Lesson 40- David Boldt's Letter
As I closed my last program, I was quoting Eusebius, an historian of the early Church who was born in 264 A.D., in order to demonstrate how the Early Church felt about the issue of sexuality. As I said, the Church has a long historical memory and remembers the times in history when homosexuality, and incest with ones sister and mother were common practices and, in some cases, had even been institutionalized into ancient cultures. It was the Church that fought a long hard battle to tame the blind, irrational, hedonistic impulses of our animal nature by bringing them under rational control. As Eusebius had said, the underlying cause of all of these practices was the worship of Pleasure, which, to many of the Ancients had become a god. It was, as he also said, the early Hebrews or Jews who first realized that there was only one God and he was the rational mind that had created the universe. They also realized that they, because of their rational nature, were made in His image and likeness, and thus they were called to a supernatural life based on knowledge and understanding rather than the impulsive lives led by brute animals who, lacking understanding, were ruled by their hedonistic passions.
Thus, it is the Church who is responsible for the moral standards which have guided Western culture and that is why those who wish to change theses standards consider it to be the major obstacle to their objectives. Attacking the Church and its moral positions has become the favorite sport of secular forces and, unfortunately, they often find supporters among some of the more liberal members of the laity and the clergy. However, like a rock, the Church unflinchingly repeats or reiterates those moral traditions which have been handed down to it from the beginning and it refuses to compromise them in the name of super tolerance or acceptance.
On the hand, some other Christian churches, which seem to be built on shifting sands, lacking the historical conscience of the Church, to one degree or another, vacillates and compromises these moral positions because they believe that getting along and being accepted is more important than defending the Truth. In other words, they have become conformed to the world. And, having been infected with a distorted view of democracy and equality, they have concluded that truth, rather than being the objective fact that St. Thomas said does not bend to the whims and fancies of the human heart, is based, rather, on the subjective feelings of the majority. Thus, in the face of overwhelming objective evidence and logic, they accept the lie that the child in the womb is a non-human being called a fetus rather than a human being in the fetal stage of development. And therefore, they conclude, lacking any degree of humanity, it has no claim to human rights or any of the legal protections that our Constitution and laws provide.
They also accept the lie that sex, rather than being a mechanism created by God for the reproduction of the species, is instead a source of pleasure that should be evaluated by the subjective premise of whatever turns you on! They have bought into the secular worldview and having sown the wind, they will eventually reap the whirlwind.
Nowhere is this secular worldview more apparent and aggressive than in our colleges and universities where outright attacks on the traditional values of the students take place all the time. As I may have mentioned in a previous program, my son attended a health class at a local university in which the instructor said, I know that most of you are going to laugh and some of you wont believe me but there are some people who really believe that the purpose of sex is reproduction. Later, the same professor, following a unit on the history of sexuality asked her students How many of you are Catholics? When my son and others raised their hands, she then asked, How does it make you feel to belong to a Church that makes you feel guilty of your sexuality. Later, in another program, I will address her question.
But these challenges to the Churchs teachings on abortion and sex are only part of a larger philosophical challenge which cuts across many other issues. However, before discussing the underlying philosophical issues, I would like to first take some time to show the nature of the conflict as it applies, in this instance, to the issue of abortion.
A number of years ago, David Boldt, an editorial writer for the Inquirer, responding to the fact that the Catholic Church was calling upon all it members, especially those who held public office to denounce abortion, wrote an editorial stating that the Catholic Church was un-American because it did not believe in democracy. I was so incensed by his statement that I wrote the following letter to him, which, I assume because of its length, was never printed. I prefaced my comments with a quote from Thomas Jefferson which stated, The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government. Then I proceeded to inform Mr. Boldt of my opinion regarding his comment. It reads as follows:
In his recent commentary, David R. Boldt, editor of the Inquirers editorial page charged that The Roman Catholic Church is quite literally an un-American institution. It is not democratic
Mr. Bodlts position is reminiscent of others in the past who would create some litmus test for Americanism based on a political or economic theory, and it displays his lack of understanding of the real foundation of this country. Former President Carter, while being honored in Philadelphia on July 4th for his humanitarian works, showed a greater insight into Americanism than Mr. Bodlt when he said, America did not invent human rights; human rights invented America.
The bedrock of this country is not democracy but human rights. Injustice is not made just simply because a majority of the public supports it. In fact, it is a well established premise of our philosophical and literary tradition that laws, even though they be an expression of the majoritys will, can be unjust and therefore ought to be opposed and changed. It was to this tradition that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. referred in his Letter From a Birmingham Jail. If democratic decisions were the only guarantee of human rights, who would want to be a Jew in a state controlled by Nazis, a Black Man in a state controlled by White Citizen Councils, or an unborn human being in a society controlled by pro-abortionist? Even democracy must stand before the bar of justice.
