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Roe And Apocalypse

Detail of a tweet by pro-abortion group Ruth Sent Us, urging people to burn the Eucharist to support abortion rights

Ross Douthat is temperamentally averse to bomb-throwing, but even if he wasn’t, knowing that his role is to explain social and conservatism to liberal readers of The New York Times puts limitations on him that, I think, compel him to write more carefully, and often more persuasively, than conservatives like me, who are not under such restraints. His column today on how Roe v. Wade distorted American politics is a great example. 

Douthat begins by pointing gently to the hypocrisy of liberals who position themselves as defenders of democracy against GOP authoritarianism protesting that returning the abortion issue to state legislatures is an anti-democratic move. (This, by the way, is not as amusing a hypocrisy as liberals who have been gassing on idiotically about how men can have babies now reverting back to the familiar rhetoric that men should have nothing to say about abortion, which they say is a women’s issue.)

This passage is especially important:

And the way Roe was decided made this polarization worse. From the perspective of geography and class, a group of robed lawyers in Washington, D.C., demanding that the country simply accept their settlement on one of the gravest moral questions imaginable is the perfect primer for a populist revolt. What has happened in similar ways with other issues — immigration, most notably — happened with abortion first: The elite settlement failed to settle the issue, and the backlash encompassed not just the issue itself but elite legitimacy writ large.

From the perspective of religion, meanwhile, by constitutionalizing the issue Roe didn’t just hand a normal political defeat to the pro-life side; it seemed to read their core convictions out of the American constitutional order entirely, seeding a religious alienation that continues to bear bitter fruit today. And the timing was particularly unfortunate: When Roe was handed down, both Catholicism and evangelicalism had just passed through periods of reform and modernization that promised a reconciliation between Christian faith and liberal modernity. Then immediately, liberal modernity changed its demands and made them all-or-nothing, making the moral price of admission more than many Christians could reasonably pay.

This is true about liberalism and its moralistic authoritarianism. The “moral price of admission” for participating in more and more aspects of public and private life is more than many Christians — and non-Christians — can pay. This weekend in Philadelphia, I was able to meet up with friends from my old life here, and make new friends with people who came to the Anglican event to hear me speak. One man told me about life at a prominent university’s science department, and how crushing it is to be placed under more and more burdens to affirm progressive cultural beliefs that not only violate one’s conscience, but that have absolutely nothing to do with teaching or practicing science. And the fear of crossing constantly-moving ideological lines imposed by liberals in power is demoralizing.

Another man who works in the tech field told me that wokeness has so consumed his workplace that his daily life is not about whether to lie or not, but rather sorting out which lies he is compelled to tell are worse than others. I could tell that he wants out.

You hear these stories often enough — and I do — and you find yourself filled with so much resentment against these people. Who the hell do they think they are? The New York Museum of Jewish Heritage has just cancelled a Tikvah Fund event scheduled for there with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, objecting to the DeSantis-backed law to regulate the teaching of LGBT ideology to schoolchildren aged nine and under. DeSantis is a big supporter of Israel. What does his support for a commonsense law that’s popular with the people of his state, and many Americans, have to do with Judaism? But this is how liberalism works today: you must agree with whatever extreme thing it professes, or you are not fit to be accommodated in public. It’s a damn purity cult — and this will never, ever work in a diverse, pluralistic country.

A friend today was telling me about a very liberal Catholic lawyer pal of ours who might be the last pro-life Democrat left in the country. The liberal Catholic lawyer sent out an email to a group of contacts, saying that he agreed with Alito’s reasoning, but thought it was imprudent to overturn Roe right now for political reasons, in this polarized country. The response from others in the group was hysterical, said my friend (who was on the list). They will not permit themselves even to grasp why a good-faith liberal like the lawyer — who is pretty much a social justice Catholic — would believe that social justice includes the right to life of the unborn. Again, this is how liberals roll in America today: as a purity cult.

I’m old enough to remember when Donald Trump was widely (and correctly) denounced for failing to speak out against mobs doing violence to senior Washington leaders, simply for doing their jobs. I guess it’s only bad when Republicans do it:

The White House has so far declined to say that pro-Roe protesters should not target the private homes of Supreme Court justices.

Michelle Goldberg of the NYT says — naturally — that the end of Roe is going to “tear America apart.” Because if you don’t give the Left whatever it wants, it’s your fault that they’re going to destroy things.

But long before we get there, the death of Roe will intensify our national animus, turning red states and blue into mutually hostile legal territories. You think we hate each other now? Just wait until the new round of lawsuits start.

She’s right about that — the column is correct to point out that the conflicting state laws are going to cause a lot of conflict and confusion. But notice too that from the point of view of Goldberg, the fault is not in a poorly reasoned SCOTUS decision from 1973 (even Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that Roe was shaky), but in abandoning what the Left believes is right and normal.

What is our Very Catholic President saying? This:

“This is about a lot more than abortion,” Mr. Biden told reporters on Wednesday, citing gay rights and birth control. “What are the next things that are going to be attacked? Because this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in American history — in recent American history.”

“The most extreme political organization”? This is what the Democratic Party, led by the Very Catholic President Joseph Robinette Biden, supports:

I understand why liberals favor abortion rights. I don’t agree with them, but I understand it, and can discuss it with them without falling out. One gets the impression that the other side cannot allow itself to taint its pure mind by thinking how things look from the conservative point of view. I’ve told the story here before about how, back in 1994, I think it was, I was having lunch in Washington with three liberal women, one of whom was my housemate in a Capitol Hill group house. Somehow my new Catholicism came up, and one of the women asked me if I was pro-life. Yes, I said, but I don’t want to talk about abortion here at lunch. That was the last word I got in. The women tore into me. They thought I didn’t have the right to eat my lunch in peace if I held such views. One of the three women, a recent college graduate, told the other two that she didn’t feel safe with me at the table.

