Right to Life Month: On VP Pence Speaking at the March

I have to say, I am very excited for the Vice President to be speaking at the March for Life. This brings unprecedented visibility to one of the most important, peaceful, and longest running protests in US history. At the same time, I am concerned about what this may mean for the prolife movement in general.

VP Pence is very staunchly against abortion; unlike his president, he is unambiguously opposed to it and has worked to limit it in his home state of Indiana. What concerns me is that Pence’s stance on other life issues are not at all congruent with the prolife movement. I will accept that we need to get allies where we can, but we need to be cautious that Pence and his view on what being prolife–basically just being anti-abortion–means.

Who could forget the very high profile argument between Pence and then Archbishop Tobin over the resettlement of refugees? During that struggle between the power of the state and the power of the Church, Pence lost because it was Tobin’s decision to  continue participating in the federal refugee program, not Pence’s. Now the shoe is on the other foot and I hope that the experience dealing with now Cardinal Tobin and his witness then of what it truly means to believe that every man has the inalienable right to life has changed him. I hope that the experience will prompt Pence to influence his president to give justice to the vulnerable and the dispossessed refugees.

I further hope that, when he said last August that some illegal immigrants can stay, means that he will support the BRIDGE Act and provide justice and mercy to thousands of innocent children. I hope that his commitment to vulnerable children in the womb will extend to those out of it, with special attention to the poor and the oppressed. If his commitment to human life is so strong, then I hope he is ready to reform the exploitation of the visa system so that even those who overstayed their visas received justice if they have been used by their employers.

I hope that his commitment to the unborn will extend after they are born and work to protect their right to basic needs such as food and shelter as well as their right to a good education and health care. It would be a poor prolifer who didn’t want to continue to protect life after it is born.

I hope many things for Vice President Pence. Some may say it is a fool’s hope. Yet, if I believe in the inherent goodness of mankind and the sovereignty of Divine Providence, then I must give Pence and even Trump a chance. I hope they both stand for life and life for the whole life. If they do, I will praise them as long as I have breath. If they do not, then I, and all other Americans and people of good will, shall fight with all our strength against them. After all, we are talking about human life here. What else is more worth fighting for?

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Right to Life Month: Don’t Like Trump Immigration? Support the BRIDGE Act

The BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) Act, S.128/H.R. 496, is bipartisan legislation recently introduced in Congress to sustain the temporary relief from deportation and employment eligibility offered to youth through the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the BRIDGE Act, young people who came to the United States as children would remain eligible to work and live in the U.S. without fear of deportation and family separation so long as they meet certain requirements: demonstrating a commitment to education or honorable service in the military and having no serious criminal history.

If there is one way we can fight for the rights of migrants, the BRIDGE Act can do it. It is a rare occurrence for Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin to have a common cause. We are thankful they have found one in this protection of the rights of migrant children. The crimes of the father should not pass to his children and young people who are pursuing an education, serving in our armed forces, and abide by our laws should be granted our clemency and support.

A nation always has the right to defend itself against threats and regulate its borders. The rights of nations, however, cannot abrogate the rights of the human person. Otherwise, the abuses and crimes of regimes like the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea could be justified. Instead, a commitment to a “prolife for the whole life” mindset would compel us to have mercy on these children who are fleeing broken homes or have lost their homes. Such is the exceptionalism of America that we are able to grant such mercy without pain to ourselves.

Call your representatives and tell them to support Sens. Graham and Durbin in this protection of the rights of vulnerable children.

Right to Life Month: Torture is Not Prolife

President Trump has said in an ABC interview that he would revive the old program of torture called waterboarding. Against the advice of experts and even members of his own cabinet, he says it “absolutely works.” He must have skipped that intelligence meeting. Now, several members of his own party–unsurprisingly including Sen. John McCain, who was a victim of both torture and Trump’s ire–have spoken out against it. Yet, these denouncements and even Trump’s pronouncement miss the mark and obscure things.

In his confirmation hearing, Gen. Mattis stated that the current field manuals that exclude torture as an interrogation method would remain the standard. Sessions and Pompeo both said that they could not envision a world where torture was reintroduced. Since Trump is on record, stating this, then I do not see where they could have been led to believe that bring back torture would not be a priority for him. But again, the talk of Army Field Manuals is useless. It wasn’t the Army that was waterboarding people, but the CIA whose nominated director said that he could not envision Trump wanting to bring back torture. As disorganized and factionized the Obama administration was, I don’t think we have seen a cabinet that so disagrees with the priorities of their president, except maybe Lincoln’s but his was during a massive civil war so it isn’t that comparable.

