Saturday, February 11, 2012

Obama's Invincible Ignorance

I've longed since ceased caring about what's going on in President Obie's head. I know only that he must be sent back to wherever he calls home. Considering what a citizen of the world he is, I am left to assume that that will be somewhere in country. He needs to be set down where he can start organizing some little community into the socialist enclave he envisions for America. At least then the stakes won't be quite so high for the rest of us, unless, of course, Obama's not a cause of the disease but a symptom. Maybe we've already drifted so far left that his crushingly oppressive vision of a "fair" country is in fact an inevitability. We just need to wait a few years while the demographics sort themselves out.

But though I've stopped caring what goes on in his head, I'll have to admit that the only pleasurable reaction I have to his various pronouncements is to wonder what's going on his head. As when he calls himself a Christian, then cites Jesus' words about requiring much from those to whom much is given, and concludes syllogistically that this entitles the U.S. government to confiscate more money from (I'm sorry, to tax) the rich. Now it may be - based on the crunching of a whole lot of numbers and the analysis of social and economic factors and unintended consequences that I'm sure somebody out there is qualified to do - that the rich ought to pay more taxes. But how you get that from the words of Christ I don't know. It's also possible that we take too much money from the rich, isn't it? Sure it is. It's also possible that those of us of more modest means don't charitably (that is, voluntarily) give enough of our substance, isn't it? Sure it is. We all know it's true. So the next logical step is for the government to step in and force us to give it, although where it goes after that I have no idea. Now that we have the Affordable Care Act (another form of taxing the rich and the not-so-rich), one thing it might go to is the financing of your neighbor's sexual habits in the form of contraceptive pills, or even a surgical procedure that, if I remember my biology, effectively frustrates the male fishies in their desperate desire to find a soulmate. It might even finance the severing of her significant other's vas deferens, but I don't want to talk about that because it makes me curl up in my seat. Besides, I haven't heard men mentioned much in the current controversy.

Obie, and his evil twin Sebelius, wouldn't word it that way, though. They call it "preventive women's health care." I can't help but wonder (wondering and caring are not the same things) if this euphemistic grotesquerie is not also a consequence of Obie's Christian faith and his theologian's grasp of Scriptural nuance. Somehow that faith has led him to the conviction that fertility in a woman is a malady rather than a sign of good health, and that if she should find herself pregnant against her wishes and in spite of her actions, she is being "punished." And that, should she be so punished, she possesses the inalienable constitutional right to punish in turn the punisher, that is (for those of you who haven't had it spelled out before), to have murdered in her very womb her own innocent human child, who didn't know he was trying to punish her. And should the punisher survive the attempted murder, he, Obie, favors imposing no legal or moral obligation upon healthcare personnel to now treat this creature as a separate, living being entitled even to so much as terminal palliative care. They can dump it in a pan and let it gasp like a fish out of water. If you're going to punish, you might as well take it to the limit.

As he so vigorously reminded us on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Obie supports this right. I must assume he was led to it by his Christian faith. A man of good conscience surely would not support something he thought downright evil. Now, in my side-job as an amateur Scriptural analyst, I once read in Genesis the commandment to "be fruitful and multiply" and thought its meaning pretty obvious on its face. I also read those parts in the Gospels in which Jesus seems to have nice things to say about children. He says you must become like one if you want to cross the threshhold of his house. He said to let them come unto him, mentions millstones for those who offend them, and even the joy that a woman experiences - following upon the pain of childbirth and presumably the inconveniences and the general burden of an unexpected, nine month pregnancy - "that a man is born into the world."

I suppose I could strain real hard and find in all this a permission to obstruct a woman's fruitfulness, or to murder the fruit of her womb, but my interpretive skills aren't sophisticated enough. All I could gather was an homage to life. It's especially right there in the story of his own conception and birth: See? Life is good. And to prove it, I'm going to join you.

Maybe I'm too timid. Unlike me, bold Obie looks at the same passages and sees the exact opposite. I must assume that he would agree, that, yeah, life is good, but then feel compelled to add, "But so are those other things - keeping it at arm's length and even killing it should it show up without permission." Blessed be the name of the Lord.

