Armchair Pro-Lifers

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Every now and then someone writes a blog post or column where my response is, “Man, I wish I’d written that.”  Pat Archbold has written such a column on the National Catholic Register.  Normally I’d highlight just the best parts, but then NCR might sue me for copying and pasting the whole thing.  So go read it.

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A Baby by any Other Name

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  1. Hits the nail squarely on the head.

    Probably the main reason that only the dead have seen the end of abortion, and we have serial Obama bloviations at so-called catholic institutions.

  2. Typical rubbish from the sanctimonious navel gazers who are the very people Archbold is writing about. I suppose he hit just a little too close to home judging by the hyper-sensitive, meandering response she posted.

  3. I’m sure Pat is just crushed that he’s lost her respect. Just absolutely crushed.

    “Thank you God that I am not like all the ‘liars’ like Lila Rose and all the ‘Republican shills’ like Pat Archbold.”

    All the while bearing false witness against Pat in her assessment of what he wrote.

  4. I was expecting to feel like utter crud because my family doesn’t have enough resources to do as much for pro-life as I wish we could, we can’t go protest in front of abortion clinics, and that’s always how it goes… I was utterly shocked to see someone finally calling out the “pro-life defeatist” types.

    The responses are a little funny, though– personal attacks and mis-characterizations, by and large. It really must have stung.

  5. Red Cardigan seems to sum up a lot of the more angry responses with her:

    Hear that, sidewalk counselors, crisis pregnancy volunteers, 40 Days for Life participants, Rosary for Life devotees, and anyone else who prays and works daily to end abortion in America? You’re not really pro-life unless you vote Republican; and if you hold your nose whilst doing so, you’re probably an evil fifth columnist who will be first on the waterboard when the revolution comes.

    But that seems to be pretty much the opposite of what Patrick is critiquing. Rather, he’s going after the people who sit on the sidelines and opine that they would be very, very enthusiastic to join in pro-life work and advocacy, but really the pro-lifers long ago all became GOP shills, and it’s just so icky to think about rubbing elbows with someone who might once have been in the same room as someone who held a sign showing an aborted baby.

  6. Is it Pat’s usual humor that brings out this sort of response? I can’t put a finger on it, but most of his “friendly fire” attackers remind me of the blankers that gave give me so much work with my geek friends, especially the ones that were ‘raised Catholic.’

  7. The “Republicans are the same as Dems” line is as much an ideology as any other. Not that one will be able to sway that crowd I suspect as when one wears the “I’m above the fray” line its hard to see the beam in your eye.

    I think reading Red’s post, her ideology is so intense I can’t even begin to mine its depths. It is summed up in this line:

    “Republicans favor preemptive war with any nation that has threateningly large amounts of oil…”

    Now for someone who claims that she is “Catholic. Period.” it would be nice to see the Church’s document that makes that statement. In the absence of one however, this seems not to be a “Catholic. Period.” position. This will not deter Red as her ideology is quite pervasive.

    Unfortunately the ones these ideologues ultimately help are those aborting babies.

  8. This is a more authentically “Catholic” position. But it will likely offend the ideology of the ritually pure. From Archbishop Chaput:

    “Don’t get trapped by partisan politics. But also don’t undervalue the importance of politics.

    Politics is an arena where prolife action can have very practical results. Pope John Paul II said in his apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici, “The charges of careerism, idolatry of power, egoism and corruption that [are] directed at persons in government, parliaments [or] political parties,” are often unwarranted. So is “the common opinion that participating in politics is an absolute moral danger – [on the contrary, these things do not] in the least justify either skepticism or absence on the part of Christians in public life” (42). Or to put it another way: Public office and political activism are not just acceptable for Christians; they can also have real nobility when pursued in the service of truth.”

  9. “Republicans favor preemptive war with any nation that has threateningly large amounts of oil”

    I must have missed our war with Saudi Arabia. I guess Ms. Manning must have missed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and Saddam’s constant ignoring of the terms that ended that war.

  10. Ah yes, the blood for oil meme. That’s a sure sign that the individual making the charge is clearly a foreign policy expert of the highest magnitude. I suppose that explains why we were able to secure all those long-term oil deals with Iraq once Saddam was overthrown.

    And by we, I of course mean China.

  11. Hmmm… So Mark Shea, Robert George, and anyone else who thinks that lying is always immoral are all “armchair pro-lifers?”

  12. Thanks, all, esp. Mr. McClarey, for confirming my suspicion that the main target of Archbold’s piece was Mark Shea. Not that there was any real doubt, of course.

  13. Thanks, all, esp. Mr. McClarey, for confirming my suspicion that the main target of Archbold’s piece was Mark Shea. Not that there was any real doubt, of course.

    Huh? If anything, it seemed that the consensus was primarily that seeing the post as primarily about Shea (or about the Lila Rose controversy) was something of a non sequitor.

