Question To Ponder

Question To Ponder August 27, 2008

Let’s say in 2012, however weird it might seem, and however unlikely it actually is, two presidential candidates come out on top and it has become clear one or the other of them will become the president. It is also clear that they are drawing relatively equal support, and the one who wins will depends upon who gets more of his supporters out to vote.

Candidate A is Muslim. He has made it clear that he will work for an ethical revolution in the United States by bringing to it Islamic law. He has said the first thing he will do, and work non-stop until he has accomplished this task, is to work to find a way to end abortion in the United States. It’s very clear he is very passionate on the subject, and his statements are more than empty rhetoric. He has a plan and has outlined how he could accomplish the task, and it looks like it will work.

Candidate B is a Methodist. On most issues, he is very similar to Jimmy Carter. One of the things he wants to work on is the image of the United States, so that its allies will be proud to work with the United States once again. But he is also rather supportive of abortion rights, and Planned Parenthood is one of his greatest supporters. 

Who would you vote for — and why?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Tim F.

    Silly hpothetical used to get people to consider voting for Obama. You are really fixated on abortion opponents aren’t you? To anyone tempted to take the bait I would not indulge Henry here.

  • Neither

  • I have way too much time to kill at work, so I’ll take the bait. But a few questions first..

    Does Candidate A want to enact his Islamic law democratically, or is he proposing a new type of government where the President is also a legislator? What is his plan to end abortion in the US? (If this is supposed to be the United States, it can only be to appoint different justices to the Supreme Court)

  • Rob

    The Muslim.

  • Tim

    I am fixated on abortion? No. I am just bringing out the fixation that others have had — I’ve been told when there is a pro-life candidate and a pro-choice candidate, nothing equals the issue of life, and so there is no ability for one to use prudential reason to vote against the pro-lifer.

    I look at abortion as an important, but not the only, issue to deal with.

  • Zach: argue your case for both possible situations — someone who will stay within the domain of the democratic system as it now exists, and someone who is going to work to undermine that system and completely transform it (though into an Islamic democracy). With either situation, he has found a way to get abortion stopped and illegal, and it will work (there are many possibilities here; there is no need to look at them all, the main point is, it will work, and if he is elected, abortion WILL end).

  • Rob

    Why?

  • love the girls

    The secularists want your flesh. Islam wants your soul.

    Fear not the first death, but the second death.

    Oh I know, the secularists don’t want your soul, but those they worship do, nevertheless, in this instance the more vicious enemy is the one with the knife at your throat, not the one with the alluring gaze beckoning you to come outside to play.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    That is the most contorted usage of the “second death” metaphor I have yet to encounter.

  • love the girls

    Mr. DeFrancisis writes : “That is the most contorted usage of the “second death” metaphor I have yet to encounter.”

    It’s not a metaphor. But perhaps your thinking it is, is why you see it as a contorted usage.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Love the girls,

    Pleasant day!

  • jeremy

    It seems to me that the fixation is to make us understand the point of the Gospel of Life extends beyond abortion.

    We know that, what I don’t think is properly understood is that you can trade away the fundamental idea of the sacredness of all human life to advance other goals. Far to many people have a hard time and get the short stick after they are born, and it advances the gospel of life to promote policies that try to correct some injustices and make life more comfortable for all.

    Even if a side effect is to send the message that person hood doesn’t begin until a human life is actually wanted.

    It’s okay right?

  • Just vote for Obama and stop torturing us – you know it’s intrinsically evil 😛

  • It’s interesting to see the kind of reaction people have already had with this question.

    For example, Mark Shea is acting upset that I brought up a Muslim who would work to subvert the Constitution into the discussion. However, that is a part of the point of the whole question. I want to see how people would deal with contradictory tendencies within their own political rhetoric. So many people say, “abortion is everything, and there is no possible proportionate reason to vote for a pro-choicer if an authentic pro-life candidate is involved in an election.” They tell you that you can’t even vote for a third party, or not vote, because the stakes are too high. But many of the same people, Catholics, are very hostile– even hateful — to Islam, and indeed, act contrary to the Church’s dictates as to how Christians should treat Muslims. Instead of cooperation with Muslims and working with them and trying to overcome the cycle of hostility, they try to wind people up in fear of what Islam wants to do, and characterize the whole of Islam as evil. So I wanted to see which they would put in front: abortion or Islam. But more importantly, since I made it clear that the Muslim would work to change the American system from within, I wanted to see how many people would bring up the Constitution and how the candidate would be unacceptable because he wouldn’t be supporting it as it is now understood. Mark Shea didn’t disappoint with that one; seems like one can give up on abortion…for the sake of the Constitution!

  • Gerald,

    It’s interesting, I’ve heard some people say Obama is a secret Muslim and wants to bring in Sharia law. So maybe this is a reality right now 😉

    But seriously, I am not voting for Obama. I am not voting for McCain. I’ve made that clear. I’ve also said I can understand why people could or would for either, and it is not necessarily indicative of any moral fault if they do. This is not an exercise to get people to vote for anyone; it’s an exercise to get people to think of the inherent problems of their own political rhetoric, because it is often contradictory (with their hate of all things Muslim and yet a demand to have people vote for pro-life candidates; Islamic nations outlaw abortion, Western ones don’t; it should reveal to people there is something they are missing out when their political rhetoric is self-contradictory).

