Are “Old” Pro-Lifers Racists & “Anti-Woman”? (vs. John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe)

Are “Old” Pro-Lifers Racists & “Anti-Woman”? (vs. John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe) August 30, 2017


2017 March for Life; photograph by James McNellis (1-27-17) [Wikimedia Commons /  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license]


John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe has been involved in pro-life rescues and related groups, that block the doors of abortion clinics, in order to save lives. Indeed, he is even thought to be the founder of such pro-life sit-ins. I was heavily involved in Operation Rescue, myself, from 1988-1990. I’ve known of his name from that time. So it’s very sad to see such a man sink so low and start savaging fellow pro-lifers. He wrote on his Facebook page on 8-27-17 (public post):

I have been aware that the pro-life movement includes some people who are intent on protecting children, and others who are intent on keeping women attached tightly to their “traditional” role in society.

For me, one of the most significant lessons of the Trump election is that the brutal – that is, anti-woman – side of the pro-life coalition now has the upper hand.

Catholic leftists often echo their secular political comrades on the left side of the spectrum. His derision against conservatives and conservative pro-lifers merely brings back what he felt in the early 70s. As an article about him in Chicago Tribune noted (way back on 8-20-86):

He saw pro-life groups as self-righteous and narrow-minded; and, as a liberal, he was put off by their politics. To him, they were simply a collection of “right-wing, reactionary, judgmental Catholics.”

The article says that Mr. Cavanaugh-O’Keefe changed his mind, but now he has clearly changed back to his prior views, and has adopted the fanatical / hysterical pseudo-leftist rhetoric of the anti-Trumpers.

I was commenting just two days ago about how Satan is dividing pro-lifers, and here is a prime and tragic example of it. If we’re not in his “new” pro-life movement, then we’re obviously anti-woman and a pack of racists. I wrote:

Now the devil has brought about this absurd division, with the “new” pro-lifers often insultingly running down what they call the “old” pro-lifers as hopelessly compromised, not really pro-life (more charges of alleged inconsistency), and supposedly caring only about abortion and no other “life issues.”

One can see how very clever the devil is. Rather than uniting to evangelize the world, and to oppose the world-system, the flesh, and the devil, instead, a great many Catholics spend time devouring each other (above all, online). Jesus predicted this, too. The Church is like a family, and our Lord said, “a man’s foes will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:36, RSV).

I don’t deny “new” pro-lifers are truly pro-life. I seriously disagree with them about strategy. We could all simply talk and share ideas as pro-lifers, but in my opinion, the problem is a pronounced judgmental streak within the “new” pro-lifers. They feel compelled to often run down the existing pro-life movement (that has made truly extraordinary gains): often questioning commitment and consistency, and they often put descriptions of them in derisive quotation marks; i.e., insinuating that they are not “really” good pro-lifers. We can disagree on emphases and tactics, without questioning sincerity, commitment, credentials and bona fides and parroting pro-abort talking points.

Like a good leftist, Cavanaugh-O’Keefe voted for Hillary Clinton: Planned Parenthood’s “Champion of the Century” and advocate of partial-birth infanticide:

Many pro-lifers voted for Trump in 2016, asserting that they were voting for ABH, anyone but Hillary, and in November, the effective ABH button was labeled “Trump.” To me, it seems obvious that if you vote that way, and prevail, then you have a solemn responsibility to push back hard and visibly against the evils promoted by your candidate. I voted pretty much the same way – ABHUIT, anyone but Hillary unless it’s Trump. That button was labeled Hillary.

It’s certainly an amazing turn of events, that has a fervent pro-lifer voting for Hillary as supposedly the more “pro-life” candidate. But he did just that, writing on 15 October 2016:

I’m a pro-lifer, and I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.

If there were a pro-lifer on the ballot, I’d vote for that person. There’s not. What now?

