Friday, April 16

Voting for life. What we know

[The brief introduction to this exchange is posted on April 19 as VOTING FOR LIFE: PREAMBLE. The following was written from April 7 to April 8.]#2
Fanni: I will interject a few remarks.

Robert: "Whether we went to war on "hyped-up, false, misleading charges" is still really unknown. Those are the charges of Bush's political adversaries, but not yet proven."

Fanni: It is not still "really" unknown. If you would like me to forward you a long list of hyped-up, false, misleading charges relating to immanent threats, possession of weapons, etc., I will. You are not likely to have heard them aired on Fox News, which is broadcast in the TVs that hang in the White House. In fact, if you use Fox News as your primary source of news, for the sake of being able to conduct an informed discussion with you about the current administration, I suggest you that balance this "fair and balanced" news source with other, non-corporate, non-militaristic voices. Many of these misleading charges were part of the President's various State of the Union addresses. I am sure you took them in, in the moment of their delivery, before their false nature had been fully revealed. Others have been repeated recently by members of the administration. There is no "gray area" here behind which you can hide in an attempt to uphold as justified our belligerent president's motivations. Fox News will tell you otherwise; but, personally, I get my news from many different sources, and avoid war-cheerleading of the sort O'Reilly gives us, dressed up as "debate." I suggest you do the same. The death by U.S. fire power and cluster bombs of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq on the basis of false charges is not a venture that holds out the promise--not even a distant one--of respectability or justification.

Your "Oh, well the Germans and the French were not pure" line of argumentation, which I have seen Fox News return to time and again as a way to divert attention from the real debate, holds no merit whatsoever. The fact is, the French and the Germans were not resisting any and all calls to confront Hussein's criminal and enfeebled regime. You may have forgotten that, since the administration and Fox News have long forgotten it in their last-ditch effort to make it appear that anyone who disagreed with them actually wanted Saddam Hussein in power or supported him for self-interested reasons. The fact is, the Germans and French were calling for 3 and a half months more of inspections before a decision about conflict be made. Yours is a preposterous claim, furthermore, given the unchecked quest for wealth and profit that our war in Iraq has unleashed almost to the exclusive benefit of large U.S. corporations. Cheney's corporation, the one that still pays him in excess of 100,000 a year, has made a killing the likes of no corporate-war machine has done in the history of the world, and it has done so after having seriously curtailed over the last three years its lobbying of Washington. (Why lobby so ruthlessly, when your top guy is the vice president?)

Robert: "As to the war with Iraq, I personally was ambivalent about doing it, primarily since it was the first time we had done a 'preemptive strike.'"

Fanni: I am pleased to hear that your conscience is still showing signs of life on an issue other than that of abortion. Ambivalence is a good first step towards a reasonable view of the Bush administration. You should also be suspicious of the flagrantly absurd evocation of "preemption" as a means of describing military aggression in contexts where no serious threat to national security was substantiated.

Robert: "Of course, I am not for killing innocent civilians, but there are such things as just wars, which the Pope felt Iraq was not. I believe one could argue that point, however, but the true facts to do that are still not totally known. (Hindsight is 20/20, and Iraq apparently did not have weapons of mass destruction which threatened us in an immediate way.)"

Fanni: Voices the world over recognized this war as unjust from the get-go. Even members of Congress recognized that there was no clear evidence of an imminent threat. So, no one is arguing with the disingenuous "hindsight" logic that you refer to here. The only citizens of the world who supported it outside the U.S., as a majority voice, were those of Israel, and they obviously had their own motives for seeking aggression against their neighbors.

It is not my view that this war should have been opposed simply on the grounds that "war is unjust." That is a simplistic view of warfare that totally disregards the reasons for which a ridiculously powerful and oil-consuming nation like the U.S. goes to war with paper tigers of the sort that Iraq was one year and a half ago. To counter the logic of war that fueled this vicious, terrorism-propagating international outrage, one has only to do what so many people outside (and even inside) the US did: criticize it for its real motivations, which are at bottom corporate, and focused on the oil-rich region that is Iraq.

Robert: "The world is a complex place and one side is hardly ever 100% right and the other 100% wrong. Neither the French nor the Germans were completely free of ulterior motives in opposing the war, as I recall from various news stories."

Fanni: Various? Try reaching outside of your nationalistic corporate news, and you will get a broader understanding of the issue.

Robert: "The French, I believe, had a large oil deal with Saddam that would be interrupted if another regime took over."

Fanni: What about the large oil deal the US hoped to make by going to war (the plans for which, we now know, were sitting on Cheney's desk one week into his serving as vice president)? Is that not worth considering? The war profits hoped for by U.S. corporations with the dogged assistance of the current administration far diminish anything the French and Germans could have hoped for by forestalling the war for a few months.

Robert: "Regarding Bush's policies, I am not a Republican. I am a pro-life Democrat who votes for pro-life candidates. Many thing Bush and the Republicans do upset me, but without life, no one has any rights."