    Stanley Hauerwas, I think, hit it straight on in his essay, “Abortion: Why the Arguments Fail” (in A Community of Character). Therein, he said, “We fail to see how much of the problem lies in the way we share with the pro-abortion advocates the moral presuppositions of our culture” (213).

  • So many people say, “abortion is everything, and there is no possible proportionate reason to vote for a pro-choicer if an authentic pro-life candidate is involved in an election.” They tell you that you can’t even vote for a third party, or not vote, because the stakes are too high.

    I have yet to actually hear someone claim this, though I have heard many people (as you do here) claim that “many people” do. So I fear that it is something of a straw man.

    Certainly, many people have claimed that there is currently no proportionate issue at stake in American politics which outweighs abortion, but that is not the same as saying that abortion is “everything”.

    In your example, I think that you throw things off a bit by saying that your Muslim candidate wants to put into effect “Islamic Law”. In a later comment, you say that part of your purpose here is to see if people have too visceral a reaction against Islam to support a theoretical Islamic pro-life candidate. But what if your example included, “Candidate C is a Catholic monarchist, and he says that he will use his executive power to stage a military take-over and establish a Catholic confessional state with himself as military dictator until a suitable kind can be found. He will outlaw all other religions, successfully ban abortion, and require that all education be Catholic.”

    I think you would find that nearly everyone would object to this idea, because they would believe that overall such actions would serve to undermine rather than teach the truth and the common good.

    Similarly, when you say “Islamic Law” many people are going to picture a Saudi version in which adulterers are beheaded and Christianity is illegal.

    If you really want to see if people have a prejudice against Muslims, you should simply specify that he is seeking to ban abortion because he draws from his Islamic faith the belief that abortion is wrong.

    Personally, I would have no problem with voting for a Muslim candidate simply because he was a Muslim — my objections to such a candidate would, if I had them, relate to his stated policy preferences.

  • Henry,

    This is a messy response but bear with me.

    In the case where Candidate A wants to work within American political order, I think there is a case that can be made for his presidency. In this case, he respects the system of laws that is established in this country and, while he may believe that Sharia law is the ideal, he is willing to leave the lawmaking up to the people in the legislature. Also, in this case, it seems he is quite willing to argue for supreme court justices that support overturning Roe v. Wade, as this is the only possible way to end abortion in America. He might be able to facilitate the end of the elective abortion regime in America, but I can’t buy into the assumption that he will be able to “end abortion” without qualifications, it’s too detached from reality.

    In the case where Candidate A wants to establish some new system of government to enact Sharia law, I do not think it is appropriate to vote for him, because it would amount to a revolution, a tremendous disruption of the social order. I don’t really think it is correct to assume that abortion could be outlawed so easily, as I said before.

    In either situation, I do not think candidate B is a viable choice. Jimmy Carter was a terrible president.

    So – as you intended, this argument does show that abortion is not the ONLY consideration a Catholic voter ought to have. It only defeats the argument that abortion is the ONLY consideration. But I think this is a straw man, like Darwin said. I do not think thoughtful Catholics have ever argued that the only thing to be considered is a candidate’s stance on abortion.

  • Also Henry,

    Who are the people, specifically, that “hate of all things Muslim and yet a demand to have people vote for pro-life candidates”?

    I think you are beating back a crowd that doesn’t really exist.

  • Darwin

    So. to be clear, if he was going to work to change the American society from within, to bring it into some fashion of Islamic law, though starting with abortion, you wouldn’t vote for him? And the reason is you wouldn’t like the kind of systematic change he would bring to the American institution; that the cultural change might be enough to disqualify him as a proper candidate? Do you really want to say that? It seems to be the kind of argument many do make to vote for a pro-choice candidate who get ridiculed for such arguments. The question then is which cultural changes are valid or not, but that is something people can have a difference of opinion, no?

    As for the supposed strawman; it’s an argument I’ve encountered many times (and I am sure it’s been brought up by many who comment on VN before).

  • On a tangent – it’s odd how Islam turned out, there used to be a time when it was more advanced – and more tolerant – than Christendom. To think that belly-dancing comes from the Muslim world ! While I oppose large-scale Muslim immigration to Europe, due to the radical nature of a significant segment, one has to keep in mind that religion is a result of time and geography, as such nothing to blame someone for. Obviously, the prime victims of radical Islam are Muslims.

    Henry, maybe you could write about Zen Buddhism and its support of Imperial Japan & its wars ? It seems odd to many with the traditional Western view of Buddhism. (Btw, have you read ‘Thoughts Without a Thinker’ and ‘Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart’ ? Not exactly scholarship but an interesting Western take on Buddhist ideas by a Jewish psychiatrist)

  • Gerald

    The “holy war” (using a Western term) tradition within Buddhism extended far beyond Japan; one can only look at the different schools fighting for control over Tibet to see how it can be used for internal Buddhist conflicts. Then tjere is the ancient, Indian, tradition, which used the concept of the icchantika (those who cut themselves off from Nirvana so as to never be able to attain it; the damned) as a means to justify killing — those who fought against Buddhism were icchantikas and one was free to kill an icchantikas (the karmic result would be less than stepping on an ant!).

    It’s true with Islam; Islamic nations were far more tolerant than many Western nations for significant points of history, and it’s for reasons such as that which I think Islam can re-engage such traditions and the modern world in a way to overcome the fundamentalistic rage we see today (though the rage, it must be understood, is in part a reaction of Western imperialism, starting with colonialism, and fusing the political with the religious in ways similar to what we saw in Salem, but with far more extensive power structures).

