It’s too much to hope that the NY Times will ever get rid of their awful opinion columnists. At least it gives us something to gripe about every week.
The latest bit of irrational conservative nonsense comes from Ross Douthat, who doesn’t like abortion. He is saddened and appalled by those absurd anti-Planned Parenthood videos that have been released. He dismisses the idea that these are trumped-up and phony.
It may be unseemly to hear a Planned Parenthood official haggle over pricing for those organs: “Let me just figure out what others are getting, and if this is in the ballpark, then it’s fine, if it’s still low, then we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini.”
If hearing a worker at a Planned Parenthood clinic tell you they hope to get a Lamborghini out of their abortion services doesn’t clue you in that you’re being played, you just might have the brain power to be a NY Times conservative columnist.
He starts his essay with a story about a bunch of aborted fetuses being dumped in a suburban neighborhood, and people walking around on
tiny, naked, all-too-human bodies of aborted fetuses. That’s the heart of his argument: abortion is icky. Fetuses are people. There’s blood and slime in abortions! This is no more credible an argument than that we shouldn’t treat cancer with surgery because it’s disgusting to see tumors chopped out of people.
At least he’s smart enough to see that that’s a really stupid argument, and he tries to defuse criticism by claiming that fetuses are special.
And the problem these videos create for Planned Parenthood isn’t just a generalized queasiness at surgery and blood.
It’s a very specific disgust, informed by reason and experience — the reasoning that notes that it’s precisely a fetus’s humanity that makes its organs valuable, and the experience of recognizing one’s own children, on the ultrasound monitor and after, as something more than just “products of conception” or tissue for the knife.
No, that’s a not reason: that’s a collection of assumptions that many of us don’t share. If you assume that an oocyte is equivalent to a baby, then menstruation represents a baby holocaust. Douthat is taking his Catholic biases, that there’s
something more to fetal tissue than a partially organized mass of human cells, and making that his premises. Show me what that
something more is, or you’re just making an argument from the assertion of magic.
Finally, he makes this excuse:
This reluctance is a human universal. It’s why white Southerners long preferred Lost Cause mythology to slaveholding realities. It’s why patriotic Americans rarely want to dwell too long on My Lai or Manzanar or Nagasaki. It’s why, like many conservatives, I was loath to engage with the reality of torture in Bush-era interrogation programs.
Oh, please, don’t call your conservative assholishness a
human universal. Some of us patriotic Americans think it’s important to bring up our moral failures whenever the nonsense of American exceptionalism comes up, because caring about the fate of your country means openly addressing its problems. Don’t confuse the fact that conservatives are close-minded and actively turn away from the truth of history with patriotism — that’s appropriation of patriotism is a line they always use, and it’s contemptible.
Also comparing a routine and often necessary medical procedure to slavery and massacres is a thoroughly contemptible rhetorical game.
He admits to a lack of moral clarity on the issue of whether adult human beings ought to be tortured. But apparently while he could weeble and dodge on that topic, the one thing that finally gets him off his ass to be indignant is the very idea that women could have a right to control what goes on in their bodies. A man has to have priorities, don’t you know.