Saturday, April 26, 2008

Would God Ever Damn the NAACP?

"We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."

--Comments of Margaret Sanger, foundress of Planned Parenthood, in a 1939 memo entitled “Suggestions for the Negro Project.”

By now you've all heard (and heard, and heard) of pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. He's the firebrand preacher whose controversial statements are explained by his being in the "prophetic tradition" of the black church, by his fearless commitment to bring God's Truth to the people even if it's unwelcome, and by his ministry to Speak Truth to Power. In fact, when he made his most contorversial peroration about singing "God Bless America" but "God damn America", he delivered it in the form of a religious injunction: "No, no, no. Not God bless America; God damn America! That's in the Bible, for killing innocent people."

It's in the Bible, see.

So it's funny that there are times when Rev. Wright, our "shining light," "prophet", our speaker of truth to power, our explainer of the mind of God on national and foreign policy, can display all the delicate distaste for difficult subjects and politesse of the most uptight Ladies Auxiliary Tea when it comes to one certain subject.

Last year he gave an interview to the German magazine, Der Spiegel, during which he was asked about the proper Christian attitude towards abortion:

SPIEGEL: Can you be a good Christian and be pro-choice?

Wright: Both. You can be a good Christian and be pro-life. You can be a good Christian and be pro-choice.

SPIEGEL: You mean it's a purely political question and faith has nothing to say about it?

Wright: First of all, we shouldn’t even be having this discussion. Neither one of us can get pregnant. But what a woman decides about her body and her God is her business. Women who are pro-life can be just a good a Christian as a woman who is pro-choice and vice versa. It gets to be a problem when I decide one position should be the law for everybody. In public life, we have to find a way to live together even though we disagree -- and some things we will never agree on.

Isn't he polite? This is hardly the kind of all-or-nothing warning from Jehovah we've all enjoyed watching Rev. Wright lay out when it comes to something like, oh, American support for Israel. Rev. Wright then followed up his explanation that God can go either way on abortion this way:

...In public life, we have to find a way to live together even though we disagree -- and some things we will never agree on. But we've got to leave this I'm-going-to-kill-you-because-you-don't-believe-what-I-believe attitude behind.

I agree completely! By all means let's not embrace an I'm-going-to-kill-you-because-you-don't-believe-what-I-believe attitude, or, at least we shouldn't embrace it--provided we hold such an attitude. But I don't think I do, or you do, either. Last I looked, that attitude was still more of an Islamic thing.

Yet isn't it interesting how Rev. Wright seems so at peace, so unprophetic, and so downright divinely blasé with embracing this attitude:

“I’m going to kill you because I don’t want to carry you in my womb any more.”

Rev. Wright's views on abortion are indeed relevant to the rest of what he has to say, if for no other reason than they make him out the worst sort of hypocritical Christian minister.

A case in point: when Bill Moyers gave Rev. Wright the chance to explain his “God damn America” sermon, Rev. Wright answered this way:

When you start confusing God and government, your allegiances to government -a particular government and not to God, that you're in serious trouble because governments fail people. And governments change. And governments lie. And those three points of the sermon. And that is the context in which I was illustrating how the governments biblically and the governments since biblical times, up to our time, changed, how they failed, and how they lie. And when we start talking about my government right or wrong, I don't think that goes. That is consistent with what the will of God says or the word of God says that governments don't say right or wrong. That governments that wanna kill innocents are not consistent with the will of God. And that you are made in the image of God, you're not made in the image of any particular government.

Odd. There's Rev. Wright's sensitivity again about the "killing of innocents." Seems to be a real thing with him. Nor should there be any confusion here that when Wright says “governments that wanna kill innocents," he’s not talking about Sudan, Hamas, or Iran: no, he's talking about that unrighteous "U.S. of KKK A."

The context of Rev. Wright's "God damn" sermon was its delivery the Sunday after 9/11. He was preaching on Psalm 137, a Psalm about Israelite exile in Babylon, and which concludes with a shocking verse aimed at Israel's oppressors: "Blessed are they who dash your baby's brains against a rock." Rev. Wright's point was that Israelite anger against their Babylonian captors had grown beyond resentment of the Babylonian military regime, and degenerated into a blind vengeance against even the enemy's innocent babies. Drawing a comparison with, in his view, America's anger after 9/11, Rev. Wright said to his congregation,

“And that my beloved is a dangerous place to be. Yet, that is where the people of faith are in 551 BC and that is where far too many people of faith are in 2001 AD. We have moved from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents. We want revenge. We want paybacks and we don't care who gets hurt in the process.”