    I’ve not read either of those books; I’ve seen them, and while I do read some popular Buddhist literature (like Hanh; even Batchelor) for the most part, I’ve been trying to avoid marketized-Buddhism and focus on its classical traditions.

  • David Nickol

    Following the same logic used by many of the ant-aborts in their arguments against Obama here (and some would include McCain, too) it’s clear that the only possible choice is the Muslim candidate, provided he doesn’t somehow sacrifice 1.3 million lives a year in putting his programs into effect.

    The argument has been that abortion is a life issue, life issues trump all other issues, and that the large numbers involved in abortion mean it trumps all other life issues. It seems to me it does not even matter if the Muslim candidate wants to dismantle American democracy (peacefully, of course). Saving American democracy is not a life issue.

  • Two gruesome examples from ‘modern’ Islam:
    http://www.geraldnaus.com/?p=10831

    http://www.geraldnaus.com/?p=10830

    One about a father murdering his daughter for becoming Christian, the other about how gays are being literally hunted in the ‘New Iraq’.

    (I have an 80 lbs. (Gautama) Buddha statue (classic lotus pose) – that I painted myself – sitting in the yard, next to St. Francis 😀 )

  • Policraticus

    On the surface, I am inclined toward A given that his work to implement the Shari’a will likely be mitigated by our democratically elected law-makers. However, the prospect of having the Shari’a become any sort of policy will certainly have its problems, not least of all being religious freedom.

  • L. Danza

    I would HOPE to “peacefully” overthrow them both, and CHANGE Obama to be the King of America.
    Face it people, we’re in the wilderness! Other than Obama, I don’t see any manna laying around. 🙂

  • Morning’s Minion

    The question as always, boils down to the actual effect the various candidates will have. I would say a vote for A is justified on the grounds that his “plan” for reducing abortion (whatever it is) seems credible and that his ability to actually introduce core aspects of Sharia law is negligible. Of course, it would also depend on A’s other policy stances, such as his approach to war.

  • B, B, a thousand times B. My Afghan doctor & farmers (support your local organic Afghan farmer) didn’t come here to have that lunacy follow them. Not to mention that Jefferson should kick your butts for trading away freedom and tearing down the crucial wall of separation between church and state. Of course, from your Catholic perspective it may look different – Catholic and Islamic authorities already cooperate when it comes to fighting equal rights for gays.

  • Henry,

    So. to be clear, if he was going to work to change the American society from within, to bring it into some fashion of Islamic law, though starting with abortion, you wouldn’t vote for him? And the reason is you wouldn’t like the kind of systematic change he would bring to the American institution; that the cultural change might be enough to disqualify him as a proper candidate?

    I have no problem with American society or culture being changed — whether towards an Islamic culture or towards something else. Certainly, there is nothing sacred and unchangeable about modern American culture or political institutions.

    However, to the extent that I believe (as a Catholic) that a number of elements of Sharia are wrong, I obviously would not want to see those elements of Sharia imposed, even if it was done gradually, working through existing political institutions.

    I generally frown very much on theoretical examples such as this, because they remove most of the actual elements that would lead one to make one’s decision. As you and I both know, one must know a great deal more about a candidate than his views on abortion alone before one can commit to supporting or opposing him. So I won’t answer your specific question, but I certainly would not have an overall objection to electing an anti-abortion Muslim president so long as I did not think that he had other agenda items which would cause so much harm to the common good that they outweighed his good stances.

    Do you really want to say that? It seems to be the kind of argument many do make to vote for a pro-choice candidate who get ridiculed for such arguments. The question then is which cultural changes are valid or not, but that is something people can have a difference of opinion, no?

    Yes. And?

    From what I have seen, what supporters of specific pro-choice politicians on this blog are generally “ridiculed” for is arguing that there are in fact proportional reasons currently present in the American political scene which make voting for that particular pro-choice politician at this time a good idea. Not that there could never, anywhere be a situation in which there were proportional reasons to support a specific pro-choice politician over a specific pro-life one.

    That my argument takes the same form as that used by some people to justify their votes for pro-choice politicians in the current political environment does not mean that their arguments are justified. Since it is to a great extent a question of proportional judgment, the validity of one’s conclusions depends on the validity of one’s assessment of the various concerns to be weighed. I think that those who have concluded that Obama is the best choice in this election have weighted their considerations very wrongly — but that doesn’t mean that the method itself is wrong, just their inputs and conclusions.

  • Zak

    DarwinCatholic, I see just as many people saying that “Obama is pro-choice so you cannot vote for him” (emphasis added). I think that is the attitude that upsets many who will not be voting for Obama (like Policraticus and Henry). Many interlocutors here advocate the belief that abortion is so heinous that it is always forbidden to support a candidate who endorses it. You clearly do not, and I think you and blackadder do a commendable job of presenting conservative positions that incorporate Catholic Social Thought and make clear that it is something different from simply social democracy and pro-life positions (even though I might disagree with many conclusions)

    I’m 95% sure I’ll vote for McCain this fall. The chance that he will appoint a justice that will overturn Roe, and the fact of Obama’s intention to reverse the few mitigations of our harsh abortion regime (the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City policy) are the largest reason why, although there are some others. But if I didn’t think McCain was likely to appoint justices to overturn Roe, if I didn’t think he was likely to veto Democratic attempts to pass the FOCA, why should I support him on abortion grounds? Because he says life begins at conception?