I’m a devout Catholic, committed to the teaching of the Church – all of it, not cherry-picked items on the left or the right. The nuanced teaching from Pope Benedict matters to me: a faithful Catholic cannot vote to permit the killing of our brothers and sisters. BUT in circumstances where all ballot options look bad, a person can vote in good conscience for the less destructive option. I am convinced that Trump, if he were elected, would damage the nation and the world in a long list of ways, including that he would increase abortion – by giving permission for thugs to abuse women, by insulting people with disabilities, and by refusing to help pregnant refugees. Hillary’s record on abortion is unambiguous, but not as bad as a Trump eruption.

. . . Hillary is going to whip him – not horse-whip him, something more focused and effective. She will expose him as a loser. A list of Republican men tried, and failed; but Hillary will get the job done. I support that, enthusiastically.

My state, Maryland, will go for Hillary; my vote is almost meaningless. But not quite! On Election Day, Hillary will whip Trump. Look at the margin of victory. One tiny but proud sliver of that margin will be me.

God help us. This is our state in August 2017: avid, undeniably committed pro-life Catholics thinking that a vote for Hillary Clinton furthers the cause more than a vote for Donald Trump, and bashing pro-lifers who don’t vote for the Childkiller as racists, insufficiently pro-life, and anti-woman to boot.

Leftist secularists and abortion advocates want to further their cause? No-brainer: they voted for Hillary Clinton. And the “new” pro-lifers like John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe and Simcha Fisher vote precisely the same way, yet believe they are not advancing the radical secularist, anti-life agenda. Wonders never cease.

It’s the textbook definition of “useful idiot.”

I informed Mr. Cavanaugh-O’Keefe that I had responded to his article, and he came to my Facebook page to reply. I reproduce that reply in its entirety below, with my responses. His words will be in blue:

Republican leaders in the House and Senate are critical of Trump’s words after Charlottesville and Arpaio. So are members of his Cabinet. So are the Wall Street Journal and the Economist. So are military leaders. Etc, etc. 

What part of his speech, where he condemned the KKK, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis by name was objected to by all these critics? You tell me.

I would be interested if you would list pro-life leaders who have spoken up.

Why do they necessarily need to, anymore than they have to condemn ISIS every time a mass act of terror takes place? If you don’t require that of them in those instances, why do you in far more rare instances of some racist white supremacist wingnuts and morons gathering together?

Not condemning every single march proves nothing. Not condemning Trump signifies nothing. The politicians are under pressures of being accused of racism if they don’t give Trump a hard time (and follow the cynical, lying media narrative). It’s understood why they do what they do.

But Trump did nothing wrong. He condemned hatred and bigotry in his first statement (made before details of the car-murder were known). Then he condemned the far-right hate groups by name. That should have ended it, but of course not for the Never-Trumpers and liberal media.

The fact that pro-life groups may not have issued official statements on a racist incident is no more noteworthy or alarming than the fact that black civil rights groups rarely comment on abortion. It’s not what they are about. But they also massively support childkilling, whereas pro-life groups do not support racism.

If you think otherwise, then start providing hard evidence, besides guilt-by-association and guilt-because-a-statement-that-liberals-would-love-was-not-made (an argument from silence). If the racism is so widespread and systemic among “old” pro-lifers, certainly such examples would be abundant and beyond argument.

In any event, American Life League put up an article about Charlottesville (“Charlottesville, Chaos, and Confederate Statues,”  by Ryan Scott Bomberger, 8-21-17):

#FakeNews media will completely ignore hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers gathered in the nation’s capital, but will fixate on a handful of racist clowns craving relevance in a small college town in Virginia. The racist “Unite the Right” tiki-torch tantrum could have gone down like a tree in an empty forest, but, instead, the Left made it into a spectator sport. Timber!!! That’s the sound of civility crashing to earth as anarchists, racial activists and social justice whiners clashed, enabled by police acting as bystanders.

And one precious soul was killed. Heather Heyer shouldn’t have been a casualty. But Charlottesville, because of political reasons, was allowed to erupt with hatred and violence.

As someone who is biracial, my heart grieves that the poison of racism is treated so recklessly. After witnessing over 8 years of Barack Obama’s squandered opportunities to engage constructively on racial issues, I’m now listening to the Left’s daily obsession with calling everyone who disagrees with them a racist. That’s the liberal way to end the conversation.

It’s bizarre considering the projection that seems to be going on from the Party of Slavery and Jim Crow. Discontent with just revising history, they now want to purge it. I’m a staunch defender of the First Amendment. Even (non-violent) ignorance has the right to be voiced. If former dunce-cap-wearing David Duke wants to talk about “taking this country back” for the extremely small minority of white folks who think like he does, he’s entitled to that lunacy. He might want to listen to that folksy tune “This Land Is Your Land” again. Black, white and every hue in between. Rich, poor and every socioeconomic status in between. Legal immigrant and native-born. Republican, Democrat, Independent, or anywhere along the political spectrum. America belongs to all of us.

If you are attached uncritically to Trump, then:

You made everything else follow on this premise, but no one I know, including myself, is attached uncritically to him. He’s like any other politician. We have to deal with what we have. We vote for the person whom we think is the best of the realistic choices: not perfect; not a canonized saint; not in total alignment with Catholic teaching (such as never happened in the history of America).

You said you have often voted for third party. That relieves you of any responsibility for who wins the election. And since you voted for Hillary Clinton, you don’t have to worry about anything Trump does (in terms of being his supporter), leaving you to join in on the anti-Trump irrational hysteria and fanaticism. You can sit in your armchair and say “I didn’t vote for him” and then launch all your volleys, which (at the level we are now seeing) are long since utterly contrary to scriptural commands to honor one’s rulers (including political ones). St. Peter even told us to “honor the emperor”: who at that time was a pagan and persecutor of Christians. St. Paul honored the Jewish high priest who was opposing him during his trial (citing Old Testament teaching that one ought not insult rulers).

… after the Heidi Cruz incident, and then the genital-grabbing remark, you have no credibility speaking about women’s issues;

I spoke out very strongly about the tape that came out right before the election, in a Facebook post entitled, “Statement on Donald Trump’s Despicable, Outrageous “Lewd” Comments” (10-8-16). I wrote: “What Trump said and what it implies is indefensible. I agree with all criticism of it along those lines.”

So that’s that (now I have your approval to still speak on women’s issues. Thank you, my lord [bowing deferentially] ). But I also noted that the pro-life issue was paramount, and that Presidents are not known to be saints:

There seems to be the silly idea in some quarters that presidential candidates are always (or should be) rather saintly characters? Huh? What a joke! There is, of course, a long, pathetic history of presidential affairs. We know about FDR; obviously Bill Clinton (whom Hillary has enabled for 40 years or more), JFK (not far from Clinton’s exploits). Even Eisenhower is said to have had a mistress. Reagan was quite promiscuous in his Hollywood days (I’ve read that he had 50 or so partners), if not while President.

No one who is morally conservative or a consistent Catholic or other kind of Christian condones any of that. But it’s nothing new. It’s beyond naive (flat-out simplistic) to believe that we are talking about holy, saintly people at this high of a level in the political arena.

Often, given this reality, in voting it comes down to “the lesser of two evils”. My friends on the Catholic left (legion at Patheos, where I blog) are well aware of this, since they routinely justify voting for pro-abort candidates as morally superior to the alternative.

And I also considered the possibility that Trump could have possibly changed in the eleven years since the tape. Hardly anyone (if anyone) on the oh-so-compassionate left seems to have even considered the remote possibility of that. But how charitable and Christian is that attitude? It’s simply assumed that he is the same person as he was then. His wife forgave him, but that’s not enough (even though the left has accepted that Hillary forgiving Bill for his innumerable escapades makes it all fine and dandy). And so I wrote in the same post above:

It’s also possible that the man has changed and grown in some respects. I don’t know, but I do know that others have changed. St. Paul killed Christians, after all, and became an apostle. St. Peter denied Christ and became the first pope. King David planned to have a man killed so he could commit adultery with his wife. He repented, and God made an eternal covenant with him, knowing all along that he was going to do these wicked things. . . . The point is that it is possible to change, by God’s grace. I see no compelling reason to believe that Trump has undergone some sort of religious conversion, as has been reported by some. But I also don’t think it is impossible or out of the question that he has at least reformed these tawdry, locker-room aspects of his life. After all, anyone who has come out of addiction to pornography has reformed in that way. I don’t know if he has or not. All I’m saying is that it is possible and not impossible.

… after the KKK march, you have no credibility talking about Holocaust issues.

Of course I condemned the KKK, white supremacists, and Neo-Nazis after that occurred, because I always have. I also condemned the hatred and bigotry coming from the leftist Antifa and other wingnuts at those demonstrations (just as President Trump did). And we see clearly what those folks are like, after the recent fracas at Berkeley.

But what I strongly object and resent and detest to my bones is this notion that somehow every conservative is assumed by default to be a racist and Klan sympathizer if they don’t condemn marches by tiny groups of fringe extremist bigots and racists every time they occur. This is only necessary because of the pre-existing prejudice that Republicans are racist pigs by the multi-millions.

Someone on TV tonight who was accused of being a white supremacist (on the usual idiotic grounds) noted that (paraphrase) “Why should I have to condemn the KKK? It’s like condemning the Texas flood.” In other words, there is no compulsion to do so. It’s already understood. Do we need to condemn ISIS every time a terrorist act occurs? It’s only not understood by those on the left who already think all conservatives are racists.

And so I wrote on 8-17-17:

As a lifelong Northerner, I won’t stand by while my Southern friends are caricatured as bigoted racists en masse (or listen to bilge that this is proven simply by the existence of statues of Gen. Lee et al). There have been many racists in the South and the North, assuredly, and we have a scandalous, atrocious past in this regard.

But things are much better than they were 50 (let alone 150) years ago. They would be much better still if the Democrats (and their many RINO useful idiot comrades) didn’t constantly race-bait and lie about conservatives being in bed with the KKK. But that would be truthful, fair, and constructive for the country and race relations, moving forward, and we mustn’t have that, either. That would be too normal and moral and intelligent and hopefully optimistic, after all: too [truly] progressive.

Don’t even get me started on Holocaust issues. You obviously don’t know a thing about me. You don’t want to go down that road.

… after Arpaio, you have no credibility about speaking out against torture, the key wedge issue many pro-lifers are using now;

I’ve always opposed torture. Arpaio was not convicted by the one judge (having been refused a jury trial) for torturing prisoners, as far as I know. If I’m wrong about that, please let me know, and I’ll reconsider my position.

… after the KKK and Arpaio, you have no credibility talking about nonviolence;

I have nothing to do with the KKK or racism, period. Police enforcement isn’t a Sunday picnic, and sometimes does (yes) come close to crossing an ethical line, or does cross it, in some instances. But your pacifism logically entails not even being able to defend innocent people with force. They couldn’t have taken out the gunman who tried to kill all the Republican congressmen. There would be a lot of people dead today, but for the action of police officers.

That was use of force. That was “instant capital punishment” against the perpetrator. How do you square that with your pacifism? Would you prefer that they didn’t shoot the murderer, and thus accept as a result a bunch of dead GOP congressmen?

I am a nonviolent person just as you are. I was in Rescues (five arrests, 25 or so rescues, three trials, and jail time); I’ve never owned a gun. But I also understand that the government was given the power of the sword (Romans 13). Part of that is police use of force, where necessary to protect people.

… no credibility talking about Scripture;

… no credibility quoting Church teaching;

no credibility talking about justice, or love, or healing, or the future, or the American dream.

Poppycock. How melodramatic! This is just ranting stupidity, arrogance, and sanctimonious condescension: typical of the left. You guys think that you have a monopoly on morals and compassion.

If anyone has lost credibility on the pro-life issue, and the moral high ground, it’s you, by voting for rabid pro-abortionist Hillary Clinton. You couldn’t even vote third party, for a pro-lifer, to make your “statement”. You had to vote for the Planned Parenthood Champion of the Century.

You have no basis at all to be pompously lecturing anyone about morality as regards abortion, let alone about Scripture and Church teaching (which are areas I have dealt with for 27 years as a Catholic apologist, with Imprimaturs, including one from my own bishop, and a Foreword for my first book from Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J.).

Meanwhile, 3000 babies a day are legally killed, and the “new” pro-lifers can find nothing better to do than to condemn many millions of so-called “old” pro-lifers as supposed racists and anti-woman, simply because we don’t parrot liberal talking-points and think that one white supremacist demonstration is the most momentous and influential gathering in the history of the world.

You talk about making abortions less numerous, yet you oppose the very people who have done exactly that: reduced abortion from 1.5 million a year to one million or less, by means of many abortion restrictions on the state level.

That was made possible by exclusively Republican appointees to the Supreme Court, save one man: Byron White: the last pro-life Justice put on the Supreme Court by Democrats (JFK in 1962). This is undeniable fact. It’s because of Republican-appointed Justices, that we have all these laws passed, saving many millions of lives. And it is Republican-dominated state legislatures that have passed these laws.

But people like you somehow go around pretending there is no difference between the parties, so you vote third party or Democrat for President (you have said you voted Republican for President only two times in your life), ignoring all this progress, and how it was made possible. You voted for one of the biggest supporters of abortion ever in November 2016. We know she is because Planned Parenthood said so.

You vote exactly as the most rabid pro-aborts do, and you have the audacity to contend that that is more pro-life than voting for the stated pro-life candidate, and that this would help produce an environment where less abortions would take place.

Right now, there would have been a five-person pro-abort majority on the Supreme Court, if Hillary had won (that horrifying prospect that you were ready to absurdly celebrate, simply because she would have put Trump in his place and proved that he was a “loser”).

William Doino, Jr. wrote in First Things in January 2017:

[T]he pro-life movement has begun to make real gains. As the Catholic News Service recently noted, citing a major study: “The US abortion rate is down to its lowest level since the Supreme Court made abortion legal virtually on demand in 1973, and the rate is half of its early-1980s peak.”

Many abortion advocates maintain that the decline is largely due to access to “family planning” and contraception; but widespread access to both has been available for decades, and even the “pro-choice” Guttmacher Institute, which issued the study, acknowledged that “the wave of abortion restrictions passed at the state level over the last five years” may well have played a part. Pro-life scholars who have studied the issue certainly agree.

The election of Donald Trump as president, who has promised to fight abortion and appoint Supreme Court justices opposed to Roe, is another boost. Expressing the sentiments of many, Marjorie Dannenfelser of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List now believes: “This is the strongest the pro-life movement has been since 1973.”

And Anne Hendershott, Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio, wrote in The Human Life Review just five days ago:

If one wishes to convince others that the whole-life approach to protecting the unborn is preferable to the traditional pro-life movement, hurling insults at the pro-life community is not the place to start. Unfortunately, this has been the strategy adopted by some of the most articulate advocates of the whole-life position. . . .

[T]he pro-life movement is already helping to change the culture surrounding abortion by winning many battles at the state level—over waiting periods, ultrasound and parental notification requirements, and restrictions on late term abortion. More than 300 policies to protect the unborn have been passed in the states in the past five years alone—with little help from those in the whole-life movement. The number of abortions in each of those years has fallen to pre-Roe-era levels—the lowest in more than four decades. Many of these gains are due to the selfless efforts of the traditional pro-life community and its pro-life religious leaders. We now have a pro-life president who has promised to appoint pro-life judges. Yet just as victory appears possible at the level of the Supreme Court, the whole-lifers want us to give up our “single issue focus” on the unborn.

You need some critical distance from Trump to have credibility about anything. 

So speak up.

I’ve defended myself and my choices.  I spoke up, and did without shame and ludicrous doublethink on the pro-life issue that your vote for Hillary Clinton entailed.

Now it’s your turn. Let’s hear you “speak up” and defend your vote for a pro-abort when a pro-lifer was on the ticket running against her. It’s quite a different thing when you have to stop ranting about the Great Satan, Trump (and anyone who voted for him) for a few minutes, and try to rationalize your voting choice.

[as of writing, Mr. Cavanaugh-O’Keefe — so eager to challenge my comments — has not counter-responded. If he does, I will assuredly add them and my replies to this paper or a follow-up one, linked here]

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