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Recognizing the enemy

You have by now no doubt heard of the story of Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and his statement that pregnancies resulting from rape are part of “God’s plan” (much the way, incidentally, Trayvon Martin’s murder was part of “God’s plan” too – God has shitty plans, people). People have been chewing this over and reminding as many people as they possibly can that yes, this is what Republicans actually believe – the only part of it that was a ‘gaffe’ is the fact that Mourdock was accidentally honest about what his party believes about rape and women’s rights.

The reaction north of the border has, as it reliably does, contained more than a little smug anti-American sentiment, along the lines of “well that’s what happens when you live in America. Thank the Old Gods and the Seven that we don’t have that kind of abhorrent nonsense here in Canada. And to a certain extent they’re right: we don’t have the same kind of mainstream toxicity pouring from the mouths of our political candidates… at least not as often. But when we do get it, it’s just as bad:

An anti-abortion activist who is currently in jail in Toronto has received one of the Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee medals intended to mark “significant achievements” by Canadians.

Mary Wagner, 38, who has been repeatedly charged with mischief and violating court orders at abortion clinics, was nominated for the medal by Saskatchewan Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott.

Another Jubilee medal went to Linda Gibbons, a Toronto grandmother who has been charged numerous times for breaching the court-ordered “bubble zones” around clinics. Vellacott likened the two women to U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

Oh that? That’s just the government of Canada awarding a national medal to a woman who harassed women seeking legal medical help so frequently that the police had to lock her up, and who’s still in jail because she refuses to agree to stop. Which, as we all know, is exactly what Martin Luther King did… in Bizarro World. My guess is that MP Vellacott doesn’t really care if he offends every black person in Canada, because it wasn’t like he was counting on their (our) votes to begin with anyway.

That’s bad, but it’s probably not the worst part. Here’s the worst part (have something to throw up in close at hand):

Vellacott responded in a statement to the media Tuesday:

“Unlike the justice minister, Vellacott was unable to award these medals to the victims of crime, because these baby victims are dead, so instead the award to those ‘heroines of humanity’ Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons who are trying to protect defenceless, voiceless human beings in the womb from butchery and death, and trying to let vulnerable women know that there are other options and support and adoption possibilities,” Vellacott said in his statement. “It’s what you would expect in a caring compassionate society.”

Vellacott continued, “It’s a pretty upside down world when we honour abortionists like Henry Morgentaler for killing over 5,000 babies and imprison precious women, like Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons, who try to save babies from such savagery. They are the real heroes of humanity!”

Butchery and death of the poor little homunculi – fully formed baby humans living in wombs and forcibly murdered by a society that cares more about people with personhood and legal rights and feelings and the capacity to suffer than it does about  clumps of cells! Where’s the compassion? Someone must salute these brave heroes who stand in the face of both scientific evidence and basic human decency and shout no more! Why would you be ashamed to associate yourself with such courage? No, not Maurice Vellacott the Valiant!

One of the first things I talked about when I started this blog was the danger of the downward comparison – the idea that you can relax and be complacent just because you’re not the worst person in the entire world. It’s been easy for Canada to reassure itself that our freedoms and rights are unassailable because hey, we’re not America. This is dangerous thinking, because there are people out there who are anything but complacent, and will use every single opportunity to worm their way into the cracks of our society and begin driving wedges in wherever they can. Some of them even get voted into office. And while we snicker at our backwards cousins south of the 49th, we fail to recognize how closely related we actually are to them.

So this story (and this morning’s story) should stand as a wake-up call to those of us who think that “it can’t happen here”. It can, and it is. Maurice Vellacott has chosen to use the power of the government of Canada to recognize one of Canada’s enemies. It’s time the rest of us started doing some recognizing of our own.

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