Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Ai, Mami!

Sebastian Holsclaw reprints one of his early posts on Obsidian Wings.

Religious arguments aren't effective when talking to non-religious people. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having your morality informed by your religion. However there are perfectly good reasons, based mainly on respect for innocent human life, that are practically universal to all societies and relgions. Saying that God is against abortion, isn't an argument that is helpful or necessary. Atheists can respect human life. Muslims can repsect human life. Hindus respect even non-human life. People who haven't thought much about God can respect human life. Focusing on a Christian argument is completely unneeded. Furthermore it shuts out people who are concerned about dehumanizing unborn children, but who are skeptical about Christianity.
I once read an article ages ago (long enough ago that I don't remember where, nor can I find it on the web) that quoted a Jewish woman observing an anti-abortion protest saying something along the lines of, I'm against abortion but I just can't see myself joining those protestors because the Christians might try to convert me. When the writer of the article conveyed the woman's concern to a Christian leader of the protest, he replied, We just might.

This attitude demonstrates what I would call the unseriousness of the anti-abortion movement. The impression given is that the summum bonum of the anti-abortion movement is Christian behavior by legal fiat rather than saving the lives of unborn children. Christian opponents of abortion would find greater success were they to restrain their proselytic impulse and reach out to non-Christians who oppose abortion for religious reasons (Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains) or out of a nonsectarian adherence to the principle of ahimsa (why not animal rights activists, though not Peter Singer). What better refutation to portrayals of white male oppression than a multi-colored, multi-religious anti-abortion coalition? It could even have one of those precious lefty acronyms I hate, like the American Interfaith Multicultural Alliance Against the Murder of Infants, or AI*MAAMI for short. (Okay, now I've strayed into nonseriousness.)

For the record, I oppose abortion, but not enough to want to criminalize it. Despite my personal disapproval, I feel that it's important that women still have access to abortion under proper medical conditions. (It sounds like waffling, I know, but both right and left would do well to recognize that criminalization doesn't necessarily follow from personal disapproval.)

Out of admiration, I prefer to call people like Sebastian and Matt Daniels center-rightists rather than conservatives.
[F]or all the obvious political virtues of the Daniels approach, it has one major flaw: conservative activists hate it. Many of them—including Daniels's comrades from his Massachusetts Family Institute days—have called him to express their ire. One told Daniels that his coalition resembled the bar scene in Star Wars. (Daniels replied, "When the right-wingers get together, that's the bar scene in Star Wars. Those are the alien forms.")
People like this deserve better than being lumped with the Pat Robertsons of the world.