    Too many people like Republicans because they say pro-lifethings, or Democrats because they speak the language of common good or peace. In terms of what the parties do, it’s usually pretty limited.

    I appreciate efforts to tease out our thinking about the common good and political priorities.

    Regarding the initial topic of the post, I’d probably lean towards the Muslim, unless I thought there was a serious chance that he would accomplish the introduction of Sharia.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    I disagree with MM that we must take into consideration what politicians themselves can and will actually DO in office, with regards to abortion.

    This is particularly a TRICK by leftists Catholics, influenced by the DEVIL. Of course, MM cannot see thus, as he cannot even discern/admit the FALSE MESSIANISM EMANATING FROM THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN. Day in and day out, he engages in the most psychologically SPLITTING DEVICES and uses PROJECTION to sully who he loosely labels as RIGHT WINGERS

    ON THE CONTRARY, we should demand the policy positions of ELECTED ALL PIBLIC

  • But if I didn’t think McCain was likely to appoint justices to overturn Roe, if I didn’t think he was likely to veto Democratic attempts to pass the FOCA, why should I support him on abortion grounds? Because he says life begins at conception?

    Too many people like Republicans because they say pro-lifethings, or Democrats because they speak the language of common good or peace. In terms of what the parties do, it’s usually pretty limited.

    Overall, I think this is a good point to keep in mind. However, I would say that we should give some weight to what people say they believe, as well as what they are likely to be able to actually do.

    Imagine we were faced with a candidate who was in almost all other respects idea, but he said he thought lynching should be legal. I think that the fact that he’d have absolutely zero chance of successfully legalizing lynching would still not prevent us from reasonably forming the idea that he was a racist psychopath and should be opposed even if all his achievable policies were good.

    Similarly, it seems to me that there’s a very valid concern (which should be carefully weighed by voters) with “safe, legal and rare” politicians to the extent that even if they’re successful in making abortions more rare, they clearly have a deeply malformed idea of human life and the dignity of the human person.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Sorry. I hit the send button accidentally.

    MM engages day in and day out in the most psychologically sinister of splitting devices, projection, and verbally sullies “right wingers”, instead of himself and the Obama campaign–for their messianist claims.

    On the contrary…

    Politicians say what they say, and it is the PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY OF CATHOLICS IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE to acquire the publicly-stated current policy positions re: abortion of all candidates for ANY ELECTED OFFICE–FROM TRUANT OFFICER, PRESIDENT OF LOCAL HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATIONS, AND DOG CATCHERS, ALL THE WAY UP TO THE PRESIDENCY,–distribute SIMPLE VOTER GUIDES STATING EACH CANDIDATE’S ABORTION POSITION; and then REPEAT OVER AND OVER to the Catholic populace how ABORTION is simply the most pressing issue and we must PUT IN candidates everywhere who HAVE TOLD US they are anti-abortion.

    The affairs with Republican presidents related to Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, for example, should give us NO PAUSE. And neither should we even bother weigh factors such the current complexion of the House and Senate, or the general moods of the American populace, or the grave damage done to the pro-life cause and the culture of life in American democracy by a very visible segment’s of its being essentially political bed buddies the past few years with a political party that has turned itself into nothing than machine of WAR for profit.

    IT IS ALL SO SIMPLE.

  • RR

    Easy question. Vote 3rd party or abstain. That question goes more to the Catholic’s duty, or lack thereof, of participating in the democratic process than abortion.

  • Zak

    I believe you are right that to be pro-choice one must have a fundamentally wrong notion about human dignity and the human person, and I would agree it’s a concern if someone with such a view being elected with such views affects the culture in such a way to make it more likely that others will hold those views. We must also anticipate future behavior based upon how those views and beliefs will influence a politician to address future issues that come up. But it is not the candidate’s having certain beliefs or opinions that determines my vote still.

  • Jim McCann

    Where can I send my $2,000 for this Muslim candidate?

    See, I worship a Trinitarian God, not notions of Western Superiority. I don’t look forward to living under Sharia, but I do look forward to when they stamp out the petty tyranny of modernity, exemplified by the ethnocentric anti-human contributors of Vox Nova.

  • Mark Shea

    For example, Mark Shea is acting upset that I brought up a Muslim who would work to subvert the Constitution into the discussion.

    That’s odd. I wasn’t upset.

    However, that is a part of the point of the whole question. I want to see how people would deal with contradictory tendencies within their own political rhetoric. So many people say, “abortion is everything, and there is no possible proportionate reason to vote for a pro-choicer if an authentic pro-life candidate is involved in an election.” They tell you that you can’t even vote for a third party, or not vote, because the stakes are too high.

    That’s odd. I’ve been saying I would vote third party for months. That’s probably why your scenario doesn’t work for me.

    But many of the same people, Catholics, are very hostile– even hateful — to Islam, and indeed, act contrary to the Church’s dictates as to how Christians should treat Muslims. Instead of cooperation with Muslims and working with them and trying to overcome the cycle of hostility, they try to wind people up in fear of what Islam wants to do, and characterize the whole of Islam as evil.

    That’s odd. I specifically said I’d vote for the prolife guy who happens to be Muslim. Doesn’t seem very hate-filled to me.

    So I wanted to see which they would put in front: abortion or Islam.

    Ah! Like the Pharisees asking Jesus about whether to pay taxes to Caesar! Good one! Try to catch people in their words so you can condemn them! Damned if they do, damned if they don’t! That sort of thing.