The ultimate test of Americanism then is not whether our society is democratic but whether it is just. Does it, through it, through its laws and policies, protect the basic human rights that Thomas Jefferson so eloquently spoke of when he wrote: We hold these truths to be self-evident that ALL men are CREATED equal and are endowed by their CREATOR with certain INALIENABLE RIGHTS: among which are LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Jefferson did not outline any form of government in this document. In fact, its basic political premise is that we may change our government to any form whenever the present form fails to protect these basic human rights.
If the Founding Fathers really believed what Mr. Boldt asserts, why didnt they create a democracy? Instead they created a representative republic with a separation of powers and checks and balance because they distrusted total power being in anyones hands, including the peoples. The idea that they intended to create a democracy is a myth. What they sought to create was a just society in which both the interests of the majority and the minority could be heard and considered and a solution found that tried to balance the rights of both. This becomes quite evident when one reads the original Constitution and studies the three branches of government which it established.
The president, according to that document, was to be chosen by the Electoral College which resembles more the College of Cardinals used to elect the Pope than the democratic elections of today. The Supreme Court, another non-democratic institution, was to be appointed by a non-democratically elected president and approved by a non-democratically appointed Senate. In fact, the justices were given a life term to protect them from the pressure of the electorate. In passing, it is interesting to note that it was to this most un-democratic institution that pro-abortionist went because they knew that the majority of the electorate opposed abortion on demand (and still do!) and they had no chance of getting their programs through any democratically elected legislative body. How un-American of them!
The only branch of govern which even remotely approached Mr. Boldts democratic requirements was the House of Representatives which was elected by those citizens who met the property requirements set by the states. Hardly democratic in Mr. Boldts use of the word since women, slaves, and non-property holders were excluded. So much for democracy as the litmus test for Americanism.
Now lets return to human rights and justice as the real test for Americanism.
This nation was founded by people who were protesting an historical attitude that is as old as Humankind itself. An attitude which excluded from full humanity- and the correlative protections that go with that recognition- various members of the human family. Its an attitude deeply rooted in our subconscious minds and it has expressed itself in various and infamous ways throughout human history. Sociologist and anthropologist call it ethnocentrism and note that the names for most primitive peoples could be translated as the real human beings, and God help those who werent for they could be treated with the same moral indifference that we reserve for animals
(another issue that ought to be addressed).
It showed itself in the center Ages when philosophers debated whether women were fully human and again in the 1850s when the Supreme Court debated the same question concerning slaves in the Dred Scott Decision. In the 1920s and 30s this attitude reared its ugly head again when there developed in Germany a concept of superior and inferior people; humans and subhumans; meaningful and unmeaningful lives. Hitler adopted these premises, which had already been laid down by the German intelligentsia, and used them to dehumanize and exterminate Jews, Eastern Europeans, homosexuals, Jehovah Witnesses, the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, and anyone else who stood in the way of his utopian Third Reich. Its an attitude, which like the multi-headed Hydra in Greek mythology sprouts another head each time one is amputated. It resurrects itself every time we use inflammatory words like gook, nigger, honky, pigs, blob or human garbage to dehumanize or, on the other hand, abstract clinical terms like V.Cs, indigenous personnel, fetus, or product of conception to depersonalize. And yet our forefathers believed that it was possible to create a society where equal protection under the law might become a reality for all.
Thus, when Jefferson wrote his famous introduction to the Declaration of Independence, he was merely expressing a continuing liberal tradition in Western history to include all of the human family under the concept of equal protection under the law. For what is justice if it is not equal protection?
This same liberal tradition which inspired Jefferson inspired others after him to struggle to make the theory a reality and, within our own lifetime, we have seen many of the barriers to human rights based on race and sex tumble only to be replaced by a new qualifier based on age, development, and wantablity. And to the amazement of many, the charge is being led by some who have just fought for their own inclusion and now argue for the exclusion of others- often their own children. And even more amazingly, they often use the same arguments that were used against them. One wonders whether it is the Catholic Church or the new excluders who would fail Jeffersons test for Americanism.
Jefferson said that these rights were self-evident simply because he knew that when they became debatable someone was about to be shafted, especially the weak, the poor, and the voiceless. By placing these rights at the point of ones creation and emanating from the hands of ones Creator, he removed them from the gasp of all would-be excluders and qualifiers- much to their eternal consternation.
