidence in God and watch that he does not drag you away into obsession with the problems of daily living. God’s protection ren¬ders life safer than any material wealth.

  9. January 4, 2010 8:41 pm

    The Deceiver
    The most shrewd serpent takes advantage of the natural and understandable concerns of man regarding the problems of daily living. He seeks to blow these worries out of proportion, as if their solution depended only upon us and God did not care about His creatures. Satan succeeds in generating anxiety about the future, robbing our hearts of peace, faith, and belief in the providence of the celestial Father. He makes you obsessed with economic or health problems, succeeding in diverting you from the most important objective of life, which is not the conserva¬tion of the body destined for death, but rather the eternal beati¬tude of the soul.
    If your principal worry is that of nurturing your soul with the truth and love of God, you can be certain that the Creator will not deny you whatever is necessary for your daily life. If you are con¬cerned to nurture your soul, then God will provide for the needs of your body Whoever gives to God the first place in his daily life will be assured of the divine blessing on his work and his home. If our chief worry is that of serving the Lord on the good way, all the rest will be given to us besides. To those who worry about the spiritual health of the soul, the celestial Father guarantees not only what they need at a material level, but also often more that what is necessary.
    Watch, therefore, that the evil one does not rob you of your confidence in God and watch that he does not drag you away into obsession with the problems of daily living. God’s protection ren¬ders life safer than any material wealth.

  10. January 4, 2010 8:43 pm

    The Racism Myth
    by David R. Carlin
    8/27/09

    Listening to the radio the other day, I heard a professor from one of America’s more distinguished institutions of higher learning explain what is motivating the “angry mobs” who have been raucously denouncing President Obama’s health-care plans: racism. When asked for evidence, the professor offered this: Some of the angry people made it plain that they are opposed to illegal immigration; worse still, others speak of the need for personal responsibility. As everyone knows, “illegal immigration” and “personal responsibility” are code words. Translated into honest English, what these people are saying is: “We don’t like persons of color,” and “We don’t like Obama because he’s a person of color.”

    So there you have it: A person of color happens to sit in the White House (God knows how he ever got there in such a racist country), and if he gets his way with health care, he’ll be taking money away from hardworking white people and giving it to his brown and black brothers and sisters.

    Why would anybody believe something as crazy as this? To answer the question, we have to look at who is apt to believe such a thing. There are three categories of people who still contend, despite massive evidence to the contrary, that the United States remains a terribly racist country:

    1. There are so-called “civil-rights leaders” whose specialty is to do very bad imitations of a genuinely great man, Martin Luther King Jr. If it turns out that white Americans are no longer racist in a significant way, these guys will have to find a new job.

    2. Then there are professors of “African-American Studies,” who rely very heavily on the white-racism paradigm when writing and teaching. White racism explains an awful lot when examining the historical experience of blacks in America, but it explains little about the current situation of African-Americans. But if you’re intellectually lazy, it’s so very convenient, instead of thinking through the new situation, just to use the old paradigm.

    (These African-American Studies professors, by the way, unlike the civil-rights leaders, don’t have to worry about finding a new job if they finally face the fact that white racism is mostly a thing of the now-distant past, for the professors have tenure. They still have their classrooms — but what will they now say when they enter them?)

    3. Finally there are white “progressives.” These are well-educated persons of upper- or upper-middle class socio-economic status. You’d think, given their intelligence and education, and given the further fact that every day they inform themselves about the world by reading the best newspapers and magazines, that they would have observed by now that anti-black racism has — thanks in great measure to King, who, marvelous to say, actually succeeded in his goal of changing the racist mind of white America — become a relatively insignificant thing in today’s America.

    These people realize that their friends, like themselves, are non-racist. At the same time, they believe that just a few steps below them on the social ladder — that is, among the ill-educated unfortunates who populate the lower-middle and working classes — there is a seething mass of anti-black racism. These “inferior” people have learned not to express their racism in the blunt and disgusting language that was used in the days of their fathers and grandfathers, but the racism is still there. You can detect it in their code words. It is a natural consequence of the frustrated lives that these people live. Frustrated people become angry and aggressive; angry/aggressive people look for a scapegoat; and the traditional American scapegoat has been the black man. Progressives feel that they are sitting at the top of a racist volcano that might explode any day now.

    The myth of white racism serves a number of valuable psychological purposes for high-status white progressives:

    •It gives them a great feeling of moral superiority. “Most white Americans are racist, but not us.”
    •It justifies their high levels of wealth and income. “We are good, and so we deserve to be rich. It’s almost enough to make one believe in the existence of God.”
    •It justifies their desire to keep political power out of the hands of the lower orders and as much as possible in the hands of judges and bureaucrats. “We believe in democracy, certainly; but we can’t let unlimited political power fall into the hands of racists.”
    To a great extent, these progressives have taken control of the national Democratic Party. What used to be the party of America’s plain people has increasingly become the party of its privileged people. If non-progressive white Americans have increasingly abandoned the love affair many of their parents and grandparents used to have with the Democratic Party, this is in no small measure because these whites, having pretty much renounced racism, don’t like being told again and again by “civil-rights leaders” and very privileged whites that they remain racist. When civil-rights leaders tell them this, these whites get annoyed. When the higher classes tell them this, they feel worse than annoyed; they feel insulted.

    David R. Carlin, a professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, can be reached at drcarlin@hotmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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