    But more importantly, since I made it clear that the Muslim would work to change the American system from within, I wanted to see how many people would bring up the Constitution and how the candidate would be unacceptable because he wouldn’t be supporting it as it is now understood. Mark Shea didn’t disappoint with that one; seems like one can give up on abortion…for the sake of the Constitution!

    Curious you should use the word “disappoint”. I have no idea what you mean about “giving up on abortion for the sake of the Constitution”. In reality, what I said was that I’d vote for the guy who wanted to get rid of Roe. I don’t see how that’s “giving up on abortion”. I also said I thought your scenario was silly because a Muslim President has no more power to impose sharia than Bush has to impose Christianity. So, absurd religious fears aside, I’d go for the candidate who a) is closer to Catholic teaching on the dignity of human life and b) closer to a Constitutional order as it was before the Court pulled abortion penumbras out of its ass.

    Next time your try to do the Pharisee thing, do make sure you’ve really constructed a sound rhetorical trap.

  • Mark

    Unlike your blog, where you seemed to talk about Vox Nova all the time, the blog posts on here are not looking at you and thinking of you. Thus, when you point out that you are voting for a third party — good for you; it has nothing to do with the point at hand, which is how people argue one must vote for the pro-life candidate such so much is at stake. Actually, you have dealt with them as well; what is funny is how your obscene desire to bring up Vox Nova in everything, and bringing in your false hermeneutic (“leftist”) to read what is said, you are incapable of reading what the point of the discussion is about. (Here’s a clue, one last time, I’m not a leftist; you keep saying it, and saying it must be so, but you can’t show me where I am such, and indeed, you said you wouldn’t read what I write because you are not interested in my “ideology.” But apparently you are interested in giving a false witness, and using a willful ignorance to justify it; talk about Pharisee!)

    While you said you would vote for a person who happened to be a Muslim, it didn’t go into the full point of this post, which is someone who is more than merely a Muslim, but working to bring Islamic law to the United States. You suggested, “He won’t be able to do it.” Perhaps, perhaps not. But with hypotheticals, that is not the point. The point is to see how people would reason in the given situation. More importantly, the idea that an elected official can’t entirely work to change the system and have the old system become defunct is the height of the naive.

  • Jim, your accusation has been noted; now can you verify your claim?

  • To quote Mark:

    The curious result, as far as Henry’s scenario goes, is that it encourages us all to test our candidates for religion, to think of them as “the Muslim candidate” and “the Methodist candidate” and not as “the candidate most likely to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution

    Obviously, he does think of the Constitution (which doesn’t protect babies from abortion, nor did it protect people from slavery) more important than one’s religious sensibility as they engage politics. He makes too much out of the Constitution and has this false view that it is more important to protect and preserve it above all else. And this is why he thinks one should split one’s religious and political affinities. I don’t. One’s religious sensibility will always be a part of who one is, even as they engage politics. Mark, however, follows the typical secular ideology, and divides the two, making a person in schism with their very self. Typical. Very typical. And he presumes the Constitution deserves to be preserved. But if he truly believes abortion is an abomination, and the Constitution is helping to sponsor a regime which supports that abomination (and it is), then perhaps the Constitution is a part of the problem, too. But he won’t go that far. No. He still is a true believer of the messianic message used to justify the Constitution; he bows to its will. But, if he looked a bit deeper he will note: the liberal agenda which he hates and pretends to find in me is the foundation of the Constitition. I’ve made it clear many times: this foundation is in error. It does lead to the problems we see in society today. There are aspects of it which were good and needful, but the rhetoric is always through an improper understanding of freedom.

  • Mark Shea

    Obviously, he does think of the Constitution (which doesn’t protect babies from abortion, nor did it protect people from slavery) more important than one’s religious sensibility as they engage politics.

    No. I think that being Muslim doesn’t automatically disqualify you for public office, including the Presidency. Your “dilemma” is predicated on the assumption that it does. If I seriously believed that a President would be elected who wanted to destroy the Constitution and replace it with Sharia, I would vote against him. But since that is like asking “Who would you bet on in a fight: God or Superman?” I chose to point out that your dilemma is simply a false one, largely premissed on the bigoted assumption that if you are a conservative Christian you have to either hate all Muslim or thirst for an anti-abortion theocracy. Ain’t my fault if your bigoted questions are silly.

  • Mark says,

    If I seriously believed that a President would be elected who wanted to destroy the Constitution and replace it with Sharia, I would vote against him.

    Therefore, Mark has finally answered the question. He would vote against an anti-abortion candidate, if he thinks the anti-abortion candidate threatens the very system which would elect him. Of course, again, history shows, democracies and republics do end with someone capable of doing such, so it is not completely out of the question nor ridiculous to consider. This also shows Mark does think the preservation of the system is more important then ending abortion.

    So, thanks Mark! We are indeed speaking on the same page.

  • Mark Shea

    Italics off!

    By the way, if you do construct a scenario where it really is a choice between the Catholic faith and the Constitution (say, some regime arises which sees the Faith as Just One More Abrahamic Terrorist Religion), I would say it’s (possibly) time for the Constitution to go (though first I would say that it’s time for the regime to go). If the American state *irrevocably* commits itself to the destruction of the Church, then too bad for the American state. But we are still very far from such a pass. That’s partly why your gedankenexperiment doesn’t work very well. You’ll have to tweak it much more to really force an either-or choice between the Faith and the American Constitutional order.

