November 20, 2002
By The Plaid Adder
the DU 4th Quarter Fundraising Drive!
Yes, it's that time of year again -
when we beg for money to keep Democratic Underground
online. Unfortunately the site doesn't run by
magic - it costs money. And without money, there's
no DU. So please take a moment right now
A very weird thing is happening to me. I'm starting to understand
something about the anti-abortion crowd.
Before you navigate away in disgust, let me reiterate: I
am not and will never be anti-choice. My feelings about abortion
remain complicated and ambivalent; but my opinion of the "pro-life"
crusade as a cynical attempt to prevent women from taking
control over their own bodies, sexuality, and lives which
is organized from the top down by patriarchal bastards who
really could not give a damn about anyone's right to life
is immutable. Someday, maybe, women will run this country,
and when that day comes we can have an honest debate about
reproductive freedom. Till then, I'm pro-choice.
I have always watched things like Operation Rescue in wonder
and just marveled at how the people who do this have managed
to lather themselves up into such a state over something that
may or may not really exist. As the drums of war beat ever
louder, though, I'm starting to think that maybe I know how
To most people, "the unborn" are invisible. Till women start
showing, which is at the point in the pregnancy when most
states stop allowing abortion anyway, the fetus's existence
is pretty much hypothetical to anyone other than the mother.
This is one of the reasons that those anti-abortion groups
rely so much on those pictures of the fetus; they're trying
to prove to everyone that this thing is a real person who
has been brutally murdered, and what better way to do that
than to show us the body. But they know that despite the photos,
most people don't see it that way, and therefore really don't
care; and that just drives them nuts.
Again, as I said, I do not for one minute believe that the
average Republican politician who runs on a pro-life platform
feels this way about it; for him, this is just a position
he has to take in order to consolidate his own power. But
to think about it from the rank and file point of view, for
someone who actually believes in the personhood of the fetus,
it's like this. You can see thousands of innocent people being
murdered every day. You try to tell your fellow Americans
that thousands of people are getting murdered in their country,
and they just look at you like you're insane and say, "What
people? Where? I don't see any people." And so of course that
has to drive them absolutely nuts.
I know this because now, I too am seeing invisible people.
First it was Afghan civilians, now it's Iraqi civilians. These
are actual, born, living, walking-around people with hearts
and souls and everything whose existence is not at all hypothetical,
and they are invisible to most Americans as a two-week-old
pregnancy would be. I can't 'see' them, of course, any more
than the anti-abortion folks can really see "the unborn,"
but I know they're there, and I know that if we go to war,
thousands of them are going to die. And since I don't believe
we have a good reason for going to war, apart from gratifying
whatever political needs the Republicans may be feeling at
the moment or whatever strange bloodlusts the Bush/Cheney
axis might have (maybe Dubya misses all those executions he
used to oversee as governor of Texas?), then what I see coming
around the bend every time I read one of those "War With Iraq
Inevitable Despite Hussein's Compliance, Bush Says" articles
is the cold-blooded murder of thousands of innocent people,
using our tax money. So I try to explain to people that this
is why war with Iraq is not a good thing; and they just say,
"What people? Where? I don't see any people."
And it drives me nuts.
I mean, I've always known this: for most people, most of
the rest of the world is not real. Most people only really
believe in the people who are defined as "us" (as opposed
to "them"), a group that, in our current public discourse,
is getting defined more and more narrowly with every passing
day. But it just is maddening to see it in action. At no point,
during any of the conversations about Iraq on the radio, TV,
papers, whatever, have I ever heard anyone expressing the
slightest interest in or concern for the civilians who will
surely die in this war. The only time the "Iraqi people" come
up is when we're trying to prove what a bastard Saddam Hussein
has been to them. Suddenly, when we are talking about making
war on them, they disappear.
People really seem to believe that we can go in there and
take out Saddam Hussein without killing anyone except maybe
the soldiers in his army who deserve it anyway. For Christ's
sake, people, this is not the way war works now; since World
War II the number of civilians killed in the average conflict
has always been much higher than the number of combatants.
So if we want to go into a country that is not attacking us
and kill many more civilians than we're going to kill soldiers,
I would think we would need to have a really, really, good
@#$! reason for it, a reason better than, "Well, we kind of
think that he might be about to become able to construct a
nuclear weapon, although we don't seem to have any convincing
evidence of this."
And then I try to explain this to my own family and they're
like, "What people? Where?"
At the DC protest I saw a lot of signs with the slogan "Start
Seeing Iraqi Children." It's a good idea; but good luck. All
our leaders can see is their own profit, and all our fellow-Americans
can see is their own fear. Meanwhile the rest of us will just
go quietly insane trying to convince everyone that invisible