Jefferson and his contemporaries also knew that rights always implied responsibilities. For if one demands rights for himself, he has a responsibility to grant rights to others even when it inconveniences him. Thats one of the hard facts of freedom and adulthood. It is a fawning liberalism which excuses those who would demand rights from their responsibility to respect rights. Justice is a matter of balance. That is why it is artistically portrayed as a blindfolded woman with balancing scales to illustrate that it is her role to weigh and balance contending rights and evidence. Property rights versus the slavess right to be free; state rights versus the civil rights of Black citizens; the victims rights versus the rights of the accused; the womans right to privacy versus the unborn childs right to life. For every right there are opposing rights that justice requires to be weighed and included. No right is absolute but must be weighed in the hierarchy of rights because some right are more basic and important than others. And the right to life is the most basic of all.
However, today we hear of a nebulous right to privacy which permits no opposing right to balance it. This right, which had to be inferred through a convoluted reasoning process based on the stringing together of constitutional amendments, is allowed to outweigh- nay, its not even required to consider an explicit constitutional right to life. The shocking thing is not that the Catholic Church has threatened Catholic politicians with excommunication for refusing to protect the rights of the unborn, but that other major social institutions are either silent or supportive of the practice of killing them.
Where is the ACLU with its long tradition of speaking out on behalf of the voiceless? With its constant reminder that constitutional principles must be jealously guarded, even in the hard cases lest we undermine our basic rights?
Where are the historians of the Holocaust to remind us that this atrocity was based on the same type of exclusionary dehumanization principles; to point out that we do not always remain in control of the premises that we create and that the seemingly altruistic bio-ethics of German philosophers and scientists ultimately fell into the welcoming hands of Adolph Hitler; to warn us that what we have come to know and detest as the Holocaust was referred to by the Nazis as the Final Solution that would rid the world of the inferior beings that stood in the way of the Master Race.
Where are the major civil rights organizations to remind us that this same type of logic was used to dehumanize and exclude slaves in the Dred Scott Decision when it declared them property and gave their owners the right to privately deal with them without any interference from the larger society? By their relative silence are we to assume that it was not the premise that was wrong but merely its application? Perhaps some humans are persons and others are non-persons and God help the human being who is not vocal enough, or intelligent enough, or powerful enough, or numerous enough, or developed enough, or valued enough by us to establish his claim.
Where is the liberal press which so valiantly spoke out for human and civil rights in the 60s and 70s? Is it caught in the same dilemma faced by many fair-minded Southerners when truth mandated that they speak out against their bedfellows?
When does the human race finally learn that there is no such thing as a sub-human; there is no such thing as a non-person? That ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE CREATED EQUAL?
One has the queasy sense that we are witnessing the same phenomenon described in George Orwells (book) Animal Farm when the animals awoke one morning to discover that the leaders of the animal revolution had modified the revolutionary principle that all animals are created equal to some animals are more equal than others.
The Catholic Church and other Christian churches were rightly criticized for being less than vociferous in their statements and actions against the Nazis Holocaust. And yet, Mr. Boldt, considers it a violation of church and state for them to use their only weapon- moral suasion to insist that their OWN MEMBERS are morally inconsistent when they acquiesce to the killing of the unborn. Remember, it is from their perspective of this issue that they must act, not from Mr. Boldts. Or is Mr. Boldt the final arbiter of which mass killings of human beings are holocausts and which ones are only the Final Solution to pressing personal and social problems?
At Nuremberg, German officials responsible for following official policies which violated basic human rights were found guilty of crimes against humanity and punished through imprisonment and death. One wonders whether the Nuremberg prosecutors would have looked with the same admiring eye that Mr. Boldt has for our governors statement, preceding his veto of a bill that would have provided minimal defense for the unborn. (The governor) said, Let me restate in summary the distinction between personal belief and constitutional duty as it applies to this legislation. I BELIEVE ABORTION TO BE THE ULTIMATE VIOLENCE. I believe strongly that Roe v. Wade was incorrectly decided as a matter of law IT HAS UNLEASHED A TIDAL WAVE THAT HAS SWEPT AWAY THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF DEFENSELESS, INNOCENT, UNBORN CHILDREN BUT THESE PERSONAL BELIEFS MUST YIELD TO DUTY, IMPOSED BY MY OFFICE, to follow the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court
Aside from the fact that governors are not elected to interpret the constitutionality of laws and that constitutional issues are brought before the Court for reevaluation and refinement through legal testing, how would Mr. Boldt react to this defense if he were sitting in judgment in Nuremberg?
What disturbs me as an American is Mr. Boldts resurrection of the concept of un-Americanism when an organization acts, within the law, to protect its identity and integrity by acting consistently with its beliefs and perspectives.
It disturbs me when those who have just won rights through the equal protection clause (in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution) then proceed to exclude others from the same protection.
It disturbs me when the new excluders call for a right to privacy to suck, salt, dismember, dehumanize, and depersonalize over (42 million) human beings who are unable to protect their own right to life.