  • It wasn’t an either-or choice between Catholicism and the Constitution. But it was a demonstration to see where people really are in relation to being anti-abortion and pro-Constitution. You showed your loyalty is to the Constitution more than your loyalty to the pro-life movement.

  • Mark Shea

    Therefore, Mark has finally answered the question. He would vote against an anti-abortion candidate, if he thinks the anti-abortion candidate threatens the very system which would elect him.

    Depends on what you mean. I am, sort of, “voting against” an “anti-abortion candidate” this year, as I have made very clear. That’s because I’m skeptical that his talk will match his walk and because his views on ESCR seem to me to make clear that his is not particularly interested in consistency.

    In reality, however, it’s not possible to “vote against” anybody. You can either not vote or vote for somebody. If I don’t vote, I’m voting “against” both McCain and Obama. In much the same way, I’m also practicing sexual abstinence just now, as I do most of the time most days. Not doing something is, well, not doing something.

    But please: do continue your game of Gotcha.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Henry,

    Unfortunately, I think the level of reasoning in which you engage is above the pay-grade of certain bloggers who are too comfortably at home in the fiefdoms of their own little cyber-worlds.

  • Mark Shea

    It wasn’t an either-or choice between Catholicism and the Constitution.

    I know. Catholic faith does not commit us to refuse to elect a Muslim merely because he is a Muslim. It also doesn’t commit us to imposing sharia as a means of eliminating abortion. this preposterous devil’s dilemma was the coinage of your brain. In the real world, such a choice does not exist, just like in the real world God and Superman don’t fight. It’s entertaining to play Gotcha with non-existent scenarios. Heaven knows I ‘ve seen the Torture Defenders do it a million times with the Ticking Time Bomb. But it’s of limited utility in actually making real world decisions.

  • Mark

    Your words — you said you would vote against that candidate. It’s not a game. I am just letting people tell what they would do in a specific situation (whether or not that situation would actually happen) to make them reason out answers and reveal more about themselves and their engagement with politics. It’s about making a conflict in one’s supposed political suppositions, and seeing which side of the conflict they would come out to support, to reveal where their loyalty lies. On the issue of abortion, it’s the Constitution for you. Which is fine; I wouldn’t say you are supporting abortion in such a vote, but that you are making a prudential judgment which acts to support a candidate despite their position on abortion. Which is a valid thing to do (though of course, you reveal that in doing so, those you have criticized for doing so have you in their company).

  • Mark Shea

    Your claim that such choices don’t exist again demonstrates historical ignorance. That’s all I will say.

  • Mark Shea

    You showed your loyalty is to the Constitution more than your loyalty to the pro-life movement.

    Well, no. I showed the your Gotcha scenario didn’t necessitate the choice. But since you very much want to believe otherwise, I suppose you won’t let facts get in the way. You definitely proven to your satisfaction that I think Superman would beat God in a fight, because I said I don’t think God would fight Superman. You’ve got your story and you’re stickin’ to it, Henry! Bully for you!

  • Mark D

    What is sad is Mark Shea is the one who likes to do a “gotcha” on his blog, and looks too often at Vox Nova to find lines which he can use, out of context, to do gotcha attacks (without understanding what it is he is attacking, and so ends up misrepresenting people — such as what he claimed about MM; funny thing is he just said here he could reason out a vote for a pro-choice candidate, so he shows he does understand how such skills are possible).

  • Mark Shea

    Nah. You’re playing Gotch. If you’d just quit the candy ass game playing and ask me “Do you think the Constitution trumps obedience to God?” I would answer you: “No.” But instead, you are concocted this leaky scenario and, when I didn’t play ball, you declared victory, took your ball and left.

    As I say, if you can concoct a *real* scenario in which I have a clear choice between fidelity to the Faith and Constitution, I will choose the Faith. You failed to offer me a real choice, so I pointed out the flaws in your attempted dilemma, and took an alternative to the false choices you posited.

  • Once again, Mark S, you said Constitution over the anti-abortion candidate; which is not an issue of faith vs. Constitution (because the faith says you can make prudential votes such as that; the Pharisees, however, have argued contrary to that).

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Can someone explain to how one in good conscience writes for the National Catholic Register, a magazine whose Legion of Christ editor, for example, inserts himself boldly and willingly into the Communion wars, but who simultaneously perpertuates the Legionary refusal to publicly consider that their founder may have been the most notorious and high-profile child molester in recent escclesial history–and, instead, scandalously just suggests the idea that their founder was blessed to be taken more deeply into the innocent sufferings of Christ, late in hs (Maciel’s) life?

  • Mark D

    I don’t think it matters where one writes, if what they write is not corrupted by it (and sometimes, one needs to engage people in corrupt avenues, so to speak; after all, guilt by association is a fallacy).

  • Jim McCann

    Sure, Mr. Karlson, may I direct your attention to this blogpost on Vox Nova?

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/08/27/question-to-ponder-3/

    I think reasonable men will find it ample verification.

  • HA

    Catholic and Islamic authorities already cooperate when it comes to fighting equal rights for gays.

    Yes, I’m eagerly anticipating that death-by-stoning endorsement in the upcoming Catholic Voter’s Guide.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Henry,

    Granted.

    Mr. Shea does not have responsiblity as to whatever may have /or happening in the Legion, AND, the NCR does not explicity push itself as a publication for the Legion of Christ.