I threw money for the meal down on the table, and walked out. Later, my housemate told me that the conflict was regrettable, but really, I had started it by holding such abhorrent views on abortion. Our friendship never was the same after that. My point is this: the women, all of whom worked in Democratic politics, truly believed that my Catholic pro-life conviction was so offensive that I did not deserve any respect — not even the respect to be allowed to eat in peace — but that the simple fact that I held the opinion at all was responsible for their obnoxious behavior.

Now we read about a new radical group, Ruth Sent Us, that is calling on pro-abortion protesters to disrupt services this Sunday in Catholic churches, and doxxed the home addresses of SCOTUS justices. Have you ever had to have police protection in front of your home because of liberal haters attacking your house? I have, when I lived in Dallas. It’s no fun. (No kidding, I believe that one benefit to my wife and kids from my ongoing divorce is that I am no longer living there, and the anonymous person who has been sending hate mail to my house in Baton Rouge might stop.) I’m not playing Whatabout here. I have long believed that it’s deeply wrong for activists of either left or right to target the personal homes of politicians, public servants, abortion doctors, or anybody else. It crosses an important line of privacy.

Think about it: these people are planning today to invade sacred spaces and defile them to make a political point. They have no idea how much this is going to ramp up the culture war. They don’t care: they want to defile.

Burning the Eucharist. There is no greater sacrilege or desecration. But this is what these monsters are planning to do, in the United States of America. Watch to see if our Very Catholic President speaks out against this.

(But not all churches. From a statement by the ghoulish woman who heads the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies:

The cause for alarm goes far beyond abortion. The draft opinion argues that rights not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution are protected only if they are “deeply rooted” in American history. This history, as we know, was significantly shaped by all-white, all-male electorates that chose all-white, all-male executives, legislatures and judges. Justice Alito’s uncritical embrace of this history is profoundly troubling, especially because the logic of his argument can be employed by far right extremists eager to restrict access to contraception, recriminalize same-sex sexual relationships, and overturn the Supreme Court’s decision guaranteeing marriage equality.

As Episcopalians, we have a particular obligation to stand against Christians who seek to destroy our multicultural democracy and recast the United States as an idol to the cruel and distorted Christianity they advocate. In 2018, our General Convention declared that “equitable access to women’s health care, including women’s reproductive health care, is an integral part of a woman’s struggle to assert her dignity and worth as a human being.” Now—before this outrageous opinion becomes law—we must make our Christian witness to the dignity of every human being by insisting that we support the right to safe and legal reproductive health care because our faith in a compassionate God requires us to do so.)

Reading the media these past two days, it is very clear that progressive activists and those within institutions are going to ramp up hatred and even persecution of Christians and other pro-lifers — and at the same time, they are going to grant themselves permission to do this, for the same reason those three women zealots at lunch almost three decades ago absolved themselves of the responsibility to treat me, who had previously been their friend, with common decency, because my religious and political convictions made me pro-life.

This is exactly the kind of thing that pushes people like me, who was not a supporter of Donald Trump, further to the right. If these people on the left believe that they have the right to treat us, their fellow Americans, with active contempt and threats of violence, then they should not be surprised when relatively moderate people become radicalized. As I’ve written here before, the US and European left caterwauls about how illiberal Viktor Orban is, but completely — completely — miss how shockingly illiberal they are in how they run their institutions, and in the laws and policies they want to force on the rest of us. And yet, they are bewildered why ordinary people who suffer under the authoritarianism of the left vote for people like Trump and Orban.

Douthat ends his column like this:

But if Roe does fall, it makes sense that a decision that did so much to divide our parties and delegitimize our institutions would ultimately be undone by the very forces it unleashed: In its beginning was its end.

Yep. The Roe decision was naked left-wing judicial politics, using the Court’s authority to remove a controversial issue from democratic deliberation and debate. This is what the Left today has become. You are increasingly unfree within left-run institutions to dissent in any way from their ideological commands. Every space becomes politicized — this, in a tireless effort to conquer the space between your ears. A friend texted me yesterday from a shopping trip:

It was all pride and justice with rainbow backdrops at Walmart this morning. Brace yourself for June.

They politicize everything, and demand compliance. These aren’t liberals anymore. They are soft totalitarians. When they invade our churches, when they make us afraid to say true things, or even to have true thoughts without fear of being fired, when they come after our children to teach them to hate us and hate the bodies into which they have been born, and when they brutalize us and tell us look what you made us do — don’t you believe it for one hot second.

Burning the Eucharist to support the right to kill unborn life. This is an apocalypse; this is an unveiling. Read the signs of the times, and act accordingly. A British pastor I talked to over the weekend, a man who told me Live Not By Lies is a prophetic and accurate warning and urge to prepare, said, “In the UK, the soft totalitarianism won’t stay soft for long.” If the Left is characterized by church-desecrators and Eucharist-burners, and the left elites (e.g., Catholic Joe Biden and Catholic Nancy Pelosi) do not denounce them and punish those who do it), you may take this as a sign that the same is going to happen here.

A lot of permanent Republican voters are being made right now. And a lot of people who are Republican voters already are being pushed to no longer tolerate Republicans who try to pretend that we are at peace, when we are not.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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