It disturbs me when the AMA starts to talk about meaningful, useful, protected or valued life and conveniently sidesteps the objective scientific question of when human life begins by pleading philosophical incompentency. We didnt ask them for philosophy, we asked them for science and they know the scientific answer to that question. They just dont like it.
It disturbs me when language is distorted so that a stage of development is treated like a specie and specie like a stage of development. Thus we abort fetuses (a stage of development) and we develop into human beings (a species).
It disturbs me when a (self-proclaimed) watchdog institution like the ACLU that is able to make fine tuned legal distinction in other issues suddenly- with a monolithicness that would be envied by the Catholic Church accepts gross misstatements and distortions of language, law, and science that even an untrained layman finds incomprehensible. Isnt there even one chapter in this illustrious organization willing to consider and challenge in the courts the possibility that the human and civil rights of unborn human beings are being violated; that the unborn are being denied their constitutional right to life and equal protection under the law.
It disturbs me when a Noble Laureate like James Watson calls for a policy of refusing to declare a child alive until three days after birth so that it can be examined to see if it matches our standards for human existence.
It disturbs me when his fellow Noble Laureate, Francis Crick, states that no person should be allowed to live past eighty.
It disturbs me when we have crossed the line between abortion and infanticide with hardly a whimper.
It disturbs me when I hear Jeffersons all men are created equal being replaced with some are more equal than others.
It disturbs me when the press constantly uses the Catholic Church as a straw man which it readily dispatches with the charge of separation of church and state and fails to address the human and civil right dimensions which are raised by people like Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice and Dr. Bernard Nathanson, former abortionist and a founding member of the National Abortion Rights Action League.
It disturbs me to see the role reversal of liberals and conservatives, as the former scream for the arrest and removal of the latter as they passively block the doors of abortion clinics and sing We shall overcome.
It disturbs me when liberal-minded people have no qualms about misapplying a RICO law, created to deal with members of Organized Crime, to anti-abortion demonstrators to strip them of their freedom and property. Professor
Dershovitz of Harvard has warned his fellow liberals that this misapplication of the law could rebound on all public demonstrators.
It disturbs me when Dr. Nathansons (video entitled) Eclipse of Reason has not been shown on public television so that the American public can see this abstraction in all its concrete ugliness.
It disturbs me when I read in Newsweek the following defense by a college-educated woman concerning her two abortions. (She writes:)
My abortions were thrust upon me by my carelessness and what almost seems to be an anachronistic biological law. People make bad decisions for which they should not have to pay with their whole lives, and no one can legislate biology. I was pregnant. I carried two unborn children and I chose, for completely selfish reasons, to deny them life (kill them) so that I could better my own. It may not sound catchy, but its the only way I know how to say it
Since when has our system of justice accepted the premise that the responsible parties should not have to pay but the innocent party should? This is a defense for justifiable homicide. This is the new pragmatism. This is the new ethics. Is it also the new Americanism?
There is no easy solution to the problem of the unexpected pregnancy or the unwanted child. Like slavery and apartheid, every solution calls upon somebody to sacrifice power, convenience, and lifestyle. However, the test of the quality of any civilization is not ends but means. That is what human and civil right are all about. And that is why Ghandi and Dr. King insisted that the means are even more important than the ends.
Free of any limitations on means, we, like Hitler, could rid ourselves of street people, the handicapped, the free loaders, AIDs victims, the retarded, criminals, and all the other unwanted people who challenge our security, our resources, and our hearts.
But we are a country ruled by laws not people; principles not impulses. We challenge ourselves and other nations throughout the world to pay the cost, to run the risk, to accept the responsibility that flows from the premise that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.
Women have rights. And they should!
Gays have rights And they should!
Aliens have rightsAnd they should
Criminals have rights And they should!
Animals have rights. And they should!
Unborn human beings have no rights .and they should! Why dont they???
Now I dont mean to demonize David Boldt by quoting this letter because there are many editorials which he wrote with which I agree. In fact, later on, he wrote another editorial which was pro-life in tone and I would like to believe that my letter had something to do with it. Mr. Boldt is probably a very good man who is a product of his times. As a teacher, I know what some of the education themes and trends are in our high schools, colleges, and universities and anyone who has gone through our educational system has to be influenced to some degree by their exposure to these influences.
Robert Heilbroner, in his book The Worldly Philosophers, observed that most peoples lives are influenced by philosophies of which they never heard or have any understanding. Yet the premises upon which they based their lives and behavior come from these philosophies which have become ingrained in the culture where their views are accepted as axiomatic. In fact, most of them exist on the subconscious level where they are rarely, if ever, reflected upon by our rational mind.
This represents a major philosophical shift in Western society of which most people are unaware.