    I just happened to live amongst the Legion for a short period of time in the early 90s.
    I know of what has been called the quasi-divinized status granted to Maciel, and observe how that order apears to have not accepted public responsibilty for what its charismatic, some say cultish, founder appears to have been disciplined for.

    It is just very interesting to observe the public personas of, say, Fr. Jonathan Morris and Fr. Owen Kearns, as editor of a very politically conservative weekly and a Fox News resident priest, respectively.

  • Henry,

    Mark Shea is right that your scenario represents a false choice, because you’re positing that one may only vote for one of the two candidates. As Mark has made resoundingly clear (indeed, MM wrote a whole post criticizing him for it) he refuses to vote for either candidate this year, and I see no reason why we would assume that he would feel compelled to vote in some hypothetical future year. So insisting that his refusal to support full Sharia represents a choice to vote for a pro-abortion candidate is clearly falacious. (If you insist that your scenario requires this, it simply makes your scenario even less related to reality.)

    Further, it’s not accurate to say “You showed your loyalty is to the Constitution more than your loyalty to the pro-life movement.” and that “you said Constitution over the anti-abortion candidate”. You didn’t attempt to give him an option between “the Constitution” and “the anti-abortion candidate”. You provided an option between “Islamic law” combined with banning abortion (which you declined to clarify as to whether you meant Sharia as enforced in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere) and a run of the mill pro-choice candidate. Now, a Catholic might quite reasonably consider Islamic Law (depending on its definition) to consist of one or more evils, and so by posing the dilemma as you did, you made it a question of “pro-choice or Sharia” not “pro-choice or get ride of the constitution”.

    Your approach in this thread is becoming increasingly “gotcha” and if you want not to appear unreasonable I’d advise you to modify your approach.

  • Darwin

    Mark Shea is the one who plays gotcha with his blog. I didn’t make Mark Shea post anything on his blog or here. He took the time. I went with what he said, to let him reveal his position. That’s not gotcha– that’s just revealing how one deals with internal conflicts. And politics is always about such conflicts (something many people fail to recognize).

    I have not said one has to vote for one of those two candidates (just like one doesn’t have to vote for McCain or Obama). So the rest of what you said really doesn’t respond to me. He’s the one who said he would vote against the anti-abortion candidate in the situation if that were the situation. I’ve told him it is fine to do so, but it also points out, as the bishops have made clear many times, that political vote is more than a single issue, and one could have prudential reasons to vote for someone who is pro-choice (if one thinks saving the Constitution would be for the greater good of society, fine; but let’s be clear, it does say the Constitution then trumps the issue of abortion).

    I think the problem is that people do know that voting requires prudential reasoning, and voting for a specific candidate does not mean support for all that candidate’s positions, but they don’t want to admit it when it hurts their own political rhetoric. But the thing is — honesty is better than political rhetoric. Pharisees always want others to be pure, but will be the first to cry foul when a light is shined upon their own activities. And as far as I know, Mark has never apologized to Morning’s Minion for his outright lie about MM on abortion.

  • Mark Shea

    What outright lie?

  • HA

    On a tangent – it’s odd how Islam turned out, there used to be a time when it was more advanced – and more tolerant – than Christendom.

    Yes, and even odder when one considers what they had to work with. Islam “inherited” the wisdom and civilizational structures acquired over millennia – Sumerian, Hittite, Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Byzantine, etc. (And, it might be added, turned vast stretches of it into squalor in a fraction of that time.)

    What Christianity had to work with, on the other hand, was a bunch of feuding, pre-literate barbarians in civilization’s outlands. Given that, they did pretty well, no matter how chancy things seem today. Granted, Byzantium fell, but some of the same things that weakened them ultimately helped the West to flourish.

  • jeremy

    Henry,
    It seems to me that you have stated that entire post and comment thread were thought up by you for the purposes of shaming people. To shame people for their complacency, for their unthinking loyalties, for all of their truths that they hold unquestioned.

    While these may seem like laudable goals, they are not accomplished in this manner. This thread has a taint of hubris to it. I would posit that while you may have provoked some discussion, that discussion has been neither fruitful, nor helpful. No truths have come to light, and no minds have been changed. In fact, since you state your goal as exposing prejudice, you are really trying to point out the prejudice of many who hold pro-life views.

    Line up the straw men, and knock ’em down.

  • Jeremy

    I have not made any statement such as saying, “You have chosen the wrong answer.” In fact, I have shown how their answers are legitimate. That’s what is interesting about the whole exchange. I have been told I am playing “gotcha” with people, when in fact, I am not. If I were, it would be “Oh, you have chosen wrongly, and now everyone knows.” No.

    So there has been no shame (though if you want to see people trying to shame others, read Mark Shea’s blog sometime).

  • Mark S

    What MM directly confronted you about. More than once.

  • Rob

    Karl,

    Because the muslim sounds like a law and order candidate. Since all of our leaders are heretics and apostates anyway, why not a Muslim? If he will crack down on immorality and crime, sounds like a good deal. I have four kids and would like to get the scum off the street and out of the schools. In many Muslim countries, they don’t put up with crime, they execute criminals. I have known Catholics in Muslim countries, and for all the drawbacks, they do enjoy being safe from criminals. I would like a similar safety here. Too bad all our ‘Christian’ leaders are soft on crime.

  • Mark Shea

    I don’t know what he confronted me about. I’ve been pretty busy this week and my reading of comboxes is pretty hit and miss.