This has been a roundabout way of getting back to wondering without caring what was going on in the President's head when he and his evil white female twin came up with those HHS contraceptive regulations to be imposed on Catholic institutions, and with yesterday's moderation of it, the contraceptive mandate accommodation con job. In the first instance - and instead of simply calling him a Machiavellian liar or a tyrant or a sophist in service to treachery, but, rather, granting him the benefit of his good conscience - he must have been simply incapable of understanding the Christian objection, even though he calls himself one. Perhaps he was thinking something like this: the Catholic employer, an institution of some sort, like a school, isn't being forced to do anything except to offer a healthcare insurance plan and to make sure that contraceptive benefits are included. No one is being forced to use those benefits. If you want to stick to your conscience, then do it. If you fall down on the job, the benefit is there, but no one's conscience is being coerced unless you, the user of the benefit, coerce yourself.

Of course, there is the problem of an inducement to evil, which is what the presence of the benefit actually is. And there is the other problem of having to pay for it. Even in the unlikely event that no employee or student ever takes recourse to the benefit, they're all still paying for the privilege of not doing so. And does Mr. Obama think such a restoration of virtue likely? Of course he doesn't. He knows very well that Catholic institutions employ non-Catholics, and that even a fair number of the Catholics themselves will violate Church teaching to exercise their right to sexual autonomy, on which territory of individual conscience no Pope, priest or prelate has a right to instruct them. He was banking on that, the hope, the certainty, that only that segment of Catholics who didn't vote for him anyway in 2008 would kick up a fuss. The rest, those with a broader, more open-minded view of women's health care, would see his logic and the light behind it. This may sound like a cynical summation, and a withdrawal of that benefit of good conscience offered earlier, but it is simply not possible that political considerations played no part in his calculations. What's left to his good conscience is the likelihood that he cannot see why Catholics and some other Christians find anything wrong with contraceptives. When the Catholic screams, "You're forcing us to cooperate with evil!" he says, "What evil? No evil, no cooperation." He probably doesn't even see it as a religious issue, but as a matter of common sense and common moral urgency: every child a wanted child. He doesn't sound like Jocelyn when he gives a speech, but he says the same things.

Which leads me to the question: is a birth control pill like a gun? A thing nonmoral in itself except when put to an immoral use? A gun can be used to save life, or to take it unlawfully. So, too, can the pill be put to legitimate therapeutic purpose (or so I've heard). That would seem to make it a moral nonentity. Well, one difference I see is that a gun is just a gun, but the pill has those unfortunate descriptives preceding it: birth control. Does Obama think that Catholic institutions should be forced to provide access because he is so deeply concerned that those who avail themselves of it be able to put it to its occasional therapeutic purpose; or does he force the issue because he believes that young college (and high school?) men and women have a right to sexually express themselves when and as they see fit, and to arm themselves against being "punished by a baby?" And so I surmise that the probablility of how a thing will be used has a lot to do with whether we will consider ourselves to be facilitating, and thus cooperating with, an evil intent and its consequent action. It's sort of like handing out condoms to teenage boys and girls and expecting them to be put to the innocent use of making water balloons.

There is something important to keep in mind about Mr. Obama. Remember when he and McCain submitted to that interview with Rick Warren in the run-up to the 2008 election, and both were asked, "When does a baby acquire human rights?" and Obie looked pensively at the floor, then hemmed and hawed a little before announcing modestly that the answer to that question was above his pay grade. Thus we are confronted with the somewhat sick irony that he doesn't know when an unborn child is a human being deserving of protection by the law, yet knows with absolute certainty at what stage of life he is eligible for execution. He will see no inconsistency here because what I've been describing - granting again that good conscience - is a man wrapped in the invincible ignorance compelled by his ideology. But an adult Christian isn't allowed to be invincibly ignorant of, and utterly insensitive to, certain moral concerns. Some Christians need converting to Christianity, and he seems to me one of those. I'm not the man to do it, and neither are you, for the mantle of infallibility in which the ideologue must also wrap himself allows no entry for those several lights characteristic of the true Christian, a gentle and humane unity of faith and reason, and that humility which follows them in the shadow cast by a wisdom that did not begin with me.

You may pray for him if you wish. I just want him to go home.


TS said...

Good post Bill. As someone on Twitter said, "if birth control is a preventive, then does that mean abortion is a curative?" Sad.

William Luse said...

That's a good line, TS.