What this really does besides highlight the inconsistencies of Trump’s secretaries is undermines his status as pro-life and undermines the pro-life movement as a whole. The only thing Donald Trump has going for him in terms of pro-life policy is that he might nominate a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court. He has not given any comment on DC’s euthanasia law; he has barred refugees based on religious biases; and he has formally supported torture in order to “fight fire with fire.”

First, the rationale that we should fight fire with fire against ISIS is absolutely absurd and flies in the face of American values. We are America. We are better than them. We, unlike them, do not need to use cruel methods to get our points across. Our courage, valor, and self-sacrifice says more about our goodness and justice to the world and to history than any act of torture. If the often repeated conservative maxim that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it then they would do well to remember every tyrant began his reign of blood by using the tools of his enemy. This is so much part of the Western experience, that Tolkien made it a major conflict in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. To use evil to fight evil only brings one a different evil. The wisest people–Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, Faramir–all resist the temptation to use the One Ring for noble purposes. They do so because any noble purpose achieved through the power of evil is necessarily corrupted. Imagine if Ronald Reagan believed that, in order to destroy the Soviet Union, he needed to collectivize the industries. I sincerely ask those Reaganites now who support Trump in this: when did you abandon reason for madness?

Second, Trump ignores the America moral center i.e. that all men are endowed with the inviolable right to life and all the dignity that implies. When we Americans speak of the dignity of the human person and the right they have to  be free of torment as being basic to their humanity, we cannot turn around and say, “except those guys.” It undermines our core beliefs in inalienable rights. If the rights of another Divinely and naturally endowed person can be abrogated for the whim of an Oompa Loompa with a pain fetish, then who else is at risk?

Third, it forces the modern pro-life movement to really examine what they believe here. Is being pro-life solely about abortion and nothing else? Seeing as Fr. Pavone hasn’t given any statements on this recent move, we can safely say that those of his thinking are not bothered by the prospect. Yet, it should deeply trouble us and challenge us to challenge Trump to be more pro-life. We cannot merely be grateful he might appoint an anti-abortion justice and move on. We have to advocate for more, showing the world that life is more than reproduction, that it only starts in the womb, and that there are real dangers to it post-partum.

Call your representatives in both bodies, especially if they are on the Armed Services and Intelligence committees in either house. Tell them to denounce Trump’s revival of torture as the violation of basic humanity that it is.

Right to Life Month: On Refugees and Sacred Rights

Recently, President Trump has placed a ban on refugees coming from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. If you haven’t noticed the coincidence between these nations yet, then I will spell it out: they are Muslim majority nations. This is a prolife issue. Protecting the refugee fleeing violence is a basic act of human kindness incumbent on anyone and any nation who is able. If we believe that life is sacred, that all lives matter, then the life of the refugee matters as well. As they languish in camps, their very lives are at risk of violence, disease, and generational, abject poverty with few of the basic essentials such as food and water.

Trump has made good, at least for the time being, on his ban of Muslim refugees being resettled in the US. Trump says it is so he can start a process of “extreme vetting.” Let’s take a look at what the current process looks like.
The Screening Process for Refugees Entry Into the United States (full text of the graphic written below the image)

And we thought the DMV was bad. Basically, if you have ties to a terrorist organization, look funny at your interview, or a piece of paper gets lost. You have more chance of entering the US on a forged passport or swimming the Gulf of Mexico than you do as a refugee. The process is slow, redundant, bureaucratic, and takes, at a minimum, 2 years to complete. The existence of a phone number you had thirty years ago and totally forgot about but get dredged up through the investigations–oftentimes going into war torn countries and salvaging government records and interviewing your friends and family–can bump you to the back of the line. That is why some refugees from a Bush era program to reward Iraqi nationals who helped us during the war and lost their place in their society haven’t been accepted some ten years later.

So why is Trump doing this? The sense is entirely nationalistic and operates on fears published by people who have little to no knowledge of who these people are. People can call them bigots and racists all they want, but this isn’t the case. These are people who have a strong sense of what their nation is, how their communities should be, and are afraid of these others coming in and changing everything. When you get right down to it, it is simply humans being humans. We like preserving norms and we dislike anything that disrupts them. We may criticize these sorts of people, but let me make one thing very clear: we cannot discount them. These aren’t the boogeymen of liberal memes; these are real people who are often caring and compassionate people. We cannot dismiss them and their concerns without so much as a nod. Otherwise, we do exactly what they are accused of doing: denying someone’s humanity and basic human rights.