Which might be a compelling spiritual insight, if it accurately stated the American mind, at that time or since. Unfortunately, just like his parishioner, Barack Obama, Rev. Wright’s view of America is skewed beyond recognition; he seems incapable of describing anything resembling either the American mind, nor American history, except in the most caustic and (yes, I'll say it), anti-American terms. For instance, he said this in another sermon:

America is still the No. 1 killer in the world. . . . We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers . . . We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Ghadhafi . . . We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. (“Obama and the Minister”).

(Betcha didn’t know America imprisoned Nelson Mandela, you miseducated rubes).

It's true enough that in the wake of 9/11 we did want revenge, and payback, and some of us wanted serious action on the matter of re-establishing our neglected national security--which isn't a sin, unless you're a liberal.

But the idea that we didn't care, or don't care now, who gets hurt in the process is a slander that Wright, and the Left, have repeated without accountability for 7 years.

The truth is that not even the most hysterically anti-war activist in America has any real idea of the extent of military power the United States could exert if we ever actually took the gloves off. The last time we fought with a complete will to win was in 1945, and even then our restraint in warmaking was a thing of wonder, especially when compared with the combat tactics and genocidal policies of the Axis and even the Soviets--Nagasaki and Hiroshima notwithstanding. (Or is it necessary to be reminded that we were at war with Japan when we dropped those bombs?)

But when it comes to Rev. Wright's view of it that right after 9/11 America had “moved from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents,” I have no idea who he's talking about. I've never harbored any hatred for unarmed innocents in Afghanistan or Iraq, and I’ve grieved at every report of deaths of innocent civilians as an incident to these two wars--wars that I supported, and still support.

As far as I'm concerned, if we could have destroyed the Taliban (no innocents, them), and Saddam's regime without killing their soldiers, I’d be all for it. If we had to kill their soldiers to accomplish the mission, I'd have no objection. If, in order to neutralize their mischief-making, (and to counter their military strategy of immersing and disguising their soldiers in the civilian population) we had to not only kill their fighters but risk the unintended deaths of innocent civilians, I see no moral wrong in that. In moral theology, intentionality is critical. Unintended deaths are not murder, even in war.

Moreover, if, after 9/11, we really had responded, as Rev. Wright so casually misinforms his listeners that we did, without a care for "who gets hurt in the process," you can be sure our situation in the Middle East would look quite different. For one, we wouldn’t be fighting from cave to cave in Afghanistan, and watching helplessly as al Qaeda laughs at us from us over the border in Pakistan. We wouldn't be doing that because there wouldn’t be any Afghanistan left, and we long since would have shown our contempt for Pakistan's sovereignty in favor of our own stated mission to find terrorists wherever they were hiding.

Nor would there be any quarrels about nation-building or who gets the oil money in Iraq. There wouldn't be anything to build with, as Iraq would be gone, and all Iraqis, guilty or innocent, dead.

Instead, American casualties are higher now because we fight our wars with more care for sparing the unarmed fellow villagers of the guys who are trying to kill us than we do for making the most enemy soldiers dead, regardless of consequences. We're so careful about not hurting any innocent civilians, that even enemy warriors, (and a lot of enemy civilians), can find shelter under that umbrella of caution--shelter they then exploit to kill more of our guys. The number of American dead the Left claims to be in such pain about is in part caused by decisions to place our own fighters in harm's way expressly to keep Iraqi casualties down. The left shows its gratiude for that by calling our soldiers, Nazis, terrorists, and baby-killers--which that last one, coming from them, is really rich.

America really is exceptional. Until we came along history had no examples of any nation fighting wars this way.

All of which leads me back to my real point. Rev. Wright is 100% pro-abortion. (And although it's obvious that Barack Obama's political views can't be ascribed to his pastor, it's still hugely significant that, after 20 years of Wright's preaching, and after crediting Rev. Wright with leading him "to Christ," Obama has the most radical pro-choice record in the Senate, and no moral qualms whatsoever about blocking legislation that would protect the lives of live babies already delivered who survived botched abortions).

