- Abortion distortion factor on steroids
- Mad as maenads
- The snarky approach
- Changing the cultural narrative
- Progress with a capital P
- Why the Brits Brexited
- A rift in the working class
Monday’s Abortion Decision
Though HB2 would likely have been overturned even with his presence, Justice Antonin Scalia’s absence was sorely felt: “The outcome would almost surely had been 5 to 4 had Justice Antonin Scalia not died in February, and in his dissent, Thomas quoted his friend,” noted Robert Barnes for the Washington Post. “Monday’s decision ‘exemplifies the court’s troubling tendency “to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue,”‘ Thomas wrote.”
(Gracie Olmstead, quoting Scalia’s pretty classic statement of the “abortion distortion factor.”)
Of course, there’s rejoicing at the New York Times (who couldn’t even be bothered to make prominent that it was Anthony “Oh Sweet Mystery of Life” Kennedy who prevented a 4-4 tie) and elsewhere. But the abortion distortion factor does undermine the rule of law and the credibility of the Supreme Court as enforcers of a rule of law, rather than of ad hoc enforcers of something less honorable. The Wall Street Journal —perhaps sincerely, perhaps just in an effort to restore the fractured GOP coalition of economic and social conservatives — dissented.
Bottom line: It appears to be the law of the land that if abortionists shut down operations rather than make them safer (safer for women, not babies, that is; the Texas law was a response to the monstrous abortionist Kermit Gosnell), then safety must give way to easier abortion access.
Anyone who doubts the transvaluation of secularist progressivism into a religious faith grounded in theology about the sexual revolution need look no further than the selfies and videos of all those weeping, hugging, rapturous devotees on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday. This was no political demonstration. It wasn’t an exercise in earnest political theater of the Occupy Wall Street variety. It was instead an outburst of quasi-religious euphoria, a gnostic rave. The transported faithful may not have been on Ecstasy. But they were in ecstasy of a kind familiar from the religious history of mystics, whirling dervishes, and revival tents. They were as intoxicated as maenads in the Bacchae.
At issue were a number of regulations in the state of Texas governing abortion clinics and the meat-cutters employed therein. (Not meat? Then what?) Texas, with its relatively light regulatory regime, is sometimes regarded in the coastal cosmopoles as something between late-Seventies Hong Kong and the fever dreams of Ayn Rand, but it isn’t quite. Texas in fact regulates all sorts of things, some of them (mortgage lending) rather well. It also regulates health-care facilities, and abortion clinics, under the pretense that they are health-care facilities.
We live in the age of hookup culture and casual sex—yet we’ve also seen TV shows like Jane the Virgin and films like Juno present a case for carrying unexpected, unwanted babies to term. Our culture keeps telling people (men as well as women) they can “do what they want” with their bodies—have sex whenever they want, use or not use birth control as they will, abort the unborn children resulting from the aforementioned decisions whenever they want. This is why we need to direct our energies toward the dominant cultural narrative, and craft our own winsome, thoughtful, truthful rebuttals.
Unless we can begin to shift attitudes on this issue at a cultural level, it will become increasingly difficult to make advances on a political level. As long as the idea that “I can do what I want with my body” dominates our discourse, it will be difficult (if not impossible) to see the pro-life movement truly gain ground. Because being pro-life—in a thorough, unequivocal, passionate way—means acknowledging the personal cost and sacrifice involved in supporting life. It means choosing the difficult path, more often than not. It means admitting, This is not (or at least not just) my body.
As Megan McArdle pointed out, many people without a real personal connection to Britain felt personal affront and loss at the result, because they were part of the global cosmopolitan professional class. Brexit is a middle finger from the English to the global cosmopolitan order promoted by cosmopolitan elites the world over, which is why it makes a journalist in New York or a wonk in D.C. feel genuine sorrow.
The EU represents Progress with a capital P. The EU means the lowering of national borders, the dissolution of national identities into an ever-expanding formless blob, one whose only discernible values are precisely those of the cosmopolitan elite: free trade, the transcending of roots (unless your roots are those of a rootless cosmopolitan, of course!), and a milquetoast, syrupy, vague utilitarianism.
In this sense, Brexit was indeed a case of Progress versus Conservatism. Which is why I’m so exhilarated by it. It’s one of those times when conservatives stood athwart history, yelling “Stop!” and… history did.
The main issue under discussion was not Brexit, as Britain’s departure from the bloc is called, but another divisive cause embraced by British foes of the European Union: the freedom to use certain types of weed killer.
While Berlin, Europe’s de facto capital, has hosted crisis meetings in recent days to discuss how to respond to Britain’s vote, Brussels, the putative capital of Europe, has stuck doggedly to its own stately rhythms. On Friday and Monday, it plowed ahead with arcane debates about weeds, fish, organic farming and other subjects that have come to form the substance of the so-called European project.
This scrutiny of technical minutiae has turned the European Union into a regulatory superpower, allowing it to help set norms and standards used around the world. But that tight focus has crippled its ability to grapple with big issues or to engage with many ordinary people. As the British vote showed, many people feel no connection with what began as an idealistic peace project after World War II, but is now widely viewed as a meddling and undemocratic bureaucratic machine.
The sociologist Daniel Bell once argued that capitalism would undermine itself because it encouraged hedonistic short-term values for consumers while requiring self-disciplined long-term values in its workers. At least in one segment of society, Bell was absolutely correct.
There’s now a rift within the working class between mostly older people who are self disciplined, respectable and, often, bigoted, and parts of a younger cohort that are more disordered, less industrious, more celebrity-obsessed, but also more tolerant and open to the world
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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)