Lifesitenews: Credit Where Credit Is Due

Lifesitenews: Credit Where Credit Is Due June 9, 2011

Lifesitenews is a very conflicting reality for a Catholic like me.  While I think that a pro-life news service is an absolutely essential tool for reducing and criminalizing abortion, especially in the face of a mainstream media that regularly ignores or misrepresents the issues involved, I am often disappointed with Lifesitenews.  I read their daily e-mail faithfully because of my concern to be informed about developments in this area, but their modus operandi often comes across as counterproductive.

Attacking faithful Catholics, including bishops, and misrepresenting Church teaching on things like homosexuality (I have engaged in long e-mail conversations with the editorial team about their claim, since slightly modified, that homosexuality is considered a psychological disorder in official Church teaching), doesn’t strike me as the best way to protect the unborn.  Finally, I seriously wonder whether the editorial team has, in the context of constant attacks and counter-attacks, lost the ability to be honest with itself about its’ motives and conduct.

All that said, it is my firm belief that you don’t help someone get over their problems by simply criticizing them.  I think that LSN doesn’t give the bishops the opportunity to be more supportive of the pro-life movement because the bishops can’t support the way LSN does business and because they cannot give the impression that the lobbying tactics and smear campaigns used by LSN are effective in forcing bishops’ hands.

But if I think that LSN needs to balance their critiques with a more positive approach, the same applies to me.  That is why I occasionally write a congratulatory letter to LSN when I find a good article or a healthier approach in their work.  People usually need more carrot and less stick.  In this light, I am very happy to share this article with you from this morning’s edition of LSN’s newsletter:  Is Environmentalism Infiltrating the Pro-Life Movement?

Now, one will certainly think, upon reading the title, that the article is more right wing nonsense about how we don’t have the power to damage our planet.  But, when we read the piece, we see that the author has his head on quite straight.  Furthermore, when I last checked, the comments (sometimes the scariest part of an LSN piece) were very supportive of Mr. Jalsevac’s position.

Make no mistake, this is good news.  It is a hint that the division of Catholic Social Teaching between right and left wings can be overcome.  Strangely enough, if I have one criticism of this piece, it is that the author doesn’t make the link with abortion.  The right wing is often criticized, sometimes rightly, for its myopic view in which nothing matters but abortion.

We here at Vox Nova are often criticized when we take on some left wing cause, like opposition to torture or justice for immigrants, simply because these things are less important than stopping abortion.  But the truth is that all of these issues are connected.

Jalsevac could have noted how the consumerism that drives our irresponsible consumption is the same consumerism that breaks down our children’s willpower from the time before they can talk.  It is the same consumerism that teaches us that immediate gratification is the only thing that will make us happy.  It teaches us that we are in a constant competition with our brothers and sisters for resources.  In all these ways it feeds the abortion monster.

But I shouldn’t complain too much.  A Lifesitenews story in support of the environment is something to celebrate.  The rest should come with time.  And a little support from one’s critics can’t hurt, so:  “Well done Lifesitenews!”


Brett Salkeld is a doctoral student in theology at Regis College in Toronto. He is a father of two (so far) and husband of one.

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  • Kurt

    Good luck. Like “Catholic News Agency”, LSN is simply not a news operation. It is a conservative advocacy organization. They have political opinions, points of view, strategies, talking points and an agenda to advance certain secular political interests. LSN and CNA primarily exist so their camp followers can reproduce their writing pretending they are quoting from a new source.

    I find them to be nasty, prone to personal attacks, committed to a conservative political agenda over the pro-life cause, and, at times, dishonest.

    Were LSN a person, I would hope and try to assist in their personal redemption and development. But they are not. They are a corporation and the nation and the Church would be best served if this corporation no longer existed.

  • brettsalkeld

    Kurt,
    As much as a lot of what you say resonates with my experience, I wonder what you think of Jalsevac’s article. Is it not a good sign?