Being a pro-choice Christian pastor isn't just a moral inconsistency. It disqualifies Rev. Wright, absolutely and forever, from ever holding any moral high ground on the treatment of “unarmed innocents.” (Nor, for that matter, does Rev. Wright have moral seriousness on the subject of justice to the poor, regardless of his church's record of social service work in inner-city Chicago. The poorest homeless man, single mother, or jobless ex-con has wealth and opportunities beyond imagination compared to a babe-in-the-womb whose mother has made up her mind to snuff it out. You can't get any poorer than that.)

American military doctrine since the last century has consistently employed restraint and aversion to anything approaching total war. Once we've made a decision for war, we are prepared to kill, and we will if we have to, but if we don’t have to, we won’t. That is our history. In just-war theory, this is called the proportional use of force, i.e., the least amount of focre necessary, and it's completely consistent with justice. (Pacifism is not consistent with justice; it can't be, since it must make peace with injustice, and never fight). The United States of America is history’s foremost example of the use of proportional force. Yes, innocent civilians die in every American war. But we work pretty hard to see that they don't. Americans die in the effort to see that they don't. Though the Left's bent reckoning always has them labeling all unintended civilian deaths "murder," or instances of American "terrorism," there is no moral basis for such charges.

It’s the intentionality thing again.

Whereas, in contrast, a decision to abort has no proportionality. Just as you can't be a little bit pregnant, you can't terminate a pregnancy by the least amount necessary. It's always going to go all the way. (Unless something goes wrong, in which case Barack Obama wants the law to tolerate finishing you off).

And in comparison to war, when it comes to intentionality abortion always lands on the wrong side of the ledger --because its object is not only a possibility, but a foregone conclusion. It isn’t motherhood by other means., as war may be diplomacy by other means. Abortion only ends one way: that is, with the enemy, and all his future offspring, annihilated, entirely.

There is no diplomacy, no negotiating with the “people we don’t like,” (like our unwanted unborn babies), no bridge programs. There are no fetuses writing supercilious think pieces analyzing their mother's motives and plaintively asking “Why do they hate us”? Neither Jimmy Carter nor Jesse Jackson has ever been known to embark on a peace mission between mother and child. Ramsey Clark never lends his expertise.

Instead, there’s only one doctor, one mother, and one corpse, or what would have been a corpse, except its usually in pieces, and literally, “unarmed,” having as likely as not experienced having its limbs torn off to effect 'justice" for its mother:

In a D&E procedure, the physician inserts forceps into the uterus, grasps a part of the fetus, commonly an arm or a leg, and draws that part out of the uterus into the vagina. Using the traction created between the mouth of the cervix and the pull of the forceps, the physician dismembers the fetal part which has been brought into the vagina, and removes it from the woman's body. The rest of the fetus remains in the uterus while dismemberment occurs, and is often still living.”

Now, in fairness to Rev. Wright, he did criticize America from pulpit, and on the LORD's behalf, that “. . . . We care nothing about human life if the end justifies the means. . . .”

But he was talking about American support for Israel, not unborn babies.

He also condemned America, Elijah-like, because "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye." I don't know that we never batted an eye. But abortion destroyed 500,00 black babies in 2006 alone, and we're not even at war with blacks or babies. (Or are we?)

Last April, Dr. Alveda King, niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the NAACP (though not as keynote speaker), though her speech received small notice. ("MLK Niece Urges NAACP to Adopt Anti-Abortion Resolution"). She asked the civil rights group to adopt a resolution addressing the impact of abortion on the black community. Dr. King told the NAACP that, today, "there is no greater injustice facing black people than abortion.”

There's no indication the NAACP adopted the resolution nor, for that matter, has ever "batted an eye" over the tens of millions of black babies who never lived to enjoy Advancement.

Instead, this year they invited Rev. Wright to tell them what God wants them to do. Rev. Wright, the pro-choice advocate, and morally compromised pretender to champion of "unarmed innocents." He'll be addressing the NAACP in Detroit on Sunday night.

Our friends at Joshua's Trail are participating in a demonstration on Sunday at Cobo Hall, where the NAACP is holding its event, hoping to remind the group of their civil-rights roots. You may want to drop by between 3-6 pm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was a moving piece. Bravo!

And I didn't know that about MLK's niece... good for her. You'd think someone would listen to her.