  14. How would Don know who the target of Pat’s post was, assuming he had a particular individual in mind?

    Must be that Vast Right-Wing Catholic Conspiracy?

  15. “Thanks, all, esp. Mr. McClarey”

    Viewing this as a grand conspiracy against Shea is so much easier than dealing with the substance of the actual post by Pat Archbold, rather than the strawman article of your creation that you then responded to on your website, Ms. Manning.

  16. Yes Erin – a blog post that decries an entire way of thinking is really a barely disguised critique of one B-level Catholic pseudo-celebrity/blogger.

  17. Ouch! My wife has had a migraine for 32-and-a-half years.

    In Christian charity, we must pray for conversions of sinners and tacit abortion supporters, e.g., these secularized peace and justice types who give priority to making this earthly life the “end all and be all.” For as long as they live, they may come to a better mind.

  18. As always I believe it it best to steer a middle ground between being completely beholden to one political party, or one faction within it, and assuming that because they are right on abortion, they are infallibly right on all other issues — and taking the “pox on both their houses” approach.

    Obviously the Republican Party is not ideal on all issues, nor should one vote for a manifestly corrupt, untrustworthy, or incompetent candidate purely because they are a Republican or claim to be pro-life. I will vote for a Democrat if 1) they are pro-life and up against a pro-abort Republican or 2) they are running for a position where abortion is not an issue (e.g. sheriff) and their opponent has demonstrated unfitness for said office. I certainly do not subscribe to the notion that voting Democrat is always and everywhere a mortal sin.

    However, it seems pretty obvious to me that the Republican Party as a whole tends to be more morally acceptable than the Democratic Party. The Republican platform does NOT explicitly endorse torture or unjust war in the manner that the Democratic platform explicitly endorses abortion.

    And in defense of Erin here, I have to admit that at least parts of the article immediately made me think of Mark Shea, who seems to be the biggest promoter of the “I don’t vote for either the Evil Stupid Party or the Stupid Evil Party” approach. I have never agreed with him in that regard; he seems unable to tell the difference between actively cooperating with evil and doing the best we can with the imperfect choices available.

    Pro-lifers should not treat politics as a dirty business unworthy of serious participation or consideration; nor should we make it the prime focus of our concern. Voting is important but let’s not kid ourselves that ending abortion depends solely on electing the “right” people or getting the “right” judges appointed.

  19. Anyone else notice a lack of responses that are Dem versions of Elaine’s at the post?

    If not for the beating-the-point-to-death aspect of Pat’s post being that it’s the highly annoying aspects of (since he and his supporters are so eager to claim it) the Shea side with no action to match.

    When someone says point-blank ‘These tactics are certainly debatable, but the debate on tactics is better left to those engaged in battle’ and folks instantly get defensive… heh. Like the famous misquote goes, the lady protests too much!

    Now, if that defensiveness is because they feel guilty (justly or no) about abandoning the unborn at some level in their minds, or if it’s because doing a veiled caricature of those they disagree with politically while accusing them of being do-nothing baby-murder-enablers is the sort of tactic they’d use themselves… why, theorizing on that motivation would be as uncharitable as insisting that someone was talking about you when they protest they were not and large swaths of neutral readers say it’s got nothing to do with you!

  20. How angry some get when their ideology is questioned. I do find the offense taken to be something of a stretch. I mean, its not like there are no caricatures written by bloggers of their ideological bent. “Rubber hose right” “Debate Club at Auschwitz,” etc. So Mr. Archbold offers one, “Armchair Pro-lifers.” Would “Electronic prose pro-lifers” be better?

    Of course, that caricature would be accurate if they actually wrote about pro-life actions. But most seem to only do so when something comes up that seems to prove their ideological bent.

  21. one B-level Catholic pseudo-celebrity/blogger.

    He is actually among the most prominent Catholic writers in the United States, not a B-level anything. He also seems to suffer from increasingly severe personality problems. One anxiety we should have is that with the implosion of Catholic education in this country, the men who could mediate well between scholarship and general audiences (Fulton Sheen, Ralph McInerney, Peter Kreeft, &c) will be succeeded by characters like Shea (though most such will not have those behavioral issues).

  22. I was a tad harsher in my assessment that I really intended. What I meant was that he is not quite as prominent or well-known to the wider Catholic world as guys like Robert George and George Weigel, and they’re probably only known to a small subset of the Catholic population themselves. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Admittedly Shea’s name did pop in my mind when reading Patrick’s article, but it was only one of many. Being a regular reader of Creative Minority Report I have seen the attitude he is critiquing regularly show up in the comments section, though usually it’s one annoying commenter named “Anonymous” that causes most of the fuss.

