Casual Cruelty

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My co-blogger Paul has an excellent post here detailing the attack by Leftist commentator Alan Colmes on the Santorums for bringing their dead newborn son home so that their children could see their brother, Gabriel Michael Santorum, and the family could mourn together and spend one night with him.  Colmes swifty apologized.  Now another Leftist, Eugene Robinson, who gets paid to scribble columns for the Washington Post and to utter nonsense on MSNBC, has attacked Santorum on this score in a video which you may view here.

It would perhaps take a psychologist rather than a political analyst to explain fully why Leftists today feel free to villify their political opponents in the most personal ways imaginable, but I think Patterico at Patterico’s Pontifications gets close to the nub of the matter:

But the problem is not just that some leftists can’t understand the love that some people feel for their unborn children — or for their children who (like Sarah Palin’s son Trig) were born with disabilities. What really infuriates is the contempt they show for parents who make different choices than they would . . . and the smug arrogance with which they pronounce judgment on the most intimate aspects of others’ private lives.

What Robinson has done, and what Colmes did the other day, is indecent. These men would never say such a thing to Santorum’s face. (Or maybe they would — which is possibly even worse.) What sickness has invaded our body politic that people feel free, not only to act the cretin, but to do so on national television while sporting insufferable, supercilious, self-satisfied smirks like those we have seen on the mugs of Colmes and Robinson in recent days?

In short: how dare they? How dare they?!

There is something wrong with a system that expects people to undergo such indignities to attain high office. I’m not a fan of Rick Santorum as a candidate, but the treatment he has received in recent days regarding an intensely personal decision is a disgrace.

Go here to read the rest.

Peter Wehner at Commentary has a column on this subject:

On these comments I have three observations to make, the first of which is that spending time with a stillborn child (or one who died shortly after birth, as in the Santorum case) is commonly recommended. The matter of taking the child home for a few hours is less common, but they did it so that their other children could also spend a little time with the deceased child, and that is definitely recommended. For example, here’s the official page of the American Pregnancy Association (an association of health-care providers that treat pregnant women) about stillbirth. It recommends that parents spend time with the child, as the Santorums did, and the APA writes:

With the loss of your baby, your family members will also grieve. Your baby is someone’s granddaughter, brother, cousin, nephew or sister. It is important for your family members to spend time with the baby. This will help them come to terms with their loss. If you have other children, it is very important to be honest with them about what has happened by using simple and honest explanations. It is your decision whether you would like the children to see the baby. Ask for a Child Life Specialist at the hospital; these are trained professionals who can help you prepare your children for the heartbreaking news, and prepare them to see the baby if you wish.

This is basically what the Santorum family did. They also had a funeral, which is often done in these kinds of situations. It seems to be enormously helpful to people in a moment of terrible pain. So Robinson, like Colmes, was speaking out of a seemingly bottomless well of ignorance.

The second point is the casual cruelty of Robinson and those like him. Robinson seems completely comfortable lampooning a man and his wife who had experienced the worst possible nightmare for parents: the death of their child. It is one thing to say you would act differently if you were in the situation faced by Rick and Karen Santorum?; it’s quite another to deride them as “crazy” and “very weird,” which is what commentators on the left are increasingly doing, and with particular delight and glee.

Go here to read the rest.  My wife and I have been blessed with three kids.  I cannot even imagine the pit of sorrow parents go through who lose a child, and particularly a newborn.  My heartfelt sympathy goes out to any parents going through one of the greatest tragedies any of us can experience in this life.  The International Stillbirth Alliance has at their website ways in which parents can cope with their grief and loss:

“Parents may wish to spend time with their baby at home, prior to the funeral. For centuries birth and death took place at home and only during the past few decades has this changed. It is a parent’s right to take their baby home and/or arrange for the funeral director to bring the baby to their home. Many hospitals and health professionals will provide this option and assist families to arrange this. Parents can still take their baby home even if an autopsy/post-mortem has been conducted. Parents may wish to lie with their baby in bed (in or out of a basket or a casket). They may wish to see the baby in the cot or cradle they had prepared for him or her. Being at home with the baby may also be a further opportunity for family and friends to ‘meet’ the baby in a more relaxed environment than the hospital.

For many parents, photographing and taking video footage of their baby can be a very special way of remembering him or her. The use of digital photography means that many photos can be taken and then stored on disc or printed out. There are a few things that may complement the baby’s features when taking photos. For example, if the baby is very premature, using a light blue rug or blanket as a background may allow for some of the baby’s features to be shown. Photographing feet, hands or ears showing the perfect parts of the baby can allow for lovely memories, particularly if the baby has some imperfections. It may be important that the whole family is included in photos of the baby, rather than only the mother with the baby or the baby on his or her own. Many parents and families speak proudly of the photos they have of themselves and their baby, especially those where despite the tragedy and sadness, they managed to smile and feel proud as parents. A professional photographer may be able to come to the hospital or home to take photos.”