That said, we need to examine why they believe that a freeze of Muslim refugees will solve anything. Ever since 9/11, the demand for “Islamic Experts” has risen. Both liberals and conservatives spin their own narratives, highlighting and downplaying the factors that help their case. Pamala Geller, Robert Spencer–not the alt-right leader Richard Spencer–Ron Branstner, and others became overnight experts and proclaimed their brand to the world. The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR)–an unindicted co-conspirator in some very questionable dealings that I sincerely hope they have abandoned for their own sake–becomes the source for liberals. Like lawyers in a personal injury case providing their conflicting medical experts, we, the jury of public opinion, have to parse out the truth. Because there is truth in both narratives, but the absolute truth is much too complex to be on a bumper sticker. The dollars roll in for these experts while the refugees languish in bureaucratic limbo.

The truth is this. The US already does “extreme vetting.” We cannot have an influx of refugees like Europe unless they start coming over the Atlantic, which is practically impossible. There are security concerns with the refugee process that were addressed by bipartisan congressional oversight committees. No system is perfect, but America has the one of the best existing systems. Can it be improved to better integrate refugees into the population? Yes, it can. Yet, it will require participation of the public, a firm concern for the common good, and plain and simple charity for our fellow man. I can think of no greater ally in the fight against Islamic extremists than Muslims who have been given the freedom to be the sort of Muslim they want, not the one that radical ideologies force them to be.  Oppose this executive order and tell the oppressed Muslim refugees that we are their friends in taking back their religion.

Right to Life Month: On the Death Sentence of Dylan Roof

Like other young children my age, I used to pretend I fought dragons, monsters, the armies of wicked kings, and any other bad thing that occurred to my juvenile imagination. Now that I am grown, I find that the monsters of my youth were much more easy to kill and much more easy to see. The monsters of my adulthood, I find, are still in my imagination and, to my horror, they are shared by other adults the same as the bugbears, dragons, and hosts of orcs of our childhood. The pretend violence of our youth does not compare to the real and awful violence of adulthood. Yet, it is not the violence that is the monster. To be sure, it is monstrous but as I said, the monster is in our imagination.

Dylan Roof committed monstrous crimes. The monster is in my own imagination because I feel as if killing Dylan Roof will make the world a better place. His despicable acts of violence and hatred deserve punishment and I feel as if they deserve death; many believe he deserves death, but then I remember what Gandalf said, “Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

I ask myself in anger who Dylan Roof thought he was dealing out death and judgment. What I am afraid to do is ask myself the same question. To be sure, the case is more clear here than any other murder case. Yet, so was Gollum’s and Grima’s, and others who were greater dangers to the Fellowship than Dylan Roof is to us. That is perhaps the most uncomfortable thing about it: Dylan Roof is more powerless than his victims. He is deprived of everything except his sad, miserable life. He cannot go where he wants, do what he wants, say what he wants. His life now is merely the expiration of the hours he has left on this earth with nothing more to show for it. In all practical senses, his life is over.

When Gollum was given into Bilbo’s power, he could strike the miserable creature–bound as he was to a sad existence in caves and fearing every footfall that was not his own–and could have done so with the utmost justice. Gollum had, after all, tried to eat him when Bilbo was powerless to resist. We can strike Dylan Roof down now and it would be just. But, again, I am reminded of what Gandalf said. “Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.” We do not need to kill Dylan Roof. He is no danger to us locked away in prison for the rest of his life. We want to. I want to. Anyone with an ounce of human feeling wants to. But the lesson of Bilbo teaches us that, while there is great justice in destroying those who wanted to destroy you once they are powerless to resist you, we do so at the peril of our own soul.

Dylan Roof committed acts of violence and murder with a hate and malice beyond any we can truly understand. He, like those who share his hatred and malice, are diseased and enslaved to the evil that ensnared them, not unlike Gollum. He is a slinking, slimy creature that no one, not even those who share his malice, can look upon with any admiration. He was pitiless and merciless.

