One has only so much vociferousness to go around
During this, a slow blogging week for me in the midst of finishing a 145-page brief (a misnomer if ever there was), I offer the following unlikely parallel. First, take Jason Kuznicki’s piece blasting Obama’s targeted killings, in which he writes:
Even the Tea Party is silent. Where are you guys, seriously? Why aren’t you resisting this shameless power grab by faceless, unelected, smarter-than-thou bureaucrats? You were outraged by death panels, but death squads get a pass? Forgive me if your politics leaves me cold. You say you oppose Obama? Everywhere but here?
. . . .
It baffles me that this isn’t the political story of our time. It further baffles me that a new, libertarian, anti-government movement rose up in our time — and was silent about this issue. Or that it was quietly on the other side.
Then there’s this article by Nancy Pearcey arguing it’s time for pro-lifers to push back on abortion as being “anti-science.” Which I agree with, by the way. The argument that “fetuses” can be deprived of “personhood” is because they’re just a “blob of cells” betrays a poverty of understanding of the seriousness of the question. Of course a fetus is a “blob of cells.” But so is a six-month-old, a six-year-old, and a sixty-year-old. As the article points out:
James Watson of DNA fame recommended giving a newborn baby three days of genetic testing before deciding whether the child should be allowed to live. Singer considers personhood a “gray” area even at three years of age.
See? Some really smart scientists argue the line could be drawn much, much further out. So by drawing the line at the third trimester, abortionists are really quite humanitarian about the whole thing.*
Back to the parallel. Both pieces represent a call-to-arms on issues the writer holds to be of utmost importance. This advocacy for moral re-prioritization lies at the heart of most significant political agitation. Kuznicki here excoriates Tea Partiers for not being as upset as he is over the president’s execution orders being made without a trial. But one could argue that it is Kuznicki who fails to exhibit the appropriate level of moral disgust or issue any rallying cry over the approximately 3,700 abortions that occur each day. Pearcey is concerned about all those aborted children, but then again, is she showing enough concern for all the poor, neglected, or abused children among us? Or what about the environment we’re bequeathing to all the future children?
It should not be that difficult to understand what gets people riled up as they do. There are enough people who hate the idea of tax-hikes, and hate it enough to let you know about it. Same with the idea of more and more of our lives being subjected to the impenetrable and ever-expanding administrative state. (The ~2,300 page PPACA, for example, will become literally tens of thousands of pages after Sebelius’s team of regulatory lawyers are finished with their initial set of regulations.)
But military operations? They literally just don’t hit home. That’s not to say they don’t draw opposition. I have not researched the facts behind these strikes, but I’m sure I could drum up some criticisms.
Does this mean we should start fastening sticks to poster boards and haranguing traffic? More to the point, does it mean if you don’t take to the streets on this issue you waive the right to voice dissent over any other political issue? Of course not. It takes all types to make political society work. It is over-thinking things to suggest that, to vociferously protest an administration’s economic policies but to not-so-vociferously protest its military policies, betrays some deep moral failing.
*But what is actually more striking about this is the fact that a molecular biologist and zoologist is passing on any questions of “personhood” in the first place. When scientists and their fans advance science-ish arguments in favor of things like abortion, there is an initial period where the arguments tend to have a lot of traction. But after a time, the arguments start warranting a second look. Why in the world does a molecular biologist have any special authority to opine on personhood? The ploy starts to reveal itself: All the aspersions scienceists cast upon philosophers and theologians are part of a smash-and-grab job to take over the moralizing function in the first world community.