Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

A Vast Aquifer of Corruption

Douglas Wilson


Rachel Held Evans has recently argued that a vote for Hillary Clinton is not inconsistent with a pro-life ethic. There are any number of confusions involved in how she presents the case, but I am going to try to limit myself to addressing just three of them.Hillary

I want to limit what I say to those things which are relevant to the pro-life issue, but without intimating that the other issues surrounding the Clintons are unimportant. The Clinton metropolis was built in its particular location deliberately, with nothing accidental about it. Thinking ahead, they built the whole thing on top of a vast aquifer of corruption. The people living there are not going to run out of brown water for hundreds of years. I say this simply to set the stage.


I actually am grateful that RHE is pro-life, but she has been so compromised by her other commitments that her pro-life understanding has gotten pretty anemic. When you combine the following language with the fact that she is supporting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, one of the most ardent defenders of abortion to be found anywhere, I trust you understand that what we are dealing with is kind of pro-lifey, but is not really pro-life. The emphasis is mine.
“Or, put another way, as a Christian, I believe the sacred personhood of an individual begins before birth and continues throughout life, and I believe that sacred personhood is worth protecting, whether it’s tucked inside a womb, waiting on death row, fleeing Syria in search of a home, or playing beneath the shadow of an American drone.”
Worth protecting. What does that mean?
If you read her entire post, it means leaning encouragingly and hopefully in certain directions, in the idea that leaning that way might have something of an effect on the percentages. When I think of protecting children from dismemberment, I mean something like “outlawing dismemberment.” I do not mean moving from 1.2 million abortions a year to 1.1 million abortions a year.

Notice also how the standard in her statement is “life,” not God’s law. An innocent life in the womb with no trial at all is considered to be on the same plane as a guilty life on death row, after a fair trial. I am glad she wants the children to be left alive, but her standard is humanism. Human life is the source of her law, instead of God’s law being the source of human dignity.


I have felt for many years that atrocity photos of abortion victims are generally counterproductive. Instead of shocking people into a realization of what we are actually doing, the general result is that people recoil in disgust into the comforts of their previous thoughtlessness. The only notable exception to this were the Planned Parenthood sting videos of recent memory.

Unfortunately, RHE provides us with an example of this kind of retreat.
“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been called a ‘baby killer’ by conservative Christians, some of whom routinely sent me images of mutilated fetuses during my pregnancy, which is no way to treat any woman, regardless of her views on abortion.”
Now if and when these things happen, they ought to be discouraged. As a matter of tactical wisdom, I do believe that photos of healthy children in the womb have done far more to set back the pro-aborts than atrocity photos do. I generally grant the tactical point, one that I believe RHE would probably agree with. But I don’t grant the moral one; I don’t grant the legitimacy of her misdirected indignation here.

Her reaction is revelatory. A photo of a dismembered child is sent to RHE. The legal status of that child (constitutionally deceased) is affirmed in the strongest possible way by the candidate that RHE is going to vote for. RHE is a mother, and is carrying a child that will not have these awful things done to him or her. So let us agree that a pro-lifer shouting “baby-killer” at RHE is not among our most effective rhetorical warriors. Let’s not make him the general. But there really is another person involved in this exchange, which would be the dismembered child.

RHE’s reaction here — “no way to treat any woman” — is comparable to an ante bellum plantation mistress dealing with an irascible and outraged abolitionist, one who sent her a photo of a black man stripped to the waist and with “slavery tracks” all over his back, and her response is to tell him that sending pictures like this “is no way to treat a white woman.” Right, but at the end of the day it is not your back.


We can’t just be pro-life with regard to the child when they are in the womb. The argument is that we have to fight for “pro-child” policies that deal with all that extensive time outside the womb, as in, the rest of life. But this is confused code for “we might have to leave the child safe and secure in the womb, but we can make up for it by adopting policies that ensure that the child will be born into a society that looks like Venezuela with a ratty version of Detroit in the middle of it.

Socialism in all its forms is a poverty machine. It is an inexorable state of the art poverty factory.

But RHE apparently differs:
“Data suggests progressive social policies that make health care and child care more affordable, make contraception more accessible, alleviate poverty, and support a living wage do the most to create such a culture, while countries where abortion is simply illegal see no change in the abortion rate.”
Data suggest, do they? Progressive social policies help to make the clouds fluffier, the unicorn manes silkier, the Utopias utopier, do they? I trow not.

There is no economic wordfog that has been more soundly debunked than “progressivism” has been. Nobel Prize winners have refuted it with cricket bats. Best selling authors in economics have taken it on with canoe paddles. Other smart people with four foot lengths of half-inch rebar have left their own welts. Nothing is more like sweeping water up your driveway with a push broom than socialism. The only thing that gives it the energy to continue on is the indefatigable power of envy.

“Thinking holistically about pro-life values means thinking beyond the labor and delivery unit. If we don’t address income inequality in this country, and if we don’t support robust plans to improve health care and education, we simply can’t sustain the very lives we’re advocating be protected.”

What is described as the problem here? The problem is that old culprit “income inequality.” But what on earth could possibly be wrong with income inequality?

If I have food and shelter, why is it a problem for me if anyone else has more food and more shelter? If I don’t have food and shelter, then that is the problem, and it is an objective one. I am hungry and I am getting rained on. But unless I am going without because some thug took my stuff, my lack is not caused by what anyone else possesses. And if someone did take my stuff—for such thugs do exist—the chances are outstanding that it was someone from the government.

There is a difference between relative poverty and absolute poverty. The former is based on comparisons, and the latter is not. Someone is objectively poor if they are living in a cardboard box, and are going to die within the week because of a lack of food. Someone is relatively poor—in the United States—if they have to make do with an iPhone 4.

If you are going to bring Jesus into economics, as RHE wants to do, it ought not to be into a form of economics that will destroy everything, leaving it a smoking ruin. If you want to speak in the name of Jesus to a cripple, telling him to rise up and walk, the result ought not to be him keeling over while clutching at his heart.

So yes, we want a pro-life ethic that extends throughout all our lives, and which overarches everything we do. Of course. This means that we must embrace the law of God, the law of liberty, the law that is consistent with free grace, free men, and free markets. The end result will be that we don’t use the power of government to take their lives or their stuff.

No comments: