‘The atrocities that can be justified … are nearly limitless’

‘The atrocities that can be justified … are nearly limitless’ January 25, 2021

Jonathan Dudley writes about “How the Pro-Life Movement Gave Us Donald Trump — And Why It Could Bring Worse.”

That headline doesn’t capture the essence of Dudley’s piece, which is an honest, accurate, and empathetic effort to describe what the pro-life ideology requires of its adherents:

Pro-life organizations have spent decades declaiming that abortion is the mass killing of children and insisting that single-issue support for politicians who identify as pro-life can end or dramatically reduce it. If one believes these things, it’s unthinkable to not support the pro-life candidate in any political race.

… Many have asked how evangelicals could brush aside lying, bullying, adultery, and racism to support Trump. But when you consider how most evangelicals think about abortion, it’s not hard to understand. When you believe the other candidate supports the gruesome killing of hundreds of thousands of children per year, every other concern pales in comparison.

… If one wonders, Just how much could the movement tolerate in the name of advancing the pro-life cause? just ask, What is the moral equivalent to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands children per year? Ignoring a pandemic? Putting children in cages? Overturning an election? Violence against political opponents? Even these actions can be excused as paling in comparison to what the pro-life movement believes its opponents support.

Dudley recognizes that this is internally consistent — a conclusion that necessarily flows from the stated premises of the ideology. It is the logical conclusion of those premises. But also, he notes, “The atrocities that can be justified by the movement’s rigid logic are nearly limitless. Many politicians are keenly aware of this.”

This is the function of pro-life ideology: the nearly limitless justification of atrocities in pursuit of the superior moral claim and greater urgency of ending the murder of millions of innocent babies. Given its premises, this is what it must do.

That alone ought to give adherents of this ideology pause, not because their moral calculus — “saving babies from murder > atrocities X, Y, and Z” — is incorrect, but because this calculus needs to be applied so constantly and consistently. At some point, one would think, they would begin to wonder why it is that supporting the Good Side of that calculus always seems to require them to overlook, accept, and ingest a litany of atrocities that, while Not As Bad As the Holocaust of Satanic baby-killing, still seem like something an actual Good Side shouldn’t constantly be requiring them to endorse.

Of course, that all presumes something that Dudley is too circumspect to challenge: That the “saving babies from murder” premise of this ideology is an actual, good-faith belief. And it obviously is not that.

Yes, “obviously.” Because single-issue voting is not the only conclusion that logically or necessarily would have to flow from this premise if it were in good faith, yet none of the other necessary and logical conclusions ever do. This is evidence. And there’s a lot of it.

There’s a sense in which the dazzling nonsense of Q-Anon is more credible than the mainstream Satanic baby-killerism that it imitates. It bears the same false witness against its neighbors in support of the same political aims, but at least it also affords those neighbors the dignity of attempting to imagine some possible motives for their devotion to superlative evil. Yes, that leads Q-Anoners into all manner of baseless absurdities — “adenochrome,” witchcraft, “lizard people” — but it’s impossible to avoid such outlandish absurdities if one is to try to make sense of the initial claim.

• Speaking of a claim of moral superiority as license to justify a nearly limitless list of atrocities … “9,000 children died in Irish mother-and-baby homes, report finds.”

Some 9,000 children died in Ireland’s church-run homes for unwed mothers, a government report published on Tuesday found. This is equivalent to 15 percent of all children who were born or lived in the 18 institutions investigated over nearly 80 years.

The nearly 3,000-page report describes the emotional and even physical abuse some of the 56,000 unmarried mothers — from farmhands to domestic servants — were subjected to in the so-called mother-and-baby homes.

“It appears that there was little kindness shown to them and this was particularly the case when they were giving birth,” the report said.

… The report also noted the “appalling” rate of infant mortality in the homes, calling it “probably the most disquieting feature of these institutions.”

In the years before 1960, it said, mother-and-baby homes did not save the lives of “illegitimate” children — instead, they significantly reduced prospects of their survival.

… The mother-and-baby homes took in women, some as young as 12, who had become pregnant outside marriage — taboo in the conservative country — and were viewed as an attempt to preserve the country’s devout Catholic image. Now, the homes are a byword for a dark chapter in the nation’s history, say Irish politicians and survivors.

An amateur local historian, Catherine Corless, first shed light on the issue of maltreatment at the homes.

She discovered an unmarked mass graveyard at Tuam, in the western county of Galway, which prompted an investigation that uncovered the remains of at least 700 children buried from 1925 to 1961, a report found in 2017.

A lot of evidence.

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