Fanni: This is the point I would most like to comment on. I think that, as long as Bush remains anti-abortion, you will find myriad ways to excuse his failings, his aggressions, his fascism, etc. So, it's not really worth our discussing at length whether, say, his last war was justified or not. For you, Bush can always be justified to some degree by the fact that he is anti-abortion. And you have reasons for thinking that this one justification is necessarily primary with respect to other, possibly lacking justifications.

Let me therefore shift the topic from the war in Iraq. I want to ask you about this "primary justification" or "ultimate right." It seems to me that it is the most important principle for you and has been so for all the years in which you have fought abortion. I have often wondered, since I have known you to support Bush, and since I have followed the devastation that Bush has brought to and promised for our environment over the past three years (including, at last count, 370 roll backs of environmental regulations, many long in place), just how bad an anti-abortion politician would have to be before you could no longer give the politician your support. Have you yourself ever posed this question, if only hypothetically? Because if, as you say, without life, there are no rights, then one could imagine a leader whose policies did truly horrendous, holocaust-like damage to humanity, but who would no less have your support, as long as the leader fought for all fetuses to be born and thereby fought to assure the basis of other rights, however damaged or neglected or violated all those rights were as a consequence of their leadership. One could even imagine a leader who called for the "letting die" of millions of children every year, as well as the increased poisoning of air and water by corporations that leads to measurable increases in asthma, for example, and who, instead of supporting measures for developing renewable sources of energy, siphoned off the national treasury in an annual multi-billion dollar corporate welfare program designed to fatten American fossil fuel barons. But you already do that in supporting Bush. So, while still respecting your principle of "this one right trumps all others," one could go a step further and imagine that George Bush called for the execution by fire power of all children who reach the age of 5 and do not commit themselves to killing for and drilling oil for their livelihood. A preposterous example, for sure. But what would you do in such a case? I assume you would withdraw your support for Bush. But if so, then there must be some sort of cut off, some sort of point at which your "inviolable principle" no longer trumps all others, right? If so, I wonder, where is that point?

Personally, I think you and I are both on the same side of this large issue of life, and the respect for it which we are called to cultivate. However, claiming that this principle, once reduced to a defense of the fetus, is primary with respect to all other issues of life is, I think, remarkably short-sighted. We live in an age in which thousands of species disappear from the planet every year. We live in a time where humanity has demonstrated irrefutably that its use of fossil fuels is rapidly leading to conditions that will try our race's ability to remain alive on the planet we inhabit. Therefore, claiming that the destiny of the fetus is the primary issue of life-and-death for humanity simply is not true. I don't mean by that that it is not important, and that it does not involve life-and-death issues in the same way that other issues do, but its primacy is no longer a thing assured, by dogma or scientific means. The disappearance of the human race means the disappearance of the ability of the human race to produce fetuses. Obviously.

Robert: "If the Republicans cut funds for foreign aid, I can (and do) give to charitable organizations that serve children and adults overseas. If the Republicans cut educational benefits at home, I can (and do) give to support education at home."

Fanni: Good luck in trying to counteract with your donations all the violence and degradation to the world environment, political and natural, that the Republican Party is bringing about. Remember, the Republican Party, while it may ring a few of your bells on certain conservative social issues, has as its main purpose of being extracting cheap labor out of the citizens of the world and maximizing profits for the few (which profiteers are disgracefully called "entrepreneurs" in the jargon of Carl Rove). If you haven't realized this yet, I would be stunned, and only chalk your blindness up to the passion of your anti-abortion struggles.

Robert: "But if pro-choice Democrats vow to continue the 31 year war against the unborn at home (as Kerry has done), currently with 3600 daily fatalities, and vow to extend it overseas through supporting abortion-promoting population control agencies (as Kerry has said he will do), and to continue the war on the unborn into the far future by appointing pro-abortion justices to the Supreme Court (as Kerry has vowed to do), I cannot bring anyone back to life, so I will vote for anti-abortion Bush."

Fanni: I will not flush at your war rhetoric. Rather, I will assume it wholly and remind you that there are many, many wars being fought everyday. And the war on the fetus is devastating, for sure, but it is not primary when you consider the destiny of the human race. All "pro-lifers," I would think, would have necessarily to be environmentalists of the highest order. This fact will only become increasingly true as, in the next century, nations go to war not only over the few remaining sources of oil, but over access to clean water and clean air.

Robert: "We were all unborn human beings at one time. The unborn are real and they are here now. Their killing is direct and immediate. I cannot support someone who believes that the direct, immediate killing of innocent human beings, for any or no reason, should be a legal right. Peace."

Fanni: I don't dispute the recourse to categories of "directness" and "immediacy." I am not one of a liberal camp that tries to diminish the significance of the violence wrought on the unborn. My view, rather, is that the violence done to all of us for the sake of short-sighted corporate greed, and most importantly to the bio-diversity and environment that we must treat as sacred -- whether we believe in a God or not -- is just as direct and immediate, and in fact concerns not only all of us as "one-time fetuses," but the destiny of all humanity, living and to come. No administration has done more violence to our environment than the Bush administration, and so I would wonder at what point you might draw a line, or at least weigh the balances, in your support of this administration or any administration that so violently pursues corporate profits and fossil fuels to the great peril of humankind.

Peace, indeed.