  23. You know, for all your poo-pooing of the “pox on both their houses” group, you are ignoring a rather significant fact. It was precisely this type of pox that shook the GOP up a bit this last election cycle. The Ron Paul revolution, and the Tea Party, both of which are “outsiders” to the mainstream GOP and drew much support from these poxers, forced the election of much better GOP candidates that we have seen in a long time.

    Also, there are no doubt arm-chair pro-lifers who deserve some criticism (I am no doubt one of them). But at the same time, he does tend to gloss over the moral issues involved in Lila’s actions (as much as I love to see PP go down in flames). I am far from a conclusion on the propriety or not of her actions, but I can appreciate that there is a legitimate reason for moral concern, for her sake, not PP’s.

  24. He is actually among the most prominent Catholic writers in the United States, not a B-level anything. He also seems to suffer from increasingly severe personality problems.

    Thankfully, the thing that I think caused both– the internet– also means that one doesn’t even need a subscription to a Catholic paper to read good Catholic writers from all around the world, or beg your local library to get old books in, a lot of them are out there, in full, for free.

    c matt-
    Didn’t you hear? The TEA party had nothing to do with social conservatives. /sarc
    (Seriously, though, I saw the TEA party not as a pox on both their houses thing, but as a screw-you-if-you’re-just-saying-stuff thing, and did so effectively enough that those liberaltarians who hadn’t done anything before jumped to take credit; come to think of it, it was a rejection similar to the one Pat made….)

    There’s a world of difference between folks who are doing something being hassled by others who are doing something over style, and folks who are doing something being hassled by those who not only do nothing but actively disparage the notion of trying anything attacking the folks who are doing something on style.

  25. I saw the TEA party not as a pox on both their houses thing, but as a screw-you-if-you’re-just-saying-stuff thing

    In a sense, this is how I read Pat’s article. And since the Dems have become something akin to a wholly-owned subsidiary of big abortion, I viewed the article as written to the squishy “pro-life” Republicans out there, basically telling them, “Look, buster. Your party is making strides in the pro-life cause. Put up or shut up.” Certain bloggers never came to mind, which is why Erin’s responses were puzzling to me.

  26. “Put up or shut up” is only one step removed from the pox. And if you don’t follow through with the put up threat (that being, if you don’t put up, we will leave), the put-up is basically toothless. Enough voters moved from the “put up” to the “pox” position in 2008 (or at least the GOP so sensed) that it motivated the GOP. And even then, the GOP only capitulated in some districts and with much kicking and screaming from the national powers that be.

    Yes, at least they did move reluctantly, which is more than the Dems will ever do (at least for the forseeable future). But that put-up threat needs to remain, and to remain credible, for any further movement. And that means the “pox” needs to be an ever present reality. So, I think Pat was a bit off with his criticism of the “pox” people, because many of the good things the GOP is doing today are a result of the pox (or threat thereof).

    Politicians generally understand and respond to one thing – power. So put-up or shut-up needs to go both ways: the politicians need to act pro-life if they claim to be pro-life, but the voters need to drop their support when the pols fall through to stay as a credible threat of loss of power. I don’t see the “pox” vs “put-up” as too distant from each other, and I just didn’t think Pat’s a fair criticism of the poxers.

  27. I don’t think the “pox” people were the ones actively engaged in moving the GOP forward. They have remained, by and large, on the sidelines caterwauling against both parties. I would agree that in a sense defeat in 2008 helped spur the GOP in a favorable direction, but as Foxfire notes, the most active calls for reform came with people disgusted by the GOP yet who had not completely abandoned it as the “pox” folks.

    And I’m not sure what happened was that the GOP “got it” all of a sudden as a result of people abandoning them in 2008, but rather a confluence of factors favorable to their electoral advancement occurred over the course of 2 years.

  28. The “pox on both their houses” that Pat described had little to do with “put up or shut up”– he rather expressly pointed out that it had more to do with patting one’s own back over how lovely and pure you are than with a practical consideration like “I will note vote for you if you just talk a good fight.”

    On a practical level, having highly motivated people showing up saying “put up or shut up” is at LEAST three times as effective as the preemptive pox Pat mentioned: there’s nothing you can do to get the Poxers to care, they don’t have much effect vote-wise, and they don’t have much effect activism-wise; the put-ups, on the other hand, can be won, definitely WILL vote, and will either work for or against you. (Especially true currently– Obama supporting killing fully born babies wasn’t enough to make some of these folks stop supporting him, there’s no way they can be moved.)

  29. Obama supporting killing fully born babies wasn’t enough to make some of these folks stop supporting him, there’s no way they can be moved

    Can’t refute the first part of your second paragraph. But the folks who voted for O were not poxers by definition, if those are who you refer to as “some of these folks.”

  30. C Matt-
    Many is the poxer who “votes for the person.” (See also, the independents who somehow still vote more dem than registered dems.)

    Poxing the house somehow doesn’t actually translate into not voting for either, it just translates into an excuse to ignore the stated goals and records of the parties.

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