We are not though. We do not share his malice or his hatred. We are not enslaved to the evil that ensnared him. I can imagine no greater punishment than for him to live to see that same malice and evil pass away and the “race war” he wanted to start to never occur. How painful will it be for him to see the outside world leave the malice and hatred he wanted to sow behind them, to leave him behind them? We have pity and mercy and the luxury of maximum security prisons. Like Gandalf, ” I have not much hope that [he] can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it.” He doesn’t deserve that chance. But then, that was Dylan Roof’s argument, wasn’t it? I don’t want him to live; but I want to be better than he was. So do not put him to death; put him to life, the life of one who now has to live with a world that gave him more pity than he gave others. History shows that it is an effective torment that not even death can rival.

Life Matters, Today

Life is an amazing thing.  Human beings have an astonishing capacity for creativity, beauty, and self-sacrifice (and, yes, cruelty as well).  Moreover, every single life is unique and unrepeatable, a work of art, a meteor that blazes through a moment of history.

One of the wonders of life is its origin.  Out of the passion of man and woman comes a tiny little creature, at first almost infinitely small.  And yet, in a staggeringly short space of time, that tiny little creature – in whose DNA, from the first moments, are contained the blueprints for the wondrous human body – begins exhibiting the obvious features of human life: hands and feet, fingers and toes, and a beating heart.

Protecting the lives of the unborn, who are among the most vulnerable of our society, should go without saying.  Sadly, since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, legalized abortion has been the law of the land.

The American Solidarity Party is committed to reversing this travesty through constitutional and legal measures to recognize the fundamental right to life, from conception until natural death.

That means electing pro-life officials, lobbying for pro-life judicial appointments, and praying for a legal reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Simply waiting for that day, however, is not enough.  Even while abortion remains legal, we can – and must – work to build a culture of life and address some of the broader social factors which fuel abortion.

pro-life-gen-wflwc

We can support crisis pregnancy centers, among them the Pregnancy Centers of Central VirginiaCrisis Pregnancy Center of Tidewater, HOPE in Northern Virginia, Care Net, and many others.  We can help ensure that such places have ultrasound machines and the other tools they need to help convey the reality of life before birth.

We can support adoptions and efforts to provide adequate funding – from both public and private sources – for those who wish to adopt, as well as lobbying for adoption processes that are understandable and efficient.

We can educate young people to understand the dignity of human life and the importance of their sexuality.

We can take seriously the needs of the poor, working for universal healthcare, job training, maternity leave, and affordable child care.  No mother should ever believe that choosing life is not a viable option; we have the duty to make clear, in a credible way, that every life matters.

ASP observes January as Right to Life Month.  We invite you to think about what you can do, in your local community, right now, to protect the lives of the weak, the vulnerable, and the unborn.

Today’s image comes courtesy of the Walk for Life West Coast.

Right to Life Month: Tell Gov. McAuliffe Not to Veto

I am generally inclined to believe that every person is fundamentally good and tries to do things for the right reasons. Governor McAuliffe has challenged this belief greatly. General Assembly Republicans are planning on passing a ban on abortions performed at 20 weeks. What is our dear governor’s reason? If you were expecting long passionate speeches about a woman’s right to choose, you are going to be disappointed.

“I can’t sit back and have that sitting out the same time I am traveling the globe recruiting businesses to Virginia….If there’s something that would be damaging toward business, and to our image around the country and the globe, I’ll veto it, you bet I will.”

So women’s rights now apparently rank lower than getting businesses to come to Virginia. Personally, I think it has more to do with  McAuliffe’s high rating with abortion advocacy groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, and their continued support to his campaign. What business would refuse to do business in one of the best economies in the nation simply because an elective surgery is restricted. Seeing as many of the employees of those companies–recent polling shows that 2/3rds of Americans want greater restrictions and regulation on abortion–likely desire such restrictions as these hadn’t entered into his calculations. On the face, it is sacrificing children on the altar of Moloch or giving up the children for presumed economic boons. When we consider the connections McAuliffe has and their influence on his campaign, then we can see that he is keeping the pro-abortion lobby happy, lest they dump him from their pocket. There is another consideration McAuliffe seems to have overlooked.

The bill was introduced by Del. David LaRock of Leesburg. For those of us who remember the 2013 governor race,  McAuliffe’s lead there in Loudoun was only 4%. Seeing as Donald Trump took Loudoun county in the general election, it seems McAuliffe is unconcerned about his own reelection or the election of a future democrat. Losing Loudoun, considered by many to be a bellwether, due to feigned business concerns–I doubt Wells Fargo is going to close its branches down in Virginia over it nor do I think that Nike will refuse to sell shoes here–would mean the further destruction of his party.

