[Paleopsych] Auster: "Theocrats" for Terri Schiavo
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Fri Apr 1 14:53:41 UTC 2005
"Theocrats" for Terri Schiavo
"Theocrats" for Terri Schiavo
By Lawrence Auster
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 1, 2005
How are we to explain liberal's and leftists' support for
disconnecting Terri Schiavo from her feeding tube and making her die a
slow death, while she is guarded by police officers who prevent anyone
from even putting a drop of water to her lips? And how are we to
explain the liberals' belief that conservatives, who want to prevent
this horror from occurring, are religious dictators intruding into a
purely private matter?
Most people think that the liberals are driven by their pro-abortion
ideology, which takes the form of opposition to the Christian idea
that Terri's radically limited life is nevertheless a human life and
so worthy of protection. But that can't be the liberals' whole
motivation. To demonstrate this, let us suppose that Terri's husband
Michael had wanted Terri to go on living on the feeding tube, or,
alternatively, that Michael had handed legal guardianship to Terri's
parents and they had wanted her to go on living on the feeding tube.
In either of those cases, the liberals would have had no problem with
Terri's continued existence. The issue of her living or dying wouldn't
even have come up.
In other words, the very factors in this case upon which the liberals'
supposedly principled anti-life position seems to be based are
contingent. If Michael had not wanted Terri to die, the liberals
wouldn't want her to die either; indeed, they wouldn't be thinking
twice about the case, notwithstanding their current expressions of
horror at the idea of a person living her whole life on a feeding
tube. And since, in this hypothetical scenario, the liberals
themselves would be consenting to Terri's living in that condition,
they obviously wouldn't be calling conservatives "theocrats" and
"religious fanatics" for wanting the same thing that the liberals
themselves would be agreeing to.
Therefore the liberal position cannot be simply that a person in
Terri's situation ought to die. Rather, the liberal position seems to
be that personal choiceMichael's personal choiceought to prevail.
But this explanation also fails to hold up, as we can see from the
following considerations: (1) Terri's parents and siblings love her
and want her to live; (2) Terri's parents and siblings are convinced
that Terri has consciousness and is not in a vegetative state; (3)
Michael has two children by his common law wife of many years, and so
logically ought to divorce Terri and let the guardianship revert to
Terri's parents. Given these factors, Michael's right to decide on
Terri's life and death ceases to seem so sacred. Why, then, would
liberals side so absolutely with Michael's (highly doubtful) right to
have his wife's existence terminated, while they completely dismiss
the Schindlers' (correct and understandable) desire to be made her
guardians and to save her life?
If individual rights and personal choice are the liberals' bottom
line, why must the personal preference of Michael, who has
(understandably) moved on with his life, be seen as inviolable, but
the personal preference of Terri's parents, who have not moved on with
their lives but want to care for their daughter, must be equated with
theocratic tyranny and resisted at all costs?
Michael's right of guardianship stems from his status as Terri's
husband. But he's given up that status in all but name by starting a
new family. Since when are liberals so solicitous of traditional
marital bonds and the rights of husbands over their wiveslet alone the
right of an estranged husband to have his wife killed?
Liberal famously regard marriage as an ever-changing institution, to
be reshaped to suit changing human needs. Why then do the liberals
treat the Shiavo's marriage, and Michael's rights proceeding
therefrom, as written in stone, even though it has long since come to
an end? Why don't the liberals simply call on Michael to divorce Terri
and let the Schindlers take care of her?
As all these questions suggest, there remains something mysterious and
uncanny at the heart of the liberals' position on this issue. Their
passionate conviction that Terri must die cannot be explained in terms
of any recognizable liberal perspective, whether a disbelief in the
soul, the desire to dispense with a less-than-complete human life that
inconveniences others, a devotion to serving the rights and desires of
individuals, or an easy-going attitude toward the traditional bonds
and duties of marriage. Therefore, I would argue, their position on
the Schiavo case can only be explained as stemming from something
extrinsic to the case itself, namely their bigoted animus against
conservatives: since conservatives support Terri Schiavo's right to
live, liberals must oppose it. As a liberal professor recently said to
an acquaintance of mine (and these were his exact words), "Anything
Tom DeLay and those conservatives are for, I'm against."
This reactiveness is a symptom of the extremism that has taken over
left-liberals since 9/11. As the conservative writer Jim Kalb points
out, prior to 9/11, even when liberal positions were disastrously
wrong, they still had a more or less predictable, liberal logic to
them that a conservative could understand. But since 9/11, liberals in
their hatred of Bush and of conservatives have descended into sheer
irrationalism, in the process giving up even those liberal principles
that were decent. Thus, prior to 9/11, liberals would no doubt have
taken the Schindler's side, as representing the rights of an oppressed
and helpless individual. But after 9/11 (with some notable exceptions,
such as Jesse Jackson), they do not.
What is it about 9/11 that has had this effect on the left? The
post-9/11 world has placed liberals and leftists under an unbearable
pressure. The Islamist attack on our country propelled us into a
conflict, perhaps a decades-long conflict, with a mortal enemy. But
liberals can't stand the idea that we have an enemy, let alone a
mortal enemy, a "them," whose very existence justifies our use of
force. Therefore such an enemy must be seen as a product of "root
causes" generated by us. Further, in keeping with the inverted moral
order of liberalism, the more threatening such an enemy really is, the
more vile must be the root causes within ourselves that are creating
that enemy. The more wicked our enemy actually is, the more
judgmental, greedy, cynical, dishonest, uncompassionate, racist, and
imperialistic we must be for fighting him. If our enemy seeks a
theocratic dictatorship over the whole world (which is the case), we
must be seen as seeking a theocratic dictatorship over the whole
world, even though there has never been anything remotely like a
theocratic dictatorship in our entire history.
Thus the liberals' helpless rage, both against the war on Islamic
theocracy and against the conservatism that has become dominant in
American politics as a result of that war, takes the form of a
floating indictment of conservatives as the real theocrats. This
attitude is then projected onto any issue that may arise between
conservatives and liberals, such as the battle over the fate of Terri
Schiavo: Terri's right to live is passionately backed by
conservatives; conservatives are theocrats; therefore Terri is a
symbol of theocracy, and therefore Terri must die.
Lawrence Auster is the author of Erasing America: The Politics
of the Borderless Nation. He offers a traditionalist conservative
perspective at View from the Right.
3. mailto:Lawrence.auster at att.net
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