In a better time such a personal tragedy would be off limit in politics and if it came up at all even political opponents would be nothing but sympathetic.  However, in our time politics is a substitute religion for many people on the Left, and a man like Santorum is not merely a political adversary but someone who is evil, a political heretic.  He is to be crushed utterly and any tool that can be used to do so, no matter how despicable, is acceptable.  Politics has never been a gentle pursuit, but the nature of the personal attacks today, emanating almost entirely from the political Left, lend a vileness to our public life that taints us as a people.  I hope that someday the “better angels of our nature” will cause many people to rethink their obvious belief that simple human decency has no role in politics.

Update:  Non-apology apology from Robinson which may be viewed here.

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  1. Look what they did to Palin and her imperfect baby in 2008. The pagan Greeks would have stapled his legs and left him to the wolves on a hillside. Today, they also have the right to kill.

    Remember this next time one of the lying, Obama-worshiping morons starts whining about civility.

  2. Tragic, vulgar and cruel as those reactions are, should we be surprised? Those who see a pre-born child as a “choice” for her/his mother to decide to save or destroy have no innate sense of the value of the child as human. Nor can we expect them to understand family bonding, grieving and the need to allow each family member to see, experience, mourn and ask questions in the age-appropriate way. If there is no awareness or belief in a spiritual life, a life beyond this one, their insensitivity is heightened. The apology by Mr Colmes was helpful to the public, but do the major networks have a wood-shed to have a chat with such a violation of the people’s airwaves, which are rented, not owned, in such insensitive ways. “You betcha” they would not do that if the Obamas or any other family whom the Left rarely touch, the Palins as noted were a first class example.

  3. Attacking someone over the death of his child is not lack of civility, it’s utter barbarity. In more civilized times, people were called out to fight duels over less.

    The “Oh Noes, Peoples is being uncivil!” rounds of hysteria people like to have in politics can certainly get silly at times. But seriously, using a family’s morning over a dead child for “aren’t they weird” political attacks?

  4. PM-
    Eh, a bit too much theology wiggle room there… it’s possible they really simply do not get people being upset about losing a “possible child.” I don’t doubt that they know they’re being wicked, I think they just don’t know HOW wicked.

  5. (Thought has more to do with my realizing how much more impact child-related things have on me– for example, walking through WalMart the other day, I saw a scene from what I assume is the new Pixar kung-fu panda movie, II, where his mother was leaving him. I dang near broke down. I’ve always been emotional, but not THAT emotional. Tough on my little princess, who was more interested in how cute and fuzzy they were. Some things just don’t impact unless you’ve got the fear.)

  6. Hi Foxfier, my first reaction was that post. I understand what you mean about the wiggle room, but there was a loss of family. You were probably born well after, but maybe you could look back at the contrasting outpouring of grief in publications and reports when then Pres. JFK lost his third child. (Before the desensitizing of our culture to death and loss of virtues over time from Roe v. Wade.) I think our Lord was referring to those carrying out his sentence because they didn’t get to know of Him yet. We don’t have that excuse after 2000 years. I just can’t see any excuse for meanness except some kind of insanity.

  7. PM- my mom was a little girl, and my dad only a teen.

    I don’t doubt that if– God forbid– the same thing were to happen to the Obamas now, there would be a similar outpouring. It isn’t about the kid, though, it’s about “good person hurts.” It’s the same way women who had abortions can mourn an IVF child lost at the same stage as the one they killed– the kid doesn’t matter as a person.

    I have no idea what it was like back then, though. All the sense-of-the-time I have is my mom’s quip about there being a wall when she was growing up that had a picture of Jesus, the Pope and JFK. (I assume Jesus was center-top.)

  8. A difficulty dealt with as professor and teacher is that we often think in a linea mode- we went from manual typewriters to laptops and marvel. We often presume the same happened for moral matters and all marched along. But we saw some nations moving from accepting slavery to abolishing it, passing laws against abortion when primitive technology allowed them to experience life in the womb and science diswcovered that a woman had an active role in proviidng the egg for conception. The death penalty is abolished for many civilised nations who also do not provide natural life sentences and a life sentence is severe if 20 years is imposed. The USA now allows abortion and some want infanticide disguised as partial birth, most states have the death penaltyand very severe sentences as alternatives. The pro-“choosers” extremists will make fun of the Santorums while your present administration favours shelling out multi-millions to Planned Parenthood whose money is made from abortions. Other services they offer are easily provided by clinics and health care providers who do not see “over-population” as a problem or a baby as a medical error, even a physically or mentally handicapped one- someone has lovde enough to care for such gifts of God with faith and His love.

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