    • Kurt

      The article by itself is fine. I have no confidence it represents even a first step towards LSN becoming a legitimate operation.

  • Eric Brown

    This is my experience as well.. They don’t make neutral claims like “President Obama’s controversial health care reform law” which suggests very little bias; I always read “big government” and “national takeover of health care” in accord with conservative talking points on health care.

    I say this even as I opposed the health care bill and support its repeal, as long as it is replaced by a new set of reforms, or more likely, I support reforming the reform. But these tendencies outlined here are very distracting and demoralizing, nevermind the gross spelling and other grammatical errors.

    Recently, there was an article featuring former VA Governor Tim Kaine calling him “pro-abortion” and in lock-step with Planned Parenthood and President Obama. I wrote the editor and argued that such a presentation was dishonest. I did not attempt to dispute their claim the Republican in the U.S. Senate race in Virginia was the better candidate, but simply that Kaine is not some radical pro-abort.

    When he was Governor of Virginia he signed a Choose Life license plate bill which goes to fund pregnancy crisis centers and alternatives to abortion, a state-version Democrats for Life’s Pregnant Women Support Act, signed a ban of state funding of embryonic stem cell research (a month after President Obama reversed Bush’s executive order and he had become the DNC Chair, visibly disagreeing with the official platform).

    But the editor simply shot down my claim without refuting any of my points and maintained that Kaine is a radical pro-abort. I found him to be disillusioned, and I would most certainly welcome changes in the site’s maintenance and editorial style.

    • brettsalkeld

      Eric,
      I and others I know who would be basically supportive of many things LSN supports regarding protecting the unborn have often had similar experiences. I wonder how much time and energy they put into fighting their allies. There is something unhealthy going on there.

      • I feel the same way. I am not a right wing pro-lifer. There is no place for those who may not share the political sensibilities with the common goal of making our nation hostile to abortion.
        Very sad. But, if I am Satan the best way to get what I want is to divide and conquer. It takes both sides to make it work.

  • doug

    The article doesn’t surprise me. I’m a conservative pro-lifer who bikes to work. We buy items in bulk and avoid heavily marketed and packaged products. In my garage right now there are four bicycles, two electric scooters, and an electric assist bike that I modified for long-range use. In our driveway is a plug-in electric car. It is now useless because the company that built it, while using environmentalism in its marketing engaged in shady stock deals, built a product out of poor materials, and did not stand behind it. They were a politically liberal company, but their business practices were essentially corrupt in a way normally attributed to conservative business people.

    Liberalism is not synonymous with virtue, and conservatives are not unconcerned about our neighbors. Catholic social teaching is that goods have a universal destination and that the environment should be protected. As a conservative Catholic family we therefore reduce our consumption to what we need and are conscious of the fact that God’s creation is precious, given to us out of His love, and needs to be protected. This is not incompatible with also believing that attempts at homosexual “marriage” harm society, or that the federal government should not intrude in those areas that rightly belong to the states, or other traditionally conservative views. Personally, I think most liberals stand against a version of conservatism that has been mostly fabricated as a means of gaining political power or influence.

    • brettsalkeld

      The thing is that it seemed to surprise Jalsevac himself. I know that most of the Catholics I hang out with are pro-environment and anti-abortion, so I’m not surprised that some conservatives hold this position. It just looks like common sense to me. But it is surprising that LSN would do this. And they say as much. And I think Kurt is right – the conservative public voices don’t typically talk like this. The rank and file needs to start calling them out for it.

  • Kurt

    Personally, I think most liberals stand against a version of conservatism that has been mostly fabricated as a means of gaining political power or influence

    I think it is better said that most liberals stand against a version of conservatism that comes before us from those who control the conservative microphones (LSN, Grover Norquist, the Chamber of Commerce, the RNC, Palin, Gingrich, Paul Ryan, Limbaugh, Beck, etc.). They are likely different from the conservative rank and file.

    • doug

      Perhaps.