The most important issue, however, is that McAuliffe seems to believe that any consideration is greater than the fact that a child at 20 weeks is half way through gestation and has functioning cardiovascular and respiratory organs, higher brain functions, and a nervous system capable of pain. Yes, that’s right. McAuliffe would like women the ability to cause some defenseless creature, who’s only crime was gestating according to natural, biological processes after the mother’s copulation, excruciating pain and a horrible death. I am not one for posting the pictures of mangled fetal corpses; I don’t have the stomach for it and I have too much respect for the dead.

But the torture and eventual death of any creature in this manner is the greatest cruelty man can devise. No argument can be made that it is just a blob of cells; this is an organism that looks and actually acts as a human child. Its humanity cannot be denied because it does not look like a human or does not have the brain, heart, lung, or other organs of a human; it does. McAuliffe would like to protect your right to violently rip it from the safe and secure confines of the womb–an environment devised by nature to ensure the survival but also comfort of this child–and place it, still quivering from the shock to the nervous system and often piece by bloody piece, into a tray to be dump with other medical waste. This is what McAuliffe wants to protect. You know, because business.

Shylock makes some very important points that can be applied here. If you prick a 20 week old fetus, does it not bleed? If you tickle them, do they not, in their own way, laugh? If you poison them, do they not die? The answer is yes to all these questions. The only question that Shylock asks that the 20 week old fetus cannot say is that when they are wronged, they cannot revenge.

God said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” We may not revenge ourselves on McAuliffe; that would counter the very cause for which we fight. Indeed, wishing all manner of curses and ill-will cannot advance the cause of life. Instead, we need to implore to his humanity, the humanity we all share and share with the child in the womb from conception to natural death, and ask him not to veto this bill, to go against the forces of money and power that are preventing him from doing the right thing. If economic and political upheaval are not enough, if the plight of the child in the womb is not enough, then we simply must vote in 2017 for a leader who will do the right thing. It is, after all, the best revenge we could make for the children: to deprive the man who was to  be their protector of the power he sought. That is the best justice we can affect; let God handle the rest.

Mercy for Dylann Roof

This post first appeared here on the American Solidarity blog.

The trial of Dylann Roof, the murderer of nine worshipers at a black church in Charleston in 2015, has now moved to the sentencing phase. The basic question is whether Roof will received life in prison or be executed for his crimes.

There is no doubt that Roof’s attack was heinous. In addition to the deaths themselves and the attendant suffering inflicted on the community and the families of the victims, Roof’s motive casts a further specter: he sought to ignite a race war in America.

In spite of all this, Roof’s life should be spared. His execution would potentially make him a martyr to those few people who share his twisted views of racial superiority and violence. In contrast, sparing his life demonstrates that American society retains the moral high ground and will not stoop to the kind of vindictive actions Dylann Roof has taken.

To my knowledge, no one is making the case that Roof poses a significant threat of escape. So long as he remains behind bars, he poses no threat to society. His blood need not be shed to protect the rest of us.

Human life has dignity – all human life. If we embark on the task of choosing which lives are and are not worthy of respect, as Dylann Roof did, we enter morally dubious territory. Human dignity is innate and inalienable; even acts as heinous as Roof’s cannot erase the sacred calling given to him and every man and woman on the planet: to love and to be loved.

Perhaps, as he lives out his days in prison, Dylann Roof might yet come to see that. I’m not optimistic, but I can hope.

For a further discussion of this topic, see the follow-on post.

January: Right to Life Month

From the State Committee:

January 22nd marks the 43rd anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.  In affirming the intrinsic dignity of all human life, the American Solidarity Party observes January as Right to Life Month.

We mourn for the children lost to abortion.  We stand with the mothers harmed, physically and psychologically, by abortion.

Although America is deeply divided on the question of abortion, a wide range of Americans – from religious sisters to secularists – recognize that life begins at conception, and if we are to be a decent and humane society, we must protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

While working and praying to overturn Roe v. Wade, ASP is also committed to addressing the wider cultural forces which drive some women to choose abortion.  Thus, we support universal healthcare, expanded maternity leave, and other supports for families, including single parents.  Recognizing that life must be protected at all stages, ASP embraces a consistent life ethic which also includes caring for the poor and refugees, the elderly, and the disabled.

We encourage ASP members and all people of good will to support an ethic of life, human dignity, and an end to abortion. Whether or not you attend the March for Life on January 27th, please prayerfully consider how you can offer your support of time, treasure, and talent to speak out for the voiceless and aid the vulnerable.