  • Mark Shea

    You are full of it, when you say you don’t know what he confronted you about. You responded to him. Is there something about so-called apologists that they can’t say, “I’m sorry”?

  • Phil

    It seems that some of the correspondents on this blog want to score debating points even if it means misrepresenting the blog author’s messages. I guess there is some attraction to infantile minds in scoring points like that, but at what a cost! They need to misconstrue and twist and perhaps even deliberately lie to get their debating points. How dangerous is that for one’s soul?

  • Rob

    Fair enough (although I would reject the notion that one needs to execute criminals to work for law and order).

  • Phil

    If we think of “pro life” and “pro choice” as labelled boxes with contents inside that define what the box’s label means then we can get a reasonable picture of what Henry Karlson intended.

    As far as I can see Henry Karlson asked his readers to unpack the box and see what is inside. While some of his readers were content to move boxes around but they didn’t want to look inside and see what was really in there.

    I do not think that they knew – or wanted to know – that “pro life” is a much bigger box than “pro choice” and that there can be considerable overlap in the contents of both boxes; thus a “pro choice” box can be the property of a person who is “pro life” regarding capital punishment, unjust war, or intolerance that leads to suffering and even death, while a person owning a “pro life” box may have removed the contents that include resisting capital punishment, unjust war, and deprivation of the necessities of life.

    Owning the boxes isn’t enough to tell us what is inside of them. Each person needs to reveal the contents of the box so that the label will not obscure their actual beliefs and intentions.

    The hypothetical offered an opportunity for those who wanted to comment to unpack their own boxes and see what was really inside.

  • love the girls

    Henry Karlson writes : “You are full of it, when you say you don’t know what he confronted you about. You responded to him. Is there something about so-called apologists that they can’t say, “I’m sorry”?”

    I read the controversy a couple of weeks past, and it was noted correctly in one of the com boxes that Mark Shea did apologize for his actions. While it was likewise noted that No One from Vox Nova likewise apologized from their actions.

    Thus, Mark Shea is very well capable of saying “I’m sorry” because we know he did so. The question you should be asking is: can Morning Minion say “I’m sorry”, because he did not.

  • LTG

    I am not sure if you know which post that is under discussion. It’s not “a couple weeks ago.” And there is no need for MM to apologize to Mark for pointing out Mark’s lies.

  • love the girls

    Phil, perhaps you’re correct and Mr. Karlson did intend the looking into boxes, but I prefer to think better of Mr. Karlson than you give him credit for when you write that he was playing school teacher to his lessers .

    Thus I will prefer to give the credit to Henry Karlson that Mark Shea does where he writes :

    “Ah! Like the Pharisees asking Jesus about whether to pay taxes to Caesar! Good one! Try to catch people in their words so you can condemn them! Damned if they do, damned if they don’t! That sort of thing.”

    The Pharasees had their faults of course, but far from insulting Jesus, they did their best to trap him because they considered him worthy of their best.

  • love the girls

    Henry Karlson writes : “I am not sure if you know which post that is under discussion. It’s not “a couple weeks ago.” And there is no need for MM to apologize to Mark for pointing out Mark’s lies.”

    Well I can’t say I keep up with all the Vox Nova scandals, but I do know that he did say “I’m sorry” during one of his, (apparently many), fights with Vox Nova a couple of weeks ago that had something to do with someone named Feddie. And that no one from Vox Nova did likewise.

  • LTG

    Which is clear your point above is clueless; Mark did an open attack. There is nothing for someone to apologize to for responding to him. He then has consistently been making all kinds of attacks on VN since then, with complete misrepresentation as a key to his engagement with VN itself. Thus, MM confronted him with the outright lie.

    And so, there you have it. Without knowing the situation, as you admit now, your bias is showing loud and clear.

  • love the girls

    Henry Karlson writes :”And so, there you have it. Without knowing the situation, as you admit now, your bias is showing loud and clear.”

    No. I pointed out that you were incorrect to state that Mark Shea was not capable of saying “I’m sorry” because there is evidence that he did so. Empirical evidence is never biased, although it can be somewhat to say, “loud and clear”.

    And perhaps you are correct that Morning Minion does not have a reason to say “I’m sorry”. A subject I have no intention of getting into other than noting that others thought he should, and that he did not, thus my suggestion of to whom you should instead direct your question.

  • S.B.

    Which is clear your point above is clueless; Mark did an open attack. There is nothing for someone to apologize to for responding to him.

    This is ungrammatical and awkward in every sentence. It seems to meant to read:

    Which makes it clear that your point above is clueless; Mark openly attacked [somebody]. No one has to apologize for responding to that attack.

    Henry, why do most of your comments look like they were written in German and then translated into English by one of those automated websites? Everyone makes mistakes now and then, but I’ve never seen someone whose native language is English who so consistently resorts to unnatural grammatical constructions.

  • Mark Shea

    Henry:

    I’m not lying. Refresh my memory. My reading and response has been hit and miss this week. I recall skimming something MM wrote and responding briefly, but I must have missed the charge of lying amidst his verbiage.

    So: what outright lie? Just tell me, will ya?

  • This is one of the most offensive straw men I’ve ever seen on Vox Nova. Maybe it’s time for the to reconsider the time wasted here.

  • S.B.

    Sorry for the above remark; it was uncalled for.

  • Phil

    LTG,

    Your comment in reply to my previous comment is clear on one thing; namely, that you are determined to put as negative a spin as you can on what is said here. I say good luck to you. You’re welcome to whatever spin you like most.