Planned Parenthood and America’s tolerance for evil

For the better part of the summer, the Center for Medical Progress has been giving Planned Parenthood public-relations nightmares by exposing the astonishing inhumanity and criminality that goes on behind the façade of pap smears and free condoms—and they’re not done yet. Pro-lifers have done yeoman’s work in keeping the story alive despite a corrupt and deplorable media hell-bent on keeping it quiet. The evil on display has been so stark that some pro-choice columnists have publicly admitted how it shakes their dogma to the core.

In any healthy society, this would end Planned Parenthood (then again, in a healthy society Planned Parenthood wouldn’t have lasted this long in the first place). To functioning, normal human intuitions, there isn’t even any question that violence against children is about as foul as evil gets.

I have written that this scandal clarifies the stakes at play here—either your soul recoils at savagery toward our young or it doesn’t—and that it has tremendous long-term potential to convince fence-sitters that savagery is the rule of abortion-on-demand, not the exception.

But the longer it goes on, the more press coverage seems to diminish, the more I see neighbors, relatives, and associates stick to their old political priorities and pretend nothing has changed, the more we hear of companies who still support Planned Parenthood, the more we see leaders of the supposedly pro-life party do little more than go through the motions at best… I have to wonder whether I was overly optimistic, whether our culture is even sicker than my already-modest expectations.

It is true, as Bre Payton explains, that polling trumpeted as good news for Planned Parenthood actually shows that many Americans simply have yet to see the videos, and that among those who know what they contain, only a third remain in favor of continuing their tax funding. But it’s also true, as Matt Walsh laments, that if “out of the people who saw the videos, less than half now have a more negative opinion of the child butchers,” the only appropriate response is “dear God, forgive us.”

The impolite truth is that any society is going to have its share of, frankly, terrible people who can be informed children are being torn apart in their midst and simply not care. Mankind is fallen. It always has been and always will be in this world. That’s why societies need laws to protect themselves from humanity’s worst instincts.

But when such indifference to evil makes up more than an infinitesimally tiny share of the population, when it’s actually possible to get polling results like the above, something far, far worse is going on. I can’t put it any better than Walsh’s blistering condemnation of a society “infatuated with personalities, obsessed with politics and celebrity, but bored with the little details like life and death and genocide.” It is absolutely “insane self-centeredness […] callous selfish, afraid, and stupid”:

I probably can’t explain why this is wrong if you really don’t understand instinctively. I can’t infuse a functioning moral compass into your mind. Either you have a conscience or you don’t. Either you are a decent person or you are not. Either you care about the lives of children or you don’t. Either you will put all of your political prejudices aside and condemn this unmitigated evil or you won’t because you are a moral degenerate. […]

You cannot be a decent person and still support Planned Parenthood because “decent” means “morally upright and respectable.” There is nothing — absolutely nothing — morally upright or respectable about being an apologist for child killers.

We can debate many issues. We can listen to both sides of all sorts of topics. We can come to different compromises and reach all kinds of understandings. But not with this. With this there is just good and evil. You are one hundred percent right or one hundred percent wrong, with no room at all left in between.

Part of the problem is that we still have yet to confront just how shallow our culture’s understanding of morality is. Look in your own communities and social circles and compare the reaction (or lack thereof) to the CMP videos to the popularity of causes like the Ice Bucket Challenge, Relay for Life, “marriage equality,” or mission trips. Whatever their merits may be, there tends to be a stark difference in terms of participation, Facebook shares, proudly worn stickers or changed profile pictures, home videos, etc.

That’s because there is something the latter causes share that being pro-life does not: the trendy factor. They’re fun. They’re popular. They make me feel good. They’re what all my friends and coworkers and teachers say is good. They won’t make anybody look at me funny.

But abortion? Way too controversial. Too much anger. Too unpleasant to think about. My friends love Planned Parenthood. I don’t want anyone to think I’m sexist or a religious nut—or worse, uncool.

Again, this is not to say there’s necessarily anything wrong with causes like those I mentioned. But there is something wrong with the process by which we decide they’re more worthy of our time than stopping people from butchering babies. This is what happens when we acclimate large segments of the population to value getting credit for good intentions more than actually doing good. If we’re being honest, a lot of Americans—a lot of people each and every one of us know personally, I’d wager—don’t really give a damn about helping people in need; they’re just out to stoke their own vanity.

What do we do about this narcissism masquerading as compassion? How do we make people confront the reality that, as Walsh says, “to not care is a willful act, an evil act”? Let’s start with his advice:

  • Keep the issue out in the open. Talk about it on social media. Talk about it with your friends. Take a stance publicly, through whatever forums you have available to you.
  • Support candidates who are one hundred percent pro-life and fully committed to the cause. I won’t tell you which candidates fit that bill because I think they still have to prove themselves.
  • Take to the streets. Picket Planned Parenthood clinics. March. Rally. Be present and active physically.
  • Money talks. Our government gives half a billion dollars to the abortion industry. You might not have that much to give, but donate whatever you can to pregnancy centers and other organizations that serve the cause of life.
  • If we aren’t going to include prayer in this crusade, it will be hopeless. Pray. Every day.

All correct and all valuable. But we need to make one addition to it.

If cultural approval is a significant factor in reluctance to stand up to abortion, it follows that cultural shaming is the necessary counter-force. If popularity is the currency of the day, we must make indifference costlier than decency. As I’ve also written before, we must drive home the sense that people ought to feel every bit as guilty to stand silently while preborn babies are slaughtered as they’d feel if they tolerated violence against blacks, Jews, or gays. “I support Planned Parenthood” must become every bit as stigma-inducing a proclamation as “I support the Ku Klux Klan.”

That means we have to be less reluctant to show people in denial exactly what they’re supporting.

It means we have to confront them about the kind of character it takes to knowingly go along with such evil.

It means we have to ask them where they were for baby murder victims the next time somebody shows us the newest ribbon on their car or the latest addition to their ever-growing collection of multicolored wristbands.

It means if your church is not actively, aggressively telling their congregants they must be pro-life (or worse, is pro-abortion), you need to find a different church, urge your brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same, and let your pastor know exactly why you’re leaving.

It means Christians with reservations about confrontation or tone need to revisit what Jesus actually taught about judging people.

And yes, it means we need to risk losing friends over this, or risk the next Thanksgiving dinner or ten being uncomfortable.

This is not a game. It’s not politics. It’s not a thought experiment. It’s not an “issue.” This is an evil more violent and more depraved than every Saw movie combined happening right now because we as a country are choosing to let it.

How can we possibly justify doing anything less?

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