Saturday, June 06, 2009

Inside Catholic on Tiller

An article at Inside Catholic (HT: The Anchoress):

Things are looking pretty good for Dr. George Tiller, and he goes to his local house of worship to thank his particular god for the triumph of moral sanity in this country. Then someone bursts in with a gun and shoots him down right in front of his family and the entire congregation, someone who turns out to be a longtime schizophrenic with flimsy ties to the uttermost fringe of the pro-life movement, whose obsession is waging an anarchist war against the "tyrannical" U.S. government.

The group with which the apparent assassin, Scott Roeder, 51, had kept some connection was, according to LifeSiteNews, "the so-called Army of God, a group that advocates domestic terror, violence, and murder against abortion facilities and those who work there." To find an equivalently outlaw and irrelevant pro-choice organization, you'd have to turn to the Church of Euthanasia – a group led by the flamboyant transvestite Chris Korda, which celebrates abortion along with pandemics, natural disasters, and the deaths on 9/11, since they cull the "dangerously high" human population. (Check out its home page for an image of Korda licking the World Trade Center tower as one of the high-jacked planes plows into the side. Is this the face of pro-choice America? Maybe it's time we started insisting it really is.)
But there is a serious point that nestles here behind all the bull-hockey and fulminations: If we as pro-lifers really believe that a million or so American children are being murdered every year, why don't we do something about it directly? We rightly use metaphors recalling the Holocaust, U.S. chattel slavery, and other atrocious assaults on human dignity – and if we think those through, we will remember that they were ended not by pacifist prayer chains but armies in battle. People who say that "violence never solves anything" should come to Germany, where I'm staying this week. The flags here are different than they were in 1945, and my father who served under Patton that year said that the transition wasn't seamless.

Like 99.9 percent of pro-lifers, I do not advocate the use of armed force to end abortion today. But I want to be clear about why.It's not because the use of force is wrong; it isn't. When Gandhi told Jews to employ non-violent resistance against the Germans, he proved himself an ass. Non-violence worked against the British because that empire was possessed of two things that didn't exist in Germany: a strong moral conscience and an open-minded press.
The reason it's wrong to kill abortionists is that it is an act of war, and one that does not meet the conditions for a Just War.

When the State allows an activity, and you use force to prevent it, you are declaring war on the State -- as surely as early Christians would have been doing if they used force to free their co-religionists from the Coliseum, or free Roman slaves from the mines or prostitution. None of which, students of history will know, early Christians actually did. This wasn't because they were pacifists; many Christians served in the Roman armies, such as that patron of soldiers St. Sebastian. Some early version of the Just War theory finally formulated (not invented) by St. Augustine was surely at work. That Just War theory found in Augustine's writings still binds us today – albeit with certain adjustments and clarifications to cover cases of legitimate revolt against a tyranny, and speculations by the likes of Robert Bellarmine on the rightness or wrongness of killing tyrants.

If, by engaging in organized violence to save lives left unprotected by the State, one is indeed declaring war upon that State, the conditions of Just War teaching must be met – or else you are nothing more than a terrorist, an irresponsible person (like poor, deluded Guy Fawkes) whose actions will do nothing more than encourage a persecution of the Church.

What are the conditions for a war (in this case, a revolution) to be just? You can read them in detail here, but central to them are: A just cause, defending the innocent from attack. (Check.)

A situation that long experience has shown cannot be resolved by peaceful means. (Not yet, not by any means; impatience with rejiggering the Supreme Court doesn't equal the presence of the Gestapo.)

An evil proportionate to the evils that will come from war. (Not clear at all; see the horrors of the civil strife in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Bosnia, Palestine -- are we ready to inflict all that upon our neighbors?)

A reasonable chance of success. (Would a civil war launched by orthodox Christians against America's secular regime end in a just peace that preserved innocent lives? Or millions of dead, and a de-Christianized America? Would "winning" even be worth it – given what happened to the Church in Spain shortly after the "friendly" regime installed by Franco passed from the stage – when Catholics were tarred, rightly or wrongly, with all the crimes of the victors?)

Yes, words mean things. If you refer to abortion as murder, you have to be prepared to defend the refusal to take action you would take if a neighbor were being murdered in front of you.

I don't know if this is sufficient.

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