Friday, April 2

Voting for life. Assassins of humanity, step up!

[The brief introduction to this exchange is posted on April 19 as VOTING FOR LIFE: PREAMBLE and earlier installments are archived in April. The following was written on April 16.]#16
Fanni: The radical difference between your and my approach to politics is that you equate abortion with injustice itself, whereas I am concerned with fighting injustice in whatever form it comes. Unlike you, I am not compelled to vilify all those who may be complicit in a single form of violence or injustice, irrespective of their actions in other areas. Moreover, I argue that your purist attachment to a single issue is inherently unethical. This is true, I think, for reasons that can be understood as being simply quantitative. Let me explain. Since you equate abortion with an act of murder or consider abortion to be even worse than any pedestrian or military act of killing (for reasons you have stated concerning the pre-eminent status of the "right to life"), then it stands to reason that you would give your full, unqualified support to any anti-abortion tyrant who promised to kill no more than 42 million innocent, mature, fully ambulatory individuals per year, since this, roughly speaking, is the number that, if I am not mistaken, is cited for abortions committed per year worldwide, both legally and illegally. A few lines from your message seem indirectly relevant here:

"Hitler was pro-abortion for ethnic groups he did not like and anti-abortion for ethnic groups he did like."
So, on the former point, you would have voted against him, but what if there were a viable political opponent to Hitler who was pro-abortion in all cases? In that situation, obviously, Hitler would win your support, whether or not you find it palatable now to admit to this implication of your views. That is, you would support Hitler or any tyrant much worse than Hitler as long as the tyrant promised to protect by law and enforcement at least 43 million fetuses (previously threatened with abortion) so that they would at least see the light of day. By this logic (which is entirely in keeping with what you have said till this point), a million lives would be saved per year, and the world would have cause for celebration. (And, if I might add, in such a venture, healthy corporate gains could be had, in what you might see as a classic case of mitigating corporate influence, since destroying and disposing of some 42 million bodies would certainly require labor, equipment, and other things that corporations specialize in, and since corporations would best make the whole procedure run economically, with as little waste and redundancy as possible.) In essence, you would embrace the assassins of the human race as long as they maintained respect for the full maturation of all fetuses. If this is not true, I invite you to explain why it is not true. Of course, you will be moved to interrupt this hypothetical moment to reject it out of hand precisely because you only address "existing conditions." But this is only one way of portraying implications of views you have already shared with me and thus it doesn't require your explicit approval. Moreover, in light of such implications, your corrective remarks about whether the U.S. military killed 17,000 or, rather, 20,000 Iraqis, and whether my using "tens of thousands" as a way of describing the number of people killed in Iraq is a gross exaggeration, or simply an exaggeration, seem pointless. In any case, I am sure that in calling "tens of thousands" of Iraqi dead a "gross exaggeration," you had imagined that far less than 17,000 had been killed. I do not personally recall Fox News ever reporting on the number of Iraqis killed, but perhaps you had heard from Fox News a far more modest number than 17,000. There is something incongruous between, on the one hand, the Fox News presentation of the war as being surgical, "smart," righteous, aesthetically distributed between regions of city and country, "pre-emptive," "anti-terrorist," properly and proportionately retributive; and, on the other hand, the knowledge that thousands of civilians have been killed needlessly, many randomly, as well as thousands of civilians who saw themselves as defending their country, however corrupt they knew its former leadership to be, and, moreover, that thousands will still die even if all fighting ceased today because of the effects of the U.S. military's use of depleted uranium, because of stray weapons of death (including landmines and outdated cluster bombs) that will still claim many victims, and because of serous health problems relating to the devastated infrastructure and environment of Iraq.[1]

You offer a few concessionary remarks to smooth over what you presume are only rough edges in your support for what I think are war-thirsty, fossil-fuel entrenched, heartless politics. "I'm ambivalent about the war. I don't agree with everything the Republicans do. I don't support killing civilians. I offset harmful Republican policies with a few targeted donations, etc." The only possible way such concessionary moments, and their at best faint consequences, could set the balances straight with your support of Bush is if you were assured that your basic position was one of pre-eminent righteousness and that therefore any support you give to, for example, broad-ranging, indiscriminate, unjustified military violence as a solution to political or national security problems, or to wide-scale degradation of the environment, or to the ruthless privatization of education and basic social services, merely benefits mitigated evils – evils that do not carry the full punch of the unmitigated evil of abortion and that can therefore all be rationalized or brushed off, or brushed up, in one way or another, individually or as a whole, since they pale in comparison to evil unmitigated. I find this assurance on your part to be wholly untenable. It is certainly unsupported by anything you have said till this point.

[1] A Japanese research group whose public session I attended the other day in Osaka provided evidence that, due to the U.S. military's use of depleted uranium in its fighting in Afghanistan, maladies of all types among Afghani children under the age of 15, many of which are deforming in nature, are up 400 percent from where they were before the hostilities were engaged. This is a minor addition to our discussion, and the effects of depleted uranium on public health is an issue that remains disputed by the U.S. military, but it reminds us that much of the human toll of war cannot be calculated or quantified in the short term, if ever. For that reason, I would underscore that correcting a death count downward from 20,000 to 17,000, as you did in a previous message, is very likely not as decisive as it may at first appear.